Radical Hospitality | Back to the Table (Part 3)

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good morning friends how are you this morning let there be light this is wonderful

uh I’m pastor yvonne for those of you who don’t know me and pastor alex has scampered a way to drink his english tea with his lovely family in england and he has left the final week of back to the table up to me isn’t that exciting so I’m so glad to be with you today and just I want to give you a little bit of context for this series last summer we did a series called build a bigger table and yeah we have a table here we saw that in Jesus ministry as he goes from place to place in town to town and family to family or friend a friend we see him at all of these encounters with people around a meal we see him dining with those sinners where the religious people are saying ah why are you hanging out with those tax collectors those kind of people on the edges and those sinners we find him in a places where unexpected guests show up and he’s having to navigate people doing awkward things like washing his feet and kissing him he’s feeding hungry crowds that are hungry to hear his word and and they’re physically getting hungry and so he he demonstrates the meal among multitudes he slows down with some of his good friends like mary and martha and lazarus and encourages that encourages them to slow down to stop getting so distracted and to just come and be with him

he gets a little um it gets a little interesting when he starts to hang out with those religious leaders because he starts questioning do we wash our hands or do we not not wash our hands and and he causes some stir right we see him asking some really difficult topics and speaking really strongly to those religious leaders he also just invites himself over to somebody else’s house and says I’m gonna eat with you today and he continues by serving his guests he enlightens them with the truth and the broken bread and the road to emmaus and even after his resurrection he rises again and he eats fish with them so Jesus’s ministry from from start to finish like alex said in luke’s account of Jesus’s life it seems like Jesus is always going to a meal he’s at a meal or he’s leaving a meal and as luke continues his story luke the same author takes us into acts which is another book written by the same author and he says that when pentecost day came they were all in one place again we have this place that they’re gathered all of these unique people from across the known world the parthians the medes the um I can never say this from mesopotamia judea cappadocia pontius asia all the places look at them all imagine just close your eyes for a second and on that day they’re all gathered together in such beautiful array of diversity color stories and here they are

and here they they’re declaring the wonders of God in all the different languages amazed and perplexed what does this mean out of that diversity through and filled with the holy spirit they’re doing the same thing that Jesus was doing when he was on earth they are gathering together they’re fellowshipping breaking bread together and praying and it’s everyone is filled with the awe and wonder look at this all the believers were together and had everything in common so the ministry of Jesus it was around this beautiful place where they’re breaking bread and they’re fellowshipping and the same thing is true when he leaves and the spirit comes the ministry does the same thing it takes all the diversity all those interesting people and ministers to them in the breaking of bread in their homes and sharing things together

here if we continue on that’s where they say that they broke bread in their homes and they ate together with glad and sincere hearts this beautiful array of people coming together and more being added to their number and friends don’t we look forward to one day where we can be in glory and we can see every tribe and tongue and nation and this beautiful array of colorful stories and individuals coming together to worship God forever amen so we also look forward to that one day

it said that when they were together in this place look at God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them that there were no needy persons among them the acts chapter 2 to me is so idyllic like it seems hard to believe that this could be the case that all of those amazing diverse number of people could come together be unified in spirit and share everything that there’s no need among them

it’s this mixed multitude we see in acts 2 that are prioritizing hospitality I love this word hospitality it comes from this latin word right to like entertain to like bring together but it’s also this root word of hospital a place where people are being cared for where you’re seen and you’re known and you’re loved you’re cared for there’s no need among you

but acts 2 sometimes to me feels so high above like how are we ever going to get there like actually in in acts chapter 6 when it says that there were disagreements between the hellenistic jews and the hebraic jews and they were like hey hey guys like we’re complaining because the widows are not actually getting what they need in distribution of food like chapter six feels more like reality does it feel like your reality where you feel like gosh people are not getting what they need people are not coming together in a diverse group of people and and having things in common like like where’s the connection it seems like things are disconnected

c.s lewis says that it’s our lifelong nostalgia longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we feel cut off this is the truest index of our real situation this is what I see when I look around I see disconnection I see people that feel cut off people that feel like it’s it’s hard to find connection again and I see a lot of people alone at the table

maybe you feel this way maybe you’re in a season of life right now where it’s like on default you are alone at the table and you feel somewhat disconnected from a community of people a Jesus community or even disconnected from God

I think sometimes we can we can be here be on default you know and and I get that you know if you are in a single category or you you don’t like live with a lot of other people maybe you live alone it can feel like you’re alone at the table but sometimes I think we’re alone at the table by choice because it’s easier sometimes to be alone when we when we are with other people there’s like there’s friction right there’s like when we rub against people that are different than us there’s tension and sometimes it’s just easier to be alone and we feel like this is a place where I can care for myself I I can self-care and and I can be okay

so how do we move as a Jesus people from people that feel alone at the table to actually doing what we saw in acts 2. like is there any way lord that we can get from a place of feeling alone at the table and and seeing other people feel alone at the table to a place that looks more like sharing and caring and prioritizing hospitality I think if we’re going to get there we have to start by identifying the problem because this is a problem friends it is not the way of Jesus it is not the kingdom way and if we say on this wall that we want to live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus we can’t sit alone at the table

and part of the problem in my diagnosis is that I think part of the problem is that denver is not a city of hospitality I think there’s something in this culture here that historically has been the wild west has been a place of pioneering a place of seeking out your own independent future and to create your own best life now do you agree with me do you feel that it’s hard here in denver there is a spirit of independence I can do it on my own I got this I don’t need to ask for help like I could pull up my my bootstraps it all depends my life depends on me and and really I don’t need other people to join me in this journey because I’m not actually not sure that those people are going to help me on on the thing that I am setting out to do and that brings me to the next problem I think the problem is both circumstantial environmental but I think the problem is also deep down we’re all afraid we’re afraid afraid like if I put myself out there and I say I really want to be friends with you or I really want to you know have time with you like are you going to like be committed to me or are you going to like reject me like are you really going to sometimes it’s selfish right like are you going to serve me on this journey and and make my life better and richer and fuller and you know there’s just fear in all of us and honestly it’s it’s a bigger problem than that even I think the problem’s circumstantial and the problem is internal but the problem is spiritual friends there’s an enemy we have an enemy right the the battle is not against flesh and blood the battle is against rulers and powers and authority of this dark world and his goal is to separate God’s goal is to bring people together like we saw in acts 2. his goal is to is Jesus’s goal was to come to us to bring people to us to say come to me all who are weary and heavy laden come to me come and see he came to this world to be with us to connect with us and he even wanted so much to leave so that his spirit could get even more intimate with us that he would be with us that we would be so inner connected and the beautiful thing about the spirit is that we get to connect with the spirit among us as a people so if we have an enemy that is trying to get in between and to like push us apart sometimes I feel that here in denver like like there’s like a opposite magnetic force that’s like moving me away and I just think gosh it’s just more comfortable to be alone like like this feels hard it feels hard to move toward connection so how in the world are we as a community of faith who say we want to live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus how do we become this peep this Jesus people and create counter culture of hospitality that’s the big question we talked about it last summer we’re bringing it back this summer because we are convinced that we need to be a people who prioritizes hospitality if we want to see if we want to move opposite of the enemy and we want to move with God’s spirit and I realized that today if I’m going to do that for you and I’m going to I’m going to encourage you to do that I couldn’t do that alone and so I’m actually going to bring some friends to join me at the table and we’re going to have a discussion about community and some of the challenges that we feel here in denver so come on up bring your trees here

and we got to do it first service and this is a new service so we’re in a new moment so you don’t have to answer any of your questions the same way

all right so I asked all of them to bring something to share and so we’re going to be munching on that hopefully making you like a little bit jealous and wanting to do this after the service okay um and but also there’s something really sweet about when you come to a table um I I lived in austria and and worked at an international christian school and we had over 40 different nations represented during that season of my life and we would have these international meals where everyone would bring like their their thing to the table and it was a part of them a part of their culture a part of who they are and so I’m going to ask uh each of us to go around and share what we’ve brought to share and sort of about ourselves and and why that’s important for us to share I love that I can see you guys we were all in the dark last time

okay maya would you share with us first hello everyone my name is maia I’m a grateful believer in Jesus christ I bring pizza because pizza is just a big part of my life when I was a kid at home my adopted mom my mother she would have me have personal pizzas I could cook them I could eat them save them share them with my dolls but we would go to a pizzaria place me and my father my mother it was l at edgewater inn and I would drink shirley temples and eat pizza and it’s just it’s a big part of my life and at my house that I live in we we eat pizza we cook meals for each other and we just try to get along communicate I love it I love it thank you for bringing your pizza

unhealthy yeah okay hello can you hear me yeah okay hello my name is annette callahan and I moved here to colorado last year with two of my five children and I I moved to denver seminary I actually live on campus and today I brought with me um it’s probably not what you were thinking I was going to have in this bucket I don’t have fried chicken macaroni and cheese and collard greens

all good food but but I bought something a snack that means a lot to my family and it’s rice crispy treats yay all right I didn’t get one of those first service so we gotta we gotta share these things they have a little bit of peanut butter inside all right

so okay so if you guys don’t know me I’m darwin I also happen to be uh the facility manager here at south uh me and my wife moved here over six years ago coming up on october uh we’ve been here I have my beautiful daughter eliana which is five which is a joy uh we love a lot of food in our and our family it’s always a joke I’m always talking about food and she’s a foodie too so I love food so if you know anything about me I love food I actually brought some breakfast burritos the other thing that I was going to bring since we ran out of power it was going to be tamales so I owe you that iran yes but guatemala and tamales that’s what I was going to bring but we had power this morning so I kind of ran in like oh but anyways but yeah so we love food in our house we’re always talking about food either I’m talking about food or I’m going to go eat food so you’re just like Jesus I I I really do love like the aspect like like what you were talking about I think like I really love his model that he always was going to eat food coming from somewhere or just going to somewhere else so I mean amen to Jesus on that I love it I love it well I brought this beautiful colorful fruit sprinkles called hegel um my mom immigrated from the netherlands um to the states when she was 10 and that was over 60 years ago now but um so there were little things that we always had in our house that are kind of unusual to other families I’m sure I don’t know how many of you put sprinkles on bread but this is what we do so this did you want to try one yeah that’s really one yeah it’s really good I love it

it’s really tasty I like your sprinkles did you like it yes yeah like it’s a cream cheese sprinkly bread I’m loving it

yeah so so I want to ask you friends when when is an example of like when you have really felt like connected to the Jesus community and and what has that meant

okay so um there is of course when I’m here present when I’m coming to the business meetings when I’m coming and I’m being involved but when I was lost and broken out on the streets I was capable of going to venues I called them venues venues would be for other people would be like down at city park where all the lunch trucks come and you buy your own food well for me it was going to um a meal that was served by volunteers at the catholicism church cathodeless church and just that hardiness of the food the meats the potatoes the the sometimes the desserts afterwards but just that certain person that for that broken soul I was without the love of Jesus christ not being in them I wouldn’t have experienced to get me to this point and being at this point I can be that love for someone else and being here at this table means that

