Hello saints, servants, sons (& daughters)...
I hope this letter finds you encouraged. We talk a lot at the SPV about grace and in the same conversation do a lot to tear down the notion that our works have anything to do with our relationship to the Father (and completely standby that by the way). Sometimes I think we lose sight, however that the stuff of the Kingdom is hard work at times! Caring for a crying baby in the nursery so that mom can remain in the sanctuary to worship or working in Kid City is hard work! Setting up the rooms for Family Promise or going down to Williams Park in the hot sun is hard work! Cleaning the building (including scrubbing toilets) when no one is looking so that the building is ready for us when we gather or spending hours practicing your instrument so that you're prepared for worship or taking adequate time to listen to someone's situation so you know how to pray or advise them and any number of other things that go on in the life of ministry during the typical week is all hard work! And I just want to acknowledge all of you who are "doing the stuff" whether visible or unseen and say THANKS! So if you have some time and don't mind a little bit of hard work, please join one of the many teams at the SPV pulling together to make this thing work. If you are burnt out or find yourself in a "performance treadmill" trying to get God's attention, take a break, get some rest and realign what your relationship with your Heavenly Father is truly all about. And may we never forget that being a part of The Kingdom requires equipping from time to time. "Equipping the saints for ministry" is a real thing. We have all been created in Christ Jesus to do Kingdom work that the Lord has prepared in advance for us to do. But just because it's work and sometimes even hard work doesn't mean it can't be fun and extraordinarily fruitful.
Unity in the Spirit
In light of so much of the tension & anxiety that we are faced with every day (in the world as a whole, the logistics of our lives, the various dynamics & relationships in our church and even in our own minds as we contend with our own identity) I have been meditating on Ephesians 4.3 which states: "Make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." A few things jump out at me regarding this verse: 1) The Holy Spirit has already provided us with unity, it is not something we need to create. BUT 2) Effort is required to maintain what the Spirit has already provided. So I am asking you as the SPV church family to both acknowledged & "lay hold of" that which is already true according to the Spirit and at the same time that we would all make an effort with our thoughts & actions to maintain what the Holy Spirit has done/ is doing. "Making an effort" for some of us might simply mean to not be a jerk & for others it might mean to not be easily offended & for others it might have more to do with forgiving those who have wronged or hurt you. Trust me, all of those are very relevant to me personally at the moment & I feel completely inadequate & I am...But The Holy Spirit. Before I do anything I am choosing to rest & acknowledge what the Holy Spirit has already done & is continuing to do & I hope you all will "make every effort " to join me in that. Have an amazing week.
Hello SPV family!
1 Peter 4.9 states: "Show hospitality to one another" & Hebrews 13.2 says: "Do not neglect showing hospitality to strangers." I've been thinking about these verses the last few weeks & how we at the SPV can do a better job at practicing this. We have a pretty laid back approach at the SPV with our "come as you are" & "do whatever feels comfortable to you" philosophy but with one very important caveat: "...so long as it doesn't distract or impede someone else's worship experience." I desperately want us as a church family to consider the impact we might have on others (positively or negatively) regarding where we park, showing up on time to serve, stepping up to serve, praying or singing in an overly demonstrative manner that might make a new person uncomfortable, not using the nursery if your baby is particularly restless or noisy, having conversations with your friends during worship or communion... These are all things that we've received feedback on recently & some have even chosen to worship elsewhere as a result, which, if I'm being honest, breaks my heart. We work so hard preparing the building, our greeters, breakfast, music, videos, communion, the message, prayer team...so we can minister to people as effectively as we can so when all of that hard work, effort & preparation goes out the window because people are so distracted they can't even hear the message or focus on worship or connect with the Lord in whatever way you can hopefully understand the frustration of concern. Now I have no desire of turning the SPV into a "police state" where we all act like Barney Fife on patrol but let's all take some ownership of Heb. 10.24 "let us consider how we might encourage one another towards love & good works." I'm just asking that we all pull together to take some personal inventory of how our actions might affect others & encourage each other to do the same (all without getting offended). So silence your phones/ iPads, use the nursery when your baby is fussy, be cognizant of loud conversations...I just want to create space for us to have & give others the best worship experience possible & I hope you want that as well.
Much love to you all,
Good news gospel
Hello SPV family,
I hope you are having a great week thus far. There is a lot going on so please check out the various links on this page for all of the necessary information.
I am excited to celebrate Mother's Day with our church family this Sunday & then start a new sermon series on The Gospel of the Kingdom the following week (that may or may not be the actual title by the way). I feel like it's important to go back to some of the basics & remind ourselves what the gospel/ the good news is & at the same time remind ourselves as to what it isn't. On one hand we are challenged with the notion as to whether the "good news" is really all that great after all (or "what's so good about it?") & then there is such a huge temptation in the church culture these days to keep adding things to the Gospel that were never intended to be a part of the central message. I hope you will join us on this journey these next several weeks & invite some friends to join you!
Much love to you all,