The Church: One Body, Many Parts (2.11.18)

This week, Yakuv Gurung joined us to tell us more about the people of the Nepali Speaking Community Church (NSCC). We share a building, but we don’t often see each other, so this was a great chance to hear stories of NSCC. Yakuv also shared with us an exciting opportunity to plant churches in Nepal.

The Church: Many Parts, One Body (2.4.18)

We were thrilled to have Earl James with us this past Sunday. Earl is the Reformed Church in America’s (RCA) Coordinator of Cultural Agility and Advocacy.

This is what the Lord Almighty says, “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.” Zechariah 8:4

This is a picture of the Kingdom fulfilled. But how can it play out now in our neighborhoods and churches? Earl gave us some great tools to help us listen and understand stories of those who are different from us.

The Church: Many Parts, One Body

This week, we begin a 3 week series about The Church: Many Parts, One Body. One of the joys of sharing a building with 2 other churches is the relationships that form. Some happen naturally, but others require intentionality. This week, Nate led a conversation with our friend Rodrigo Cano, who told us more about the people of Comunidad Christiana de Grand Rapids (CCGR). He also encouraged us all to take intentional steps toward relationship.

 

Walk Humbly with God (1.21.18)

We wrap up our series on Micah 6:8 this week, looking at how we are to humbly walk with God. How can we have the same attitude as Jesus Christ? Collectively, as a church, we are committed to saying these things:
1. I don’t have it all figured out.
2. I need you, even if you are different than me. God meets us in, and transforms us through our differences.

Love Mercy (1.14.18)

This week we learned about the Hebrew word for love (hesed) in Micah 6:8. Love: Hesed is compassionate and loyal love. Listen here to learn more about how we can show hesed (love) in our own lives.

Act Justly (1.7.18)

On this first Sunday of 2018, we begin a new sermon series based on Micah 6:8: He has shown you, o mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God. 

But what does it mean to ‘act justly’? And what does that mean for us both individually and corporately? Listen here as we seek to answer those questions.

Act. Love. Walk.

What does the Lord require of you? It’s an intentionally provocative question the prophet Micah asked the people of Israel; a question many of the Israelites would have been confident answering.  But then Micah throws a curve ball. The answer, it seems, makes perfect sense, and yet is completely unexpected.
What does the Lord require of you? It’s an equally provocative question for us today. And the answer may surprise us as well.
Join us as we engage this ancient prophet in order to clarify our vision as a church. What are we uniquely positioned to do? How has God especially equipped us? What does the Lord require of us? Let’s find out together.
Act Justly (1.7.18)

God’s Loyal Love: Psalm 107

On this last Sunday of 2017, we revisited the word sankofa. We took some time to look back so that we can move forward, remembering God’s loyal love. If you haven’t already done so, we invite you to read Psalm 107 to be reminded of God’s loyal love, both to the Israelites so many years ago and to us. Reflect on 2017 and remember the times that you have seen God’s loyal love in your life, in the big things and the small.

Christmas Eve at The Branch

Christmas Eve is one of our most anticipated gatherings and we’d love for you and your loved ones to join us. The Branch is a place where everyone is welcome.

Our time together on the 24th will include the singing of carols, a performance by our choir (and drum circle!), a dramatic reading of Christ’s birth story and the lighting of candles.

The service is kid-friendly (in fact, many kids will be leading and participating in various aspects of worship). That said, we are providing childcare for the littlest ones (birth to four years old).

The service starts at 9:30 am (yes, in the morning). We hope to see you then!

God With Us: Joseph (Week 3)

We continue our Advent series this week with Joseph’s story. What was it like to be in Joseph’s shoes? What do we learn about God and about ourselves through this story. We invite you to explore these questions and more while listening to this podcast. There are times of silence in the podcast to allow for times of reflection or discussion.

We hope you join us for worship next Sunday at 9:30 am as we celebrate Christ’s birth during our Christmas Eve worship service.

God With Us: Elizabeth and Zechariah (Week 1)

God is with those who are heartbroken, feeling lost, those who are wondering if hope has run out.

This week’s sermon was more interactive than normal, so instead of listening to the noise of our individual conversations, we invite you to have your own conversations or reflections, using the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah. Read Luke 1:5-25 and then reflect on these questions:

  1. From the text, what do we learn about Elizabeth and Zechariah?
  2. What can we imagine about Elizabeth and Zechariah? If we were in their shoes, what might we be feeling or thinking?
  3. How have you experienced (or are you currently experiencing) loss, heartache, hopelessness or confusion?
  4. What is God’s response to Elizabeth and Zechariah? What does it say about God?
  5. Let the story help you remember what is true about God. Of what truth is God trying to remind you?