you know our lives are not the devourer of God our lives are christ Jesus I feel so close to people but I have so much stuff that separates me but that makes me an individual makes everyone an individual so I’m just kind of like now and since it’s been in the past and hopefully what’s coming in the future yeah yeah I love that they met you in a meal yeah you didn’t have to answer it that way but you did I know I didn’t know what to say I said it because I’m first I love it I love it and that how about you how have you felt connected to the Jesus community what’s that meant to you oh thank you that’s a great question and I want to just pause and say thank you pastor yvonne for inviting me to this table today thank you like I’ve said I moved here from last year but I didn’t say where from I moved here from wisconsin with two of my five children I am a denver seminary student and um I got a sense of community right there on campus when we moved there two weeks when we moved there we only had a few items in our in our in our car and it took two weeks for the pie to bring out the rest of our items so when they the delivery well the movers came they didn’t want to wear a mask they didn’t want to wear gloves like we had discussed and and that was a issue for us and so there was some tension there and to my surprise the community came alongside of me to help me through that difficult time and these are young white kids who show Jesus love to me and my children I didn’t expect it I knew I needed help and God knew he had prepared the way for me my family and I to be there in a christian community and those students there they showed christ love and intact and the way they resolved the situation the way they rallied behind me and my family and they volunteered to move our items from the pod into our apartment and that was huge for me that was healing to me because I didn’t I didn’t want to move all those items and I had my two of my five children with me and I didn’t have to ask they met a need they saw me they met at me the only thing I was instructed to do was to direct them as to where to put the boxes but because I tried to be organized I labeled all the boxes mom stuff you know my daughter stuff my son items and everybody came together and with less than an hour and a half all our things were moved from the pod into our apartment and there and I tried to feed these kids I tried let me give you let me order some pizza let me get something to drink and their instructions to me was no miss annette just let us help you and that meant a lot I mean I was taken by surprise I was speechless I had to walk away I had to pray get myself together and I had to be vulnerable I was vulnerable I had to be willing to receive help from people that don’t look like me who didn’t really know me but they know Jesus and they saw the Jesus and me and that their love and kindness the way they handle um each box each item just sit healing to my my body my spirit and to my children as well so that was my first experience living in a christian a Jesus community in years and I didn’t know that that was a void in my life until then wow yeah it’s like they just treated you like family I love that I love it how about for you darwin well um it’s been for me it’s been pretty unique I guess uh my entire life I always found a place uh to belong like like I said in the first service it was um uh I didn’t have my parents growing up so I was very hurt so I didn’t know where to belong as a kid I always had a sense there was something greater than God but I didn’t know what that was and I would go to the catholic church in the sense of that but I didn’t know any of that there was nobody to instruct me my parents left me when I was young and out of that derived a lot of her a lot of things that I went to different places trying to find a place to belong and that was very hard so I went down the path of drinking smoking partying I also went to sherp clubs I went to I did a lot of things that I should have done and that I wish I would have been exposed to but the beautiful thing about that what came out of that my mom started going to actually spanish church and uh they started loving me and even God was given an insight about me I’m like how do they know that I’m like nobody told them that because I used to steal from a job that I used to work when I was a teenager and uh and the guy’s like God told me that you’re stealing and I was like you just blew me away I knew God was real God was calling I didn’t understand it because all my life always been told I don’t belong or like I’m not worth it um you know I’m like I’m nothing but one of the things that gave me a sense of community was the people in God’s kingdom and also you know you know as I’ve gotten older too you know when we moved from indiana here having the the staff and I remember when we first met ryan post and I didn’t say this in the first service but he was like man I told him like you’re going to be your family and he would they were in the church here in south hassan I mean in one shape or another you guys been a sense of community you know because you go to a place where you don’t know anybody you’re starting all over and you’re like okay in a way you get lost in the sense that because we need one another and I love that you’ve been talking about this they want to just bring so much joy to hear this so but that’s that’s where I guess the community has come across the body being the body yeah I love how you’re describing you know coming into that church and how you felt so much love and acceptance but you also felt truth and and that was all that was comforting to you almost um to to feel that Jesus way I love that I love it as I was just reflecting on when hospitality has meant the most to me honestly it’s those times that are highlighted where I’m the one who’s different and I’m the one who feels welcomed to someone else’s table like there have been moments where I was in bosnia and they just we sat down on the floor and we had just a coffee table and they brought out a little bit of coffee in the middle of winter in this huge snowstorm and there was this welcoming and I didn’t even speak bosnian so I couldn’t even communicate with them but there was so much non-verbal communication and love through hospitality excuse me um and at the table like this is what that does it brings people together in a way that we all are human we all are are needing one another and just like we need the food that’s in front of us and and like the the offering of nonverbal love and and affection that’s what gets to happen around a table like this so I’m curious from you guys what like how do you pursue community here we mentioned that it’s kind of tough here I’m going to ask you about some obstacles later but how do you pursue community

all right I’ll go first so one of the things that I think I struggle with this because I was asking God like I don’t have a small group and I was put in excuses um but then God opened my eyes in the sense of like so I also like I said I’m the facility manager here so I actually started building relationships with a team that helps me here and then realizing you know that’s my sense of community like I do life with you guys and then also with the kids ministry because my wife does the kids ministry also so we started just inviting people over and just investing as much as they were on us I think they invest more on us that we got out of them but it’s just it’s just so sweet that they got out of us I mean but it’s just so sweet to see that and sometimes like um it’s hard like like you said it’s very hard like we have struggled with that here but yeah in what way have you experienced the challenge of it um I guess I thought it was just gonna be um the challenge was I thought you know people are gonna know everything about my life and people is going to be cheering me on and and that’s been a struggle sometimes it’s been lonely you feel like you’re alone and you’re like I never thought about that but thank God it’s like I did give you that team yeah so you can call them they can pray for you they can be there when you need them and when I started realizing that it made my sense of awareness different it made me not feel alone yeah because I feel like that’s the hard part sometimes I guess that we can feel alone and we feel like we’re doing this journey by ourselves but we’re not yeah amen thank you well I build community by really being my authentic self so I should and starting with my neighbors these young people all around me I’m like the oldest campus now and I had to get past that you know it’s like it’s an honor and a privilege to be there and I started just oh when I walk out of my apartment the first person I see I they greet me the little things that a good morning changes your day a smile changes changed my day and it’s still happening today I’ve been living there for a little over a year and every day I am greeted so one of the things I tried to do God just put on my heart to do and I had to step out of my comfort zone to do this is prepare a meal for a couple of students once a week and I had to be very clear about my intentions and they had to be willing to accept me um for providing this meal for them so it’s one thing for me to hear okay God said prepare a meal it’s another thing to re to to receive it to welcome that meal so I was blessed in that way and um and it brought a lot of joy to my life to just say okay once a week I’m going to cook a meal for a couple of students and yes I made rice krispies treats yes I made some chicken and uh different other staples um that we eat as a family and that’s one that was one way I was able to continue to bridge the gap between me being older me being a black woman and just nurture relationships on campus well I tell you I had not experienced this type of community in over 30 years so good I love it thank you um I’ve um I’ve started coming to watchman I’ve been going to washroom for about a year and a half maybe almost two years um we have a thread that we text message about not just on their own needs our family’s needs and other persons needs to pray for I’m on the greeting team um that’s my support being able to be at the door of God God’s house and not at the tent of the wicked that is hard for me because people have had a heart for me when I was in a halfway house when I was on the streets when I am now people here at south fellowship have really reached inside themselves and heard my testimony heard who I am and are willing to come up next to me and be supportive of me in situations I love it I love it and what challenges have you ladies faced in terms of can be finding community or pursuing community here myself yeah myself um I’m not worthy runs to my mind

you’ll never be that person that’s completely accepted um and I have to let myself know that God thinks I’m worthy and he accepts me so in exchange I should do that for myself and um being a disposition of a person of my background I have to always keep in tune with another person need what is what do I have that I can fulfill someone else’s need with my resources if I don’t have that resource can I show them that resource to go and get that for themselves you know like I’ll have like little claws that come through my not claws but um clues that will come into my mind that are about the situation that is good for the situation but of course there’s evil times when there’s like no but God is omnipotent and omnipresent and his holy spirit leads me to help other people yeah to be that person for someone else I love it first service you got to share a little bit more specifically about in the house you know some of the challenges that you have and and the way that you overcome that is like seeing the other person see like having compassion for that person and and then being able to move toward them with those resources right right which I love yeah they’re so they’re the women are coming in broken but they only have so much of a thread that they’re hanging on to yeah there’s like there’s so much diversity there’s african-american there’s I’m nigerian and and european and british and then there’s caucasian and then there’s people that are not serving God but have known God there’s people that are that are serving christ that you know I can I can only I can’t push my faith onto someone else I can also just be a light of his guiding towards every day to hopefully you know they’ll grab a hold of christ they’ll be that person yeah in in their little heart in their in their heart for their community of their life but we all live together mm-hmm I know I’m not talking like I was noticing all the

