What a joy it was to share our stories from India last Sunday!
If you happened to miss the presentation, please know that we plan to upload the video to our new Missions in India page on our church website. We hope to have that up and running soon! Please keep an eye on our Facebook page for when the new site and video is ready.
I'm excited to announce that Rev. Shirish Ahaley, Executive Director of Asia Pacific Free Methodist Missions Association, will be sharing the Word with us on Sunday. He will be accompanied by Rev. Eric Spangler, the Free Methodist World Missions Asia Area Director. Both Rev. Ahaley and Rev. Spangler were instrumental in our trip to India. Pastor Eric helped us plan out the trip and prepare spiritually, while Pastor Shirish guided us along the way. Both directors have become dear friends to us. We know that our next steps in India will follow their guidance.
I invite you to join me in welcoming our special guests this Sunday. This will truly be a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet with our new friends in our neighborhood church. I hope we can welcome them in the same way they truly welcomed us. What a joy it will be to worship the Lord in Spirit with them once again!
Our long awaited missions trip to India was life changing. I’m still processing the experience but I’ve already begun to implement changes in my ministry because of the trip. And I can’t wait to discern with Rose City what our future partnership with India will look like.
This Sunday, the India Missions Team will share their stories and experiences of the trip. I’ll provide a brief message and overview and then ask our team to share some of the details. It’s my hope that you all will be encouraged by the “seeds of courage” that we brought home from our Indian brothers and sisters in Christ, especially persecuted Christians from tribal villages. What we saw and heard from their stories gave us great courage to share Jesus with others and I hope you all will be encouraged in the same way!
We had such an amazing time in India and we can’t wait to share about our experience, the wonderful people we met, the growing friendships and our comedic acclimation to a new culture. Ian Vanderburg warned us about the monkeys!
Looking forward to Sunday!
What a joy it is to celebrate Five Years of Rose City! When we committed to the vision of re-establishing a local neighborhood church, we had no idea what the journey would be like. It’s truly been a journey beyond our wildest imaginations. And we thank the Holy Spirit for taking us this far!
As you’ll hear on Sunday from Pastor Gerry, we’ve spent the last five years laying a foundation in Christ. This foundation is ready to be built upon once again. We believe the Lord has called us to be a neighborhood church for the next generation. We are so excited to see where the Holy Spirit takes us over the next five years as we build new opportunities, spaces, and partnerships that will bring the love of Christ to our neighbors.
But first, let’s celebrate! For the sermon this Sunday, Pastor Gerry writes, “My original title for this sermon was “From 5 to 50.” Though it did convey the importance of being an established church, I didn’t feel like it conveyed the journey that it takes to get to 50 years. Journeys are often told in increments of time and for the church, five years feels about right.
Our stories and who we are in Christ is central to the foundation that has been laid here at Rose City Church and I am happy to share with you the celebration in Christ that we get to have this Sunday. As the Gospel lesson teaches us this week: “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much” (Luke 16:10 NRSV).
Come and hear stories about how the very foundation of Rose City, that was laid over the last five years, is a foundation of faith laid into Christ as our Cornerstone. As we have tried our best to be found faithful in little, we have found, that God has been faithful to us in abundance.”
We are excited to share this very special Sunday with you and excited to see where the next five years of Rose City’s journey will take us all; so come, enjoy fellowship and stories this Sunday.
Pastor Dan, Pastor Sam, and Pastor Gerry
Our trip to India was a great success! Each day we encountered the Spirit in new and exciting ways as we met amazing people and saw powerful ministries. We truly caught a glimpse of the future of our own ministry here. We can't wait to share more with you all on Sunday, September 25th. Please know that the trip and its success would not have been possible without all of your prayers and support. We are deeply grateful for being sent to India by such a gracious and loving community.
We are also excited to be home and take time to process the trip together. We learned so much from our friends there. For example, they taught us to "go with the flow" as each service we attended was not planned in advance but planned in the moment as the Spirit led. At first, this was quite terrifying for me as someone who loves to plan for services but eventually it was quite freeing to make decisions on what to do next on the fly. Who knew that kind of freedom in live planning was possible? Who knew I had it in me to learn how to go with the flow as well? I didn't even know beforehand what I was missing until trying out this new culture of ministry. It's quite exciting!
This Sunday, I look forward to seeking more of what the Lord has for us as we read through the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin in Luke's gospel. Even if we may not sense it at the moment, leaving behind what we know works for the one who might be missing is worth all the risk. For the celebration in the heavens of the one missing who is now found is worth all we have. Let's celebrate what is now found in the Lord this Sunday as we gather for worship!
It seems like no matter how much you plan for things, there is always something that goes awry. No matter how much we plan and get ready, we never really know until it happens. In this week’s lectionary, we come across a couple of scriptures about planning and understanding the cost of discipleship and following after Christ. That’s always a struggle isn’t it? Knowing what it means to be a disciple, knowing exactly what it means to follow Christ? Knowing how to make plans and being comfortable when plans change. There is an old saying: “If you ever want to hear God laugh, just tell Him your plans.” So come this Sunday as I try to talk through what planning to follow Christ looks like for us and how, well, we can do our best when those plans change or when those plans lead us to places we never thought we would be...like Kansas City, MO.
I’m excited to welcome back our India missions team this Sunday and excited to hear a short word from them as well. They have some great stories for us! Prayers for their safe travels as they come home to us Saturday and blessings as they are still showing up this Sunday!
In one of the best-known passages from his letters, Paul writes to the Roman church, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). This is a great verse, and one often repeated. But I think many of us are so used to this verse that it has lost some of its punch; perhaps, after hearing it so many times, we have forgotten what it means to be transformed, or why that really matters. Perhaps we’ve never understood it in the first place: we know Jesus saves us, but what does it mean for him to “transform” us or “renew our minds?”
As we work through our summer sermon series—where each message is based on what the Holy Spirit has put on the preacher’s heart—I hope to explore this passage with you all, perhaps from angles that are unfamiliar to many of us. What does it mean to have our minds renewed? How does the Holy Spirit work in and for our transformation? What does transformation look like? Through a careful study of Paul’s letter, reflecting on our tradition as Wesleyans, and even looking at insights from contemporary psychology, I hope that we can better understand and live into this verse and the story present throughout Scripture of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Join us this Sunday at 10am!
Grace and peace to you all,
Asst. Pastor Reed
We are just days away from a sending a team from Rose City to India!
It’s been nearly four years since I first felt called there. After several attempts to go with other churches and organizations the Lord has prepared the way for a team from Rose City to go. It’s truly an answer to prayer on so many levels.
Throughout the years, I’ve often wondered why global missions? Why India? Why would the Spirit send a small church across the world? Why would the Lord provide the hefty resources to get there? Why go?
