Hello Brothers & Sisters,
I hope you all had a meaningful Thanksgiving with family and friends. It was a joy to have Lanna’s parents come up from Texas and spend several days with us. They were also with us in the worship service on Sunday. When we got home they kept talking about how warm and friendly you are as a congregation. It blesses me to know that this is a common experience visitors have at Grantham Church. Thank you!
If you were out of town and missed the sermon on Sunday, I preached a message entitled, It’s a Woman’s World Too: A Christ-Centered Case for Women in Ministry. As I said in the sermon, there is a lot to say on this topic, so I tried to put together a message that presented the best evidence for women in ministry. Furthermore, I wanted to help us see the trajectory of freedom and equality in the New Testament. When we’re able to better understand the situation and context of the NT, we can gain quite a bit of clarity on issues and acquire a greater appreciation for the Holy Scriptures. I hope that was something you gleaned from the message.
As always, you can listen online at our website or through our podcast via iTunes. Want to talk about it? I encourage you to go deeper in personal space with your sermon-based small group. Discussion questions are available to guide your group in further study, reflection, and conversation.
Also, you may want to check out some books in our church library. If you’d like some substantive reading on this topic, here is a suggested reading list:
- Emboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women in Ministry by Tara Beth Leach
- Why Not Women? A Fresh Look at Scripture on Women in Missions, Ministry, and Leadership by Loren Cunningham, David Joel Hamilton, with Janice Rogers
- Paul, Women & Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul by Craig Keener
- What’s with Paul & Women: Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Timothy 2 by Jon Zens
We are entering that time of year when we’re tempted to be pulled away from Christ and lured in to consumerism and frantic living. I want to encourage you to resist the cultural forces that seek to bombard us this holiday season. Thankfully, the church has an excellent way of being intentional with our spiritual formation in the face of these competing forces. What is it? It’s the church calendar.
I was probably in college when I first heard the word “Advent” because the church I grew up in didn’t recognize most of the church calendar or historic liturgy. In my opinion, this has not helped the vast majority of Protestant churches. When we give up life-forming practices in the church and our Christian homes, we make it easier for the world to do the forming of our hearts and minds. The empire then shapes us with its own liturgy, habits, and expectations as citizens. Is it any wonder that we often feel helpless in navigating all the world throws at us? I want to submit to you that there are things we can do to help us keep our focus this holiday season.
I invite you to enter in to the Advent season where we reflect deeply upon the coming of Christ into the world, and not just his arrival in a manger, but also his promise to return and set the world right. How do we do that? You might be able to think of more than these, but here are several things I think we can do: (1) be fully present in congregational worship over the next 4 weeks; (2) fast and/or pray through Advent using something like this or this; (3) use an Advent calendar with your kids; (4) read a good devotional or a book that walks through Advent; (5) listen/sing Advent songs and reflect on his coming, e.g. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel or God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; (6) practice generous giving to friends and strangers with no strings attached; and (7) intentionally resist the commercialism of Christmas.
What is the Spirit leading you to do this Advent? How is he calling you to take charge of your own spiritual formation?
Please join us this Sunday as we kick off our Advent 2017 series, Patterns of Light. This Advent we will be looking at the biblical motif of Christ and the good news portrayed as light coming into the world. I look forward to worshipping with you. We will be taking communion at the end of the service, as we shift our thoughts to the coming Messiah and God’s promises to renew all things. See you there!
Grace & Peace,
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