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Tag Archive | "church"

Getting excited about church


C-East-Nelson-UnitedPastor Herb VanderBilt 

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Rd. • Cedar Springs MI 49319

 

It made me glad to hear them say, “Let’s go to the house of the Lord!” Psalm 122.

 

When was the last time you got excited about going to church for Sunday worship? I know that there are days when all of us wished we could stay home especially this winter with all the cold weather and snow making it hard to get to church. How many times do you go home complaining that you didn’t get much out of the service? Guess what? You may have received more than you think. According to William Morrow even falling asleep in church may be good for you. After all it is the Easter season and getting woke up in the service may be a reminder of the Resurrection. William goes on to say that “fully 50% of what happens in a worship service is at the unconscious level of the mind.”In other words we don’t know how the benefits accrue. They just do. As long as you go there, your inner self is soaking up the messages, many even unspoken. You don’t have to take notes or remember the theme of the sermon or “meditation”. Go with your five senses open to absorbing the beauty of the music, the surrounding symbols that embrace you and the enacted ceremonies of unconditional love and acceptance…where else but in a religiously motivated community can you find people who befriend and support you?

Many people today have given up on the church saying that it is outdated and not relevant anymore. That is unfortunate because I have  found some of the most relevant and up-to-date ideas come from people excited to be a part of a community of folks who are all connected together in Love to help each other grow in faith. I’m glad to go into the house of the Lord.

 

 

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Community Building…Building Community?


Solon-Center-WesPastor Tom Holloway

Solon Center Wesleyan Church

15671 Algoma, Cedar Springs (just north of 19 Mile)

 

Community Building and Building Community—are they one and the same? They are the same words for sure. But do they mean the same thing? I hope that our answer in Cedar Springs is “Yes.” A community building is a place where a community would come together in a physical space that is common.  A physical space where the needs of the community are both felt and met. In order for this to happen, or course we need to first build a sense of community.

The “church” often feels this tension, too. When I say that I go to church at “such and such” church, for me that church is (Solon Center Wesleyan Church), to you it might be a different location. But when we say that we are going to church, does that mean that we go to a physical location that has an address? I’d say both yes, and no. For us at Solon Center, our physical location is at 15671 Algoma Ave, yet when we leave that place we are called to “Go be the church” to the communities, schools, workplaces and families we represent. That is what is so great about the church; it can be a location where we worship and do the things of God, and it is also a place from which we are sent to do the work of the church.

When the church loses focus on what they are called to do, they get off track.  When the church becomes so much about us and our own needs, we forget what we are called to do. The Great Commission spells is out:

Matthew 28:18-20: 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

A building that we call church is a great thing, and I am very proud of how warm and friendly our building is, but it is nothing without the people. Just look at all of the empty church buildings in Europe that have become nothing more than museums. When we fail to meet the needs of our community, our halls will grow dark and empty.

Right now in Cedar Springs there is great enthusiasm for a “Community Building” to be put together to meet the ever-growing needs of an ever-growing community.  Even now people are working hard just to find out what our community needs so that we can not only survive, but we can thrive. We have a vision for a building that will enhance the great things already taking place in Cedar Springs, and that will also take us to the next level. I’m sure that all of the details will be coming out soon to answer all of the questions that the community must have, but you can know for sure that our primary goal is not to just build a “Community Building,” but rather to “Build the Community” of Cedar Springs. I love these words spoken to the prophet Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 33:3: 3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’”

When a community comes together united in their goal, and united in their love for their community ahead of there own personal interests, there is no end to what God can do.  We are called to be the church in our community, which means putting the needs of others ahead of our own. We as a community are called to see the needs of our current generation as well as the needs of future generations. Hang on—it’s going to be a great ride!

 

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Celebrate the joy of Christmas


at one of the churches in our community:

Dec. 15, 17, 22, 24, 29: Celebrate the coming of Christ at Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, 140 S. Main, Cedar Springs. On Dec. 15 at 10:30 a.m., our kids will share the Good News with “Christmas Counts” and a presentation of “The Reluctant Innkeeper.”  On Dec. 17 at 7:00 p.m., we offer a Blue Christmas worship service of hope and healing for those who struggle with life circumstances. Childcare is provided. On Dec. 22, our adult choir presents a cantata called “All is Well” in the 9:00 a.m. worship service. Join us on Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve) to welcome the Christ child into our hearts and lives.  We offer two worship services: 7:00 p.m. (supervised childcare provided for ages 0-3 and special Children’s Time) and 10:00 p.m. Both services include Holy Communion and candlelighting. Then, on Dec. 29, we worship at 10:00 a.m. and celebrate the joy of the Christmas season! For more information, please call (616) 696-1140 or visit us online: www.cedarspringsumc.org

 

Dec. 15, 22, 24: Join First Baptist Church of Cedar Springs, at the corner of Main and Muskegon Street, for their Christmas program, “Pointing to Jesus,” on December 15, at 5 p.m. On Sunday, December 22, hear the Christmas message, “Anticipation: Imminent” (based on Luke 1:45-55, and 2:1-14). They will also hold a Christmas Eve service on December 24 at 7 p.m. at the church.

Dec. 15, 24: The children of the Solon Center Wesleyan Church will celebrate the birth of the Savior with a Christmas program “What Will You Give to Jesus?” on Sunday, December 15 at 9:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. The children will perform in both services. The church will also celebrate Jesus’ birth with a Candlelight Christmas Eve Service on Tuesday, December 24 at 6 p.m. The church is located at 15671 Algoma Avenue, just north of 19 Mile Road. Everyone welcome!

