Dear St. Lukers,
People often ask me what my role is as Lead Pastor. I tell them exactly what Bill Barnes taught me, the primary role is keeper of the vision and values. They also ask if there is an order or reason for the order of our Core Values. Actually, what I have learned in my 13 years as a student of the life of discipleship and a student of these values, is that yes, they actually are in order of strength training, and one value muscle builds the next to create a dynamic, grounded, and strong body of Awakened Disciples who Reveal the Kingdom.
CHRIST-CENTERED LOVE is the grounding and energy force of who we are as a church and as followers of Jesus. God’s unconditional, sacrificial love grounds us personally and as a body of faith, giving us energy and acting as the driving force behind all we do. As we understand the depth, height, and reach of Christ-centered love, it intuitively kicks in the muscle of Acceptance.
ACCEPTANCE – Christ’s love helps us see that there are no boundaries to God’s love; this knowledge activates a new energy around how we engage and respond with others. This muscle in our core helps us remove the barriers of us/them, sacred/profane and redefines how we view people in our lives.
Our HOSPITALITY muscle activates and begins to feel the burn as acceptance pushes us to draw circles wider, connecting us as family to people who are different, calling us to welcome and treat others with the same protective care and faithfulness God offers to us. These core muscles generate a different muscle, firing up a new drive within us that gives momentum to the body as it grows.
COMMUNITY – when love, acceptance and hospitality muscles work together sacred space is created. We begin to build sacred, safe places for people where individual experiences and stories are valued and also grappled with together. We become willing to have and stay in hard conversations, learning from one another, and staying grounded in our abundance of God’s blessings as a group, realizing we are stronger connected than separate. But community stretches our understandings of God, God’s vision for humanity, and gives us new lens by which to view others and life around us, pushing us beyond our single stories to deeper understanding of the lives and experiences of others and our creator God.
Which leads us to this Sunday’s topic for developing Core Strength…
DISCIPLESHIP – To be a disciple of Christ is to be a student of Jesus, ready to accept, assist and live out the teachings of Jesus, and assist in Revealing God’s vision of God’s Kingdom. To be a disciple is not only to study what Jesus did, but understand the complete paradigm shift of seeing why Jesus did what he did, and the vision he had for the world. Discipleship is about building the most intimate relationship one can seek to develop with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But discipleship in turn, makes us exercise that relationship through our interaction with others. Wesley would tell us Discipleship is practiced through personal piety exercise (worship, fasting, prayer, study) and social holiness exercise (almsgiving, serving, acts of justice and mercy, witness in the world). As we will see next week, when these values are stretched and strengthened they produce the exponential power, energy, and force by which the church acts in service to the world. Discipleship becomes the muscle that makes us, pardon the pun, CROSSFIT!
In our survey regarding reopening, more than 75% of those who answered were not a part of a discipleship group. In this new moment of redefining church, we have a great opportunity to start new exercise regimens, focusing on our discipleship muscle and strengthening it beyond the old ways, with new pathways of connection, conversation, and challenge in our relationship with Christ and one another.
This Sunday you will hear about the exercise of trust that best develops the core muscle of discipleship through the difficult story of Abraham and Isaac from Genesis 22. We will also share a new opportunity to join a group and move deeper into discipleship. Our music teams have been working on some new videos to lead us in worship and some of our staff will be joining the clergy in sharing a word of personal testimony. We can’t wait to worship with you on Sunday but also to exercise those disciple muscles in new ways!
As you each prepare to celebrate Independence Day, remember to stay safe and take care of those around you. We find our numbers climbing and are hearing more and more case confirmations in our beloved community and we want everyone to continue to care for one another. If you are struggling and need support, please do not hesitate to reach out and let your church family know how we can strengthen and care for you in this time.
Grace and peace,