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The Place Where Wounds Become Openings For A New Vision (via Henri Nouwen)

There is no place where wounds and pains are absent, even in the fellowship of the church.
The Gospel enables the wounds to be openings where light breaks through, the pains a common pointer to future wholeness and joy.
This is our expectation as we gather in worship tomorrow.
Henri Nouwen writes:

It belongs to the central insight of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, that it is the call of God which forms the people of God.
A Christian community is there for a healing community not because wounds are cured and pains are alleviated, but because wounds and pains become openings or occasions for a new vision. Mutual confession then become a mutual deepening of hope, and sharing weakness becomes a reminder to one and all of the coming strength.

Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer Darton, Longman, and Todd, 1994 ed., pg 94.


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Earthly Citizenship Matters Too

The Christian’s citizenship is in heaven, which is why our earthly citizenship matters too.
It represents the people and place that we acknowledge we’ve been established in order to live out God’s love, and share God’s love with others.
Welcome to Australian citizenship Gabi.
Being invited to witness this special moment in life (along with so many others from MGPC) is one of the many privileges of being a pastor.


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“There Is No Other Way To Be A Disciple Of Jesus Than To Be In Communion With Other Disciples Of Jesus” (via Fleming Rutledge)

An observation from Fleming Rutledge about the Gospel of John and how it demonstrates that while Jesus was relating to individuals, he was creating a community, a family, a body, branches joined to a common vine.

Taking the Gospel and the Epistles of John together, no writings in the New Testament are more concerned with the church than John. You wouldn’t necessarily notice this, however, if you read the Gospel without looking for it. Our typical American individualism tends always to focus on the single, supposedly autonomous person, so we typically read the Bible through that lens. And it’s true that for the first two-thirds of the Gospel, John features a striking number of personal, intimate conversations between Jesus and single individuals: the Samaritan woman, Nico- demus, the man born blind, Thomas, Martha of Bethany, Mary Magdalene. These stories stand out because they are beautifully crafted by John, a master dramatist. So, most people tend to read the Fourth Gospel that way. But the overwhelming emphasis in John is not on individuals, but on the organic connection that Jesus creates among those who put their trust in him. This theme reaches its apex in chapters 15 and 16, during the last hours of his life on earth, when he teaches, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5).
There is no other way to be a disciple of Jesus than to be in communion with other disciples of Jesus. Why do you suppose the Lord didn’t separate out each one of his followers, stand us up separately, pronounce us each a unique individual, and then bid us go off and create ourselves?
He did the opposite; instead of making us independent and self-centered, he makes us mutually interdependent and other-directed.

Fleming Rutledge, Three Hours, Eerdmans, 2019, pgs 31-32.


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Enjoying God Together (via David Mathis at Desiring God)

Being part of God’s family is belonging to God. Together.
From David Mathis at Desiring God.

In corporate worship, we gather together expectantly, reminding ourselves that God is our giving Father. This is who he is. This is what he loves. God delights in cheerful givers because he himself is one. This is what he produces in the hearts of his people. Not dutiful, reluctant, obligatory worship, but willing, eager, cheerful praise. The kind of worship that comes to him as a rewarder, not a killjoy. As a treasure, not a troll. As the great satisfier of our souls, not as a slavemaster conscripting our service.
How might it change corporate worship for you to scan the room and think, “These men and women around me, of all ages, not only believe in the truth of Christianity but they enjoy the God of Christianity”?
As we sing, we are enjoying Jesus together. As we pray, we are enjoying him together. As we hear his word read and preached, we are uniting our hearts together in the God who himself, in the person of his Son, became one of us, and lived among us, and suffered with us, and died for us, and rose triumphantly from the grave, and now sits in power — with all authority in heaven and on earth — at his Father’s right hand bringing to pass, in his perfect patience and perfect timing, all his purposes in our world. For our everlasting joy. Together.

Read the whole post here.


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How Do We Engage With People On Sundays (via Ed Welch)

Ed Welch offers a simple suggestion to build relationships with those who gather together week by week as church.


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Refreshing The Saints (via Gentle Reformation)

Kyle Borg poses a question based on reflection about Philemon verse 7: “For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (emphasis added).

What am I to my brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus? Do I refresh or weary them? Do I give rest or restlessness? Am I a comfort or an anxiety? Do I encourage confidence or are people walking on egg shells around me? Am I blessing to those I am bound to in the gospel or a burden? Are the hearts of the saints being refreshed through me?

Read more at Gentle Reformation.


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Worship As An Encouragement To Others (via Jared Wilson)

Gathering together with other Christians in worship is an act of encouragement to them.
And that’s before you even do anything else.
From Jared Wilson:

AS AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO OTHERS
Your church attendance is an encouragement to others. This is especially true in smaller to medium-sized congregations, but it’s even true in very large local churches where you may be tempted to think your absence would go unnoticed. Presence is impressive. When the saints gather, there is something spiritually helpful about the physical proximity of the brethren and even about the relative fullness of the sanctuary.
Even if you make the mistake of not talking to anyone, even if you don’t think you’re getting much out of the church or they’re not getting much out of you, your actual presence communicates to those around you: “This is worth it. You, brothers and sisters, are worth it.” Having pastored a church, I can tell you that while I didn’t get to speak to every attendee every Sunday, I was encouraged when I saw people loyally showing up week after week. I’m willing to bet your presence encourages your pastors as well.
This is to say nothing of the immense help and encouragement you can be when you actually reach out with kind words or a helping hand to the brethren you see week after week.

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