 

Dec. 20, 22, 24: Join The Springs Church on Friday, December 20, at 6:30 p.m., when their worship band performs a fabulous concert of your favorite, fun Christmas songs to get you in the mood for Christmas. Proceeds from low cost tickets ($3/person or $10 per family) go to help fund the church’s “Bless the children” ministry, which provides clothing for children in the community. Fun for the whole family! They also invite you to their Christmas Eve Candlelight Service on Tuesday, December 24at 7 p.m. Feel free to come as you are, and bring friends and family, too! There will be glo-sticks for the kids. The Sunday, Dec. 22 message (at 9:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.) is part of the series “Advent Conspiracy.” We are located on the corner of Oak & First Streets in Cedar Springs. For more information visit our website www.thespringschurch.info or call 616.696.2970. We hope to see you at The Springs this Christmas!

 

Dec. 22, 24: Hillcrest Community Church of God Welcomes you on Sunday, December 22, at 10:45 a.m., to enjoy a down home Christmas play.  Come and be a part of our studio audience at our live broadcast. Watch families reenact the Holy Nativity, and we’ll all sing Christmas carols together. Then the Christmas Eve Candlelight service will be December 24, at 6:30 p.m.  Won’t you join us in celebrating the birth of The King!  There will be refreshments following both services. We are located at 5994 18Mile Rd, Cedar Springs, MI.  For questions please call 616-696-9333.

 

Dec, 22, 25: Join Pioneer Christian Reformed on December 22 at 6 p.m. for a Blue Christmas Service. While Christmas is a time that many look forward to and things like joy and happiness mark this time of year, others have a particularly hard time during the Christmas season. Join us for a Blue Christmas Service where we will acknowledge the difficulty that Christmas can present and offer some help for the pain. You are also invited to our Christmas Day Service on Wednesday, December 25, at 10 a.m. Come celebrate with us the birth of our Savior. Pioneer CRC meets at 3592 17 Mile RD NE Cedar Springs, MI, 49319 (Next To Meijer)  Phone: 696-9120 Web: www.pioneercrc.org.

 

Dec. 24: Calvary Assembly of God (810 17 Mile Road) will offer its annual Candlelight Christmas Eve service on Tuesday, December 24, at 6:30pm. This is a relaxing and joy-filled hour of hot chocolate, Christmas carols, and a reminder of the reason for the season of Christmas. Get more details at http://cscalvary.org.

 

Dec. 24: We’ll be doing what we do best this Christmas season at Courtland-Oakfield UMC with simple celebrations of God’s gifts of friends and family, symbols and traditions, carols and Christ … especially Christ. Our Christmas Eve Candlelight service at 7:00 p.m. will be a time to take a restful break and listen as God Whispers Love. We are located at 10295 Myers Lake NE. Check out our website, www.coumc.com, or visit us on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/COUMC

Dec. 24: East Nelson United Methodist Church, 9024  18 Mile Rd. NE will be holding a Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve at 7 p.m. Come celebrate the blessed birth with us!

 

Dec. 24: Please join us at 7 p.m. for a traditional Christmas Eve Worship service with music and Holy Eucharist at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church.  We are located at 1200 Post Drive NE, Belmont, at the intersection of Post & Pine Island drives, 1/4 mile west of Exit 95 (Belmont) of US Route 131. Visit us online at www.holyspiritbelmont.org or www.facebook.com/holyspiritbelmont.

 

Dec. 24: We encourage you to join us at Resurrection Lutheran Church of Sand Lake, for a Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship Service, at 7 p.m. Resurrection Lutheran Church is located just south of Sand Lake, off from Northland Drive. It will be a wonderful service, in honor of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ as we celebrate His birth. For more information, 616-636-5502.

 

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Safe space is sacred space


Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

While I am no died in the wool traditionalist, not by a long shot, I sometimes have a bit of a problem with the words we now use to describe the places we gather together as the church. They are called “worship centers” or “multi-purpose buildings” or “auditoriums.” I much prefer the word used by our grandparents: Sanctuary. Because anywhere the church gathers, it should be a safe place, a place where people are welcomed and made to feel at home.

I once participated in a retreat where several young people gave their unbridled, unedited assessments of the church. At times, their words were immature. At other times their words were blisteringly accurate. One young lady who spoke was Charis, a 30-year-old wife and mother who had spent her three decades in the church. Her father was a seminary professor, and Charis herself holds a Masters degree in theology. She was no cynical, jaded outsider. She has been a determined follower of Jesus most of her life.

At one point in her talk she said through her tears, “I don’t want church. But I do want love, transformation, and community.” Love. Transformation. Community. Isn’t this, at least in part, what the church should be about?

We have spent too much collective time and energy focusing on the drivel, rather than on loving people. We fight and bleed over worship styles, which version of the Bible is the actually inspired one, and drawing up rules and restrictions for who can come to the Lord’s Table and or who can or cannot speak in a pulpit. We build all this structure and all these regulations on who is allowed in and who should be excluded, creating standards so impossibly high, Jesus Christ himself couldn’t get in the door.

And meanwhile, people who are lonely, who are dying on the inside, who have had the absolute life beat out of them, who are racked by addiction and loss, who are burdened so low by the cares of this world they cannot lift their heads, will not even look in the church’s direction. They cannot imagine that the church could somehow relieve or support them.

We must recognize these mercy-killing behaviors for what they are, and by God’s grace let Christ remove them. For when the church becomes a place of welcome–a sanctuary—it becomes safe space, and safe space is sacred space.

Ronnie McBrayer is the author of “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus.” He writes and speaks about life, faith, and Christ-centered spirituality. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.

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