Though I’ve reflected on these questions for a while now, I’ve finally received some further clarity on what our trip to India is all about. Of course, we know that to set up long term relationships with others we must first get to know them. And there’s no better way to know how to support others in global missions then meeting with them and breaking bread together. But this seems like quite the trip to build relationships. Is there not more to all of this?
I believe there is much more to all of this!
And on Sunday, Pastor Gerry and I look forward to sharing what clarity we’ve received in the Spirit. Join us Sunday as we prepare to send out our India Missions team who leave that very day. Come and join us in hearing the Good News they will share and in praying for a blessing of the Spirit to go with them!
In the Spirit,
Last Sunday’s message from Assistant Pastor Michael Wiltshire reminded us of the heavenly banquet we encounter when we recline with Jesus around the Table. There’s truly no greater place to experience the abundance of God’s grace then at the Table of the Lord; there we find the bread of life and a cup that overflows.
And our cup is truly overflowing! Following the service on Sunday, we received not only the final amount of funding for our missions trip to India but also $1500 more than we hoped to raise! This means the blessing in our cup will overflow to the ministries we encounter in India. We will now be able to offer donations to the groups that host us. What a gift of grace for the kingdom of God!
I’m so encouraged by this sign of abundant grace as it reminds me that the Table is surrounded by wonderful people who bring their best gifts to share with everyone. My vision of the Table grows wider each year as I see more of God’s grace overflowing from one person to the next. It’s truly a heavenly banquet. And I can’t wait to see what the heavenly banquet looks like in India.
I love how the image of a banquet captures the feel of celebration. With all of the terrible news we hear each week in the media, we need to be reminded weekly that there’s a lot to celebrate. When Jesus speaks to his disciples in his final farewell, he reminds them that “in the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Believing Jesus has overcome the world is a great reason to celebrate in worship every Sunday. Let us be of good cheer when we gather together again for a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.
As Christians in a community, why do we commit to spiritual disciplines like Communion?
This was a question some of the earliest Methodist churches began asking once they started migrating from England into America back in the 1780s. Many of these churches decided amongst themselves that preaching, rather than spiritual disciplines, was really the heart of why the Church gathered. John Wesley—the founder of Methodism—on the other hand, couldn’t have disagreed more! From across the pond, he wrote them tons of letters, each one pleading his deepest conviction: because the Christian faith is a journey into Christlikeness, the Church must practice Comminution—and often! After all, Wesley admonished, it is by eating and drinking at the the Table that Christians might be nourished by the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit. And only once nourished by grace might the Church become a community of faithful disciples.
This Sunday, we will continue our Summer series on the Holy Spirit. Together, we will explore our hope that the Spirit is still nourishing us with grace through spiritual disciplines like prayer, Scripture, and coming to the Table. What if John Wesley was right? What if grace is waiting to surprise us, even this Sunday? Join us this Sunday at 10:00am to find out!
Grace and Peace to you all,
Asst. Pastor Michael
Join us this Sunday as we continue our Summer Sermon Series on the work of the Holy Spirit! Pastors Dan and Sam will be taking a well deserved vacation this Sunday, but there will be a lot going on at Rose City in their absence! Deacon Lavon Gentry will be delivering a sermon about Truth. We will learn how people from ancient times through the present day have sought after truth. When we examine modern society we find a lot of confusion about what truth is and how to find it. As Christians our journey toward truth is guided by Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, and the work of the Holy Spirit.
I know we all struggle with truth in our own lives. Come to Rose City Church on Sunday with an open mind to learn and receive the Truth that God freely gives.
In one of my theological reflections groups at Fuller this week, we spent time writing our own psalms. I share mine with you as an encouragement to let the deep well of the Spirit burst forth to bring living water to any dry area in your life (especially during the heat of the summer).
The air around me is hot
the ground is dry and cracked.
Yet your Spirit flows beneath me,
like an underground river.
Hear my cry for you, O Lord;
burst forth Springs of living water.
Bring life to the place around me,
fill me with your overflowing Spirit.
Don’t forsake your land and your people;
don’t let us fall from your grace.
Cover us like the waters above,
with your ever-present Spirit.
I also wanted to give you a heads up that this Sunday will be different than usual! Pastor Sam will be sharing a story from Scripture as a Godly Play lesson. Be ready to hear the Word in a new way and respond as the Spirit leads. See ya on Sunday for worship at 10am!
Guten Tag! It is good to be back! We had a fantastic trip aboard. It was great to catch a glimpse of the future for Candace and I as we had the chance to visit her missionary conference gathering together in Germany.
It is also good to be back as well and to jump right back into our summer focusing on the Truthfulness of the Spirit. This week the sermon is going to be a bit … different. As most of you know, we have been rotating our preachers this summer. This week, we have Tory Bair preaching but it will be in the style of an interview about the idea of how the Spirit brings us peace. I know that as the Rose City Kid’s director, she probably has some sound wisdom on what it means to have peace!
It is also Tory and Daniel Bair’s last Sunday so please come as we bless them on where God is taking them and thank them for their years of service to Rose City Church. Let us be able to bless them as they have greatly blessed us.
Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Rise up, O God, judge the earth;
for all the nations belong to you!
(Psalm 82: 3-4, 8)
It’s heartbreaking to sit, watch and hear of the ongoing shootings that are tearing our communities apart. The escalating situation leaves us feeling angry, sad, helpless and hopeless.
Immediately we lament and join the psalmist in prayer to God: “Oh Lord, give justice to the weak and the orphan, rescue the weak and the needy, rise up and judge the earth; for all nations belong to you.” We believe God is with us and especially with those who suffer. With lament we find hope that God will show us the way through the fractured factions of our community; especially between the Black community and the Blue police officers.
But if you are like me, you want the lament to turn to another kind of action. You want to say something. You want to do something. You want to see transformation take place in our communities. You want the violence to stop. You want to see the kingdom of God on earth.
Like the lawyer, in Luke 10:25-37, who stood up to test Jesus by saying, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”, we stand up and test Jesus by saying, “What must we do to bring healing to our community?” And though the questions slightly differ, I believe the response is the same: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
This response, we believe, like the lawyer, is true. We know we must love God and love our neighbor, which is why the last question asked is the hardest one to answer: “Who is my neighbor?” In telling the lawyer the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus makes it clear that our neighbor is the one who is robbed, beaten, wounded, kicked to the side, forgotten, and left for half-dead.
In the wake of the ongoing shootings, it is then clear that our neighbor is the one being shot; the Black and the Blue. We are compelled by our love of God to love those who suffer. I encourage you to follow the lead of the Good Samaritan. Don’t walk by the wounded. Have compassion. Pick them up. Bandage their wounds. Take them to a place of care. Provide for them. And follow up with them!