what kind of challenges for you annette I thought she was gonna go to darwin I already spun that one on him earlier okay yeah well you know I’m going to keep it 100. when you’re at a table with a diverse group of people there’s going to be comments made that are sometimes offensive so and we have to overcome that by one being authentic speaking the truth in love and giving a lot of grace and not giving up it doesn’t mean don’t you know stop meeting it means you know you talk through it you say well and you teach people about you my like I’m a black woman teach people about your black culture you know uh so that’s one of the things challenges that you know I faced a little bit on campus but because I’m older and more a little more seasoned and I I’m rooted in knowing who I am in God when those situations arise it didn’t throw me off where I’m sad mad and disgusted it threw me where I had to figure out go to God say how do I address this student in a loving way and not damage our relationship but bring a a wealth of knowledge and understanding so it took a spiritual maturity on my part and that’s what I think we need to have also when we create these spaces and it’s a good thing to bring each other together but when like pastor yvonne mentioned there’s a little bit of tension somebody says a little something that you know didn’t land right on you you know you just in love and the love of christ goes through just filter through and work out that situation does that make sense yeah okay yeah okay I mean one way that I’m pursuing community is doing this right I mean like every one of these beautiful individuals when I gave them a phone call and was like hey I’d love to invite you to the table and and to come and like be in public and all of them were like yes let’s do it like I feel like we’re hungry as people to be together and to like actually know each other’s stories not just say a friendly hi how are you you know how was your week anything new but actually like learning who you are and learning more about your heritage and and what makes you tick or what challenges are in your life that you need to overcome like like this is community that’s happening right here and it’s just this easy friends um so I’m curious as we kind of land the plane on this conversation what’s what’s your advice for people when when we think about being together at the table like what can we do what steps can we practically take as we try to become a Jesus culture really like a Jesus people changing culture I personally think being humble at heart not humble in mind but be strengthened to be upright of Jesus christ listening to someone else taking them in not taking from them but understanding who they are in their life and then just letting God thread thread his wants his needs into the conversation and then communicate if you know Jesus pray in your heart pray just that deep down pressure of God would just save them from the from from hell from from sin yeah amen that’s good well what’s coming to me is to just do it if God is putting it on your heart to invite someone over to your house to have a barbecue a picnic or what have you just do it because we know cause pastor yvonne mentioned the devil doesn’t want that he wants to keep everybody separated so God is the one who’s nudging you to say invite that person who doesn’t look like you who might speak a different language than you do over to your home and and like emilia was saying prepare the table pray about every aspect of that the dinner and then you know it takes a lot of courage but it’s a lot of fun in this too it’s a lot of fun getting to know people who who don’t look like you and have different experiences and that’s another thing the devil doesn’t want you to know the joy and fun that comes up with at the table of diversity so it’s and it’s trust trust in the God in you your motives and intentions are to bridge the gap and build a healthy Jesus community right around you and it doesn’t take a lot of money these rice crispy trees only cost about you know six dollars to make and you know uh just do it that’s what I would say just do it I love it I like I like what you said also I think it’s intentional do your friends look like you or they look different um I think I shared that earlier uh the first service I think is important because to me it challenged me like in the sense like I want like how I said I’m not racist I’m not I have my beautiful wife that she’s white and I just tell people I’m just I’m an opportunist because you know my family another sense of that and I think God loves culture in the sense of that let’s be open to that again like I just love that you you’re talking about this because I think there’s something as the church hasn’t been talked about in intentional relational [ __ ] in the sense of that and that’s what God wants intentional relationships that’s what he intended with us and and I think that’s what he wants he wants us to break us from our regular modes and just to expand us in the sense to make us break us to his likeness and that’s why I love when you were even talking about that Jesus broke bread he did all the time that’s why I love food I mean I always tell people this wasn’t built on salads you know so you know so God is good like in the sense I always say that make it intentional like for the people that you buy in your house love on them and and I love that you guys saying prepare the way that’s what john did for Jesus you know he prepared the way so let’s prepare the way for the other people they’re gonna come and just the goodness that he has done in our lives we can share that with them also amen earlier this week pastor aaron uh was also challenging me in terms of what it looks like to be alone at the table sometimes we feel alone because we’re isolated individually but sometimes we’re alone at the table because we’re around all the same kind of people and maybe the invitation is is to break out of that space breaking out of the the you know monochromatic worlds that we like to create create because it’s easier right and and then God creates or the enemy loves to create separation between monochromatic groups too and and this bringing together in in the Jesus kingdom is so much more beautiful and an array of diversity coming together so my my hope for you and for us as a community of Jesus people is that we prioritize hospitality in a city that it’s not hospitable and and that means that the ground actually there’s friction under our ground to move toward people and you all are a beautiful friendly bunch like I think colorado is actually such a beautifully friendly culture but we have to like take it a step further to actually ask those deeper questions to find out what’s really going on to be able to ask for needs or reach out or say our own needs and not be afraid um in that vulnerable space so friends it’s gonna take a fight this is gonna be more of a battle ground here and I think we have to fight for connection in the battle for separation the enemy wants to separate us but because we are a Jesus people because we’re filled with God’s spirit it brings together with with love and compassion and and purpose right the verses that I wanted to leave us with is that if you all are a new creation in christ if you’ve you’re in that that wave of the Jesus movement you’re in the wave of his holy spirit movement you all are ministers there’s not there’s not an out here friends like you it’s not just the job of the church to do this it says the old is gone and the new is here all of this is from God who reconciled us to himself he’s connected us to himself through christ and he has commissioned us he’s given all of us for it’s not just me being a pastor you you know one day being a chaplain you know like it’s not just a church body or and then like the church staff that does this you all are not off the hook we are ministers of reconciliation God was reconciling the world to himself in christ not counting people’s sins against them and he has committed to us the message of reconciliations that we would be christ’s ambassadors so let’s pray together that we would be able to fight for connection in this battle for separation father God king Jesus holy spirit I thank you so much for these beautiful friends around me at this table and the ways that this is a picture of glory you bring um people that are different and diverse and and with interesting stories and beautiful backgrounds and challenges and and unique things all together because of your spirit that day at pentecost you spoke in everyone’s unique tongue and I thank you that you didn’t speak the common language of the day to bring people to that one place but you met them all so individually and we all long to come to the table in a place where we are are uniquely ourselves but that we are welcomed with the Jesus people so I just pray lord that south fellowship church would become a church of even greater commitment and prioritizing of hospitality that you would use us to be countercultural in this place in denver where we feel the separation we feel the enemy wanting to move us apart lord bring us together by your spirit we pray in Jesus name amen amen friends you can stand with us we’re gonna pl uh aaron’s gonna play some music and if you feel like gosh I really need to take this a step toward connection I need to fight this battle we’ve got some people up front that are ready and willing to pray for you and that you can feel face to face with another human being and feel like you’re in this journey not alone but together let’s pray

come together

strangers names I’m gonna sing that verse again um I just think about this idea that we’ve heard uh growing up overseas I grew up in africa I had the opportunity to travel around the world with the mission agency and to asia and various different places and I’m convinced and I won’t give you a whole nother sermon on this but I’m convinced uh from multiple passages and from experience that God has deposited the fullness of his goodness not in one nation but among the peoples of the world and so if we want to see what the church is actually supposed to be like then we have to fight for this this kind of diverse unity because otherwise we don’t see the full picture and if it’s uncomfortable then we’re going to be super uncomfortable in heaven because it’s every tribe tongue and language will be worshipping him the throne the fullness of what the church is supposed to be so let’s sing that again people come together strangers neighbors our blood is one

children generations

of every nation of kingdom

evil remember where our our salvation forever evil fix your eyes on this one truth God is manly in love with you so take courage hold on be strong remember where our health comes from

let’s sing that first verse one more time people come together strangers

our neighbors is one

children of generations

of every nation

thank you so much for being with us um before you leave we do have one video um pastor alex is going to make a little appearance and give us an announcement so you can be seated for this

lead pastor here at south fellowship and we’ve just been talking over the last three weeks and today about community about what this new Jesus community looks like and and how it includes inviting people to the table but when we think of community one of the temptations is to think specifically about south and that part of community and yet the one Jesus seems most interested in is his bigger kingdom story and so today I have some news that is sad but also joyful because it’s a kingdom story a few months ago we took the staff out to a conference it was a conference that was about listening to the voice of the spirit it was a conference that was about how churches grow and develop but it was also a conversation about how churches start and so during that time our good friends aimee and darwin palmer heard that pull that tug to plant a church and now as they’ve processed with good friends and family over the last few months have decided this is the right time for them to step boldly into that so at the end of july they’ll be stepping down from their roles here at south and moving into the first steps towards that new so there’s a couple of things there a couple of lessons to learn maybe one never take all the staff to a conference because you never know what’s going to happen but we can pray for them we can be excited for them and we can start asking God what is next for south we have this beautiful group of kids that we want to nurture and grow and see live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus we believe that while God has something new for amy and darwin in his big and good kingdom he also has that thing for us as well in several weeks we’ll have an opportunity to thank them to bless them just to celebrate all of the wonderful things God has used them to do here at south but today we just wanted to give you that information and let you begin that process of praying for them on their journey and praying for us as a community and asking what is next for south but this is a season where we just want to keep you informed with what’s going on and just some of those changes so we pray for them we’re excited for our future and we’re thankful for this big kingdom story that we get to be part of so darwin thank you so much for joining me at the table and thank you for all that you’ve done for south and we’re like alex said the kingdom is so much bigger and so we get that’s what hospitality does right we get to come together and we also get to spread out and continue to multiply his kingdom so friends today as you leave be blessed be filled with connection to the lord and to this community but also fight for connection in this world of as fighting against you for separation be blessed friends have a great week and go prioritize hospitality

Radical Hospitality | Back to the Table (Part 3)2024-06-12T14:38:15-06:00

Spirit at the Table | Back to the Table (Part 2)

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you guys you were obedient for once uh if you’re visiting my name’s alex I’m one of the pastors here if you’re watching online it’s great to have you here with us as well uh we’re gonna move through some elements we’re gonna move on to the sermon in a few moments after announcements we’re gonna come to this place that we call the table sometimes communion eucharist mass you may know it by lots of different names but we’re going to come and conclude our service with that in in just a little while but before we do that I’d like to invite some friends that have been with us uh just journeying with us as a community for the last a few months together andrea and andy are gonna be returning to bolivia soon and I wanted them to tell you just a little bit of their story and what they’re experiencing out there it just to me captivates some of what we’re talking about in our community at the moment as we walk through this early church in acts and what it means uh to see the spirit work so guys just start off one it’s been fun to have you here just for maybe 12 months we had some friends that were using the mission house that ended up joining us just around the corner and they disappeared there was some sadness as they went back to the mission field but also joy you guys turned up a few weeks later and it was just like wow this house has become this source of joy for the community thank you for participating but but we just I’d love the community to hear just a little bit about one what took you out to bolivia in the first place but just some of the stories and ways that you’re inviting people into encounters with Jesus are just really exciting so take it away you want to go no okay um yeah we live right around the corner in what is now called the mission house thanks for naming that alex and this community has been a real place that has fed our souls our kids have been in youth group we’ve been here and it’s it’s a gift um and so coming out of kovaid for us was pretty difficult we lost our pastor in bolivia to covid and that was pretty difficult and so we went back over spring break and we’re going back so we decided a long time ago to kind of cash in on the american dream and move abroad and just move into the darker sides of town and figure out what that looks like and we’ve been there for it’ll be 21 years next month serving in the red light district yeah living in the red light district so what does it what does a week look like just encountering that community and how we always talk about living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus how you help people to do that might look very different based on the context that you’re in and so tell us about your context because it sounds fascinating there’s never one typical week I can tell you that um we live and work at 12 or 13 000 feet in the andes of bolivia um we walk in the red light district with women in prostitution fighting trafficking from the streets and so um we have been going to the brothels for almost every week for the past couple of decades and we go with the heart to just be with people in dark places and love them and encourage them and then from there we’ve built a ministry of opportunities and healing um for them and their children what that looks like it just depends on what Jesus does that week which is so so one of the things I think I I experienced even just working somewhere like central detroit where there was a lot of poverty was there were all these conversations with people that would go something like this I would love to follow Jesus I believe I should be following Jesus and yet I didn’t finish high school I make 800 a week selling cocaine or something like that and and there are no jobs to support a family like mine for someone who didn’t finish high school and almost this point lingering question what does Jesus want me to do um and I imagine just for you encountering some of the girls that work in these environments that are really caught in this industry that is very hard to escape um and it’s maybe it feels like the only recourse for for getting a living that that conversation must just be fascinating and just at times heartbreaking

