WORLD DAY OF PRAYER
We are hosting the World Day of Prayer on Friday March 1 at 7:30
GREATER GIFTS SERMON SERIES
SUNDAY'S BEGINNING JANUARY 13 9am Gray Summit — 10:30am Union
Greater Gifts Series |
We have chosen to divide the season after Epiphany this year into two complementary series designed to equip congregations to “see all the people.” The first series focuses upon lifting up the gifts in the community and strategically acting together as one body with many interconnected parts. This body, then, works as a cohesive unit to reach out beyond the walls of the church and bring people to know and receive the love of God.
The season after Epiphany almost always begins with a transitional Sunday—Baptism of the Lord—in which we encounter the narrative of Jesus’ baptism and John’s very dramatic description of baptism in Jesus’ name. The voice of God rings from heaven at Jesus’ baptism: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Lk. 3:22, NRSV). When we are baptized or gathered at the baptism of others, how do we hear God’s voice affirming each new member of God’s family? The second week contains Paul’s description of spiritual gifts—how the Spirit works in and through them and how we are gifted for being a part of the body of Christ with one another. A little bit of explanation is needed around the theme for week three, “Being Needy”: This phrase has a certain negative connotation that often relates to people who require a little more attention than others (we all likely know people like this). We would like to redeem the meaning by asserting that we all, regardless of our own gifts, need one another in order to be part of the whole body of Christ. The purpose of all these gifts is revealed in week four, in which the whole point of acting together is revealed—“having love,” which is the most important of the “marks of the new birth” (faith, hope, and love), as shared by both the apostle Paul and John Wesley.
Since this season takes place at the beginning of a new calendar year, it may be a helpful practice for your church to assess the spiritual gifts in your congregation. If you are looking for a spiritual gifts inventory that can help your church realize its potential in ministry, you can find resources here:
Week 1: Baptism of the Lord
January 13 “You Are Beloved”
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 2
Week 2: Second Sunday after the Epiphany
January 20 “Gifted for Others”
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Week 3: Third Sunday after the Epiphany
January 27 “Being Needy”
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Week 4: Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
February 3 “Love”
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
In the “Greater Gifts” sermon series we will be exploring how baptism, as a “first gift” from God, leads us in life toward paths of discovering and rediscovering God-given gifts, activating those gifts through the Holy Spirit, understanding how our gifts are interrelated to the gifts of other disciples in the body of Christ, and how important it is to stay true to the heart of our God-given gifts — the love of God in Christ.
In 2016, Discipleship Ministries began launching materials around the theme “See All the People.” This message of reaching people and expanding the church into the community then began to bear fruit as churches began launching campaigns to strengthen their own disciple-making systems. As we began preparation for this series, we noticed that one element seemed apparent throughout all the scriptural narratives: people who were always present around Jesus because of his preaching, teaching, and healing. Jesus truly saw all the people; and as a result, the people were always with him. As the church makes connections in the community to bring people to know Christ, we would do well to make note of the way Jesus responded to the crowds.
In the first week of the series, the pressing crowd is mentioned alongside Jesus’ encouragement for his first disciples to go fishing. The image of the fish breaking the nets becomes an image analogous with the people “pressing in” on Jesus. The second week recalls “a great crowd of Jesus’ disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon” (Lk. 6:17). They were expecting Jesus to heal them. This image is a powerful one as we imagine the crowd relentlessly reaching for Jesus, that they might touch him and receive his healing power. Week three involves a departure for our planning team, as we put ourselves in the shoes of the crowd listening to Jesus’ sermon. The message of loving enemies was (and is) so countercultural that it still causes us to question our very instincts as powers threaten to overtake and divide us. Week four, Transfiguration Sunday, presents a dramatic scene as Jesus is transfigured as he stands with Moses and Elijah. Jesus, Peter, John, and James then descended the mountain, and Jesus healed a boy with a demon—to the astonishment of “a great crowd” (Lk. 9:37).
Upon reflection of the entire season after Epiphany this year, we find a comprehensive way to make connections with our communities: discover our spiritual gifts, understand our need for one another and the love of God, and know that wherever Jesus goes, a crowd is sure to follow. The question is: “Are our churches ready to go and meet the crowds as we ‘see all the people’?”
Week 1: Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
February 10 The Pressing Crowd
Week 2: Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany February 17
The Expectant Crowd
Week 3: Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany February 24
The Questioning Crowd
Week 4: Transfiguration Sunday March 3
The Astounded Crowd
|This page updated February 18, 2019|
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