In sum, befriend the black and blue. Gather with them. Pray with them. Love them. Again and again!
This Sunday, we will respond in lament and prayer. Respond with us. Let us learn to love God and our neighbor together. Assistant Pastor Clare Ferguson will help lead us in this as she shares on the inheritance of power and community from Ephesians 1:15-23.
Lord have mercy,
I have three exciting updates for you! I wanted to share these updates with you because I think you will find them encouraging.
First, last Sunday at the Croquet and Naan fundraiser, we raised over $1,400 for our mission trip to India! How amazing is that?! We are so very thankful for your support through buying raffle tickets and lunch. The amount raised is huge progress for the India missions team which includes Dan, Kristina, Tory, Juanita, and Ian. Praise be to God!
Second, last night we had a meeting regarding our transition to Godly Play for the Kids Ministry. Honestly, I am so excited about transitioning to Godly Play; it is a new way in which we will immerse our kids in telling the story of God through the use of objects and questions. Deborah Williams did an amazing job of sharing a Godly Play lesson with us. It was inspiring and we could all feel the Spirit moving. Stay tuned for more updates on Godly Play as we schedule a training date for volunteers and as we launch in August.
Third, our worship leader Matt Meares will be preaching this Sunday! We are looking forward to hearing the word that God has put on our hearts for the people of Rose City Church. Though Matt usually shepherds us through song, this Sunday we will have the gift of his shepherding through the bringing of the Word!
This Sunday, we join hands in prayer with churches across the world for the 20 million world-wide refugees. So many of our global brothers and sisters have had to flee their home countries due to violence, war, or persecution. We can barely imagine the long journey they are on as they integrate into surrounding countries, wait patiently to return home or resettle in on foreign countries. It may seem like there is little we can do.
Yet, on National Refugee Sunday, we recognize there is much we can do. We can lift up our displaced brothers and sisters up in prayer. We can find ways to support organizations that are walking along side them. And we can learn more about the reality of their situation.
I invite you to visit www.rosecitychurch.org/refugee-sunday before we gather for worship. We set up this site to share more about this special Sunday.
Also, I’m excited to announce that one of our music directors, Lauren Meares, will be sharing a Word from the Lord with us as we continue "Following the Spirit of Truth” this summer. She senses the significance of receiving and responding to an invitation to join the work of the Spirit, especially as it relates others in need, like our displaced global neighbors.
Speaking of global neighbors, we will also welcome a friend from India, brother Ebey, who will share briefly about the work of Serve India Ministries (SIM). We look forward to hearing his story as we prepare a team to travel to India later this summer. And don’t forget, soon after the service we will be gathering at Victory Park at 1pm for our India Missions Fundraiser, “Croquet and Naan.” If you haven’t rsvp’d for this wonderful event, please do so here.
May we gather in God’s grace soon!
On Sunday morning, we awoke to horrific news. As we drove to church, or perhaps on our way home, we leaned how 50 lives had been lost in Orlando, Florida, with another 53 injured. There is so much that could be said about such loss, such injustice. And yet, for the moment, I simply want to name our grief, our anger, and our confusion, as we invite the Holy Spirit to meet us right there, in the midst of all this brokenness. Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy.
In the wake of great tragedy, on Sunday morning, we also gathered as a community to worship a God who is love. Pastor Gerry preached on unity in the Spirit, challenging us to face the hard parts of life as we commit to sharing one another’s burdens with a love that only the Spirit can sustain. In this way, unity in the Spirit arises when the people of God commit to a love that can absorb, and even respond, to great suffering.
With such love in hand, we anticipate this Sunday when pastor Ian James-Bergland will preach on the mysterious nature of the Holy Spirit. If we are honest, most of us witnessed the tragedy in Orlando with a burning question placed on our hearts: where was God in all of this? Such questions are important, and Scripture is full of the faithful wondering the same. In fact, in the book of Galatians, we read that even the Apostle Peter struggled to understand the myserteous work of the Holy Spirit in the midst of his own life. This Sunday, we invite you to join us as pastor Ian preaches on Peter’s story and the experience of discerning the presence of the Spirit in both the mundane and the unexpected.
We are still grieving the losses in Orlando and we are still crying out for justice in this world to roll down like roaring waters. We are still asking questions, still lamenting that the mystery of God’s presence would be fully made known to us. And, as the people of God, we still gather to worship in the midst of it all. As we work toward unity and clarity, let us pray that the Holy Spirit will bring comfort and peace to those touched by the violence in Orlando. Let us look to the cross and see Christ with us and to the Spirit to see God all around us.
With hope, and in unified love,
This week, we began reimagining our leadership structure at Rose City around the five-fold leadership gifts found in the New Testament, especially Ephesians 4:7-12: 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some [shepherds] and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
I invited pastoral staff, ministry staff and lay leaders to take a simple assessment offered by Alan Hirsch’s site: www.theforgottenways.org. The results were quite striking! You can see a visual representation of our current leadership structured around the five-fold gifts here. (You can even click on the names to see individual results). You can see that the Spirit has truly gathered a dynamic team together “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
I share this restructuring of leadership with you to cast vision for our future as a neighborhood church. When unified together around these Spirit given gifts, I sense, not only our leadership and our community but also our city will catch the movement of the Spirit. It doesn’t take many of us to make a big impact on our city when sharing in the gifts of the Spirit.
The change in the geographical landscape of Yellowstone National Park after the introduction of a small band of wolves is a great example of this. If you haven’t yet seen this video, it is well worth the time: YOUTUBE
Join us this Sunday, as Pastor Gerry preaches on being unified in the Spirit as we read Philippians 2:1-18 for our NT reading. When unified in the Spirit, like a small band of wolves, we can be ready for the impact God has in store for us. Let’s us gather in one mind, body and Spirit this Sunday for worship at 10am!
PS - It is our plan and hope to open up the five-fold leadership assessment to any and all interested in shaping what’s to come! If you would like to take the assessment or speak more about it, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today I’m so excited to announce our new summer sermon series: “Following the Spirit of Truth!”
As the title suggests, we hope to be caught up participating in the Spirit’s ministry in us and around us this summer. To set up this sermon series, we approached our preaching schedule a bit differently this time around. Instead of assigning texts from the Lectionary and dates for the pastoral staff to fill, we opened it up for the Spirit to lead the process.
A few weeks ago, at our weekly staff meeting, I asked all the staff to share about a “Word of Truth” that the Lord has placed upon their hearts. As everyone shared, it became very clear that the Spirit is truly way ahead of us in speaking truth into our lives. This summer, you will be hearing the truth that our church staff has heard recently as they share in the Spirit what the Lord is up to in and around us.
