This Is Me

Monday, January 29, 2007

Because What Jen Says Goes ;-)

I had a request to discuss my wedding plans here on the blog from *ahem* Jen and I hadn't so far because I didn't want to inflict people:-)

I am getting married at a small park in the Lansing area and the reception is at an old Opera House (that when I look at it's history, I'm not sure if it was ever an ACTUAL opera house, but they call it that now...):-)

I don't have any colors:-) I'm not big on picking stuff like that; I like ALL colors! So, my bridesmaids are in mint, pink, and periwinkle and once I ask my flower girls I'm hoping they'll be in blue and yellow. All flower colors to go with the garden/park I'm getting married in. We're planting wildflowers for the bouquets and have already planted lily bulbs. Lilies are my favorite flowers!

I'm not sure how I'm decorating the reception hall yet - I'm thinking something that will symbolize that I'm an island girl at heart:-) Everything will probably be eclectic - like me.

My wedding dress is GORGEOUS. It was given to me by Jeremiah's cousin's wife, which is a real blessing. I have to lose a few pounds, but the other dress - given to me by Alivia - was quite small and after trying to lose significant weight just was not working and I was given this other dress I decided on it. Although my roomate teases me that I'm going to wake up and decide that day which dress I'd like to wear :-) hee hee.

My bachelorette party will be the Tuesday before the wedding and is being planned by Ariana (maid of honor) and Sally. My other bridesmaid is Rachel, Jeremiah's sister.

Now, if anyone wants to hear me sighing over Jeremiah, let me know. I've tried to make sure not to inflict that upon you either;-)

Let me know what details y'all are interested in:-)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Church Universal

I am putting in the entire section at the end for reference, background, further depth, but I want to take out a certain part of it and talk

"The Greek word for ‘church’ is *ekklesia*, which means ‘an assembly’. In those days it was used in a variety of contexts, religious and secular. As Chrysostom wrote, ‘there were many assemblies, both Jewish and Grecian’. What, then, was distinctive about the *ekklesia* to which Paul is writing? It is this. It is ‘in’ the Father and the Son." - John Stott

This made me consider in my mind about our language and its limits and its sometimes deceptive capacity. A "church" is an ASSEMBLY. Now, since we've called the location that Christians meet a "church", that even when we talk about "the church of God" or the "holy, catholic, and apostolic church" or what-not that we think in terms of a finite group of people and usually a finite group of people who worship with us at the place and time that we worship. Whereas, an 'assembly' anyone can just come up and join and are then a part of it. And you can't have people from outside the 'church' visit, because all who enter are part of the assembly.

Now, as Christians (or Followers of the Way) we are the assembly that is 'in' the Father and the Son. All those who follow Christ are part of this assembly. There are no divisions, no denominations. We are the assembly that is " ‘living in’, ‘rooted in’ or ‘drawing its life from’" Jesus Christ and God the Father. The Church Universal makes so much more sense this way - the Church through the world, the church in all times - present, past, and future. We are the assembly of people living in, rooted in, and drawing our life from God. When we talk about the church in a specific location "the church at Corinth" or "the church in Hillsdale" we are saying "the assembled followers of Jesus who reside at that location" This way of looking at the "church", the assembly is more unifying. You can't exclude anyone who would follow Jesus from your church. They are automatically a part of the assembled Body of Christ in that location. "This is my church and that is your church" make no sense other than that those were the people who happen to be assembled at a certain place and time. The words "our church family" starts to lose a little of its sense. How can we have "our church"? The assembly in Christ in a city is every Christian in that city. Maybe because of logistics we meet separately, but our "church family"? That would be everyone in Christ! We are all assembled together in Christ. The church at a certain location is all Christians there, not merely all Christians who usually gather at that certain time, in that certain location, pay for the building at that location, and sign something saying that they agree with everyone else who meets in that building's views of God.

"Going to church" becomes more than going to a certain place at a certain time. Church becomes any time Christians are assembled. Perhaps that's why scriptures say "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matt 18:20) A gathering, an assembly, Christians have merely to meet in His name and it's church. There may be a difference between "church" and a more specific "assembly gathered to worship God" we have rules for orderly worship in 1 Cor (14 I think). But all you need for worship is whoever happens to be there at the time. I think we should start to think of "our church" as the Church Universal and we are merely the few (or many) gathered in one place at one time, but welcoming all who come and considering all who come who are in Christ and the Father as a part of our assembly meeting to worship God. Anyone who comes is a part of the assembly as long as they are "in Christ"! "Who is in your church"? loses its meaning. I think I can joyfully say "All who are in Christ are a part of our church! Some of them just don't come to the gathering a such a place and such a time!"

