This is our last sermon in the series about the wilderness. Our journey took us through simplicity and lament, and showed us lies that we are tempted to believe about our identity. This week, we turn to find our true self. What can we learn about our own identity from Jesus’s responses to the tempter in the wilderness?
When Jesus was in the wilderness, the devil tempted him with things like power, prestige, possessions and control, all in an effort to make Jesus act in a way that was not true to his identity. We are tempted in the same way. What false things are we being tempted to believe? And what do we need from God to remember our true identity?
As a culture, we too often skip over lament. We like to ‘roll up our sleeves’ and get to work fixing whatever is broken. While there is good in doing that, we miss the opportunity for growth and transformation if we skip the step of lament. It is modeled for us in the Bible over and over again. There’s even a whole book devoted to it! Listen as we learn about and practice lament and in so doing, we find hope.
The first ten minutes of this week’s podcast is an overview of our local and global mission partners. The sermon on lament begins after that (at minute 10).
The wilderness is a place to wrestle with our identity. It’s a place where we must face and respond to our temptations. And it’s also a place where we experience God’s provision.
We know the wilderness to be a place that is harsh yet stunning, barren yet beautiful. It is an in-between place, to be sure. And when we willingly enter its vastness, there are things we discover about ourselves, our world and our God. Perhaps that’s why the wilderness shows up time and time again in the biblical story. From Abraham to David to Ruth, God’s people are led into those places where they must wrestle with who they are and who they trust.
Listen here as we begin our Lenten journey through the wilderness.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Love Mercy (1.14.18)
Walk Humbly with God (1.21.18)
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.
Listen here for the brief Christmas Eve sermon, concluding our “God With Us” series.
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!
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 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:
- From the text, what do we learn about Elizabeth and Zechariah?
- What can we imagine about Elizabeth and Zechariah? If we were in their shoes, what might we be feeling or thinking?
- How have you experienced (or are you currently experiencing) loss, heartache, hopelessness or confusion?
- What is God’s response to Elizabeth and Zechariah? What does it say about God?
- 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.
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.”
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.