Last year during the month of June and July, instead of following the Lectionary as the basis for Sunday’s messages, I focused upon our Disciple understanding of being church. This summer I want to share similar understanding from a book by Diana Butler Bass, Christianity for the Rest of Us.
This book, published in 2006, is about the author’s journey around churches to see how they are moving from a “come to us” mentality to a “we are called to serve” as a way of defining the church’s mission for today. She begins the book talking about the change in the neighborhood church. Once upon a time, most members of the church lived near the actual church, in the neighborhood. Now the reality is that few people live within the neighborhood of the church building. It is also true that the neighborhood around the church is often very different from what was there when the church began.
This is very much true for our congregation. As part of our re-visioning, we are looking to learn about our neighbors and how we can best reach out as people of faith to serve as Christ served.
In the second part of her book, Diana Butler Bass highlights 10 signposts of renewal. I want to take this summer to look at these signposts and how we can grow in these areas. The areas upon which she focuses are Hospitality, Discernment, Healing, Contemplation, Testimony, Diversity, Justice, Worship, Reflection, and Beauty. We will look at these through the summer, despite the school calendar, August is still part of the Summer.
In June, we will look at Hospitality, Contemplation, and Testimony. Hospitality is more than just how we treat our guests, but a Biblical principle that expects hosts to treat guests like beloved family. Contemplation is not a focus upon seeking the correct answers to life challenges but a way to deepen our faith by spending time listening for the voice of God in Scripture and prayer. Testimony is not limited to the court room, but rather how we witness to the world the impact of the Grace of God in each of our lives.