Last year was about replanting and restoring health to our church, as “Following Jesus”. This year is about laying a firm foundation for a) spiritual growth, b) healthy community, and c) service to our world. This letter is not only my preaching notes, but sets the tone for the year as we begin laying the foundation, being guided by our chosen theme…
“Being the Beloved – A Year of Spiritual Formation”
It might sound weird! Being the what… ?? The word/idea of “Beloved” is significant and powerful in the Bible. It’s all about “be-loved” or “being loved”, which is difficult for most people. We have to learn how to be loved, how to receive love, and thus to love. They say, “Love makes the world go round!” Pretty close! God IS love… so, love is the center of the universe, making all things work – that is IF we receive his love and learn to love as he loves – then that’s heaven on earth! But if we don’t, we make hell on earth!
Being the (God’s) Beloved is about discovering our true selves. It’s about our identity as human becomings. The deepest source and definition of our identity is God’s love for us – not the myriads of other means of identity imposed on us, or that we choose. And it’s not the “feel-good-flowery-luuvvv” from Hollywood! It’s God’s love from eternity, enfleshed in its costly demonstration in Jesus of Nazareth. He lived and died for YOU, for ME, for our sin, our rejection of God’s love, so that we may turn and receive God’s love. In fact, Jesus was who he was, and did what he did, because he came to know how deeply God loved him as his Father – confirmed at his baptism in water when Father spoke from the heavens, “You are my Son, my Beloved, in whom I am well pleased”
That voice, that Spirit of Love, opened the heavens for Father’s love to flood and fill each one of us, so that we may learn to live in his love as Jesus did. All of life flows from that. It’s the source of healing and spiritual growth, community formation and social transformation – our focus for this year as we follow Jesus together. Why not take this journey very seriously and commit to Being (becoming) the Beloved? In effect, we will be unpacking our calling as a church, our Mission Statement: Following Jesus and making followers of him, learning to live a life of love just as Jesus loved us.
To begin this journey we are calling our church to a full week of FASTING and prayer, from 20-26 January. Here are some guidelines to help us. Continue reading Being the Beloved – A Year of Spiritual Formation