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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