Before we break from our Sunday School year, I want to reflect for a moment about two things:
1. What is it we are breaking from? and
2. Where does our break take us?
1. From what are we breaking?
We are breaking from our Sunday School program:
- 9 months of classes,
- 9-months of coordinating teachers with students,
- 9 months of lesson planning
- 9 months of driving in early to church
- 9 months of offering time, insight, thoughts and lots of love.
I am grateful for all that was shared and for all who shared.
You have certainly earned a break.
But there is an additional thing from which we break;
an essential thing we cannot overlook.
We’re taking a break from 9 months of Sunday School stories… and not just any stories, but Bible Stories.
Sometimes those of us who have grown up in the church forget the blessing of God’s Word and the stories we have been given by God to shape our souls; Stories about God our Creator, Savior & Redeemer; stories about people of faith and courage, stories about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, stories about disciples sharing the joy of life modeled by Jesus, and stories about man and women who walk with God with a hope the world cannot manufacture.
It has been noted that Bible stories used to be so well known in our country that even if a person didn’t attend to church, they were still familiar with the basic message of Christianity. That was because our culture’s literature, music and conversation would regularly allude to biblical themes of purity, self-sacrifice, hope, love, forgiveness and redemption.
But that has changed..
Today, we need to recognize more so than any other American generation has recognized that if our children are going to know the Bible Stories which shape our souls and direct us toward LIFE, we must teach them, because no one else will.
So as we break for a few months, let us recharge our batteries and come back in the fall to what we’ve promised to do for the next generation. Today we will make the same promise to Joelitto & Alexia when they are baptized that we’ve made to others before them; … to gather them in Sunday School and tell them the stories of God’s Word so that they will know and love Jesus , and live life in the Truth offered to us in the Bible. We’re taking a break, but we will be back.
2. So, where does our break take us?
It takes us outside into God’s creation, where God will meet with us.
Water – I hope as you see and touch and swim in warm waters of summer that you will not only think about the water of today’s baptisms, but also your own baptisms. Whether you were baptized as a child or as an adult, by faith in Jesus that baptism symbolizes the old life you left behind when God pointed you to a new life of faith and hope lived in Christ; a life filled with promises from God.
Beaches – If you get to the seashore, or a beach at your favorite lake and you lay down your towel on the sand, I hope you will recall the many stories of Jesus that took place in such a setting; the calling of many disciples from a life of fishing, the resurrected Jesus’ cooking for his disciples on the beach, and Jesus parables of the unwise man who built his house upon the sand, rather than upon the solid rock of Jesus’ teachings.
Rock – Maybe this summer will find such a rock, perhaps the top of Mt. Monadnock where the last hundred feet take you above the tree line to its top of giant plateau with a view of 6 New England States. From there you may begin to grasp the vastness of God’s creation; something we forget about when winter coops us up and daily troubles and busyness narrows our perspective on life. Maybe, like Elijah, you will hear God voice on the mountain top when you escape the noise below.
Fire – Or, if you are like Moses, maybe it will be in a burning bush that God will use to pull you away from the mundane. So if, at the end of your summer days, you find yourself sitting around a fire pit with family & friends, stay open to God’s presence, and His voice.
So as we break from Sunday School this summer, let God continue to teach you and your children and your grandchildren wonderful and exciting things about Himself. And then, as we rally our numbers in the fall, come back with something to share; a memory, a picture, a journal entry, an experience of meeting God in some new or unusually way. But, if you can’t wait until the fall to share your encounters, send us a postcard and I’ll put it on our bulletin board to read and enjoy.
Holy Week 2010
I used to think that everyone celebrated Holy Week; that period from Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday through Good Friday and Easter morning. Then again, as a child, I thought that Easter was simply a joyful holiday to remember that Jesus rose from the dead, a joy that led all people to enjoying colorful baskets, Easter egg hunts, and giant chocolate cream eggs or solid milk chocolate bunnies. All in all, Easter time was a joyful and "candy-full" time. It never rivaled Christmas because of all the presents we would get in December, but it was an okay holiday, certainly one to look forward to.