I think in in my time on the streets and walking with women I would say almost 100 of those women don’t want to be there and don’t feel like there’s another opportunity and so I think the way Jesus meets with us is pretty individual and so I think we try to do that too and just trust Jesus with each person we do try to offer lots of different opportunities to

yeah to meet with and and trust Jesus along the way so sometimes it’s learning how to be a better mom and sometimes it’s learning how to fellowship and trust and sometimes it’s working through the abuse that she’s experienced and sometimes it’s just learning new skills and how do I get a job and how can I be a better person um it it takes all kinds of different forms but I think um we’re just there to listen to what Jesus is saying and do our very best to provide whatever we can for her to make the next step language should we talk about inviting people in and about providing moments to encounter Jesus and then with Jesus you see throughout these narratives these gospels sometimes he provides the next steps sometimes the next step is challenging sometimes it’s something that they have to do and there’s all these different ways that he continually meets with people and brings transformation

it’s not our job to save or rescue or change anybody and so when when the lord meets with her like he’ll do the work and we’re just going to be faithful along the way so for those of you that have journeyed with us for a while at south you know that we have just a background of missionary partnerships with people all over the place and it’s just so exciting when God brings in people that have common heartbeats and you get to hear some of the ways that God is working and so it’s been a short time but it’s been joyful to have you present with us but but also I’m thankful for partnerships that can continue in friendships and relationships that can grow I’d love to pray for you guys and the work that you’re doing and and just express the joy but also the sadness that you you guys will be involved in somewhere else Jesus thank you for these two thank you for their family that are in a place that has a lot of a lot of darkness there and then yet a lot of light as well there are human beings made in God’s image that have that beauty within them and so thank you for these two and their family their willingness to to be there their joy in being there the gift of their lives to that community thank you for this time that we’ve enjoyed with them being present with them thank you for the way that you’ve called south to partner with people all over the place and we celebrate that we are so glad that we get to see where you are growing things and we get to water them amen thank you I’m going to invite teresa to come up on stage he’s going to finish the rest of the announcements for us

can we give them a hand we want to send you off well

thank you so much for being here with us today well good morning friends my name is teresa I’m the communications director here at south and we’re just going to pivot a little bit and talk about some things we have coming up in our community but before I do that I want to say a special welcome to anyone who might be new here we know that walking into a new church a new place might feel a little awkward a little intimidating and we want to make that those feelings go away so the best way for that to happen is for us to meet you and one easy simple way for that to happen is to stop by the welcome desk on your way out today we have a volunteer that would love to get to know you uh we have a little connect card for you to fill out and what happens when you do that is first off you get a free coffee over at atlas so that’s a plus and then our connections director lauren will be in contact with you we’d love to get you plugged in find out more about your story um and just start building that relationship um the other thing that we have today is our all-church business meeting I don’t know where our slides went but hopefully they’ll come back oh this side okay perfect thank you um our altruist business meeting is happening right after this service we have lunch in the back uh if you want to be sneaky I guess you could just grab lunch and leave I I’m not going to stop you but it’s going to be there we’d still love for you to join us um we’re going to be talking about a lot of different things at this meeting business meeting might sound a little bit boring or whatever but it’s really I actually enjoy looking forward to this event all the time because we get to see what God has been doing in all the different ministry areas of this church and let me tell you it is a lot you guys do so much in this church and it is wonderful to come together and celebrate the things that have been going on over the past year and look forward and see what God might have for us in the next year so we’re talking about those things we’re talking about finances um and we’re just gonna celebrate and thank God for everything that he’s done for us in this area so we’d love to have you join us right after this service there’s lots of other things coming up we have and choir ice cream social tonight we have a food bank ice cream social coming up if you are lactose intolerant we do have events for you as well uh I would check the south fellowship app sign up for our e-newsletter visit our website if I was up here telling you everything that’s going on alex wouldn’t get a chance to speak so please do your research check out what’s going on uh if you missed last week we had our circle launch out in the lobby we still have a lot of different ways to get connected through that we had over 100 people I think sign up for circles so if you’re looking for ways to get involved this summer be sure to join one of those and finally if you are interested in joining our giving community we would be so grateful to partner with you in that way we can’t do all the things that we’re going to celebrate at this annual meeting without the financial support which is just so exciting to be able to do that together if you would like to give if you’re watching online you can give on the app or at stylefellowship.org give and if you’re here in person we also have the giving boxes in the back as you head out today um but without further ado let’s continue on in our gathering this morning

