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: Mary (Week 2)

This week, Brian Workman led us in the practice of Lectio Divina. Our BranchStudents group helped lead this practice by explaining how it works and reading the story for us. We invite you to spend some time with this story (Luke 1:26-56) and listen to what God might be telling you through it. Where does Mary’s story intersect with your own? There will be times of silence in the podcast for you to follow the 4 steps of Lectio Divina.

Lectio Divina Steps:

  1. Lectio: Read or listen to the passage. Be open. Take your time. On the second reading, begin to look for a word or phrase that sticks out to you. If nothing sticks out, that’s ok, just pick a word or phrase – or try to take the whole reading in.
  2. Meditatio: Think! Why do you think that word or phrase stuck out to you? What is going on in that part of the passage? As you think about it, how do you feel? Begin to wonder if God is using the word to invite you – to do something? To let go of something? To know something new (or more fully) about God or yourself?
  3. Oratio: Pray. This is a simple and honest response to the passage, and the things you have been thinking about/pondering.
  4. Contemplatio: The simplest way to think of it is to rest in God’s presence. Rest in the love that God has for you. Allow God’s Spirit to draw you close and fill you with his love, grace and peace.

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.

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: The Journey Inward (week 1)

We begin the journey home by looking at the story of the prodigal sons (Luke 15, esp. v. 17-20) and discovered that the journey home often begins with the journey inward.

UNO/एक/ONE (10.8.17)

One of the things that makes the Branch unique is the building where we gather. One building is the home to 3 churches: Comunidad Christiana de Grand Rapids (CCGR), Nepali-Speaking Community Church (NSCC) and the Branch. For the next 3 weeks, the pastors of those 3 churches will preach at one another’s worship service, talking about barriers to reconciliation. On October 15, we will all gather together at 4 pm to worship together.

This week, Yakuv Gurung (pastor of NSCC) continued the conversation, teaching about belonging and hospitality. Yakuv’s message begins at 4:50. Listen to the first 4 minutes to hear about our upcoming Learning Communities.

UNO/एक/ONE (10.1.17)

One of the things that makes the Branch unique is the building where we gather. One building is the home to 3 churches: Comunidad Christiana de Grand Rapids (CCGR), Nepali-Speaking Community Church (NSCC) and the Branch. For the next 3 weeks, the pastors of those 3 churches will preach at one another’s worship service, talking about barriers to reconciliation. On October 15, we will all gather together at 4 pm to worship together.

This week, Rodrigo Cano (pastor of CCGR) taught us that being uncomfortable, vulnerable and intentional are required for the work of reconciliation.

Reconciled: Me (9.10.17)

Reconciliation finds its roots in the Latin meaning to bring back together what has been separated; to make good again. The Scriptures tell us that reconciliation is exactly what God is up to in the world, and we are called to join in that work.

The Branch is a church committed to reconciliation that is both personal, relational and moves us towards greater justice in the world.  Join us each week as we not only consider where we are headed as a church, but what God may be inviting each of us to do in the months ahead.

Reimagining Scripture: The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

Listen in as Chris teaches us a way to read and interact with scripture, using The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard from Matthew 20.

Spiritual Friendships

Stories from Sabbatical

For three months, the Branch gifted a sabbatical to its lead pastor. During August, Chris has been sharing reflections from his time away.

This week, Chris DeBlaay and Chris Shearer taught us about spiritual friendships. God never intended for us to walk our journey of faith alone. Listen to learn how to cultivate an intentional spiritual relationship that will guide us towards growth and transformation.

Below are some helpful resources, giving a framework for cultivating your own spiritual friendship.
Spiritual Friendship – The Examen
Spiritual Friendship – FAQs

Stories From Sabbatical 8.20.17 (Place and Purpose: Incarnation)

*Current Series: Stories from Sabbatical (part 2)*

For three months, the Branch gifted a sabbatical to its lead pastor. During August, Chris will share more reflections from his time away. We’ll also share stories about the ways the time of sabbatical changed individuals and families at the Branch.

Stories from Sabbatical 8.13.17 (Our response to pain and loss)

*Current Series: Stories from Sabbatical (part 2)*

For three months, the Branch gifted a sabbatical to its lead pastor. During August, Chris will share more reflections from his time away. We’ll also share stories about the ways the time of sabbatical changed individuals and families at the Branch.

Stories from Sabbatical 8.6.17 (The power of story)

*Current Series: Stories from Sabbatical (part 2)*

For three months, the Branch gifted a sabbatical to its lead pastor. During August, Chris will share more reflections from his time away. We’ll also share stories about the ways the time of sabbatical changed individuals and families at the Branch.

Reimagining Scripture

During the month of July we took time to dialogue over passages of scripture (John 6:1-15) so very little of our dialogue was recorded. We’d love to hear your take on the story found in that passage of Jesus feeding the 5000.