The last 4 Sundays we have engaged the scriptures from the opening chapters of Acts, and learned how the early church was pushed forward into new avenues. It got me wondering over the last many weeks about the kinds of ways churches are moving forward, staying put, or falling backward. The Gospel was never intended to sit still and be content with where it landed. The Gospel moves, advances and pursues. Do churches follow that lead, or do churches stay put for fear of the unknown places the Gospel is going? I suspect that’s something to think about.
The Church moves through seasons like anything else does. Some are imposed on the congregation, like deaths or leadership transitions. Some are intentional like the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent. We just celebrated Pentecost, the recognition of the Holy Spirit's indwelling in the believers in Jerusalem. And now we enter what we call "Ordinary Time", now through November. But really, there's not much ordinary about these days. We've moved from post-Easter & Resurrection to the start of the church; there is a lot to think about in our spiritual lives!
In worship, we're emphasizing Jesus' passion becoming the Church's mission, & tying together the themes of Easter and Pentecost. New life and new priorities guide us toward ways of living that model the life of Jesus. Pentecost should change our view toward a more open and inclusive expression of God's love. The Holy Spirit was placed upon all that were gathered. People from all over the world were present to receive power and spiritual gifts. They weren't the same after; why would we be the same?
Change is a necessary and important aspect of the life of faith. It's true for God's people and it's true for Christ's Church. We change seasons, and we change our approach to ministry - but we do not change the goal of making disciples of all nations. And I believe we can do better. I believe that God is moving Hillside into a place of greater impact on people's lives. We're already seeing it begin to emerge, and we need to nurture it. No pastor can do that alone, and no congregation should leave discipleship solely up to the pastor. That's why classes and groups are critical for congregational life.
I am excited to be organizing some new classes that will start throughout the fall. If you'd like to help lead or organize a group or class, pitch me your idea and let's get moving! Be Excellent To Each Other,
Rev. Andy Beck