Sermon for January 27, 2019

Scripture Readings Neh. 8:1-10 • Ps. 19:1-14 • 1 Cor. 12:12-31a • Luke 4:14-21 Jesus’ Inaugural Address (Luke 4:14-30) Note to preacher: For the introduction you might talk about inaugural addresses you’ve heard---ones with hollow promises concerning what the speaker says they will do, all the while knowing they won’t or can’t. During the season of Epiphany, most of our Gospel readings focus on the early part of Jesus’ public ministry, showing him taking aim at the idols people worship. Much like explosions purposefully set to demolish a building, Jesus demolishes our idolatrous temple. Two weeks ago, in Luke 3, we heard John the Baptist calling the people of God, the Jews, to repentance---not just repenting of... Read the article

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Looking Back, Looking Forward

Dear Pastors and Ministry Leaders: [caption id="attachment_12589" align="alignright" width="202"] Ted and Donna Johnston[/caption] During the season of Advent, which prepares us for Christmas, we share in the hope, peace, joy and love of Jesus as we contemplate his three-fold coming (advent) for our salvation: Jesus came 2,000 years ago through the Incarnation, permanently uniting his divinity with our humanity. Jesus comes now through the Holy Spirit, indwelling those who believe. Jesus will come again bodily at the end of the age, ushering in the fullness of the kingdom of God. During Advent this year, in addition to contemplating our Lord's comings, my wife Donna and I will be reflecting on the ways our triune God has been... Read the article

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Sermon for January 20, 2019

Scripture Readings Isa. 62:1-5 • Ps. 36:5-10 • 1 Cor. 12:1-11 • John 2:1-22 The Woman and the Wine John 2:1-11 (NRSV) Introduction Note to preacher: Brides and grooms often fear something going wrong on their wedding day. As an introduction to this sermon, you might share about your wedding day challenges. It's interesting that Jesus’ first miracle came at a wedding. It's an event that brides and grooms carefully prepare for. Because family and friends share the occasion, the last thing the couple wants is to run out of food or drink. In our Gospel reading today in the book of John, we find a newly married couple running out of wine at the wedding reception. Jesus’ mom tells the servants to go to Jesus for help. ... Read the article

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GCI-Branded PowerPoint Templates

To help you use graphic communication in building unity within your congregation, GCI Media produced the three PowerPoint templates linked below. Clicking on each image will start the download of a PowerPoint file (give it time, these files are very large) . You can then add information about your congregation to each template. Click here to download GCI's branded font. Read the article

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Thank You Card Infographics

Sending a thank you card or note is a powerful way to enhance connection within a congregation. Once sent to a visitor lets them know their presence is appreciated. One sent to a donor or church worker lets them know their generosity is appreciated. Below are four options for GCI-branded thank you postcards---click on each one to download an infographic with a template and instructions for use. To download GCI's branded font, click here. Read the article

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Worldview Conversion: Science, the Bible and Faith

In "The Trinity, Creation and Pastoral Ministry," Graham Buxton notes that church leaders and teachers need "a more sympathetic engagement with those in the scientific community in order to combat the (sometimes substantial) residual prejudice in the minds of many Christians against the contribution of the natural sciences to an understanding of what it means to live as human beings in God's world" (p. xv). In the article below, GCI Elder Santiago Lange asks and answers a related question: Can science, the Bible and faith be reconciled, or are they hopelessly at odds? Defining the issue [caption id="attachment_10141" align="alignright" width="148"] Santiago Lange[/caption] Some Christians feel that to uphold Scripture, they must... Read the article

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The Gift of Thanks

This Kids Korner article is from GCI Generations Ministries National Coordinator Jeffrey Broadnax. [caption id="attachment_340" align="alignright" width="254"] Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)[/caption] Most people are open to receiving words of appreciation, small gifts and other acts of kindness at any time of year. But during the seasons of Advent and Christmas, it seems that God uses such acts in a special way to open people's hearts to Jesus and his love. So, let's encourage our children and teens to take advantage of this opportunity by being intentional and personal in expressing appreciation to people in their congregation who they know... Read the article

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Worldview Conversion: Racial Identity and Reconciliation

GCI's Statement of Values says this: "Scripture declares that all hatred and prejudice is contrary to the Christian life. We are committed to furthering racial understanding, forgiveness and healing." Living out this commitment is a great challenge in a world where there continues to be a great deal of racial prejudice along with the divisions it creates. The following article from Jeffrey Broadnax (Generations Ministries national coordinator) addresses this important topic as part of our series on worldview conversion and whole-life discipleship. When we get to heaven, there will not be a white section, a black section, a Latino section, an Asian section and a Native American section. (Albert Tate) Division sells [caption... Read the article

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Sermon for January 13, 2019

Scripture Readings Isa. 43:1-7 • Ps. 29:1-11 • Acts 8:14-17 • Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 Jesus, the Demolition Artist (Luke 3:7-17, 21-22) Note to preacher: For the introduction you may want to show a video of a building being demolished through an explosion. Demolition---it's the necessary job of removing the old so that the new can come in. It involves pulling, crushing (and sometimes exploding), then removing, so that old material can make way for the new. Demolition, particularly when it involves the use of explosives, is a delicate art. You've likely seen buildings demolished using explosives. It looks like an ordinary building on an ordinary day, when somewhere, deep inside the structure, there’s a jerk, then a shudder,... Read the article

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Sermon for January 6, 2019 (Epiphany)

Note: January 6, the day of Epiphany, begins a season in the Church calendar also called Epiphany (or Epiphany Season). For a Surprising God article explaining its meaning, click here. Scripture Readings Isa. 60:1-6 • Ps. 72:1-7, 10-14 • Eph. 3:1-12 • Matt. 2:1-12 A Light to Follow (Matthew 2:1-12, NRSV) Note to preacher: As an introduction, you might show the Visual Bible video enactment of the Magi's visit as recorded in Matthew's Gospel. To find it online, click here (and continue to 10:05). You've no doubt heard the story of the three wise men, the Magi, come from the East to visit the newborn Jesus. Some of the ways the story is traditionally told are inaccurate. For example, the Bible does not say how many Magi there... Read the article

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