The Once and Future Church: Old Stories, New Things, and the Witnesses (2015-1108)

Call to Worship, Psalm 41
Children, Thanksgiving Tree
Message, Isaiah 43.1-25

Historical context: Israel in exile
      Paralyzed by Cynicism, Fear, and Nostalgia
      Lost the ability to adapt and still remain authentically Jewish
            If we change something, or if something changes,
            do we lose our identity?
      Lost Hope, and with it the ability to notice God’s new work
            Future with hope – Jeremiah 29.11

Isaiah’s message
      We’ve been here once before (Egypt)
      God delivered us once before (Exodus)
Isaiah 43:16-18  Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters,  17 who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:  18 Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.
      “Forget the former thing” … the best is yet to come

Paul: “Pastor, we don’t like change”
      Buggy shed to Social hall

      Memory and Hope
      The best is yet to come!

1870s – one charge with Mountaintop, Rippletown, Stairville, Slocum
Mountaintop Methodist Episcopal Society separates, constituted in 1880
      Nov 24, 1881 church construction for $1600
Albert – tearing down an old church building and relocating it (1926)
      Labor Day, transport by wagon, 2 chicken & corn roast feasts

Building this church, the memorial stained glass windows

A new thing at Christ Church: Care ministry – Mike Case story (video)

Through Isaiah, God calls upon us to forget the former things and to perceive, to notice, the new thing springing into life, to pay attention to the NOW. Yet, instead of typical language calling people to attentiveness, to slow down, to “be still and know that I am God”, we get a very interesting and unconventional way to be present in the now: to practice praise and generosity (not separate things here) as God’s forgiven people.

Isaiah 43:21-25  the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.  22 Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob; but you have been weary of me, O Israel!  23 You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings, or honored me with your sacrifices. I have not burdened you with offerings, or wearied you with frankincense.  24 … But you have burdened me with your sins; you have wearied me with your iniquities.  25 I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

God has not burdened us with demands
      We have burdened God with our sin
Not burdened us? But … the tithe, the Sabbath?

Why should making time for those who love us best be burdensome?
Why should giving gifts to those who give us the best be inconvenient?
      Because the issue is not our time or our money, but our FAITH
      Because the issue is not our time or our money, but our HOPE
      Because the issue is not our time or our money, but our LOVE

This is why talking about generosity – appropriate talk – is
      about SOULS, not FUNDING,
      about GODLINESS, not MONEY,
      about MISSION, not SURVIVAL.
God doesn’t need our money: “The cattle on a 1000 hills”
      (but someone else’s brand!)
God is a giver … to become more generous is to become more like God
Do 4 things:
1.     Practice thanksgiving (follow up on the Thanksgiving Tree).
2.     Imagine the future God has for you, and for us together, write down your thoughts over the next couple weeks.
3.     Pray over what God is calling you to give to participate in the new things God is doing. Next week is not about arm twisting but celebrating.

4.     RSVP today.


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