Homework Let me remind you that I gave an assignment for class this week. It was to fast for 24 hours from being critical. I got this from reading Catherine Marshall. She got it from Matthew 7:1-2 which reads, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” From that she writes, “One morning last week. He gave me an assignment: for one day I was to go on a ‘fast’ from criticism. I was not to criticize anybody about anything.” (taken from Spiritual Classics) Find a day to practice this and come to class and share your experience. You can speak up in class or write about your experience and have me read it. Whichever feels comfortable for you. I look forward to hearing what you found.
The Family of God You notice we say brother, sister round here; It’s because we’re a family, a family that’s near; When one has a heartache, we all shed a tear; It’s because we’re a family, a family that’s near. I’m so glad I’m a member of the family of God; I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood; Joy without measure, eternal my home; I’m so glad I’m a member, of the family of God. Bulletin Digest
Spring is coming. Does anyone want to complain? I think we are all anxious to get outside and to let our kids go outside to play. We are just about ready to start eating supper on our screened in porch again. What are you getting ready to start doing again? I think the elders have done a great job of making our assemblies safe and now it will be even easier as we are able to open up doors again during our service. I am hearing from people that have not been out for service that they are ready to start coming. Some because they have received both vaccines. I can’t wait to start seeing people again that have had to stay away for upwards of a year. Spring always gives me the feeling of God renewing the earth. Trees that have looked dead all winter come back to life with blossoms. The color green returns all around us. This year I feel the hand of God even more than usual. I love it.
I had lunch this week with the new preacher at Rugby Ave. Church in Charlottesville. It turns out we know each other from the time Laura and I went back to Abilene for a year of school. It’s a small world. Next Sunday we are having an evening of singing and Tim tells me that they are planning to bring a group. I was very pleased to hear this. God loves it when his children get along just like you and I love it when our children get along. I love to sit and watch my children have a serious discussion about something or to sit and watch them make each other laugh uncontrollably. It has always amazed me how our two fairly quiet daughters can get together and suddenly be so noisy. I guess quiet plus quiet equals raucous.
This Sunday night I am going to try something new. We are going to do a spiritual exercise called listening to God through scripture. I plan to use Luke 10:1-12 for this exercise. We will all listen to this passage as it is read and then we will spend time reflecting on what we heard before we take turns sharing what we heard. I am working on ways that even our youngest kids can be involved. I want even our young kids to listen to what God is saying through scripture and then relate to that. I think it will work. Bring your kids and see.
Joyful Repentance The Christian life is in many ways a life of repentance. On the day of Pentecost, Peter told the crowd to repent and be baptized. Repentance begins before our baptism but it does not stop there. As we walk through life we are confronted with parts of ourselves that are radically different than Jesus. We also begin to see sins that just won’t seem to go away. God’s request for us to repent is very much connected to his grace. God isn’t so much demanding repentance as he is offering a way out of a lifestyle that is killing us. John Chryssavgis writes about this in his book Soul Mending. He writes, “We have become so accustomed to thinking of repentance as an unpleasant, though necessary and obligatory rejection of the sin we ‘enjoy,’ that we have tended to lose sight of repentance as a fundamentally joyous, restorative return to life in its fullness.” I don’t think we normally think of repentance and joy in the same sentence. The next time you are called to repent maybe you can have a new viewpoint and see it as a doorway to freedom. God is calling you back to life and away from that which is robbing you of life. Have a great weekend. Allen L. Close
This Week’s sermon: “Deborah to the Rescue” Judges 4&5
Agape Groups I would like to extend our time of meeting at the building on Sunday nights through the month of February. On February 2 we will not meet at the building and I would encourage people to get together that night to watch the Super Bowl or not watch it and just get together for fun. One of the reasons I want to do another month at the building is so that we can have a night of singing where we invite other Churches from the area. The nights of February 9, 16, and 23 we will meet at 5:00 instead of 6:00. It is my intention for agape groups to begin meeting on March 1. I will be looking for both hosts and leaders for our groups. I really enjoy our groups. I find them to be a great way to get to know people and I always find them encouraging and helpful. If you haven’t been involved I would encourage you to give them a try. I will begin posting your different options in the coming weeks. I want to say thank you to Alfred for preaching for me while I was in Guatemala and to Tim Feazell for teaching my class. It is really nice to have such capable people to fill in for me when I am gone. Have a great weekend. Allen L. Close
This Week’s sermon: “The Cycle of Unfaithfulness” Judges 3
In the event the Elders cancel church services due to weather please check your email first. In time it should be posted on Radio 550am, WHSV TV 3 in Harrisonburg, and NBC29 TV in Charlottesville
SUNDAY NIGHT FUN
This Sunday night we will be meeting to do my favorite Sunday night activity – An intergenerational activity. I am moving the time up to 5:00 because I need to drive to South Carolina afterwards. The activity is going to involve three things of which you can choose one. The first choice is to learn a song with Elizabeth Barron. The song is No Longer Slaves. You can look it up “No Longer Slaves Zoe group” to familiarize yourself with the version that we will learn. The second choice will be to do art with Laura. I don’t know exactly what you will be doing but I know she will help the group produce a work of art that will make us proud. The final choice will be wrestling with Chris Hewitt. In this class you will be acting out Genesis 32:22-32. If you plan to do the art or wrestling you should probably come dressed appropriately. It is my intention for this to be suitable for all ages. Certainly some things will be more suited to one or the other but we will do the best we can. See you Sunday at 5:00.
I am beginning a new series on the book of Judges this Sunday. I am calling it the Gospel According to Judges. You might consider watching a video at thebibleproject.com on the book of Judges. It is a very helpful overview of the book that will set you up for the series.