You’ll be hearing from a variety of voices on a diverse range of Spirit-led topics like unity in the Spirit, the mystery of the Trinity, trusting the Lord with our plans, letting the Spirit lead us in places way beyond our reach, and finding peace in the midst change, to name a few. Since these topics aren’t all found in the Lectionary texts for the summer, I’ve invited the preachers to go off script a bit by brining in other texts for our New Testament reading. I can’t wait to see how the Lord moves as we say yes to participating in the life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
This Sunday, I’ll kick off the sermon series with a word on experience. So much of our life is driven by our experience and this is not a bad thing, especially if we’ve been invited to experience the life of the Trinity. But I won’t say more on that until Sunday when we gather together to experience the Lord in worship through Word and Table!
As we continue our season of post-Pentecost, we are looking forward to celebrating Christ’s love in a non-traditional “worship service,” of our mission to love our neighbors. We are excited to exercise the opportunity to love Christ by serving our neighbors at Harambee Ministries by preparing their facilities for their Summer Day Camps.
But what kind of spirit should we have as we volunteer our efforts at Harambee Ministries? As Scripture teaches us, the ordinary Christian act of service is based on the Golden Rule – doing unto others as we would want them to do for us – and it is based on giving to those in physical need because we are serving Christ, as exemplified in Matthew 25.
In addition, the Holy Spirit is calling us to envision Christian service this post-Pentecost season in a fresh way. Ordinarily, we think of service as one person or group giving and the other person or group receiving. But Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. By definition a blessing is a gift of Grace from God. So, Jesus is asking us to recognize that we are receiving by giving.
Johannes Metz, the famous German theologian, comes to mind: In his Poverty of Spirit, he expands on the beatitude – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He shows that the Kingdom of God is entered into here and now when we recognize our own poverty of spirit, when we recognize our need for others and when we serve others from a poverty of spirit.
So we invite you to join us this Sunday, May 29th, in service to Christ at Harambee Ministries with a poverty of spirit. If you would like to carpool, please meet at Rose City at 9:30am. Otherwise, we look forward to meeting you at the Harambee Center, 1609 Navarro Ave. Pasadena, CA 91103, at 10am. Also, this project is kid friendly and a great opportunity for Rose City Kids to receive the joy of service as well!
If you have any questions, please contact Clare Ferguson at email@example.com
and RSVP on our Facebook Event Page.
Sunday Service Project Team
A new season has begun for our church community. Last Sunday, on Pentecost, we marked the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church. The celebration continues during the post-Pentecost season as we watch the Spirit move and land in our midst. We’ve already sensed the presence of the Spirit with an urgency to declare the Gospel. With tongues of fire, we now proclaim how we’ve not only encountered but have also been called into the life of the Trinity.
On Trinity Sunday, we recognize the divine relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is a communion like no other. The divine communion of the Trinity defies any full understanding and is often best explained with metaphors. As one worship planning site explains:
"There is a Greek word that has been used to describe something of the life of Divine Co-Unity we worship: “perichoresis” (perry-COR-ee-sis). The word literally means “dancing around” or “dancing in a circle.” Christian theologians have used it since the third century to describe the dance of the Eternal-Three-in-One, each distinct yet interpenetrating the other, each pouring out grace and love to the other in the dance. It is into this eternal dance of the Eternal Trinity that we have been invited."
On a special Sunday, like Trinity Sunday, we pause to celebrate the unique relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and our participation in the “Divine Dance.” Come ready to receive the gift of grace once again as we let our feet loose to follow the steps guided by the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Who knows where the shoes of the gospel of peace will take us!
Here we find ourselves once again Rose City! We are about to begin the Pentecost season full of gratitude of what God has done on our behalf and follow the Spirit into a season of truthfulness. I’m excited for the the service this week and not ONLY because of the Tongues of Fire Chili Cook Off!
About two weeks ago, I was sitting in the service listening to the music (which was going amazing) and I felt moved to start writing my Pentecost sermon, since then, I have been sharing it with others and have felt a great confirmation of the word that I have prepared for us. I’m excited to have you join me on that journey to see where God is sending us this Pentecost season as we trust the Spirit will bring us down and land in God's timing (as Pastor Dan described last week).
Last week, I shared a vision of being taken up and over a large wall by the gifts of salvation through the Son and Holy Spirit. The time has come to celebrate the truthfulness of these gifts in our lives this Ascension Sunday and Pentecost next Sunday!
As we gather for worship we turn our heads towards the heavens, with arms open wide, to be taken up with the Son by the power of the Spirit into the mysterious life of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We give thanks this Sunday that the Son ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father (in his redeemed humanity), that we too might be drawn into God’s life, mission, and continued work of salvation. I look forward to sharing a theological treatise on the mystery of the Trinity as we read the account of the Ascension in Luke and Acts.
And next Sunday, with great anticipation, we await the time we are brought down in the Spirit on Pentecost to participate in the life of God’s kingdom as heaven and earth meet here in our local community!
One more thing: I believe, that as we join the disciples in watching the Lord ascend, we, like them, learn to emulate this movement by being lifted up and lifting others up as well.
If you are experiencing a wall in your life join us on Sunday as we posture ourselves to be taken up and over the walls that do not reach the heavens where the Risen Lord resides. He is truly beyond any wall in our lives. Also, if you know someone else facing a wall come and join us by lifting someone you know up to the heavens.
Last but certainly not least, with this Sunday also being Mother’s Day we take time to lift up our mothers in prayer for the gift of care and nurture that they have given to each us over the years!
A week or so ago, while in prayer with our spiritual disciplines band co-leader, Lavon Gentry, I saw an image of a great wall in front of me. The wall felt quite high, long, and impassable. When I looked up and to the sides I couldn’t see the end of it. Further, the ground at my feet felt soft like mud, meaning you had to keep moving to avoid sinking.
While running around, I starting thinking about how to get over the wall. A few options came to mind. I could try breaking down the wall but quickly felt like that would take too much effort. I could trying going around but abandoned this idea with the amount of distance to transverse. I could try climbing but knew I would panic half way up due to the height.
It was then impressed upon me that I must go over it. In that moment of surrender, I was picked up like fire and wind and taken to the heavens. On the way up, I realized that the wall, though high, did not reach the heavens. It stopped somewhere between heaven and earth. Knowing it didn’t reach the heavens filled me with deep gratitude and joy.
Then I saw my descent on the other side of the wall, like an astroid entering the atmosphere on fire. Upon hitting the ground the fire spread quickly and abundantly.
In this image, I sensed that whatever wall we face, we are called to go "up and over." We do this not by our own strength but by an openness to the movement of the Spirit. To be caught up in the heavens is to participate in the life of the Trinity through a “spirit of adoption.” And in God’s time, not ours, we descend to the earth on fire, landing upon a rock solid ground, higher than before, and ready to build again.
