Creating New Intersections

design-2Part Three of a Three-Part Series on the Vision of Glendale City Church

October 22, 2016

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Part of the vision of Glendale City Church is to continue to create opportunities where people who would never interact in any other way, begin to interact and experience God in new ways through each other.

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Revealing Christ

design-2October 1, 2016

Part One of a Three-Part Series on the Vision of Glendale City Church

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Over a year ago, our church adopted a new logo that shows four people meeting together and forming a cross.  Our logo’s slogan is “Finding God at the Intersection of Our Lives.”  During October, we are using that slogan as the frame for three sermons on our church vision.

Years earlier, Glendale City Church wrote its mission statement and created the following motto that sums that statement up:  “Revealing Christ, Affirming All.”  In this first sermon, I look at the first half of the motto.

While “revealing Christ” may seem like a no-brainer for a church, the statement actually requires unpacking to see what that looks like in our congregation.  Many Christian, including Adventist, churches present what I call a “get-your-act-together Jesus.”  It’s the Jesus who helps people break free from chaos and dysfunction and helps them live by a moral code and ethics that enables them to be a positive influence on their family, church and society.  It is a very necessary Jesus that brings a genuine salvation to people’s lives.  But once people have gotten their act together, they need a different Jesus that will continue to grow them.  This is the Jesus that Glendale City Church attempts, albeit imperfectly, to reveal.

In the sermon, I unpack five aspects of the Jesus that we seek to reveal:

  • An Authoritative–not Authoritarian–Christ
  • A Christ for the Skeptic
  • A Christ for the Present
  • A Confounding Christ
  • An All-Loving Christ

Key Scripture:  2 Corinthians 5.14-6.2

Upcoming Sermons:

  • October 8: “Affirming All,”  Leif Lind
  • October 22: “Creating Intersections,” Todd Leonard

Do Justice

13076993_1105315309534146_3258550060890706956_nMay 14, 2016

First in a Three-Part Series

Key Texts:  Micah 6.6-12; Isaiah 11.1-9; Matthew 5.10; Luke 18.1-8

Link to Article Referenced in Sermon: Is It Time to Close Our Churches?

In this and my next two sermons, I take some time to meditate on this maxim from Micah 6.8:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

In my reflection on “do justice,” I look at the biblical words that are translated into “justice,” but much more often into “righteousness.”  In Hebrew, the two words are “tsadaq” and “mishpat.”  In Greek, the word is “dikaiosune.”

One of the problems with English translations of these words is that we are often led to think about this concept in personal piety or individual salvation rather than in a relational/communal/cosmic justice context that is often intended by the scriptural writers.  So I spend some time looking at what passages would look like when read in their originally-intended justice context.

Watch and listen here

Building a New Village

image1April 30, 2016

A Church Vision Sermon (originally entitled “You and Me: An Architectural Masterpiece”)

Sometimes you’re so close to something that you lose sight of the bigger picture.  That certainly happens at time with church.  We get into our “zoomed-in” patterns, habits and social circles.  So, in this talk, I wanted the great people who make up Glendale City Church to zoom out and see where we’re heading as a congregation.

If you’re a member of Glendale City Church, I hope you’ll listen to this sermon.  If you’re not a member, I hope that maybe getting acquainted with our story and listening to the journey we’re on may motivate you to jump on board with us.  Or, if you’re involved with another church, maybe it can help your brainstorming for the mission of your congregation.

Some background and context to this sermon; and an additional appeal to what was made in the sermon:

  • Glendale City Church thrived during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in a community that had a large Adventist population base.  Because our church had a reputation for great music and great preaching, we were guaranteed to have a large attendance.  Since the 80’s, the Adventist base declined precipitously and our church’s attendance mirrored that decline.  Thanks to visionary, progressive pastoral leadership in the 80’s and 90’s we saw some growth as our church attracted Adventists who didn’t fit in other Adventist congregations.  Our church has thrived for 110 years because we created a great village for Adventists
  • Now we are at the end of the Adventist base providing new generations of church members at Glendale City Church.  Our congregational future depends on us creating a new village that provides the spiritual support and inspiration, the communal friendship and compassionate service that the people of the city of Glendale need now.  People, more than ever, need a village.  But the village they need today does not look like the village we have been.
  • Beyond not having an Adventist base to draw from, we now live in a culture where newer generations don’t value church attendance because they perceive church as irrelevant, at best, or detrimental, at worst, to their pursuit of meaning, purpose and happiness.  To be an Adventist-Christian church in a post-Adventist, post-Christian city means we have a lot of work to do
  • In order for us to create a village for the people who now live in our city, we have to listen to them, get to know them, build relationships with them and speak their language.  Building a village for our neighbors requires us to invite them to join us in the creative visioning of what the village will look like and partner with us in the actual building process.  That means we invite people who don’t identify with labels from the past being welcomed in to the village of the present.  This requires openness, flexibility and great patience for those of us who represent the flickering vestiges of a great Adventist community.  It’s not easy.  Not everyone can do it.  But more than almost any other Adventist congregation, I believe that the members of Glendale City Church can.  We have amazing people here who are full of grace and open-minded.  We can do this!

Watch and listen here

 

Atonement: Now We Know True Love

Unconditional_love_-_AgapeApril 2, 2016

Part 3 of 3 in a Series

Core Scripture Passages:  1 John 4.7-21; Philippians 2.1-11

As people over the millennia have continued their attempts at describing how God, humanity and the cosmos are brought together into peace, love and harmony with each other, another understanding of Jesus’ role in bringing us to at-one-ment emerged.

In the view I looked at this time, commonly known as Moral Influence Theory, Jesus is understood as exhibiting the power of a human filled with God’s Spirit to the fullest, revealing the power that pure, unobstructed love has to transform human hearts and break barriers between humans and between divinity and humanity.  We know God so loved the world because Jesus was willing to become a human being and was willing to die at the hands of humanity rather than do anything to compromise his love for our race.

When the followers of Jesus saw the extent of his love and believed that He revealed God’s love in its most complete form, they received that same Spirit after Jesus’ resurrection, and began to exhibit more and more of that same love, a Christ-consciousness, that led them to engage in the same transforming work that Christ had done.  It is in this experiential understanding that Paul advised the Philippians to “have the same mind in you that was in Christ Jesus” and “continue working out your salvation with fear and trembling.”  Paul says to treat the reality of the Christ-consciousness at work in them with great reverence and show that reverence in how they related to one another.

Love is the way that salvation came to the world in Jesus and love is the way salvation continues to come to the world, now through you and me.

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Atonement: Saying Good-bye to the Angry God

Creation_of_the_Sun_and_Moon_face_detailHoly Saturday / Easter Sabbath

March 26, 2016

Part 2 of 3 in a series

When you live in a reward-punishment system, which we all do, it only makes sense to believe that God operates on the reward-punishment system as well.  So if God rewards the good and punishes the bad, and we’re all bad some of the time, that means we’re all doomed to punishment, right?

This is the reason why there is scriptural and Christian tradition support for teaching an atonement theory that says that since humans are doomed to punishment because of our bad thoughts and behavior, we need outside help to pay for their punishment so that we can be reunited with God and have eternal life.  Because God so loved the world, Jesus came and took our place (our substitute) and payed our debt to God (our satisfaction) and now God is no longer angry with us.  God accepts us as sons and daughters because of Jesus.

After walking through this theory, I then ask the questions:

  • Does God operate under the laws of the reward-punishment system?
  • Before Jesus, was God really angry at humanity?
  • Was it God who demanded a substitute sacrifice, or was it humanity?

Watch and Listen here

Atonement: The Victorious Christ

healing-world

February 6, 2016

1 of 3 in a series

This presentation marks the start of a new series looking at the four major Christian theologies of how Jesus makes humanity right with God.  I’ll then offer my own personal reflections as the concluding presentation.

Thanks to a number of special speakers for the morning worships at Glendale City Church over the next couple of months, this series will unfold slowly.

The first atonement theology I consider is what is known as Christus Victor, or The Victorious Christ.  What does this theory believe is the problem that needs to be solved?  How is Jesus the solution to the problem?  How is this experienced by humanity now?  How is the world ultimately healed?

Four scriptural passages served as the undergirding to this message:  Genesis 3.15Luke 11.17-22, John 12.23-32, and Romans 8.31-39.

Photo by: Jamal Cadoura, http://www.jamalcadoura.files.wordpress.com