good morning friends great to have you here today we are in this series uh back to the table it’s a reflection back to a series that we spent some time with last year in luke it’s following Jesus as he gathers often around tables and in community what we see with Jesus in this book luke is that he’s it seems always going to a meal at a meal or leaving a meal it’s a constant practice of his to be in community and so community is really where this series lands and and there’s a sadness to that because this week I temporarily lost faith in community and in the goodness of humanity I had my ipad stolen and I had my ipad stolen in a place that I should never have been that I just don’t belong it was while getting my hair cut it was this poor decision right it’s like I knew I shouldn’t go I knew that the day was going to be bad anytime that I choose to get a haircut and I know that when I go to a place I’ll tell them how much I want off and I know repeatedly they’ll cut off more than I ask them to and so when the style is true to form cut off four inches instead of two I knew that the day was on a downward uh spiral it’s maybe my fault because I gave him the measurement in centimeters instead of inches I had faith in his ability to convert simple mathematics I don’t really I I can use inches as well I’m uh very adapt in different pieces of language but I I was there getting my hair cut and then afterwards looked around and my tablet had just disappeared and so there’d be no one in there it was particularly quiet there was just me and one other person getting their hair haircut and and this person the stylist seemed to know particularly well so when I complained he said no he can’t have been stolen and his assistant said no it definitely was I remember seeing him sitting there with it it must have been tim and so we had the awkward moment where the stylist had to call up his friend and say did you steal my customer’s ipad it’s just a difficult question to ask and his answer of course was no of course I didn’t steal your customer’s ipad and then this horrifying pause when he went oh no I did I’m so embarrassed I can’t believe it apparently he had one that looked similar apparently apple in their just mass production of things of course this terrible dilemma where someone’s ipad can look exactly like yours and he’d driven off with it looked across on his passenger seat and found that my ipad was now sitting with his ipad and my faith in humanity was restored when he drove it all the way back to my house for me and turned up in this brand new huge suv looking unlike someone who would need to steal my ipad in order to provide himself with food to live we think about community and we have those challenging moments maybe maybe you’ve had those moments where you’ve experienced something and said I don’t know if I want to do community I don’t know if I want more friends maybe I have the people that I have I’m doing life with the people I’m doing life with my very small core is enough maybe you’ve known them for years perhaps you’ve lived in one of those environments that just requires years and years to build any kind of traction denver is kind of transient so maybe denver there’s this opportunity to to meet new people and to build friendships more quickly but I have friend a friend who does ministry in an area where nobody leaves and nobody moves and very few people come in and one of his reflections has been this I live in a place where I’ve now known people for five years the problem is they’ve all known each other for 30 years and I can never catch up if I stay another 10 years they’ll have known each other for 40 something years and it just doesn’t seem like I can build that community maybe we have tensions with community for all sorts of different reasons we we want people that are very similar to us we don’t want to have to do the early work and yet this early church movement that we’re investigating this movement that was left with the task of copying what Jesus did and putting it into practice well they are a distinct community of people last week we looked at the story of this old festival shavuot this jewish festival where a group of people were told became a community the rabbis would say of shavuot they became a nation and shavuot and and this shavuot same as pentecost this festival we celebrated last week we might say that the early church became a community became a movement on pentecost this early church seems centered around relationships so when we read that Jesus was constantly going to a meal at a meal or leaving a meal well it seems they reflected what he did they took his practice and made it their own they constantly gathered together this is my sort of thesis about the early church that it looks more like a circle than a line we talked about circles last week and about gathering together they gathered together regularly in these smaller groups and we had 124 people sign up for circles you can be part of it too if you go outside and find something that you’re passionate about to sign up to but it also looked more like a table than an auditorium it looked more like a table than an auditorium this early church in following Jesus in being empowered by this piece of this this spirit that we’ll talk about in just a second they looked like a table and not just like an auditorium why did they do what they did and and just let’s have a look again at what’s energizing this movement that that grows so quickly that changes the world so dramatically we’re told in acts chapter 2 when the day of pentecost came they were all together in one place suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting they saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them all of them were filled with the holy spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the spirit enabled them if you are new to church that language might be very strange what do you do with that we’ll get back there in just a second now they were staying in jerusalem God fearing jews from every nation under heaven when they heard this sound a crowd came together in bewilderment because each one heard their own language being spoken utterly amazed they asked aren’t all these who are speaking galileans aren’t all these simple people is the language that we might read into that aren’t all these nebraskans or iowans or something like that I’m just giving you a hard time you people from other places then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language parthians medes and elamites residents of mesopotamia judea and cappadocia pontius and asia phrygia and pamphlea egypt and the parts of libya near cyrene visitors from rome both jews and converts to judaism cretans and arabs we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues and then they ask this question that we began to ponder last week and we’ll finish with this week amazed and perplexed they asked one another what does this mean some however made fun of them and said they have had too much wine and now at this moment when this church has started to unleash itself on the world it’s the job of peter one of the leaders of this small group of Jesus followers to stand up and he’s going to answer their question the same question that we might have what what does this mean he gets to answer that now his answer begins in an interesting fashion when you go to seminary one of the things they try and reinforce you is the beginning of your sermon is fairly important it has to be interesting it has to connect with people if people don’t find it interesting they just switch off it has to make a statement and peter is about to give the first sermon that takes place in this new church movement he gets this responsibility this possibility and he’s about to deliver potentially the worst opening that any sermon has had ever in history maybe the worst since jonah the prophet of the old testament went into a town of hundreds of thousands of people and said basically repent and turn to God otherwise you’re all going to die this one may be worse than that one here we go this is what he says then peter stood up with the eleven all these possibilities come to mind what’s he gonna say how’s he gonna announce this story of Jesus raised his voice and addressed the crowd fellow jews and all you live who live in jerusalem let me explain this to you listen carefully to what I say here we go these people are not drunk that’s his opening to the first sermon it sounds like something someone would say when getting pulled over by a police officer you open the window and the police officer comes to the window and you say I’m not drunk honestly I promise you I haven’t been drinking is the first moment first introduction to any kind of sermon in the early church it seems like such a missed opportunity these people are not drunk as you suppose it’s only nine in the morning it’s such a weird defense and yet it gets much better I’ve often contemplated how God felt about this first moment that the church is unleashed on the world this first opening line it kind of you hear you’re like okay well it can only go up from here it can’t get any worse than this and yet I’ve heard some sermons that definitely have matched it over the earth uh I think the first time I was asked to give a sermon I was asked to speak for 15 minutes thought I would remember everything I wanted to say talked for about 45 seconds and then sat down and everyone very generously clapped and all the things that they do when he is 16 years old and trying to do something really difficult it’s only nine o’clock in the morning is what he says but then he goes on to unpack something more concrete something more distinct about what is happening here a more definite answer to their question what does all this mean no this is what was spoken by the prophet joel in the last days God says I will pour out my spirit on all people but what does he mean by that that language if you’ve been in church for a long time you may say okay I think I have some sense of what is going on but but what did it mean to people that first heard it so for a long time there’d been language around I will pour out my spirit on all people in lots of different ways in this jewish old testament that promise was not perhaps distinct sometimes it looked different to how it looks now but it was there it was lurking under the surface but as we unpack this one of the things that we might know one of the important things is this word spirit in almost every ancient language is the same word as the word for breath when you read in the greek language the word numa it means spirit yes it also means breath when you read in the hebrew language the word ruach it means spirit yes but it also means breath what we see here is this idea yes I will pour out my spirit but also I will pour out my breath on all people in some languages today some modern languages the idea of the holy spirit is still referred to literally as the holy breath something was going to happen we were told where God would come and he would breathe on or in his people and that would transform things or change things but this puts us in some theological territory that some of us might say we find a little bit difficult to navigate maybe a little bit confusing maybe throws us off a little bit in our following of this Jesus story you might be familiar with the word trinity and yet for a whole bunch of people trying to follow Jesus over the years they would say that when they hear trinity they find the concept itself very difficult I’ve chatted to many people who said I can really get on board with Jesus and the idea that there is God in heaven definitely makes sense but I struggle with this idea that you seem to be sharing with me that God is one and he’s three at the same time what does it mean to talk about spirit as a person in amongst a God who is one and yet three at the same time for some of you you might say I’ve just struggled with that and kind of accepted that I would just never understand it one of the interesting things one of the things I love about this Jesus faith is it never seems to shy away from making bold statements or statements that seem like a difficulty intellectually we follow a faith for those of you that will call yourself Jesus followers who that proclaim someone died and then three days later rose again who that equally celebrates that at one point at some future point in history all of us who have died will physically rise again and it says that as a certainty with no intellectual intellectualization of it whatsoever the same might be true of this statement about God as three in one while the bible never uses the word trinity it definitely seems to reflect this idea that God is one God and yet has this reflection of three different persons and it says it knowing I would suggest that that might be a struggle for some of us intellectually if your goal if my goal is to understand intellectually this idea of three and one then I wonder if we’re not missing the main point I could give you a couple of illustrations this morning I could grab h2o and I could show it you in the form of steam and as ice and as liquid and I could say look you can see something that is three in one I could pick other illustrations from nature and yet we all know that those illustrations eventually they break down at some point how can we ever really take the idea that God is three and there’s three distinct persons who has all of their own personality and yet they are one when really we’re talking about the divine being we’re not talking about something like water steam and ice somewhere the intellectualization of it is actually damaging somewhere this thing is here and it is expressed because it is experienced not because it’s intellectualized somewhere this idea that God is three in one is not a statement that the bible makes it’s a story that the bible leads us to embrace somewhere we take this and we intellectualize it and we end up killing it the bible the writers for some reason never choose to use the word trinity it’s just not in there and yet we see reflected over and over again this relationship that God seems to have within himself that is compelling and and was experienced by the first followers of Jesus these first followers of Jesus were jewish people that had known that there was one God and that was very clear in their writings and their understandings and then they experienced Jesus they experienced Jesus who came and explained this father to them in ways that they could never have understood before and talked about himself as a son and to jewish people listening they were pretty clear on the fact that this language meant that he was placing himself as equal with God and you see them as they make these faith statements as they start to uncover who they believe Jesus is and hear the language that he uses and maybe the the big culmination is the moment that john in his entry to his biography or gospel says in the beginning was the word he was there before anything else and he was God and he was with God and he embraces this idea as Jesus as God living in human flesh and then Jesus as he starts to unpack just exactly what is going to happen starts to say I’m not going to be here forever I’m going to send someone to be with you not something some one and this person will be a constant comforter this person will relate to you in a specific way will not just be with you but eventually will be in you and he’s going to be the person that when this thing explodes and goes everywhere he’s not limited by geography or footsteps but he’s present in the heart of everyone who calls himself my follower that trinity is something that we see as experienced yes there is the importance of theological language like this this is from the nicene creed I believe in the holy ghost the lord and the giver of life who proceeds from the father and the son who with the father and the son together is worshiped and glorified who spoke by the prophets yes that theological language is important but somewhere this thing is not just known not just intellectualized but for you and I it’s meant to be experienced this is a writer out of fuller seminary whose name I will attempt to pronounce for those of you that speak something that may be danish are probably butcher it but valli mati kaknun uh says this trinitarian doctrine like every other key christian doctrine was hammered out not in sterile study but rather in the midst of lived spirituality prayer and the worship life of the church when peter tries to explain what is happening to these people that aren’t sure what is happening he says this this is a God thing this is a spirit thing God is at work and that’s going to change everything this language of trinity is present not as a distinct concrete piece of language but as an idea all the way back through the old testament and I picked one story to share with you because I think it’s going to illuminate this just a little bit so this is genesis chapter 18. the lord appeared to abraham near the great trees of mamrie while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day a patriarch is sat relaxing probably a pretty common event for those days these guys knew how to relax they had people to do the work for them they got to sit at the entrance of the tent in the heat of the day and abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby the language is fascinating right he starts off with the lord appeared to abraham and then he moves on to say three people appeared the whole story is centered around these three people nobody else enters the story but it’s pretty clear pretty quickly these three people are not everyday ordinary people they know things that nobody else would know they see the future in a particularly clear way they talk in ways that human beings probably wouldn’t talk somewhere in this story somewhere in this moment there is an idea that the lord appeared to abraham God appeared to abraham and yet there were three that appeared to him however you read this story for a long time in church history this story was taken as an idea or a presentation of trinity in the language of the old testament so much so that when an artist from the eastern church a guy called andre rubalev began to draw pictures and stories to kind of help people who couldn’t under couldn’t read or write this to understand the stories that were being shared he drew this this is his version of the oak trees uh at mammary simply called trinity there are three figures just as there are in the story but these three figures are supposed to represent father son and spirit on the left there is the father who wears gold because it is the color of heaven the color of royalty in the middle there is the sun who wears red because it’s the color of blood and of sacrifice and he has two fingers on the table which represents the earth because of his closeness to it his sacrifice for it and then finally the third figure is supposed to be the spirit who wears blue and green because it’s the colors of earth and he has his whole hand on the table because he’s most closely associated with the earth that the table represents still present in amongst his church still bringing life to it but there’s another thing about this picture that’s fascinating it’s not present there right now it’s down at the bottom here it’s actually missing somewhere there there was some other element to this picture which disappeared it was broken off somewhere in this picture there was supposed to be a mirror you were supposed to be able to come and look at this picture and see your own face reflected in the mirror and know that the heartbeat of the abraham story was this it was God being present and inviting abraham into relationship somewhere the message of the Jesus movement and this you are invited into relationship and you are invited into relationship with father son and spirit and yet for so much of the life of the western church we would be able to identify how we understood a concrete relationship with father we would understand a concrete relationship with Jesus who died for us but most of us if we’re honest struggle to articulate what it is to relate to that spirit and yet it seems in peter’s early navigation that’s how the whole thing functions this picture is a picture of what we are invited into it’s what leonardo buff called the feast of the redeemed you are invited into this incredible redemption story that the father has willed because that’s his role that the son has worked and practiced and made happen and then the spirit comes and he applies it he enables us to live it out that is how the thing is designed to function and if you are missing part of that relationship if I’m missing part of that relationship we’re missing out on perhaps the greatest gift we’ve ever received you are made to relate to this father to this son and to this spirit as peter concludes his sermon which definitely gets better as he moves along it ends with repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the holy spirit the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off for all whom the lord our God will call you are invited into a thing that is distinctly powered by this spirit what what are they invited into yes the spirit thing but what does this early church look like why what are they invited into how might we describe it firstly it’s a spiritual movement yes of course that kind of makes sense if it’s a movement that’s crafted by the spirit you would expect to be able to describe it as a spiritual movement were told they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship to the breaking of bread and to prayer they do the things that we do together today everyone was filled with aura at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles last week I described it as this they lived in Jesus way by the spirit sway he is working in them he is transforming them the two images that I showed you may be worth showing again somewhere we either live this Jesus journey like this or like this we either do it with this spirit power that peter describes or we do it with an incredible amount of human effort and our limited capacity I did have someone after the service last week come and just let me know that I needed to know that sailing is in fact very difficult and I may have said that it was very easy compared to rowing and that may not be true and I’m willing to accept that because I’ve never done it but somewhere this power source is not our own we are harnessing a different power somewhere this power source is distinctly driven by who we are and somewhere this early church was powered by something that wasn’t theirs it’s powered by some other kind of power yes the movement is spiritual but they’re also invited into a subversive movement this spirit pulls them into a movement that is against the current flow of society this group of early Jesus followers came together and repeatedly declared this Jesus is lord and that statement was opposed to almost every power structure in the world of that day to the jewish leaders Jesus is lord was apostasy was blasphemy was an anathema it was something that you couldn’t and shouldn’t say it was to describe him as being God to the romans it was a political statement that opposed rome the roman army would travel from town to town and when they started to show that they were militarily stronger they would march into the town and they would make a declaration they would say this caesar is lord and the town could say yes we agree caesar is lord and the town will be spared and become a roman town a roman province or they could say no caesar is not lord and then the response will be then caesar wills that you die and the town would be wiped off the face of the earth whatever the power structure in place the statement Jesus is lord was subversive and against everything that the culture of the day stood for but isn’t it interesting when we enter into something like that it builds the type of community that will grow that is compelling simply because they entered into something that was subversive this community took on a spirit a certain type of life something that sociologists would say reflected communitas not community this extra type of community that seems like it bonds people together I’ve got this beautiful picture of the pilgrims fleeing england for some reason I don’t know religion or something like that some reason they chose to get out of town but what we read as we read stories about it is that it built a specific type of community this is the clapham sect opposing slavery it built a specific type of community because they were working against something that was huge and and and trying to destroy that very thing the early church is so the uh the underground church in china reflects some of those same qualities when the ruler of china began pulling down churches as the church went underground there was a fear for sociologists that it would disappear off the map completely and as the curtain began to begin to drop and they began to get access again to china they expected to find a church that was decimated and had disappeared and yet what they found was a church that had grown by five times maybe 10 times maybe 20 times what it was beforehand something about forcing underground had captured some of this subversive dna and the thing had grown and grown and grown something about opposing something bigger than you about having some conflict builds community that is a different type of community you see this in literature with the four hobbits that just want six meals a day and to live in peace and to farm their land and all those different things and yet they go off on this big quest and it builds some kind of community and tolkien even reflects the dangers that you might face if you jump into something like that you just may never know where it leads it’s a dangerous business you said going out your door you step onto the road and if you don’t keep your feet there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to I wonder if that doesn’t reflect the feelings of some simple galilean fishermen who suddenly find themselves in places like rome as this story has caught them up and produced something because they are a subversive movement captured up into this community that is deep and long-lasting my question is how do we capture that if that’s the thing if the spirit uses this thing to harness this church and to make it grow how do we capture that in a community that doesn’t require that we be subversive in a culture that doesn’t require that we be subversive because we all walked through the doors fairly freely this morning all entered into this worship of Jesus without any questions and made declarations like Jesus is lord without any fear of any ramifications whatsoever if this is what made it grow if this is what captured that distinct sense of community that they had this intense community that could be called communitas how do we capture that is there anything that we can do that reflects that subversiveness well maybe as we unpack this story just a little bit more quickly there is something that we might land on all the believers were together and had everything in common they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need there’s this reliance on each other that is compelling but I would suggest what that reflects is that they are invited into not just a spiritual movement not just a subversive movement but into a specifically spatial movement what do I mean by spatial spatial is this piece of language that reflects space yes physical but also time all kinds of different space might be reflected in that sentence and just look at this passage every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts they broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people and the lord added to their number daily those that were being saved in amongst the gathering that we do right now every day they continue to meet together in the temple courts there’s a different type of gathering that is around breaking of bread that is around hospitality that is around community they were a spatial movement spatial community in that they took the time to be with each other and I wonder if that today for us isn’t just a little bit subversive to the culture that we live in right now I’m on a bit of a rabbit hole personally in my reading with the idea of food and what it says about our culture it all began when I started reading a book by the founder of shake shack who talks about hospitality and how he’s about engaging people that walk through the doors of his many restaurants I began reading this book I began asking this question what does our food choices say about us as a community whenever we order food as a staff this is where we go