As I’ve shared this prayer with the staff, we’ve sensed that this is our prayer for Ascension Sunday and Pentecost Sunday. I’d ask for you to join us in praying to go up and over any wall before us by asking the Risen Lord to “take us up in faith” and the Spirit of God to “bring us down on fire.”
In preparation for this important time in the church calendar, Pastor Sam will share from John 14:23-39 about our need to wait upon the Lord for the Advocate who will come in his name, just as Jesus encourages his disciples before his departure. We will also hear an update on the vision of our global missions trip to India this summer! It’s such an exciting time for Rose City and I’m grateful you are here to join us!
On our new church website, we have a quote from Hauerwas and Willimon's new book, The Holy Spirit, that reads: "To be sanctified to be made a participant in a way of life through which we discover friends who tell us the truth." This quote is listed on our partnership page because we believe that we have much to learn from our friends all across the city and world. Friends who speak the truth in love are truly a gift to us.
This Sunday, we will hear from two of our friends who will invite us to join them for a four week conversation on truthful relationships. Our friends, Rick Jackson and Jeremy Mast are local therapists and counselors. They have encountered God's truth and speak it in love through therapy and counseling. The insight their discipline has brought them concerning reconciliation with oneself, others, and even the Lord, is truly a gift to the church.
I invite you to be present this Sunday, April 24th, to hear from friends who speak the truth in love. This Sunday is a gift to us. Come and received the invitation to truthful relationships as we gather for worship at 10am!
If you were not able to join us last Sunday, then you may not have heard the good news: the Smith family found a new home! This is such good news as we have been praying for a new home for them since last Fall. In God's timing, a new door opened for them. Praise God!
Speaking of Good News, you might have missed my sermon of how my understanding of the Gospel continues to grow in light of the Trinity. For several months now, I've been studying a theology of the Holy Spirit to gain an understanding of our participation in the life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. On Sunday, I shared my struggle with this because at the end of the day, the life of the Trinity is truly a mystery to us. We really are only able to catch glimpses of it or speak of it in images and metaphors. I hinted at this as I shared a drawing that gave my best attempt to understand the Trinity. : )
Though a mystery, I did want to encourage us all to seek after this mystery. For more on this, I encourage you to listen to a podcast by The Liturgist speaking with Catholic mystic, Richard Rohr: http://www.theliturgists.com/podcast/. He shares helpful insights on recovering the depth of our Christian theology on the Trinity.
This coming Sunday, I'm excited to announce that ordinand, Clare Ferguson, will share a word with us in light of our Easter Season's focus on gratitude. Clare writes, "How often do we wait to practice gratitude until after we receive the things that we are waiting for? While we have the temptation to wait for the answers to our prayers to be plainly revealed first, John 10 reminds us that our hopes have already been answered through the work of Christ. This week we will continue our year of grace as we reflect on practices of gratitude in the midst of waiting."
Blessings this Sunday over our time of gathered worship at 10am!
Our Easter Season continues with hearts full of gratitude for the gift of salvation that we have received in the Risen Lord and which is given anew each day by the power of the Holy Spirit!
Last Sunday, Pastor Gerry shared about the doubt that arises when we hear of this gift. Sometimes it sounds too good to be true, so we have to check it out for ourselves. Further, our doubt increases when we are asked to reach out our hands to participate in it just as Jesus asked of the disciple Thomas. We give thanks for the breath of the Holy Spirit that enables us to receive this gift in spite of our own doubts.
This Sunday, we continue to hear stories of the disciples encountering the resurrected Lord. In our story from John 21:1-19, the disciples meet him on the sea shore after fishing all night long. Jesus eats breakfast with them, is revealed to them, and then challenges Peter to feed his sheep. In this resurrection encounter, Jesus once again invites them to participate in his life and mission but this time it seems like the gift comes with a very big request. To participate in his life and mission can often feel like a bit more than we can handle.
This Sunday, I feel led to share a word of encouragement for when our yes to Jesus puts us in a position that’s way beyond us. It’s a wonderful; yet overwhelming place to be! Yet, how are we to respond in those overwhelming moments of our Christian walk? How is the resurrected Lord revealed to us in those moments that can feel beyond us? Join me this Sunday as we gather for worship to give thanks for the gift of salvation and open our lives to encounter his resurrected presence once more!
What a joy it was to celebrate Easter with ya'll last Sunday. It was such a beautiful time, beautiful weather, and also it was a fantastic potluck. Thank you to all of the people who helped set up, make food, and tear down. One of my favorite things as a pastor is being able to see the body of Christ working together at Rose City. It's such an honor to work along side all of you to make things like Easter Sunday so special.
In this season of Easter we are looking at the idea of grace and gratitude. In this Sunday's passage we find the famous story of doubting Thomas and his own struggle with disbelief. For me, this scripture stands in tension with the ideas of grace and gratitude. How often do we stand to doubt grace and gratitude? How often do we stand in our disbelief that we deserve this grace that is so freely given? How often do we let our doubt get in the way of living a gracious life? If we are not gracious to ourselves, how can we show gratitude towards one another? Come this week to hear more as I unpack my thoughts of my own doubt and the grace over grace that is poured over me.
Holy Week is here. I pray the week is truly holy for you. I pray you find the time to set apart the next several days for the final preparation before the Easter feast. To help set this week apart and to find the sacredness that is in this time of the year, we’ve planned the following worship services:
Today, on Maundy Thursday (3/24 at 7pm), Pastor Samantha will lead us in a special foot-washing service followed by soup and fellowship.
On Good Friday (3/25 at 7pm), Pastor Gerry (and others) will perform Act 2 of his play called, “House Fire.” The play will lead us into hearing the passion narrative followed by a time of silence and darkness.
On Holy Saturday (3/26), you are invited to spend time in prayer according to a meditation on “the Gift of Time” that will be handed out on Good Friday.
On Easter Sunday (3/27 starting at sunrise), we will meet for a special sunrise prayer service led by Ian Bergland followed by our main Easter Celebration, potluck and kids easter egg hunt!
This Easter Sunday, I feel led to follow a slightly different path with our lectionary readings. Instead of preaching on the resurrection narrative in Luke 24, I’ll be sharing a word from Romans 8. Because of our year of grace, I feel led this Easter to share more about the receiving and giving of the gift of God’s grace. I believe, the resurrection story reveals to us two gifts of grace. I invite you to come and celebrate these gifts of grace with us on Sunday.
I look forward to our large gathering on Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Holy Week is almost here! And we are ready!
I’m looking forward to the most sacred week of our year together. We’ve have carefully crafted Holy Week services in light of our Lenten theme of humility.
On Maundy Thursday (3/24 at 7pm), Pastor Samantha will lead us in a special foot-washing service followed by soup and fellowship.
