This Week 1-23-30/2022

  • Today @ 11: Annual Meeting
  • Monday @ 5:30 p.m.: Girl Scouts
  • Tuesday Bible Study: @ Jeremiah’s, 2 p.m.
  • Sunday 1/23 @ 11: Sermon: Phillip A. Ross
  • AA Meetings: in the Parish Hall:
    • Tuesdays, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
    • Wednesdays, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
    • Fridays 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Making Peace Seminar

Van Yperen says that church conflict is seldom simple. Most conflict is the manifestation of some very complex relational issues. Van Yperen stresses that an attempt must be made to understand the whole “system dynamic,” the interplay of attitudes and beliefs that influence decisions and behavior in the church. Understanding the system of attitudes and beliefs will make the proposed solutions more effective. He properly observes that most church conflict is not about personal sin—technically, but more about systemic ethical failure or what we can all casual faithfulness.

Van Yperen’s review of biblical organization in the church is helpful. He speaks passionately about how God wants the church to be a community of “called-out, called-together people.” He properly stresses the need for holiness in our personal lives and proper order in the church. He fervently believes that church leaders need to model that holiness in personal, obvious ways. “A Spirit-led church must have Spirit-formed leadership…. Leaders are servants who embody God’s vision, define current reality, set and keep boundaries, nurture community, and feed the flock.”

We all have a stake in the proper functioning of the church, leaders and lay people alike. And we all must do all we can to maintain biblical order in our own lives and in the church.

We will have a 12-week video series by Jim Van Yperen based on his book, Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict.

Meetings will be Sunday mornings, 11:00 a.m. beginning February6, 2022. Please make every effort to attend. Bring a friend!

Christian Voting

St. Paul’s is a congregationally governed church, which means that the significant decisions are determined by the voting members.

The membership of the Church, convened in a Congregational Meeting, shall have final authority in all matters of church governance, as set forth and described in the Bylaws” (St. Paul’s Constitution).

There are several important things to note about this. First, we note that only active members are eligible to vote. Here it is important to know the difference between the “church triumphant” and the “church militant,” or the “universal church” and the “church particular,” or the “informal church” and the “formal church.” Each of these pairs of terms describe the same reality, which can also be called the “spiritual church” and the “earthly church.” The spiritual church includes all Christians who have ever lived and who will ever live in the future. The earthly church includes specific currently living members in local congregations. Congregational voting is about the local church.

Of course people can be Christian without belonging to a local church, but this is not the ideal. And no local church is perfect, all are flawed. Nonetheless, Scripture encourages (commands) Christians to be members of a local body.

But we must also ask: who is actually in charge or in control of (governs) the local church? And the same question applies to individual Christians. Are we in control? Or is Christ in control? Are we to live as we want, or as Christ wants us to live? While we must acknowledge that both are involved, we must also submit ourselves to Christ’s leadership in our own lives—and in the local church as well. So, the question applies to both individuals and churches, and the answer also applies to both.

Here is the application of this: when we vote, we should vote for what we think Christ wants for His church, not for what we want for our church. The difference is important because the church belongs to Christ, and we are His people. Sometimes (even often) what we want for ourselves is different from what Christ wants for us. And when this happens, we must submit ourselves to Christ (to Scripture), and not ask the Lord to submit to our desires. Indeed, being a Christian is a high calling!

–Phil

Jesus Our Hope

By David McLemore

The two disciples began the seven-mile walk home from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Despairing recent events, they didn’t notice the man joining their party until he began talking. Had they known him? They certainly had, though they were unaware at the moment. In an ironic twist, the topic of their home going discussion was now one of their carpool. The one whom they had hoped was the one to redeem Israel (Luke 24:21) was alive again. Their hope was not put to shame (Romans 5:5). But they couldn’t see that yet. Oh, how hope is often veiled by own our doubts!

It’s a common fear, this putting to shame of one’s hope. It is a fire easily extinguished by the wet blanket of the world’s disappointments. By definition, hope is something future-oriented, out beyond, something promised though not yet possessed. Anything out in the future is, of course, uncertain, and that uncertainty plays with our mind. The things we hope for (and hope in) can let us down. We’ve been there a thousand times, haven’t we? The hoped-for Christmas present never comes. The hoped-for spouse never asks you out. The hoped-for promotion never materializes. To grow up in this world is to grow up learning to deal with disappointment.

The Emmaus road disciples would find a home in twenty-first-century America. Obviously, Jesus is dead, yet the world still spins. Death is imminent but better left unconsidered. Going home is the only option left. At least there’s comfort there as we wait out the rest of our days.

But as they walked, their new partner rebuked their lack of faith and spoke wonderful things to them from the Bible. He proved something, though they weren’t sure at the time what the point was. All they knew was that their hearts began to light up with something pushing them onward, a burning inside that restored the hope they thought they’d lost (Luke 24:32). They went home despairing a dead Jesus but on the way, they met a living savior. (To be continued….)

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