“Why FCC Stow?”

June 4, 2017
Jonathan Rumburg
Acts 2:1-20

Introduction

On the day of Pentecost, the apostles of Jesus were all together in the city of Jerusalem.

The word “apostle” means “messenger” or “one who is sent forth.”  The Apostles were being sent forth to share the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.
“Suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind.  Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”

The ability the apostles were given by the Holy Spirit was an ability to share with others, in language that could be understood by all, the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

And as a result, this international crowd heard the apostles “speaking about God’s deeds of power” in a manner that was understandable, clear, and engaging.

For the apostle Peter the coming of the Spirit was a fulfillment of ancient prophecy, and the birth of the Christian church was the beginning of a new era, one in which “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  The Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, Peter told the people, was about to change the world.

On the day of Pentecost, the Christian church was born, and ever since it has been called to share the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ—and it has been given the ability to do so by the Holy Spirit—an ability to speak this Good News in a language  that was understandable, clear, and engaging.

And still today, the Holy Spirt blesses and equips the Church to continue this work and calling.

Move 1

The Church is seen by many people today as an institution that is no longer viable or relevant due to the feeling of judgment, intolerance, unwelcome, money, power, etc.  And because of this narrow perspective of the Church, we the members of the Church, members of this church—FCC Stow—and members of the body of Christ, are called to give voice to the truth of the Church; to share, intentionally, a broader perspective—in a language that is understandable, clear, and engaging.

And that broader perspective is that God is at work in the world through God’s followers.  God is working to bring healing and wholeness to a broken and fragmented world, to offer genuine welcome and acceptance, to provide hope, peace, joy, and love.  And God is seeking to do this in and through the Church and its people.

It is as the saying goes, we need to not just “go to church” we need to “be the church.”  But in order to “be the church” it is always critical to know why we are even part of the church.  Therefore, in an effort to “be the church” we as a church, begin today, on this day of Pentecost, an intentional journey that has as its aim sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ by sharing with one another and others, our story.

Over these summer months we are going to share our stories about the church—particularly First Christian Church of Stow, all in an effort to put, and keep, at the forefront of our vision and call to be the church, our story.  And we will do this by sharing with one another our responses to the focus and title of this project: “Why FCC Stow?”

How this will come to fruition is by each one of us taking some time to bring into perspective our stories of our church by considering the following questions…

        1. Why are you are part of First Christian Church of Stow?

        2.  How does God feed your soul through First Christian Church of Stow?

        3.  How has First Christian Church impacted your life and/or the life of your family?

       4.  What is an “Ah-ha” moment or story that gives explanation and meaning to your relationship with First Christian Church of Stow?

       5.  What would you say to someone if they asked you, “Why do you go to FCC Stow?”

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          The language that the Holy Spirit has blessed us and equipped us with, that others will be able understand clearly, and that will engage others, is the language of story.  We don’t have to know deep theological academia.  We don’t have to be able to quote chapter and verse from the bible.  We don’t have to ask questions like, “If you were to die tonight do you know where you would spend eternity.”  Those ways often don’t have an impact because they are not understandable, clear, nor engaging.  But our stories are.

This project, “Why FCC Stow?” is intended for us all to hear one another’s stories, to know at a deeper level why the people we call church family are our church family, and why we are theirs. For when we know our story, share our story, and permit others to know our story, then we broaden our scope of why something, someone, or someplace that is perceived to be no longer viable or relevant is in fact holy, sacred, and life changing.  Which is exactly what the Church is called to be.

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          Today we have two of our Elders who are going to begin this project for us.  In the coming weeks and months everyone will have a chance to share—in whatever manner they are comfortable.  Be it in worship, the newsletter, social media—whatever you way would like.  So let us hear now, from Dianne Haywood and Jim Wolf, their response to “Why FCC Stow?”

“Why FCC Stow?”

Diane Haywood, Elder

          For most of my life, I have been a very private, quiet person.  Suffice to say, it’s the way I was raised.  Keep to yourself, don’t be nosy, mind your own business.  So, learning to be open has been a long slow process.  I attended church as a child, thanks to a family friend who happened to be a neighbor.  When I met Scott back in 1981, there was a mutual need to return to church.

Back in 2010, Scott and I and family, left our previous church due to a painful event.  Time heals all wounds they say, and life goes on.  We visited several Disciples of Christ churches in the surrounding area and decided that FCC Stow had the best music program (for Scott), had several adult Sunday school classes, and there were lots of children! The grandkids could socialize and wreak havoc with all of them!

But then, other things happened.  I went on a women’s church retreat.  Scott and I became involved in the Drama Ministries.  I’ve had the pleasure (!!!) of participating in Vacation Bible School.  Being asked to be an Elder is a memory that I will cherish forever.  And every week, I realize, I’ve become closer to so many of you—my church family.

I have always believed in God.  There was no doubt for me.  But, these experiences I’ve mentioned, and every Sunday that I’m here, give me something hard to describe.  It’s encouragement, it’s strength, it’s peace, it’s comfort.  FCC Stow has concocted the right recipe for me!  And just like any good cook knows, you tweak this ingredient and change that one, and now that recipe is loved by many others too.

I still tend to be private and quiet, but now I am able to reach out to this family when I need to, and when I do, I know that I will accepted, and treated like family.  There’s nothing stronger than family.  Thank you for being part of mine.

Conclusion

On Easter we celebrated how Jesus was raised from the dead and that because of God’s power and grace everything was changing.  In the Easter season that followed, God led us in considering the teachings of Jesus on how to be the Church.

Now, on Pentecost and throughout the summer, we will begin to see and hear how God is leading us to answer “Why FCC Stow?”   We are doing this so that we can intertwine ourselves one to another more deeply, and so that we are even more equipped to share with others just why we give so much of ourselves to God and the church.  I look forward to going on this journey with you and hearing your stories and response to the question, “Why FCC Stow?”

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          On the day of Pentecost, the apostles of Jesus were all together in the city of Jerusalem.  The word “apostle” means “messenger” or “one who is sent forth.”  The Apostles were being sent forth to share the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

So may we, like those Apostles, prepare to do the same.  Amen.

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