Fall Sermon Series Begins September 8th
August 30, 2019–The great Reformer John Calvin, principal player in the development of the Presbyterians’ Reformed tradition, had this to say about what makes a church a church:
“Whenever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, and the sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution, there, it is not to be doubted, a church of God exists.”
Theologian Joseph D. Small points out the importance of two little words in this quotation: “and heard.” It is not enough just that the Word is proclaimed. It must be heard. Hearing means receiving, and receiving means living out the Good News found in the preaching and the teaching, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
This is a vast difference between going to church and being the church. What might it look like to be a healthy 21st Century church – one that is living out the Good News in its being?
Early in the 20th Century, building on Calvin’s understanding of what constitutes a church of God, the Presbyterian Church of North America adopted what is known as the “Great Ends of the Church.” These six statements, describing in detail what a healthy church looks like, have stood the test of time. They were incorporated into the new church constitution when the northern and southern churches reunited in 1983 following a split that dated to the Civil War. They remain an important part of our Book of Order today.
They have endured, I believe, because they offer guidelines for assessing the health of the Church and for returning the faithful to the foundational reasons for our existence. They offer assurance, comfort and challenges, reminding us that all things are possible through Christ.
Beginning on Sunday, Sept. 8, I will be preaching a six-part series on The Great Ends of the Church, with a break in the middle for Worship Outside the Walls. In this series, I will be discussing what each of the six Great Ends statements means for us in a modern context. On Wednesday nights during the series, my adult Bible study class will cover the series topic for the following Sunday. The first Bible study topic will be “The Proclamation of the Gospel for the Salvation of Humankind,” at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday night, Sept. 4, in the Parlor. (The Wednesday before WOW will feature “Ask the Pastor,” where you will have an opportunity to ask me your tough questions.)
I hope to see you on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings this fall!
The Great Ends of the Church Sermon Series Schedule:
Sept. 8 – Part 1: The Proclamation of the Gospel for the Salvation of Humankind
Sept. 15 – Part 2: The Shelter, Nurture, and Spiritual Fellowship of the Children of God
Sept. 22 – Part 3: The Maintenance of Divine Worship
Sept. 29 – Worship Outside the Walls
Oct. 6 – Part 4: The Preservation of the Truth
Oct. 13 – Part 5: The Promotion of Social Righteousness
Oct. 20 – Part 6: The Exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the World