THE MESSAGE OF 1 THESSALONIANS.>>A Commentary by John Stott.>>1 Thessalonians: 1:1b. a). The church is a community which lives in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.>> We notice in passing the unselfconscious way in which Paul brackets ‘God the Father’ and ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’, as being together the source of the church’s life. Later (in verse 10) he will call Jesus the ‘Son’ of God. Already within twenty years of the death and resurrection of Jesus the coupling of the Father and the Son as equal is the universal faith of the church. This simple fact is enough to undermine the teaching of those who claim that the New Testament nowhere attributes deity to Jesus.> The Greek word for ‘church’ is *ekklesia*, which means ‘an assembly’. In those days it was used in a variety of contexts, religious and secular. As Chrysostom wrote, ‘there were many assemblies, both Jewish and Grecian’. What, then, was distinctive about the *ekklesia* to which Paul is writing? It is this. It is ‘in’ the Father and the Son. What kind of relationship has he in mind by the preposition ‘in’? It is certainly not spatial, as if the church were somehow ‘inside’ God. Nor does it seem to mean that the church is ‘founded on’ God (JBP) or that its members ‘belong to’ God (REB) or simply that they ‘have God as Father and Jesus Christ as Lord’, true as all these statements are. Nor does it seem natural to take ‘in’ as instrumental and translate the phrase ‘brought into being by’ God.> If the phrase had been only ‘in the Lord Jesus Christ’, without reference to the Father, commentators would probably agree about its meaning because to be ‘in Christ’ is a familiar and favourite expression of Paul’s, and because in 2:14 the churches of Judea are described as being ‘in Christ Jesus’. Two New Testament metaphors explain this usage, the first developed by Jesus and the second by Paul. Jesus spoke of his disciples being ‘in’ him as branches are ‘in’ the vine (Jn. 15), while Paul sees us as being ‘in Christ’ as limbs are ‘in’ the body. (1 Cor.12). In both cases the relationship in mind is a vital, organic union which makes possible the sharing of a common life. The fact that Paul here adds ‘in God the Father’ seems no reason why the ‘in relationship should mean something different. Elsewhere Paul describes our new life as ‘hidden with Christ in God’ (Col.3:3); is this not almost the same as saying that the church is *in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ*? Perhaps, then, we should paraphrase the preposition ‘in’ as meaning ‘living in’, ‘rooted in’ or ‘drawing its life from’> In later letters Paul’s description of the church would be the other way round, namely ‘the church of God in Corinth’ (1 Cor.1:2; 2 Cor.1:1). He might therefore have written to ‘the church of God in Thessalonica’, since he referred to ‘God’s churches’ in Judea (1 Thess.2:14) and in other places (2 Thess.1:4). Instead, he wrote to *the church of the Thessalonians in God*(see 2 Thess.1:1 too). Both accounts of the church are true. For God’s church was living in Thessalonica, and the Thessalonians’ church was living in God. To be sure, the preposition ‘in’ has a different nuance in these statements, since the church is ‘in’ God as the source from which its life comes, whereas it is ‘in’ the world only as the sphere in which it lives. Nevertheless, it is still correct to say that every church has two homes, two environments, two habitats. It lives in God and it lives in the world (C.f. ‘in Christ at Philippi’, Phil.1:1, and ‘in Christ at Colosse’, Col.1:2).> Why then did Paul choose to describe the Thessalonian church in the way he did? Since he does not tell us, we can only guess. But it is at least plausible to suggest that, because he knew the insecurity felt by a young and persecuted church, he wanted to remind them that in the midst of their trials their security was in God. It is from him, from the Father and the Son (‘through the Spirit’, we might wish to add), that every church derives its life, strength and stability.> To this church Paul now sends his greeting *Grace and peace*. It seems to be a combination of the Jewish greeting *shalom* (‘Peace’) and the Greek greeting *chairein* (‘Rejoice!’ or ‘Hail!’) (*Chairein* is used as the greeting at the beginning of two letters in the Acts (15:23; 23:26) and of the Letter of James 1:1), now Christianized as *charis*, ‘grace’. It is as if Paul is saying ‘We send you the new greeting with the old’. Still today we can desire for the church no greater blessings than grace and peace. God’s ‘peace’ is not just the absence of conflict, but the fullness of health and harmony through reconciliation with him and with each other. ‘The entire gospel is involved in this word’, writes Ernest Best. And God’s ‘grace’ is his free, undeserved favour through Christ which confers this peace and sustains it.>------------------------------------------------------------------>>Tomorrow: Thessalonians 1:1:3). b). The church is a community which is distinguished by faith, hope and love.>>>

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

excerpts from John Stott's commentary on the book of Romans

Excerpts from John Stott's commentary on the book Romans:

It was well said by Thomas Erskine of Linlathen that "in the New Testament religion is grace, and ethics is gratitude". It is not by accident that in Greek one and the same noun (*charis*) does duty for both "grace" and "gratitude".' God's grace far from encouraging and condoning sin, is the spring and foundation of righteous conduct.

The traditional evangelical invitation is that we give our 'hearts' to God, not our 'bodies'... But Paul is clear that the presentation of our *bodies* is our spiritual* act of worship....He represents us as a priestly people, who, in responsive gratitude for God's mercy, *offer* or present our bodies as living sacrifices.