*note: as services were canceled due to snow on Feb. 15, you have one more week to be FULLY prepared for our Lenten sermon series, I Give Up, kicking off with the fabulous Graham Buck.
Pastor Dan has just finished a series on Christian Charity called Thy Kingdom Come. If you missed any of his sermons, I strongly encourage you to catch up on them here on our website.
This series was heavily based on two books several North Harborites have been reading and thinking through, When Helping Hurts and Toxic Charity. These books help challenge our Western view of poverty as being purely material, to understanding the spiritual poverty that plagues rich and poor alike, also helping us to see the dignity and common worth we share with all humanity, regardless of their material wealth.
Could you use some other people to talk through these topics with? A new commission team centered on these issues is starting up under the stewardship of Elsbeth Elisha. Email zoefaithreyes at gmail.com if you are interested!
Dan ended the series with a beautiful call for us to turn from approaches that are me-centered: either being so anxious about the problems of poverty that we rush into fix it [centering on my emotions] or spending too much time thinking over the theories of approaches on how to think about poverty that we fail to act all together [centering on my own circumstances] and instead to turn towards a God-centric approach, recognizing that a healthy approach to poverty is one that follows God’s lead in healing and building HIS Kingdom for HIS glory. The When Helping Hurts authors talk about this in terms of learning to honor the “Colossians 1 Jesus.” Colossians 1 is a beautiful description of who Jesus is and how that informs who we are and how we might live. Give it a read, its an awesome chapter of scripture! Or, if you might enjoy a devotional-ish guide through the book, you might check out this book, Grow In [humbly produced by myself, Zoë].
The point of recapping all this is that Dan’s most recent sermon [on February 8] provides a fantastic bridge into our next sermon series on Lent, which Graham Buck will kick off for us next week. The authors of When Helping Hurts end their book with a call to repentance. They posit that addressing poverty must begin with repentance for our God-complexes with regards to poverty and our own wealth and the poor’s supposed need for us. Instead, we must recognize our own poverty – poverty of relationship, poverty of righteousness – or in other words, we need to recognize and confess our need for God, and our need for all our human sisters and brothers. Lent offers a beautiful forum and structure for us to spend a season in repentance and anticipation of our coming savior who will make us redeemed and whole.
Sermon Prep Guides this season will be simplified. I will simply ask you to meditate during the week on a given passage of scripture and spend time in prayer with God. Consider giving the passage a read at least once in the week, perhaps once each day, and spending the time you would usually spend studying sitting quietly, listening, watching, waiting for God’s leading, word, presence, and consolation in your life. We encourage community gropus to consider giving something up during this season – either choose something in common to give up, or simply support one another in pursuing this discipline. Just remember, Lent, and all spiritual disciplines, need to be about God and your relationship with Him – not your need for a slimmer waist [through giving up chocolate for selfish reasons, for example].
If you would like to learn more about Lent or work with additional resources, you might find this website and its accompanying videos/apps/links/resources helpful: http://www.thelentexperience.com/
As you repent, my prayer for our church is that you would relinquish your sin so that you can receive God’s grace.
Passage for meditation February 9-February 15:
Psalm 25.1–9 NLT
25.1 O LORD, I give my life to you.
25.2 I trust in you, my God!
Do not let me be disgraced,
or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
25.3 No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.
25.4 Show me the right path, O LORD;
point out the road for me to follow.
25.5 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
25.6 Remember, O LORD, your compassion and unfailing love,
which you have shown from long ages past.
25.7 Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
for you are merciful, O LORD.
25.8 The LORD is good and does what is right;
he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
25.9 He leads the humble in doing right,
teaching them his way.
(Ps 25.1–9 NLT-SE)