On Good Friday (3/25 at 7pm), Pastor Gerry (and others) will perform Act 2 of his play called, “House Fire.” The play will lead us into hearing the passion narrative followed by a time of silence and darkness.
On Holy Saturday (3/26), you are invited to spend time in prayer according to a meditation that will be handed out on Good Friday.
On Easter Sunday (3/27 starting at sunrise), we will meet for a special sunrise prayer service led by Ian Bergland followed by our main Easter Celebration, potluck and kids easter egg hunt!
Of course, this sacred week will begin this Sunday, known as Palm/Passion Sunday, as we wave our palm branches to welcome in the King of glory! This Sunday, Michael Wiltshire will offer a word on humility to begin our Holy Week. Here is a brief message from him:
“In Philippians 2, the Apostle Paul invites us to consider this radical idea: to have a mindset of Christ is to have a mindset of humility. Paul boldly proclaims to the Church an invitation into a Christ-like humility: “Let the same mind be in you!” But how do we seek after a mind of humility? On Palm Sunday, we will explore that question and more as we imagine the story of Jesus journeying into Jerusalem, and eventually, to the cross.”
I look forward to taking this Holy Week journey with you as we follow Jesus towards Jerusalem, the cross, and the resurrection!
It is hard to believe that Easter is only a few weeks away. Through this season of Lent, we have taken an introspective position as a community to examine our hearts and actions, and bring our confessions before the congregation.
For those of you who have shared a confession (Michael, Gerry, Clare, Lavon, and Gerry), thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I know this has been a powerful time for the community to reflect and join in those confessions.
This Sunday, the fifth Sunday in Lent, we will focus on the story of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with costly perfume. Though this is a short passage (John 12:1-8), it is such a powerful story about a gift of grace, which I believe, is Mary’s gift to Jesus. Mary’s gift to Jesus is not only an outpouring of expensive, valuable, perfume, but it is also an outpouring of love and devotion. I am so excited that this week we get to explore this theme of how Mary humbly reveals that discipleship is completely about love and devotion to Christ.
Please join us at 10AM for our Sunday worship. It is always a joy to be together in the house of the Lord.
I sense that though we are in the wilderness of Lent, paths of grace have been laid out way ahead of us. This coming week, we encounter two such paths.
First, I’m excited to announce the start of Rose City Connect (see video below). Following our service on Sunday, we will gather upstairs for a time of sharing stories, hearing the story of Rose City, and connecting together over lunch. Michael Wiltshire and Ariana Vanderburg (and others) have done an amazing job preparing for this new three week class. Whether you are new to Rose City or a long time member, we’d love to have you join us for Rose City Connect following the service on Sunday!
Second, I’m also exited to announce the upcoming Society Meeting on Wednesday, March 9th at 7pm. For this Society Meeting, we’ve got something special planned. Rose City is about to turn five years old in September, which means it’s time for a new five year plan! I invite everyone invested at Rose City to attend this evening as we process and discern our future together as reach a new level of discipleship and partnership. Over the next couple of days, I will be emailing out a “ton of information” that will be referred to at the meeting for anyone (like me) who loves to read the fine print. : )
Last, but definitely not least, I look forward to our time of gathered worship on Sunday. The Fourth Sunday of Lent is centered around some amazing scriptures; especially the Gospel reading in Luke 15. We will hear the story of the Prodigal Son which is truly a story of grace; as a Father offers grace to his two sons. I’m blessed to share the Word with you all this Sunday. And our friend, Jenny Snipstead, will be leading us in music and worship while the Meares are away. Let us find reprieve from a parched wilderness as we gather to bless the Lord and one another this Sunday!
I don’t know about you, but when Easter comes early in the year (March 27th) it sure makes it hard to find a good rhythm for spiritual disciplines during Lent. It feels like this season is slipping away from me before feeling the transformative impact of lenten disciplines. I’ve come to find encouragement in this year of grace. I’ve found peace in receiving grace when struggling with lenten disciplines but I’ve also discovered something even more profound regarding grace.
While reading a lenten devotional this week, I was struck by the phrase “dangerous grace.” Walter Wangerin describes grace as “dangerous” to draw our attention towards the purifying work of the Holy Spirit. You see, when we ask for grace, including grace in our struggle with spiritual disciplines, the Holy Spirit arrives to assist in the work of the disciplines which is a “purging and precious renewal.”
Using the metaphor of a mirror, Walter writes: “Mirrors that hide nothing hurt me. But this is the hurt of purging and precious renewal - and these are the mirrors of dangerous grace.” When asking for grace, the Spirit arrives with a mirror to show us both our sin and our salvation. Michael Wiltshire referred to this last Sunday when speaking of confession as revealing what is hidden in our hearts. When hidden sin is revealed in confession, we become open to receive forgiveness and grace.
I encourage us to ask for grace during Lent, but to do so knowing that grace is also dangerous. When asking for grace, we are asking for the Holy Spirit to reveal to us our hidden sin in light of the Lord’s forgiveness. May we continue to be open to receive God’s dangerous grace during the season of Lent.
This Sunday, Ian Bergland will be preaching on repentance as Jesus addresses the questions of his followers. Though the passage in Luke 13:1-9 opens with a challenging word, the story ends with a grace filled word! I invite you to join us this Sunday as we gather for worship!
As we approach the Second Sunday of Lent, I hope your Lenten season is off to a humble start. I know mine is. Though I haven’t been able to take on many spiritual disciplines this season, I’ve instead been able to rely on the humble discipline of prayer. In particular, the devotional book provided by Lavon Gentry has helped me be mindful to pray for our local and global neighbors in new ways. If you are struggling to find your discipline this season, I’d simply invite you, like me, to start there. Spend time each morning praying through the focus offered in the booklet, Seek God for the City 2016. If you haven’t picked up the devotional yet, I invite you to do so after the service this Sunday.
Wednesday’s prayer really struck my this week. In light of Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” we prayed “simplify the mix of motives that drives our lives. Clear the clutter of competing desires. Give us a simple, single hearted passion for you. Align our scattered thoughts and focus our hopes so that the only thing that matters is that You alone will be seen and loved by all.” This continues to be my humble prayer this Lenten Season. As you can see from the announcements below, we have many activities going on at Rose City. And all of them are wonderful. Yet, my prayer in light of this Year of Grace is that in midst of a mix of motives and activities, the Spirit of the Lord will continue to purify our hearts.
This Sunday, as we hear the story of Jesus lamenting for the lost children of Israel, we do so with a call for purity. Let us gather this Second Sunday of Lent for worship to ask for forgiveness from all the distractions and desires that keep us from gathering under His grace as the hen gathers the brood under her wings.
The Season of Lent has begun. We began the season as a community with our Ash Wednesday Service. At the service we were challenged by Gerry’s play called House Fire Act I: What is left after a house fire? Who is left holding the ashes?