why do we go there why do we go there I would suggest for a few different reasons I would suggest we pick chipotle because everyone gets to choose their own thing I would suggest we go to chipotle because it’s quick and it arrives when it says it will arrive and I would say we picked chipotle because the quality may not absolutely be the best but we know that it will be reasonable I would say chipotle reflects the culture of the american church we want that we want speed we want efficiency and we want to get to choose what we want to choose it doesn’t seem like a food choice that will be made by the early church that enjoyed slowness that recognized the importance of care for each other and sharing things in common I wonder whether there’s something there that that we are called to push into because every single one of you I would guess probably has a table and every one of you has people that you gather around it with and yet the culture of the day says this we need to speed that up let’s make that efficient let’s feed people in batches let’s make it quick and I have a small group one of the things that I value about my small group is this we eat together every time we gather is that easy when there’s 20 people all together it’s definitely not but does it change how we interact with each other it definitely does somewhere this early church practiced this art form of hospitality whether they knew that’s what they were doing or not they gathered people in and they celebrated because they weren’t a chipotle church they were something there was something different as we think about what it is to gather around a table and what it is for a church to reflect tables more than it reflects an auditorium I just wonder if we go back to that picture that rubellev created that picture of the spirit who places his hand on the table who places his hand on the earth because he is the one that is most associated and I want it with it and I wonder what it would look like if we embraced this idea the idea that the spirit lingers by our tables the spirit lingers by our tables as we gathered gather waiting just waiting to be invited in because he operates like a gentleman who always waits for an invite but I wonder if just like that picture he longs to place his fingerprints on our tables what do I mean by fingerprints I have a four-year-old and as a fun little announcement laura and I are expecting the fourth child which is going to be a fascinating addition to uh so somewhere in a few months I’ll take a couple of weeks off so I can be in our hospital room calmly saying breathe breathe breathe in my delightfully jewelry way but this this four-year-old has fingerprints that he loves to cast wherever he goes I grabbed just a few shots of them just yesterday night this this was after everything had been cleaned by the way this is his tail chair that he has nutella on or something like that I grabbed a couple of pictures of the table that he’d recently blessed with his presence you can see just marks of where he has been and then finally the television screen even though it’s on the wall and it’s supposed to be high up somewhere there’s a whole handprint right there because wherever he goes he leaves traces of where he has been I wonder for us as we gather around tables that that spirit lingers by those tables and longs to leave traces of where he has been lungs to be present in a specific way and and that when he does that he might bring transformation through our tables I would suggest that the early church was powered not by auditoriums but powered specifically by table gatherings powered by hospitality powered by what it was to invite people in and when you invited in to give them space to linger to invite that spirit to be present and to see transformation as he made himself present when paul says do not grieve the holy spirit of God without whom you were sealed for the day of redemption I wonder if part of that grieving is not denying entry of not allowing space of reflecting father yes of sun yes but missing that voice of the spirit who has always been the power source of this church who has been the thing that is whose presence it as a bible the jewish community passover do something specific there’s a seat that’s always left open it’s a seat specifically left for elijah who we’re told will pave the way for messiah we believe that event has already taken place and what I would suggest is the spirit doesn’t need a specific chair but he does need space this movement was a spiritual one yes it was a subversive one yes but it was a spatial one and that it took the area of table created space for spirit at that table and that is how it saw transformation we’re going to come to a table that is different and yet the same because the tables that those early church gathered with were the same tables that they did this thing at they gathered and they took what was most common to them they took bread and they took wine and they remembered Jesus through them they remembered his body broken as the bread they remembered the wine as his blood that was shed for them they gathered around those tables and reflected back on that story and the life that it had brought them and we get to do the same we’re going to close I’m going to invite you to come and take the elements and we’re going to do them in a communal way I’m going to invite you to take them back to your seats and then when we’re ready we’re going to turn to each other and I’m going to invite you to make that statement to each other this is the body and the blood of Jesus given for you in amongst that there’s some things you might want to reflect on you might reflect on that gift maybe you’ve never embraced that gift that Jesus has given or maybe you’ve lost touch with the fact that this this movement is a spirit movement that Jesus death and resurrection gave you access to this spirit to that relationship maybe the idea of gathering with people is intimidating of making new friendships of making new community is a scary thought maybe you’ve lost your confidence in your ability to do that perhaps you wonder if your hospitality is even wanted or needed if that’s you there’s some people that would love to gather and pray with you maybe you came in with another burden but there’ll be people dotted around that would love to just whisper a word of prayer for you and with you

as we take these elements together we remember that Jesus came gave his blood and gave his body yes so that we could know redemption but that redemption will give us access to the spirit who is our one marker of community it is the thing that we have in common one of the tension points to something like circles is this we get to go out of there and we get to sign up for things that we’re passionate about things that we find to be important and yet you can take something like those things and find someone who is completely opposed to the thing that you love and yet what we’re told is this is if you have spirit in common then your your commonality is greater than any outside interest any outside activity that you might pursue there is something for those of us that call ourselves Jesus followers that binds us together in a distinct way beyond any activity beyond any hobby by beyond any type of nation ethnicity any of those things when we come to this table we reflect the fact that we are a community of people that are following Jesus and those separated by time and space and all sorts of other things there is something about that that brings us together we are Jesus people following his way by the power of this spirit that he has given let’s pray

Jesus as we enter into this table moment as we come we remember the gift that you’ve given us that on the night you were betrayed you gathered with your followers you took the common thing of bread the everyday activity of eating it so whenever you do this common everyday thing remember this is my body broken for you and you took a cup of wine a common thing an everyday thing and so whenever you do this common thing remember that I gave my blood for you as long as you gather together around these simple elements remember me remember my gift to you remember my kingdom that began at that moment shaped by my spirit as a gift to you embrace it cherish it chase after it be shaped by it give your lives for it however you would like to speak to us God we come to this table

and we thank you Jesus that you began it with your death and resurrection and continued it through your gift of the spirit

as we think about our tables our gathering points help us to open them up to those around us

Spirit at the Table | Back to the Table (Part 2)2024-06-12T14:38:32-06:00

Back To The Table (Part 1)

