Meeting Times at 4th United Presbyterian Church

Cafe' Worship: 9:15 a.m. each Sunday in Gathering Hall (activities provided for children; coffee; snacks)
Adult Sunday School: 10 a.m.

Sunday Worship: 11 a.m.

Bible Study: each Thursday at 6 p.m.

Community Forum: last Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. with meal (no community forum in November, 2011)

About the 4th United Presbyterian Bible Blog

Posts on this blog are from me, Rev. George H. Waters, one of the two organizing co-pastors of 4th United Presbyterian Church. Our other organizing pastor was Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen, who is now pastor of a church in Charlotte, N.C. Since June of 2011, Rev. Elizabeth Peterson has been our parish associate pastor for new church development. The earliest posts are sermon notes from the few I have typed the last two years. Then, there is a series of notes posted on the book of Romans. After that, it varies from week to week, sometimes church news, sometimes reflections on a happening, a passage of scripture, or even some pictures. This blog is meant to open the conversation we have going on in our church to others in our community.

The picture below is of our church's sanctuary, built in 1913.

Friday, February 5, 2010

4th Week of Bible Study Series: A Vision of Healing Hospitality

We read Acts 16: 9-10 where it is reported that Paul and Silas had planned on going to Asia to preach the Gospel, but each time, the Spirit of God prevented them. And, then one day Paul had a vision and a man from Macedonia said: "Come over here and help us!" And, Paul understood that as the call of God's Spirit, and he and Silas went and ministered among the Macedonians.

Philippi was the chief city of Macedonia, and we know that a church was in fact founded in Philippi through Paul's ministry. See Paul's Letter to the Philippians, which is one of the greatest documents of the early Church. In this letter Paul says: "Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say, 'Rejoice!' Let all know your patience. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7.

But, it all began with a dream, a dream given Paul by God's Spirit.

We talked some about our dreams for 4th United Presbyterian Church. We talked some about listening to dreams we have had. We talked about making our church a place that draws others and helps them to experience God's peace. We talked about people in our community that we wanted to reach out to. Young women with children; people isolated and lonely and feeling trapped; people who are homeless; people who are struggling with violence; people near to our church building. In some ways, it seems we felt comfortable with working on making our church as place where there was warmth, and decency and hospitality. Indeed, that spirit is already at the core of this congregation, but it needs to be celebrated and strengthened, and in a sense revitalized.

I remember presenting the vision I had for 4th United Presbyterian Church to the Committee on Ministry and to the Presbytery, and I made very clear that my vision was not of a church "going out to do ministry" to others in the community, but of a church whose life was a ministry, whose fellowship is grace, whose doors are really wide open, whose love is contagious - a place where there are eventually no strangers, a place where people who are seen as very different from each other by society discover their profound sameness in Jesus Christ.

Sure, I want our members and pastors to reach out to the community, but what is really in my heart is how the community needs a place to call home in a world where not just the homeless often feel "homeless." I think our church knows of this need, and knows how to respond to it: pastors, members, friends. I feel like we are together in this.

And, as Rev. Allen reminded us last night. If we look at the good spirit of hospitality we already have in our church, and continue to value it, or learn to revalue it, then we really do have something to work with. We then understand something about who we are and who God is calling us to be, and how we can't be anyone other than who we are and who God is calling us to be! Amen.

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