We also received the sign of the cross in ash on our foreheads to signify our mortality and with humble hearts prepare ourselves, like Jesus in the wilderness, for the celebration of resurrection at Easter.
This year, our focus during Lent is on humility in light of grace. Lauren Meares shared with our staff a few weeks ago a line from Madeleine L’Engle's book Walking on Water, “and another lovely paradox: we can be humble only when we know that we are God’s children, of infinite value and eternally loved.” Part of our temptation in the wilderness is to seek after our own value by our own means. Yet, Jesus reminds us in the way he responds to satan that such value is a gift from God. We are loved and valued infinitely by God because of the gift of the Son offered for all. To receive God’s love and value of us is a gift empowered upon us by the Holy Spirit.
This Lenten Season as you focus on your spiritual disciplines, begin with a humble heart recognizing the gift of the grace we have already received. Before letting go, let the Spirit in. Receive God’s love, mercy, and grace and then let him burn away by a purifying holy fire all that keeps you from depending fully on the Lord.
This Sunday, for the First Sunday in Lent, Pastor Sam will share from the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. I invite you to join us this Lenten Season as we are humbled by the grace of the Spirit in our lives!
I still can't believe it rained last week on Vision Sunday! And I mean that in a good way!
The rain is something we desperately need but also something we have no control over. What a fitting analogy for our Year of Grace. God's grace is something we desperately need but also something we don't get to control. It is simply a gift from God. Yet, we are challenged to ask for more of God's grace and this is our year to grow in our understanding of how we ask for more of God's grace by praying in line with the Holy Spirit. I'm excited for us to press into God's grace via the empowering work of the Holy Spirit this year. And I'm excited to learn how to do this together as a community by embracing the virtue of humility during Lent, gratitude during the Easter Season and truthfulness following Pentecost.
With Lent just around the corner, we gather this Sunday to transition towards Lent with the celebration of Jesus' transfiguration on the mountain. I'm delighted to announce that we will have a guest music leader, Noah Branson. His parents helped form the Table, a Free Methodist Church Plant in Altadena, CA. We will also have a guest preacher, our very own, Marc Kennedy. His passion for the Word will bring the story of the Transfiguration to life! The Lord has placed it upon his heart to share about the ways God provides for us on the mission we've been given.
Join us this Sunday as we take our next step forward in this Year of Grace. Come, Holy Spirit, come!
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” Jesus preaches to the people of his home synagogue, “because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor!” In one of his first sermons, Jesus declares the purpose of his ministry; to bring freedom. He proclaims a year of Jubilee in his home town of Nazareth.
In this message, Jesus gives a vision of his forthcoming ministry in which the oppressed would be set free. And since that day, echoes of freedom in the Spirit of the Lord have reverberated throughout history. This includes our own history. Three years ago, Rose City Church, declared this sermon to be our vision and mission for the year. We sought to be set free from all that binds us. It was a powerful year of the Lord’s favor.
And since 2013, we’ve continued to seek after freedom in the Spirit, not just in our own lives but in the systems and structures that keep our neighbors oppressed. With all that’s taken place in the news and media, there’s no doubt oppression is strong upon many of our sisters and brothers. This year, the freedom of the Lord will continue to release captives in ways we have never imagined as we head forth a our new mission and vision of discipleship and partnership.
This vision of Jesus is still our vision and the Year of Jubilee is still our year of freedom, even if we experience it differently year after year. I invite you to proclaim Jesus’ vision of freedom with us on Sunday as we gather for worship at 10am!
I’m excited to hear Reed Metcalf (an ordinand at Rose City) teach on Jesus’ foundational message. And I’m grateful that what we hear in the Word will prepare our own vision and mission for 2016 (shared on Vision Sunday: January 31st) to continue the Jubilee that Jesus inaugurated through his life, death and resurrection!
1/14/16 - Celebrate Jesus' First Miracle with us this Sunday
This year is off to a wonderful start! I can’t wait to share our new vision and mission with you all on January 31st!
As we prepare for Vision Sunday at the end of the month, I can already sense the Spirit moving in powerful ways among us. The last two sermons from Pastor Gerry Pickett and ordinand Clare Ferguson have truly been from the Lord. I heard the Spirit speak through them.
Pastor Gerry reminded us of God’s grace as the movement of the Spirit ahead of us, which we (as Wesleyans) call prevenient grace. On Epiphany Sunday, we remembered that the star the Wiseman followed was given to them by the prevenient grace of the Spirit.
On the Baptism of Our Lord Sunday, Clare reminded us that the work of the Spirit includes opening our hearts, letting go of what we hold onto for self protection, for the Lord to grow the seed within. The wheat berry hidden by the husk is removed when we commit ourselves to the Lord through the baptismal waters and the fire of the Holy Spirit!
This Sunday, we read the story of Jesus’ first miracle following his baptism. It’s no accident that the lectionary texts of Jesus turning water into wine follows his baptism. If you think of His baptism as the sign of God’s covenant with all people through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, then you won’t be surprised to hear that Jesus is ready to celebrate at a wedding reception. The covenant made by God with us in baptism, like a bride and groom at a wedding, is a cause for celebration! And so for his first miracle, Jesus turns water (and the covenant it represents) into wine as a sign of the most joyful and abundant reality of God’s grace.
This Sunday, as I prepare the Word for the sermon, please known that I anticipate the Spirit of grace to be poured out upon us, like the abundance of wine in Jesus’ first miracle. As we move one week closer to Vision Sunday, we do so with great anticipation that the Spirit will move in a mighty way. Join us this Sunday for worship at 10am as we seek an outpouring of God’s grace and the overabundance of his Holy Spirit!
1/7/16 - Baptism of the Lord Sunday
I'm so excited about 2016! Through our year of repurposing in 2015, the Lord has prepared us for a new vision and mission. We've received a new purpose as a neighborhood church. I can't wait to share the new vision, mission and purpose with you all on Vision Sunday, January 31st! Please mark your calendars now for this important Sunday.
Before Vision Sunday, I'd love for you read about our new vision and mission ahead of time by checking out our brand new website: www.rosecitychurch.org. We just launched the new site this week!
Of course, we have a few amazing Sundays planned between now and January 31st. This Sunday, Clare Ferguson will be preaching for Baptism of the Lord Sunday. The Spirit has planted a special word in her heart that you won't want to miss!
Join us this Sunday at 10am for our time of gathered worship.
12/31/2105 - Happy New Year
Happy New Year! This year of 2016 is going to be great, and we look forward to kicking off the new year by worshiping with you all this Sunday. Pastor Gerry will be preaching this week, so please remember that service starts at 10:00 AM. Also, this Sunday, we will have pies after church in the cafe area!
