Hello Brothers & Sisters,
There is a truth that has stuck with me from the first time I heard it. A truth that I have also learned from experience. It was a line from a film called Luther—a film about the life of Martin Luther, the 16th century Magisterial Reformer. At this point in the story, Luther has been living as an Augustinian monk, which included hours dedicated to prayer and worship, contemplation and service, and a disciplined life in the monastery.
After a few years of this, and after taking a pilgrimage to Rome and seeing the corruption of the Church, Luther begins struggling in his faith. He had many questions about the Bible, he was in turmoil about his concept of God, and he was full of frustration and doubt. Ever been there?
As you might imagine, Luther was deeply troubled by all of this and so he told his mentor and spiritual director about it. To Luther’s surprise, his superior told him he was going to send him off to study the Scriptures at the University of Wittenberg (where he would later teach and post his 95 Theses) and pastor the church there. Luther said, “I don’t believe this. Here I am losing my faith, feeling like a fool even to pray, and you’re sending me away?” And the elder replied, “We preach best what we need to learn the most.”
I have often felt like that. And this current series is no exception. I confess that what I’m preaching through in Spiritual and Religious is what God has recently been teaching me, as well as things that I need to learn the most. So, it’s current, it’s fresh, it’s compelling to me, and I am therefore feeling very passionate about it. For many years of my life, I felt like “religion” was about legalism and obligation, either something Pharisees invented to make us feel guilty, or something that God needs to remain happy with me. Neither of these things are true. As I’ve said many times, God doesn’t need religion, we do.
And so in the past few years, I feel there has been a gradual shifting of gears and the turning of a corner in my view of the Christian religion, which includes practices of prayer, Scripture reading, sacraments, creeds, confession, liturgies, etc. I don’t know all of the reasons for that, but I’m thanking God that I’m actually desiring these things out of love for him and a knowledge that I need them to be properly formed in my worship of Christ. Who knew that the Christian religion and religious practices could be so liberating and life-giving?!
All that to say, I pray that my conviction and passion for the content in this series will inspire you and our church to embrace the mystery and liturgical power of the Christian faith.
We continued our series this past Sunday with a message entitled, Jesus Was Religious (3 of 7). If you missed it, please give it a listen at our website or our podcast, as I presented the strongest case I know that Jesus was not only a religious person, but wants his followers to be religious as well. This coming Sunday, in a sermon called, Gracious Orthodoxy (4 of 7), I will share a bit about the birth of the Christian religion, our unity in a common creed, and why we need to be graciously uncompromising in the historic beliefs of Christianity. It’s all part of being spiritual and religious.
Finally, take note of October events at Grantham and consider how you want to engage:
October 11 – Empowering Women Seminar
October 11 – College Pumpkin Carving (see details below in Body Life)
October 13 – Meet the Pastors if you’re new to Grantham (sign up with the office)
October 13 – Communion after the sermon, The Power of Christian Liturgy
October 13 – Global Workers Sharing (with the Oberholsers) at 6:00 pm in A1
October 13 – Taizé at 7:30 pm in the sanctuary
October 27 – Trunk or Treat (see details below in Body Life)
I hope to see you this Sunday in worship. Until then, may the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.
Grace & Peace,
P.S. Do you believe in the ministry and mission of Grantham Church? We desire to grow as an intergenerational, convergent, third way congregation. We want to be the difference our polarized and disillusioned world needs to see in the church today. Do you want to help further the work we’re doing? You can do that by plugging into our ministries, serving as a volunteer, and by giving regularly to our unique expression of the church. If you’re interested in further engaging with the church, please contact Pastor Kelly. If you’d like to begin giving regularly, or you’d like to increase your giving, you can do that online, or by text (717-506-5028), cash, or envelope through our offering on Sunday morning. Contact Pastor Dan for more information or questions about giving. As we enter into the final stretch of the year, please prayerfully consider how God is calling you to invest in the people, ministries, and outreach of Grantham Church. Help us continue to grow and further our work for the Kingdom. Thank you!
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