FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Words For Reflection:
The city, while an accumulator of the energies of culture, is also an accumulator of the potencies of evil. – Geerhardus Vos
To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity…. — Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: 2 Peter 1:3-11
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing - Adoration
God of My Life, to Thee I Call - Confession
My Jesus has Done All Things Well - Grace
He Leadeth Me - Response
Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken - Communion
Doxology - Tallis Canon
The Bible Project:
As a way to help you grasp the over-arching story of the Bible, I am going to include each week a link to one of The Bible Project videos that summarizes in a few minutes one book of the Bible.
This week check out the summary of Leviticus.
If you are looking for help to read the Bible in a more regular way, you may find this approach and this app helpful.
NEW ONLINE GIVING PLATFORM:
This fall we are moving our online giving to a new platform. Therefore, if you give to RMC online or would like to give, you need to go here to set up your reoccurring gift or to make a one time gift. ALL REOCURRING GIFTS SET UP ON THE OLD PLATFORM WILL BE DISCONTINUED IN OCTOBER. Therefore, you need to go and set up your gift on our new giving platform as soon as you can.
We also now have a way to give one time gifts to RMC via text message. All you need to do is text a dollar amount to 84321 and you will receive a reply text with directions to set up "Text-to-Give."
If you have any technical questions please email Jeff Koonce at email@example.com.
If you have any financial questions please email Ashley Alliston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
There's A Wideness In God's Mercy
There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more felt than in heaven;
There is no place where earth's failings
have such kind judgment giv'n.
There is plentiful redemption
in the blood that has been shed;
There is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the Head,
In the sorrows of the Head.
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Father, the more we delve into the depths of our sin, the uglier and more heinous it becomes. If we promise to do better, we lie. If we try to clean ourselves up, we are frauds. If we give because we feel guilty, we are schemers. If we serve to feel good about ourselves, we are self-righteous. If we pray only to get what we want, we are self-serving. If we read your Word so you will be pleased with us, we are manipulators. The selfish motivations of even our best actions condemn us. Please forgive us and help us to look only to the life-saving, life-giving, life-changing power of Your Son Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Words of Grace
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text - Acts 17:16-17, 21-34
1. The features of the city (v. 16-17, 21-22)
2. The struggle of the city (v. 16, 22)
3. The hope of the city (v. 23-31)
The Heart of the Message
This week we looked at the fourth and last of our core values at RMC: City Focus. From its beginning, RMC has sought to be a church for the city. What does that mean? How do we do that? Why is it important? These are questions we think are important and always need to be asked. Since the early 1990’s cities have become increasingly desirable destinations rather than places to avoid. In fact, some suggest that we are living in a world in which 80% of the world’s population will soon live in cities. Whatever the global trends, we are seeing our own city undergo a regeneration. But what are we to make of what we are seeing? Acts 17 provides a set of lenses for assessing and serving our city. Luke, in writing Acts 17, retells Paul’s trip to Athens, what he saw, and what he had to say about what he saw. Among the various features of the city, Paul noticed one that stood out. It was full of idols. In other words, the city is a very religious place. (v. 16, 22) How is Birmingham a religious place? What are its idols? In other words, how does the landscape or skyline of the city serve as a magnifying glass for the loves of its people…the things we build our lives on that we hope can bear the weight of our trust. This is the struggle of the city. Therefore, the city is a duplicitous place, characterized by internal struggle and strife, just like we experience in our personal lives. Paul speaks to the need of the city with three claims about God. God is the God of creation (v. 24-26a), providence (v. 26b-29), and redemption (v. 30-31). God is the maker of all there is. He is not made by humans. He is intimately involved in the normal and the ordinary of daily life. He is not hiding. He is knowable. He has revealed himself in Jesus Christ by whom He will make all things new. This he has proved by raising him from the dead.
Whatfeatures of this passage stand out to you the most? What words or phrases or ideas grab your attention?
What do you think is the struggle of our city? How would you asses your answer in light of what Paul sees as the struggle of the city?
What do you think our city most needs? How would you asses your answer in light of the hope Paul gives to the city?
What do you think of the renewed interest in the city of Birmingham? Do you think it’s good or bad? Do you think it will make any difference? Who will it benefit? Who will it leave out?
Tim Keller mentions 5 ways we can focus on the city: 1) respect for urban sensibility; 2) unusual sensitivity to cultural differences; 3) commitment to neighborhood & justice; 4) integration of faith & work; and 5) bias for nuanced evangelism. Which of these do you feel you need the most help with and why?
Confession of Faith: The New City Catechism, 2017
Q. 38. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is pouring out our hearts to God in praise, petition, confession of sin, and thanksgiving.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.