12/27/2015 - First sunday after Christmas day
The advent of Christ is at hand! It is time to celebrate his birth. We are ready for the final preparations. As we make our final preparations, I pray and hope we take the time to enjoy the full meaning of the celebration of Christmas; that is the “Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).” All of our stories of joy this Advent Season pointed to the fulness of grace and truth found in Christ Jesus. Even with all the chaos of this season and difficulties of life, joy is found in the grace and truth that God has redeemed His people and will do so fully upon his return.
I encourage you today to follow through with the encouragement we received from Pastor Gerry last Sunday by taking time this evening to read the Christmas story. In reading the story aloud we will be reminded of the great joy we have in the birth of Christ. As Pastor Gerry preached: “I want to encourage you all to read aloud the story of the birth of Christ. Read it to each other, a spouse, a friend, an enemy, a family member, read it aloud to someone because you never know who is listening and how they might find the joy of God in this great story of hope. You never know who is listening and what they might need. So just as Mary told the story to us this morning, tell the story of a God who has broken into our lives and granted us salvation from Sin and death.”
Samantha and I invite you and any guests to join us at our place this evening from 7-8pm for a family-friendly gathering as we read the Christmas story from Luke 2. We will also continue to share stories of joy and sing carols together. Holidays treats will be provided.
I also invite you to join us this coming Sunday for our Christmas celebration. A final story of joy along with Christmas carols and a sermon on John 1:14 will help us celebrate the birth of Jesus. Our special service will be immediately followed by a time of food and fellowship, generously provided by the Horton family!
Blessings as you spend your final hours of advent together, reading and hearing the story of Christmas, and finding joy in the birth of the Christ child.
12/17/2015 - FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we hear Mary’s song in response to the good news delivered by the angel Gabriel that she would give birth to “the Son of the most High.” When sharing this news with her relative Elizabeth, Mary bursts out signing “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant!”
Widely known as the The Magnificat, the song of Mary, captures the joy of Advent. With great joy, Mary places her faith in the truth of the Annunciation that the her son, who is to be named Jesus, will “reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” In the tension of her season of life and the oppression of her people, Mary finds joy in this good news that has yet to come to pass. She sings with hope and anticipation for the time in which it will be fulfilled.
This is the joy of anticipation found in the time of Advent. In the words of Fredrick Buchner:
There is a time when it begins, and therefore there is a time before it begins, when it is coming but not yet here, and this the time Mary was in when Gabriel came to her. It is Advent: the time just before the adventure begins, when everybody is leaning forward to hear what will happen even though they already know what will happen and what will not happen, when they listen hard for meaning, their meaning, and begin to hear, only faintly at first, the beating of unseen wings. (The Magnificent Defeat, sermon, “The Annunciation)
If there ever was a time to find joy, it is in the time of Advent. As we gather for our final Sunday of Advent, I pray we listen hard for meaning in the truth of our savior’s birth. Though we know the story, may we hear God’s meaning in it for us. Though we are in a time when He is coming again but no yet here fully, may we hear the sounds of unseen wings which proceed his return as we celebrate his birth.
May we in the time of Advent rejoice with Mary and declare that our souls magnify the Lord! Join us this Sunday as Pastor Gerry prepares us for the celebration of Christmas in our last Sunday of Advent together.
12/10/2015 - third sunday of advent
This week, in reflecting on our stories of joy, I've been reminded of the Psalms. In many ways, the stories of joy that we have heard on Sunday or experienced throughout the week reflect the honesty found in the Psalms. Whether that's through a story of joy coming after sorrow or the joy found in the song of a child, there's a sense in which joy is a response to God's presence, provision, and guidance in our lives. Like the psalmists, by God's grace and the power of the Spirit, we receive the joy of the Lord as our strength.
I know this challenge can be difficult in times of hopelessness and sorrow. I know that we hear stories absent of joy on a daily basis. For example, this Sunday we will participate in National Refuge Sunday in partnership with churches around the world, World Relief, and World Vision. In faithfully anticipating the return of Christ, we must discipline ourselves to let the Lord turn our hopelessness to hope in His return and turn our tears of sorrow into tears of joy for His presence in this world.
As we gather for the 3rd Sunday of Advent, let us do so like the psalmists who honestly share their hearts with the Lord and in return receive the joy of the Lord. Join us for worship this Sunday at 10am as Pastor Samantha shares God's Word on reorienting our toward joy in the Lord and His unfailing promises, just as the psalmist does:
9 Be merciful to me, Lord for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak in sorrow,
my soul and body with grief.
14 But I trust in you, Lord;
I say, "You are my God."
21 Praise be to the Lord,
for he showed me the wonders of his love
when I was in a city under siege.
23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people!
The Lord perseveres those who are true to him,
but the proud he pays back in full.
24 Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord.
(Psalm 31:9, 14, 21, 23-24)
12/3/2015 - Second Sunday of Advent
Happy Thanksgiving! On behalf of Rose City, we wish you a wonderful day with family, friends and neighbors gathering at the table, giving thanks for the Lord and one another. At Rose City we are grateful for the Lord’s provision, guidance and care of our community. And we are grateful for you. We are grateful for the friendship we share together. We are grateful for our continued fellowship, discipleship and partnership together.
With a new Christian Year starting on the First Sunday of Advent, we have a lot to be thankful for this year! Our Advent Season sermons will focus on stories of joy; deep, deep joy. This is the kind of joy that pours out when healing from pain, when lost in wonder and praise, when patiently hoping in the Lord’s return, when giving thanks for a child born in a manager. Join us on Sundays as we hear diverse stories of joy with the lighting of each advent candle!I’m excited to announce that this Sunday one of our Local Ministerial Candidates, Michael Wiltshire, will be preaching and sharing the Word of God with us. He will graciously kick off the Season of Advent as we prepare for Christmas by celebrating both the return of Jesus and his birth centuries ago. May your hearts be filled with joy today as you celebrate Thanksgiving!
11/29/2015 - First Sunday of advent
Last week we kicked off the season of Advent by hearing that our Christian anticipation of both Christ's return and birth is characterized by prayer and attentiveness. Though we are focusing on joy this Advent season, there is a great sense of grief this week as there has been another violent act of shooting. This one is even closer to home. Let us pray diligently this week for the peace and joy that Christ can bring to a violent world.
Though this week is tinged with the darkness that comes from this violence, I'm reminded that our hope and joy is not solely in the way this world is. Our hope and joy truly does lie in Christ. I'm looking forward to hearing the Kids ministry share songs, and not just that, but the ways in which the children of Rose City Church experience joy. This Sunday, the Second Sunday of Advent, Pastor Dan will preach on the Father's joy over us.
May this Sunday be a reminder of the simple ways in which joy comes to us, especially when we have a child like faith, and may we continue to seek Christ's joy this Advent season.