Our teaching team hopes that you will be able to use these materials to take further the experience of learning God's hope for you.
If you have any questions, e-mail Steve Whitby, Pastor of Creativity.
I’ve been reading the book of Jeremiah lately. Not a book I’d necessarily read for uplifting prophecy—after all, God tells Jeremiah from the beginning that He’s sending him to a stubborn people who won’t listen. And they don’t. Even after the Babylonians invade, kill many, carry off some into exile and leave a remnant behind, the “remnant” rejects God in favor of other gods and leaves for Egypt. I have a few chapters left to read, but I’m not necessarily hopeful things are going to turn around for the better.
God makes a lot of promises to his people throughout the book, and most follow a simple pattern…if you return to Me, I’m here for you. Two of these promises particularly struck me:
“…they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them…I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.” Jeremiah 32:38-41
I’ve been stuck on this image of trees and planting lately as it occurs in the Bible, which is one reason these verses stuck out at me. God wanted to plant them and planting implies growing and nurturing. But beyond even that—He says he’ll do it “with all [His] heart and all [His] soul.” I can’t think of another place in the Bible (though I’m not a Bible scholar by any stretch of the imagination) where I’ve read language like that from God. His desire for them to be planted and to be HIS alone is strong and complete.
In another place, where God warns the remnant to stay in Judah, He says through Jeremiah,
“If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you and not pluck you up…” Jeremiah 42:10
Again—God promises to plant.
And so what, you may ask, does all of this have to do with committing to community?
When the band played the last song, “I Shall Not Be Moved,” there was another tree! We sang, “…just like a tree that’s planted by the water, I shall not be moved.” (If you’re afraid I have some sort of obsession, don’t worry—I don’t think I’m at that point yet…) All of a sudden I had this image of the body of Christ as a tree (after all, Jesus calls himself the vine and us the branches later in John). We’re bound together by the nature of what we are—a body. Just as leaves and branches can’t exist on their own and really would serve no purpose on their own, followers of Jesus need one another for this life in Christ to even make sense. It’s really not an option.
I’ve been at Warehouse for over ten years now. Other than the tiny, related-to-everyone-somehow, mountain Methodist church I grew up in, I’ve never spent a longer portion of my life in a church community than Warehouse 242. It’s here where I can watch a friend, whose wedding I was blessed to witness almost seven years ago, share in disciplining my four year old son. I’ve seen friends grow and change and fall into step with their gifts. I’ve been discipled through dating, marriage, and parenting.
I’m planted in this place. With you. And our roots lie in the love of Christ—in a vision that such a Love can spill over into the neighborhood around us, the city next to us, and a chicken farm across the ocean.
> Read through Romans 12 several times.
> Pray for our community.
> Pray for our leaders.
> Pray for the Pastor Search Team.
> Make an attempt to connect. Or—to connect someone else. [Honestly? I wouldn’t have gone on the Women’s Retreat if someone hadn’t intentionally emailed me and personally invited me….sometimes we need that prompting.]
> Find out what the community needs and jump in.
We’d love to hear from you. Please share with us below your thoughts and insight. We would love to see Take it Further be a place where as a community we dialog, and together we all take the conversation further.
*Note: If you wish, you can look up this and other Bible passages online at youversion.com
Copyright © 2012 Jessica Ramsey