But now that I've grown up a bit, I have to say that while I still love the Christmas season, Easter has captured my heart. For in addition to the joy of celebrating the wonder of Jesus’ resurrection, Holy Week has become the very source of hope in my life; hope that my aging body will someday be new and perfect, hope that the sins and follies of my life will one day be replaced by righteousness.
I recently read some reflections focusing on why it is hard for children to grasp the deeper meaning of Easter, while the spirit of Christmas is so easily taken in. The theory put forward was simply that children have not had enough life experience yet to need the kind of hope that is shouted out during Holy Week. Children have yet to experience enough of life’s brokenness to yearn for wholeness and restoration. In short, for most children life is still too good to need a second chance.
Now there are exceptions to that generalization. One of the ministries of Community Covenant is a monthly outreach to young teenage girls incarcerated for offenses to their families and society. In a locked down environment these teens are all awaiting the verdict of judges to know whether they will be placed in foster care or sentenced to years in juvenile jail. These children have all too quickly become aware of their personal brokenness; aware too of their desperate need for a second chance.
The Bible tells us that when Jesus was nailed to the cross he took upon himself all our sin so that we could take upon ourselves his righteousness. Jesus resurrection on Easter morning proclaims that truth, that there is indeed life for all of us beyond our physical and spiritual brokenness. When we accept the salvation God offers us through Jesus’ death, we find exactly what we need, hope for tomorrow, indeed hope for all eternity.
Won't you join us for our observances of Holy Week? Join us in walking with Jesus to the cross and through his resurrection. Discover the joy and hope of God's salvation.
- Pastor Bruce
“Advent” is a churchy word though it occasionally slips into everyday conversation; usually describing the arrival or start of something. But we can also understand “advent” as “intrusion”. As a 4-week period leading up to Christmas, “Advent” reminds us that God is not only alive but is active in this world; intruding into the human story to save us from the destruction caused by our own brokenness. Christmas is the celebration of God’s advent in Jesus, the Savior who taught us about God, modeled righteous living, died for our sins and was raised from the dead, defining our hope for tomorrow.
It will also be in Jesus’ promised return that a Second Advent will occur to save all who have chosen to life by faith in God. The date of this “intrusion” is not known but it is as sure as Jesus’ birth. Our job is to be ready for Jesus’ return; to be people living by faith in a God who created us out of love and who loved us enough to pay any price to redeem and sustain us. Community Covenanters “covenant” with one another to walk together in such faith.
As you shop this Christmas for special gifts for loved ones, consider giving one special gift to God; you. Come and join us on Christmas Eve (4:00 PM) and give God an hour to open his gift and celebrate you. Praise Him with your voice and listen to His words of love for you, as musicians draw you into God’s holy presence.
Join us on the 24th in thanking God for intruding into our world as a helpless baby so that we would not be intimidated to draw near and gaze upon His beautiful face.
April 8, 2009
Walking together in the ways of Jesus Christ
Welcome to Community Covenant’s webpage!
We hope you will find in our images and information but a taste of the rich life we share in Christ with one another. If you resonate with what you see I hope you will join us on Sunday for our worship of God, for this is a great time for you to sense our sincere love for our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Our fellowship hour following worship is also a great place to experience the power that God’s Spirit gives us to love one another.
Community Covenant is a family of faith that has experienced the power of Jesus’ resurrection for those who believe in His salvation. While many of us have walked together through a decade, from nearly closing our doors through the blessings of spiritual renewal and physical growth, many others have joined us along the journey with gifts for ministry and compassion for the needs of our world. Perhaps God will call you to walk with us in making Community Covenant an ever-growing influence in furthering God’s Kingdom on earth.
This Easter Sunday we will remember Jesus’ question to Mary Magdalene; "..why are you crying?" Today as we face increasing social turmoil, let Jesus offer you a hopeful perspective in which you can celebrate life knowing that He is alive, and that we are a forgiven people.
Join us for this special day of celebration! - Pastor Bruce Johnson