God with us. God with you.

God With Us

God with us.
This is the promise of Advent. That Christ has come to be with us; to walk our earth, know our pain and guide us home. And, this same Christ is coming again to finally and fully be with us.
God with us.
Could there be anything more significant or shocking? God? Coming to us? Coming to Elizabeth and Mary? Coming to Joseph and some shepherds? This is the promise of Advent.
This December we’ll explore the people God came to in the lead up to Christ’s birth. Their stories are not all that different from ours and teach us about the ways God is with us today.
December 3 – Elizabeth and Zechariah
December 10 – Mary
December 17 – Joseph
December 24 – the Shepherds
December 31 – God’s Loyal Love to us

The Adventure of Coming Home: “I am always with you” (Week 6)

As we end our series, we look into the verse that ends the story of the prodigal sons. In verse 31, the Father says “You are always with me and everything I have is yours.”

The Adventure of Coming Home: Receiving Your True Self (Week 5)

As we start to wrap up this series, it’s our hope that many of you have been able to take a step towards home. The journey doesn’t end here, though. It’s a lifelong journey, not an overnight one. Listen here.

The Adventure of Coming Home: Discovering Your True Self (Week 4)

This week, we move from the lies of the False Self (we must earn our identity) to discovering our True Self (we can receive our identity). “You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” Luke 15:31

The Adventure of Coming Home: Unmasking Your False Self (Week 3)

What mask are you wearing? This week, we dig into the hard work of uncovering the parts of ourselves that we like to keep hidden. Often, we don’t even know those parts exist. But our loving God wants more for us than the identity for which we are willing to settle.

The Adventure of Coming Home

“God is at home. It is we who have gone out for a walk.”
Meister Eckhart

The story of the prodigal son(s) in Luke 15 points us to what is true: we easily wander from home. And, when we turn back for home, God runs toward us to welcome every single part of who we are.

This is good news. And yet, turning back for home can be scary. What if we’re not welcomed? What if there are parts of ourselves that won’t be accepted? And what will we find out about ourselves on the way?

To be sure, the journey home is nothing short of an adventure. It is full of risk, uncertainty and…life. Join us as we explore what this parable teaches us about ourselves and the journey home.

The Journey Inward (Week 1)

Bringing Our Whole Selves (Week 2)

Unmasking Your False Self (Week 3)

Discovering Our True Self (Week 4)

Receiving Our True Self (Week 5)

“I am always with you” (Week 6)
Luke 15:31

Additional Resources
“The Gift of Being Yourself” by David Benner

Practicing Spiritual Practices

Transformation doesn’t come from effort alone. We can’t just hope or wish or even try really hard. Instead, we have to train ourselves into a new way of being. We have to practice.

To that end, Join us any Wednesday morning from 8-8:45am at the Garfield Park Nature Center (see map below, entrance is on Jefferson) To begin, we head into different parts of the Nature Center to practice prayer and contemplation on our own. We then gather together after a set amount of time to share any reflections. Any one is welcome any week.

Can’t make it? Below is a growing list of resources we’re using . You can engage with these at anytime, anywhere it works for you. 

  • Download and use the Centering Prayer app (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/centering-prayer/id844280857?mt=8). We use this most Wednesday mornings.
  • Pick up a copy of Seeking God’s Face

Want more info? Email chris@thebranchonline.org

 

Fall at the Branch

The weather has turned cooler. The more relaxed pace of summer seems to be over. Here at The Branch, things are no different. Take a look at some of the things happening this Fall. Join us for one or join us for all. We’d love to have you!

Fall Kick-off Party
When: Saturday, Sept. 16 @ 3pm–?
Where: Oeverman and DeBlaay yard – 2020 and 2030 Madison Ave. SE
What to bring: Sign up here for food, lawn chair, any yard games you love, and blankets/pillows for the outdoor movie
Who: Everyone from the youngest member of your family to the oldest is invited.
Why: For fun! And to connect with each other as the fall season begins

BranchStudents Kick-off
When: Sunday, Sept. 17 @ 5:30
Where: Workman’s home
What to bring: any side dish to share
Who: 5th graders and older, along with their parents are invited to this first meeting of BranchStudents. (Please make other arrangements for younger siblings.)
Why: To learn more about what BranchStudents is all about

Fall Partner Gathering
When: Sunday, Sept. 24 @ 3pm
Where: Seymour Church in Alger Heights
What to bring: nothing
Who: All partners (members) and those who call the Branch home, even if not officially affiliated
Why: To discuss and reflect on the vision God has laid before us; to discern what that means for us corporately and individually
Childcare is provided. Please RSVP here.