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good morning again um my name’s still alex I’m still one of the pastors here I I believe even though my counting left something to be desired apparently but that doesn’t seem a fireable offense for a pastor we’re going to jump into a a new series last year for those of you that have been with us for a while we spent a chunk of the summer working through this book luke one of the biographies of Jesus life sometimes called one of the gospels and we didn’t go through it just in this linear fashion what we did is we we went through and we looked at every time Jesus sits down at a table with someone what we discovered was this in luke’s account of Jesus life Jesus is always going to he’s always going to a meal at a meal or leaving a meal food plays a huge part of luke’s account and some of you are like man I feel closer to Jesus than I ever have before if he’s like this this party person that goes to meals all the time I I kind of resonate with that a chunk and so we followed as Jesus did this as a practice uh what I wanted to do was just spend a few weeks going back to this why because it was a series that I heard from lots of you things like this this has given me an understanding of why I feel like I should live my life a certain way for some of you that invite people in you love to invite people on the outsiders and Jesus meals were different than lots of people of his day he he invited people who found themselves on the margins so for some of you it resonated deeply with you and then others I heard something like this this is how I would long to live my life this is how I feel challenged to live my life and then we know this to be true about sermons or about teachings right we get maybe a year down the line and we’re like it was meant to do that I meant to put that into practice and it it just got lost somewhere in the busyness of life so sometimes just tagging a series gives us a chance to go back and say okay I’m I’m going to try this again I’m going to process this in a new way what we can say is this this early church movement that took over from Jesus after Jesus death his resurrection his ascension they did things that were unusual for their time too they they didn’t just copy Jesus in the traditional way that a student might copy his rabbi they added some very practical elements and gathered repeatedly together this is my sort of thesis about this early church this group that gathered after Jesus was out of the scene the earliest expression of church looked more like a table than an auditorium they gathered in those kind of spaces it looked more like a circle than a line yes we sit in lines today but that’s really a practical expression they seem to gather more in something that looked like circles and of course it’s circle sunday so sign up for a circle and then you’ll be like the early church good for you and and then they looked more like the margins than the center I maybe said something like this Jesus took people people from the margins and and brought them into the center allowed them to sit with him but maybe he was even more extreme than that maybe he actually took the center and moved it to the margins the fringe of society and the early church did that too and and this is what happened when they did that in about ad 100 there were 25 000 people following the way of Jesus and I think from 33 34 a.d to 100 a.d maybe they started with 150 teenagers and and young adults to get to 20 000 is quite impressive but by three centuries later to be 20 million sociologists are left a little bit baffled as to how does a movement spread that quickly how did it take off to that degree how did they do this and I would suggest one of the things we’re going to discover today is that this somewhat forgotten festival of pentecost this day that we celebrate today is potentially the reason for that that maybe this thing is the thing that drove all of that yes there was some apostolic genius yes there was some practical structures that they introduced were important but there’s something about what happened on this day this forgotten day that empowered everything that happened over those first few hundred years and I would suggest is supposed to empower what we do today but before we get there we’ve got to go back a little bit so we’re going to start in a strange place we’re going to start in this book called exodus and this is the moment that anyone planning the service is like wow okay we’re going to exodus this is going to take a longer than the 20 minutes that I have to share this message so let’s let’s speed this up we’re going to go quick exodus 12 verse 14 to 16. this is a day you are to commemorate for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the lord a lasting ordinance what day are they talking about this book exodus is a celebration of how a group of people spent 400 years as slaves 400 years trapped in a nation they didn’t belong in and God miraculously rescued them and brought them out and when that happened God’s message to them was remember it celebrate it don’t forget it on the first day hold a sacred assembly and another one on the seventh day do no work at all on these days except to prepare food for everyone to eat that is all you may do all you may do is rest cook food eat food together and celebrate together because I did something special on this day and this thing this thing is worth remembering so little jump forward when Jesus dies on this day on this day called passover and creates a new passover that too is worth celebrating so we gather together on resurrection sunday and we celebrate hard and we enjoy ourselves because it is worth remembering so rescued from the land called egypt a group of people maybe about two million come out from slavery into something new and God says celebrate celebrate the festival of unleavened bread the passover because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of egypt celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come but there’s something complex about this story something that maybe doesn’t make sense or at least something that causes some tension because it’s not just people that will call themselves jewish that leave with this group there’s a whole other bunch of people as well in exodus 12 a little further verse 37 we’re told this the israelites israelites journeyed from ramesses to sukkoth you can look those names up if you want to nerd out on some stuff but we’re not going to get in there now there are about 600 000 men on foot besides women and children many other people went up with them and also large droves of livestock and both flocks and herds that word many other people is this word error of wrath it means a mixed multitude an english word would be a riff raff a motley crew a strange group that gathered together and followed them out of slavery they were a mixed multitude maybe two million people after 400 years of slavery and so what does what does a group of people that are all sorts of different backgrounds all meshed together after 400 years what kind of questions do they ask themselves I would suggest a fundamental question at this point that they might ask is this is is who are we what’s our identity what what do we believe what kind of rules do we follow how do we see ourselves as a group of people because that for most people for any nation seems to be a central thing a central statement that we make even when we don’t realize we’re making it and and I may have mentioned that I’m english uh once or twice I can’t remember I may have thrown it out there at some point I’m not british I’m english um we have a saying back at home british by birth english by the grace of God that’s that doesn’t mean it’s not good to be irish or scottish or wealth but it’s a different thing to be english and of course there’s identity markers for any kind of nation that you might come across and so I have here um a delightful cup of our uh which you might call the the single identity marker of englishness it’s drinking tea right sadly I’m drinking english tea in a cup that says made in japan uh it seems a little bit off message but but but there is something about that visual that idea um of englishness that I might add this picture right here I couldn’t find any crumpets but I’m going back to england soon so I’ll make sure to bring some there is that just I’m just gonna have a moment where you guys

it’s far better in the first service it’s a little cold now a little stewed but but there is that englishness to drinking tea and as a cheap little plug aaron and I do a podcast called guys drinking tea if you’ve not listened to it you should drop in and listen to it there is drinking tea that is english but there’s a whole bunch of other identity things that go along with it I threw up a couple of very british problems here a picnic what is a picnic it’s sitting on the corner of a blanket with a selection of beige snacks trying to ignore your aching back as a wasp attacks your face your plastic cup of warm drink falls over and a dog runs at you while the owner shouts he’s friendly and of course it’s raining because it’s in britain and then this one below no harm done what is the translation of the words no harm done you have caused complete and utter chaos I have had the joy of explaining to american people going to work in a bro environment why british people are inherently polite all the time even when they’re saying something they consider to be deeply offensive so if I were to say in an office environment that was probably my fault I mean it was absolutely your fault and I’m just being nice about it one of the things laura and I noticed really early on was that there were things that we said that were were different uh the first time we met I said to her what do you call those stairs that move and she looked at me and she said uh an escalator and I said really we call them moving stairs and of course I was just playing with her but she found that deeply frustrating and and yet there’s a complexity to those things because I’ve been over here for 10 years now and have started to say things that I could never have imagined saying just 10 years ago the first time that I referred to football as soccer was like a deep wound in my heart just her the things ways that I pronounce things that don’t make sense back home anymore and not long ago I went back to do an english wedding and my uncle who was part of the wedding party came up to me and said where have you got this awful american twang from and I said I didn’t realize that I had this there’s a change in me over 10 years does it change for my wife laura after being married to me for 10 years there’s a just over that time period things start to adapt a little bit what about 400 years what about this group of people after 400 years what what’s their identity 400 years in egypt with egyptian gods egyptian religion 400 years been forced to work in egyptian society and now six hundred thousand a million however many of this era of rav are poured into the mix as well who are this group of people who are they and now they sit in the middle of a desert having been rescued dramatically and they have no identity what is their identity and then we’re told this in verse 19 on the first day of the third month pentecost as it happens the israel after the israelites left egypt on that very day they came to the desert of sinai they enter a place when that nobody owns they enter a place where there is no government there is no other religion nobody owns sinai this is where this God will meet them and he’ll give them ten laws to give them some sense of identity in fact there’s a load of other laws as well but ten principle core foundational ones that for the first time give them a sense of now this is how we operate as a group of people this is who we are then moses went up to God and the lord called to him from the mountain and said this is what you are to say to the descendants of jacob and what you are to tell the people of israel you yourselves have seen what I did to egypt and how I carried you on eagles wings and brought you to myself now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant then out of all the nations you will be my treasured possession if you obey my covenant this is the thing that is their identity marker these laws 619 of them all together are what God’s people at this time look like when they ask who are we this in this moment is God’s answer for them there is a journey that they make there is passover this moment of rescue this moment of celebration 50 days pass and then there was this day pentecost when they are given this law they are a mixed multitude asking who are we they receive their identity when they receive the law of course we know if you know the story it doesn’t always work out so well these people struggle to obey all of the rules that they have been given jeremiah this prophet will say this this is the covenant and I will make with the people of israel after that time this is the new thing that’s coming declares the lord I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts I will be their God and they will be my people there is a new thing to come but this old story its foundation is based on passover there’s a rescue there’s a 50-day period of waiting and then pentecost is when they get their identity imagine for a second what it felt like to be someone following Jesus when you’ve been on this journey when on passover your your messiah your rabbi has been killed and then miraculously he comes back to life again it’s passover all over again it’s a new type of passover there is a news story of the defeat of death there is a new story of a different kind of slavery which we are people that which we are rescued from and just like with the old one the idea is celebration remember this day everything changed on this day but then Jesus drops in and out with different appearances sometimes he’s there and sometimes it’s not we just spent six weeks looking at all the times he appears to different people and then he goes for good he says I’m going back to my father and from your perspective that’s wherever that is whatever that looks like but he’s no longer present and you’re told to wait there’s another thing to come just wait wait and I wonder if you were a thinking person whether it was part of you that started to wait and count off those days and and suddenly there’s this awareness that this other big festival is coming this day where you celebrate the giving of the lord and Jesus has told you to wait and these people were told to wait and I wonder if there’s part of you that’s like I wonder if this is the day we’re waiting for and on pentecost morning you wake up and the whole of the city is turned over to celebration and to a party and a remembering of what it was for God to give his people an identity it’s a different celebration to passover but it’s still a celebration nonetheless and you wait as this group of people that are told to wait and then this is what happens acts chapter two when the day of pentecost came they were all together in one place suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting they saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them sounds spectacular right all of them were filled with the holy spirit and began to speak in other languages as the spirit enabled them now they were staying in jerusalem God fearing jews from every nation under heaven when they heard this sound a crowd came together in bewilderment because each one heard their own language been spoken utterly amazed they asked aren’t all of these who are speaking galileans how is it that each of us hears them in our native language parthians medes elemites residents of mesopotamia and judea and cappadocia pontius and asia phrygia and pamphlet egypt and the parts of libya near cyrene visitors from rome both jews and converts to judaism cretans and arabs we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues remember this is an age where parchment was expensive and ink was expensive and he isn’t just giving you a list of names because he needs to fill space he’s showing you that from every part of the world that jewish people had ended they have now come back that God is about to start something that’s going to spread all over the world that this will be the hub of the movement that goes from 20 000 people in ad 100 to 20 million people in ad310 this is a moment that’s going to spark a change in the world and the question that they have is what does this mean amazed and perplexed they asked one another what does this mean what is happening in this moment is a question we might ask as well because as follows of Jesus what we tend to do is we tend to land on passover we tend to land on death and resurrection we tend to use words that sound important like justification and redemption and those words are important yes but with just passover and no pentecost it seems like Jesus would say something is missing it would seem like Jesus said to wait for a reason and if we don’t experience whatever this thing that he’s talking about on pentecost is whatever this moment is they experienced then it seems like we may have missed something too because I would suggest just in the same way these people came out of egypt and they waited 50 days and then they received their identity I would suggest the same thing is happening to this group of people right now they receive their identity when they receive the spirit this is the thing that shapes who they are and for the first time in history religion is no longer about how you do stuff on the outside it’s about something that happens internal that changes you there and it begins to work its way from the inside to the outside and there’s a tension right because this word spirit it maybe causes some questions some problems some some moments where we’re not sure on what ground we stand anymore because we understand father we have some kind of concept we understand sun we understand Jesus and we we kind of maybe have a mental picture of what he looks like but when I say spirit well what does that mean that’s so much vega phyllis tico says this we must admit to ourselves and to everybody else that there is no aspect of creed or christianity that makes christians more uneasy today than does the whole area of the existence reality and workings of God in the person of the holy spirit couple that with something that gordon fee says one of the the best new testament writers in the world the spirit as an experienced and living reality was the crucial matter for christian life from beginning to end if you call yourself a follower of Jesus this spirit thing is for you and shapes you and transforms you and now you may be familiar with the term pentecostal and it may make you uncomfortable it may create all sorts of images of me wearing a white suit and swaying around on stage and all those different things and things that you’re like I’ve been there maybe or I’ve seen the abuse of that I don’t love that I don’t want that and and what I would say is this you can follow Jesus and choose not to be pentecostal but you can’t follow Jesus and miss pentecost because this thing is for everybody this thing is for everybody when the day of pentecost came they were all together in one place suddenly a sound like the blowing of violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting they saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them I love to imagine what conversations might look in heaven uh because it just again it just tweaks my creativity and I and I can picture this conversation that looks like something like planning the redemption planning this new passover that we’ve talked about and I can see this conversation going like and then we’ll leave it to them we’ll leave this church to shape the world we’ll leave them to reach everyone we’ll leave them to plan and we’ll leave them to do all of those things we’ll leave this group of people to live in the way of Jesus and I can picture the conversation between the father and the son going something like yeah they’re definitely going to need some help with that that is the whole basis of this idea this way of Jesus thing that we put on the wall outside and we declare as something we as an organization believe in you can’t do that by yourself I can’t do that by myself I am fundamentally flawed and powerless to make that happen and yet I wonder how many of us in any given moment in any church around the world would be would say we were made up of people that feel somewhat guilty about not doing as well as we would hope somewhat like we’ve got a list of stuff that we’re still trying to track with and and we feel like we’re not taking as many boxes as we would like still feel like we’re somewhat drumming up the power and the ability to live out the way of Jesus and maybe have this lurking suspicion somewhere that Jesus is not particularly happy with how we’re doing in living it all out one of the images a couple of images I’d love to show people to ask us questions to reflect on our own journey and I would say this applies to our what we might call our spiritual journey but but to life in general which of these would you describe would say would you say describe how you live out life right now how I live out life right now and I know which the answer is for me would it look like this

