Church and The WordHouse (End of Year Support)

Greetings, friends!

Many of us in the Church have heard that the “sky is falling.” Perhaps we’ve seen it in the dwindling attendance numbers and the low membership rolls, especially among younger adults and young families. Devotion to the church has seemingly become something of the past. Where did they go? Why do they not care about God, we may ask?

People are forming community among friends and neighbors, gathering in homes, coffeehouses, pubs and restaurants with others who are open, honest, and loving.

Many younger people are focusing their energy in civic areas of life, working for the good of all and caring for their city among those who respect and value their gifts and talents.

We’ve also noticed some people of all ages live without a Jesus-inspired community, because their church experience has not helped them journey in the way of Christ.

If you take a closer look, however, the sky is not falling. The skies are opening up.

God is in the neighborhood. The Holy Spirit is in the places people work and play, and surrounds the activities done for the good of all. Fresh visions of communal life and discipleship are inspiring God’s people to live like Jesus. God’s Spirit is pouncing upon cracked earth causing new life to sprout.

During the Advent and Christmas Seasons we not only wait for the Lord but we prepare the way, make his paths straight and then graciously see Christ humbly arrive. At The WordHouse, we are making a way for Jesus Christ and for many young adults to know him and experience Good News. Won’t you partner with us? Your support will help us provide places for voices to be heard and to make disciples who make disciples in this exciting, Spirit-filled day. To God be the glory.

Online: https://www.sacpresby.org/donationsForm.asp?id=7

Check: Presbytery of Sacramento, The WordHouse, 9983 Folsom Blvd, Sacramento CA 95827

Grace and peace,

Rev. Jeffrey O. Richards

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Relent: Simplify

A(nother) Lenten thought:

Simplify.

We live in a world (those in the “1st world” anyway) that seems to value quantity over quality, busyness as a marker of success, and doing more as a means to being more or being better or even being a good follower of God.

But Jesus lived an intentional, slowed-down, your identity as well as your neighbor is one of already being a child of God life.

May we free each other to be who God created us to be. Breathe in God’s graceful presence this day, and every day. Your identity is good, return to it.

Live simply.

25 Guys… 1 Common Goal

25 Guys… 1 Common Goal.

This phrase became the rallying cry for the San Francisco Giants during the MLB post-season. Down 0-2 and 1-3 against other teams that needed just 1 more win to end the Giants season, 25 Guys… 1 Common Goal was coined by the Giants struggling starting Right Fielder, Hunter Pence. Rev. Pence, as some began to call him, held worship in the dugout before the start of their first elimination game.

“Get in here, everyone get in here … look into each other eyes..now! Look into each others eyes, I want one more day with you, it’s the most fun, the best team I have ever been on, and no matter what happens we must not give in, we owe it to each other, play for each other, I need one more day with you guys… play for each other not yourself.” (Account from their Assistant Coach via Facebook)

“Play for each other not yourself”. Wow, that’s gospel. Don’t look just to your own needs, but to the needs of others. It’s about us. Together. This is what God’s community of believers, the Body of Christ, God’s people is about. What could we accomplish, what could we do if we lived out this mantra in our very own communities? It very well could be what Paul was hoping would happen in Corinth – that the insignificant should be held in high esteem; that with Jesus at the top, those who thought they were significant were to humble themselves and lift those who, by all other measures, were not important to be the most important.

Will you bring hope? Will you love? Will you help restore others? Will you play for each other and not yourself, because you don’t want the fellowship to end? (And by the way – when it’s about others, you’re included in that.)

One church… 1 common goal.

The WordHouse – A Missional Community

Faith Presbyterian Church of Sacramento has been a huge supporter of my “ministry of community”. Below is an article I wrote for their April newsletter about my “house church”. As the Church continues to wrestle with how to be church in our day and age, maybe this will provide some more insight fuel. And, as a nod to Bruce Reyes-Chow and others who claim “old” and “new” expressions of faith need each other, The WordHouse is but one example.

Where do I begin? There are so many layers and inter-connections which have brought me to missional community (or house church) ministry. I am worried I would miss something in the telling, and I want you to get the whole story. But perhaps after reading, you’ll at least know in part… and after writing, I’ll know more as well. Suffice it to say, because of what God is doing my mind is blown and my heart sometimes feels like fire.

What has come way before me is now swirling in the wind and taking shape, luring me, calling me to come close and chase after it.

There’s a desire, perhaps even an awakening, in our God-made world to: be in unity even in diversity; express and realize all that we were created to be, even when what we are and what we will be remains sacredly mysterious; participate, produce and have an impact, just as others undoubtedly leave and will continue to make their mark upon us. We want – no, need – to be in community. As people “reborn from above”, we yearn for it. Sure at times we need solitude, but we are always brought back to community. Life in Christ is never solely, God and I. It is always part of God and We.

This is why a small group of friends, and friends of friends who soon became friends, started to come together weekly to intentionally be in community. To share the happenings of our lives, to support and encourage one another, to worship God and pray together, to experiment with necessarily creative ways in order to serve one another and our neighbors; we eat, discuss, pray and worship together. We break bread and tell God’s story as it unfolds in our lives. We meet in homes, in coffee shops and bars – for this is where the people are. This is why our fluid community exists. To make space for people to functionally expand and grow their faith and relationship with God through Jesus Christ in the midst of their normal, chaotic, everyday life.

This is why The WordHouse exists. We are created by God to fellowship and come together in ways that express and make known God’s loving and intentional kingdom. In other words, we are to be community.

The wind is blowing. It’s been blowing since the beginning of time. May the Spirit take us where it wills.

If The Rapture Don’t Happen

This is part of a letter I sent to my missional faith community…

All kidding aside re: subject title, I’m actually really saddened and upset. Something this serious – people being “saved” or rescued by God while others are left to suffer because they don’t believe – is just awful.

There are people who have been preparing for years, i.e. quitting jobs, not saving money, etc, as well as those who have now another reason to claim Christianity is absurd because an influential pastor has figured out the Day of Judgement will occur tomorrow. Let alone he’s been wrong before, as well as the countless others before him, or that Jesus says we won’t know the day our the hour (Matt 24:42-44).

Now it’s possible that Jesus will come back from heaven tomorrow, but it won’t be because he can’t or won’t on any other day. Perhaps Jesus coming again gives us hope (and I think it should) … or condemnation to wicked evil doers who don’t change their ways means justice (which it also should) … but all this talk about the rapture tomorrow and the joking (unless it’s to keep from crying) is just too much.

Okay, enough on my soapbox.

#restoreunity

As someone has already pointed out (I don’t have a link, so you’ll just have to trust I’m not plagiarizing), has there really ever been “unity” in Christianity?

Good question.

Let’s go waaaay back. Peter and Paul had their beef. So did Paul and his first “official” ministry partner, Barnabas. The later had such a “sharp disagreement” (NIV) that they went their separate ways, literally, and perhaps emotionally and relationally as well. Some Jews didn’t want to be in fellowship with non-Jews (Gentiles). Some church-members were choosing “sides” amongst their pastors/ministers.

In the end though, at least canonically speaking, it really was about Jesus. How through him, everyone was one. All the major distinctions were no more (and was to be lived out in light of that understanding); “There is neither Jew or Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. (Gal 3:28) Don’t be a “slave” to anything anymore, save Christ. Even Paul’s (or whoever wrote it) rhetorical slam on those who would pervert the gospel should not ultimately keep them away, but bring them back.

“But now that you know God – or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles?” (Gal 4:9)

Good question.

It is sin and proneness to brokenness that creates cracks and dis-memberment in our oneness in Christ. Christ isn’t the cause.