or would it look like this

would it look like this or this I would say this sort of encompasses describes is descriptive of how many of us do spiritual life do following Jesus and how many of us live everyday life in general and I’m not too sure he can really split those two I feel like we’re a bunch of people that work so hard to make it happen and we get left with that feeling of general exhaustion and general I don’t know if I can keep doing this and yet when I read this story in acts when I get to the heartbeat of that story it seems like this thing is more what they had in mind is sailing hard work does it require activity I’m sure it does I’ve never done it so I don’t I don’t know for sure but I’m gonna say it probably requires something but but the inherent source of the power the inherent source of the ability to move is out of your control you are simply harnessing it whereas this thing is simply effort simply you working the message of this acts kernel is that somewhere we are given this identity as a group of people you are not identified by how you live that will change as you follow Jesus but the key identity marker is this something changes there something is dramatically different because passover didn’t stop at passover it led to pentecost which changes everything which group do you identify with do you identify with a group that found its identity in the law that worked really hard that had a list it was always tracking with or do you find yourself identifying with this new group of a few teenagers a bunch of young adults that began a movement that went from 20 000 people in ad 100 to 20 million people in 8310 which sounds more like the way you and I live because that sec that first thing that was always impossible this is paul writing in romans 8 for what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh God did by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering and so he condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us that is to say all of the hard working stuff and the need to hard work work hard has been taken care of who do not live according to the flesh but according to the spirit and that word flesh in greek is this word sucks and it’s interesting because it could mean like the fleshly desires or something like that but but it also can just mean human effort those that are just plotting on those that are just keeping going those like by their own stick-to-itiveness are making it happen it seems like we have a choice between that and life in the spirit which looks very different so as we move to this time where we’re going to baptize some wonderful people who have made that decision to follow Jesus what we know is this this external marker is important it matters it is a big deal but it doesn’t matter because of it it matters because of what happened there before it’s because transformation was made possible by Jesus death and resurrection but the gospel this good news story we talk about all the time it doesn’t stop there it doesn’t stop at passover it keeps moving through 50 days of waiting and it lands in pentecost and that changes everything it’s no wonder that this famous john the baptist character said something like this I baptize you with water for repentance but after me comes one who is more powerful than I whose sandals I am not worthy to carry he will baptize you with the holy spirit and fire I would suggest this movement happened not because of Jesus death and resurrection that started it but it was made possible by this spirit thing they lived in Jesus way by the spirit’s sway and I don’t mean sway it may be the first dictionary definition the way you see people worship where they get all like sway and all those kind of things I’ve seen some of you do it you get there and you get in your moment and you sway from side to side I mean I mean sway in the sense of control I mean sway in the sense of power Jesus death and resurrection make our forgiveness possible but his great gift is this gift of the spirit when paul writes in the new testament justification by faith is not his central argument his central thing is life in God’s spirit that is his great gift Jesus death means everything and it leads to this spirit moment that gives us our identity this is who we are the thing on the wall you cannot do by yourself you weren’t made to do it by yourself you were made to do it with his power with his strength with his energy and that is how transformative it gets in acts chapter 2 we read just on that day those who accepted his message were baptized about 3 000 were added that day this is the moment where they wait and the spirit comes and that changes everything let’s pray Jesus thank you for your goodness to us through death through resurrection through passover thank you for a moment that you created a new passover you took an old story and you centered it around you

you gave new life to us

thank you for the gift that comes after that this gift of the spirit that empowers us that gives us our identity we are people of your spirit as we do baptisms as we celebrate this moment of transformation thank you for these three people that will step into that tank thank you for this moment where we’ll celebrate your gift of new life and we’ll celebrate the fact that that spirit lives in them and is changing them from the inside out amen

with us prepare ourselves by singing this song

my thirsty soul I need you oh I need you I sing it you’re forgiven

like holy water on my skin

take me to the riverside

I need you oh God I need you every voice now you’re forgetting


okay I’m going to introduce well I’m going to welcome these guys out here though they’re kind of trying to get everything all lined up and make sure we know what we’re doing but uh ethan our uh director of student ministries and dan danny you’re just going to lurk in the background okay dan dan’s back there but um just making sure everything’s happening and uh I’m going to allow ethan just to introduce these guys and just let us know what’s going on this is kyle lee I’m going to ask you a couple questions so kyle um it’s just awesome we’re really glad to have you kyle uh tell me what your life was like before you encountered Jesus before you met him yeah so I was growing up I was really lonely and I didn’t have much friends and at home there’s a lot of problems like my parents were always fighting having screening matches 24 7. and until like sophomore year I met a group of friends who were like close to Jesus and I’d never like really felt that and over the years I kind of kept in all of my anger and fear and then over this past year I got really closer to Jesus because I opened up to it about my friends and then I met other people I prayed every night and it just happened to work out

you kind of answered this already but uh how exactly did you come to meet Jesus what was that like that journey that process yes so I just self-reflected a lot and saw how God put people into my life and how it saved me and yeah I love it last question what has changed the past couple months since you’ve come to walk with Jesus what’s your life been like since then um I was really suicidal at one point and I had no will to live but I didn’t have my driver’s license I didn’t have a job I didn’t want to do anything that was uncomfortable to me and when I met Jesus I just felt

more inclined to live I had a purpose to live I had I got my driver’s license I got a job I’m getting promoted a lot in my job

and I’m loving life

so we’re going to invite you to sit down uh the tank was warmed it’s not too bad like it’s just right right yeah we can do this yes yeah I think we need to go colder next time I think it’s just you know you’re not working for it and um and so we’re going to ask you uh do you accept Jesus as your savior and do you want to follow him as lord of your life okay then kyle after the confession of your faith we baptize you in the name of the father the son and the holy spirit


all right tree trees and another awesome member of our youth group we’re super stoked to have her let me ask you the same three questions we just asked kyle so tell me what your life was like before you encountered Jesus okay so I grew up with a christian family and I went to a christian school for the first part of my life and during that time I learned a lot about God but I didn’t really know what that meant to me and then around like fourth grade I started like drifting away from God because I was really scared and like God was unknown to me so I was just really scared and so he was just kind of in the background of my life for the next few years and during those few years there was a lot going on like covet happened I had to move from a small private school to a public school and my parents got divorced so that was a lot and then I didn’t even have a strong relationship with God then so that was really hard but um during that time everything just felt really uncertain and like I like like my life just felt really empty awesome or not awesome but then

but then you um what I meant is you’re doing awesome um

that I just forgot the rest of the song somewhere um so then how did you come to meet Jesus what was that encounter like whenever you met him okay so as I said like I knew him like my whole life but like I did start drifting away from him but how I came back was near the end of sixth grade I was invited to come to youth group here and honestly that like changed everything I started to rely on God like a lot more and like I saw God through like the people here and like the love that they’ve shown me so then what how has your life changed in the past couple years since you have encountered Jesus um well oh my gosh well it’s just it’s been a lot more like I don’t know not organized but like I feel like even though I’ve struggled a lot it’s been a lot like better because like I have God through it all and I know that no matter what I do or no matter what I go through that God has a plan and he’ll help me through everything today

okay so I’m gonna ask you put your arms across the chest like that’s okay uh do you accept Jesus as your savior yes and do you want to follow him for the rest of your life well on confession of your faith we’re going to baptize you in the name of the father the son and the holy spirit


the final student kylie another awesome member of our youth group kylie prepared a testimony she just wants to share with you she doesn’t even need the questions so uh go ahead and take away kylie so I came to know christ when I was in pride kindergarten and but I didn’t really understand what that meant and I started to really develop a relationship with God about the time I joined youth group and then someone came up to me at school and asked if they could share the gospel with me and that made a really big impact on my life it made me think about how much more I wanted to be doing for God and how much more I wanted to be serving him that’s

so since that moment has a lot changed for you what’s that been like I mean I felt like I was praying more I was actually talking to God more I was reading my bible more a lot of the well if you’re ready you can go ahead and take a seat and alex and your dad here can baptize you see not bad yeah great job with a great job with the sermon we can’t get you preaching soon uh you put your arms across your chest uh so kylie uh do you accept Jesus as your savior do you want to follow him for the rest of your life and confession of your faith we’re gonna baptize you in the name of the father the son and the spirit

water on my

so I get to close this out with a prayer and uh it’s just a joy to celebrate life change life change is made possible by Jesus death resurrection and his gift of the spirit and I love those transformation stories if you have had a moment in the service where you feel like God has spoken to you perhaps there’s a nudge in you that you need to start following Jesus for yourself maybe there’s a burden that you’re carrying that you just know you’re not made to carry maybe you’d love someone to come alongside you in prayer as the service ends there’ll be a couple of people floating down towards the front and you can come and and receive prayer just in that moment if you would like to God thank you that you’ve been with us today on this pentecost sunday this forgotten day thank you for your gift of new life in Jesus thank you for your gift of the spirit thank you for 50 days of waiting and then this explosion of this thing called church that has been changing the world ever since thank you for your reminder that we can’t do this thing by ourselves and in our own strength it’s just not who we’re made to be God as we go into this world this week I pray that we would live out Jesus way with the spirit sway for each of us as we stand here we contemplate for a moment the ways we try and control our own lives and our own outcomes and if you’re a follower of Jesus my encouragement in this pause just before we end this this simple prayer holy spirit you are welcome here he’s been present in the service but the here now is the internal part of you that part where you maybe just try and keep too much of control you try and power the journey yourself that prayer is a prayer of surrender that says I can’t do this anymore

thank you Jesus for your presence thank you for south this community you’ve called together thank you for circles and the opportunity to build relationships thank you most of all for your gift of spirit amen

Back To The Table (Part 1)2024-06-12T14:38:40-06:00
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