From the Desk of Pastor John

Letter from Pastor John, 4/7/17

Dear Christ Church Family,

This Sunday is Palm Sunday and marks the beginning of Holy Week.  On Sunday in worship, I will be teaching about the events that occurred on that first Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time of his earthly life.  If you are familiar with the story, you will remember that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.  You know that the crowd that lined the streets waved palm branches and shouted, “Hosanna!”  But why did Jesus ride a donkey?  Why did the crowd wave palm branches?  What does “Hosanna!” mean?  What other parades were going on in Jerusalem that day?  And the number one question that thinking people want to know is:  If Jesus knew that the powerful religious leaders wanted to kill him, why did he go to Jerusalem at all?  If you don’t know the answers to those questions, then you don’t know the whole story.

 HOLY THURSDAY AND PASSION SERVICE

One of the most powerful, moving and reflective services of the year occurs on Holy Thursday at 7 p.m.  On Holy Thursday we remember Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, his betrayal, his arrest and his crucifixion.  We will take communion together and at the end of the service we will nail our sins and burdens to the cross.  Do not miss this time of holy worship.  Let’s fill the worship center to capacity.

TWO STORIES

Last Sunday afternoon, 19 of our Christ Church young adults partnered with our Jewish friends from Temple B’nai Shalom and a group of Muslim young adults to do good deeds in our community in two locations.  Half of the group met here at Christ Church and worked together to assemble bags of trail mix to be given to the homeless.  The other half of the group met at The Lamb Center (a homeless shelter in Fairfax) to do some painting and exterior clean up.  Some may ask, “Why should we be involved in a project like that?”  My answer is simple:  Because we are Christians who love the Lord with our hearts, minds, souls and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves.

Recently, 37 folks from Christ Church attended our ALPHA weekend retreat.  ALPHA is one of our discipleship courses that helps participants understand the Christian faith.  It deals with questions such as:

  • Who is God?
  • Who is Jesus?
  • Who is the Holy Spirit?
  • Why is the Bible important?

The class is not only for those who are new to Christianity, but also for those who have been Christians for years.  Every semester, lives are transformed by the Holy Spirit, and many who attend grow closer to God by the end of the class.  This year’s ALPHA retreat proved to be every bit as power-filled.  I want to end this letter with a few quotes and paraphrases from participants:

  • “I have more love, and I thank God for the experience.”
  • “I have a much better understanding of the Holy Spirit’s role [in my life], and this has changed my thinking. I’m trying to discern God’s purpose for me.”
  • “I came to the retreat with a longing, and God blessed me as I was touched by the Holy Spirit. I felt the presence of God more than I have ever felt it before.”

God is clearly at work at Christ Church.

I’ll see you Sunday in worship.

Posted by John Speight with

Letter from Pastor John 3/17/17

Dear Christ Church Family,

It sure seems that we are back to winter, doesn’t it?  Although I don’t mind winter, my personal opinion is that it should end on the last day of February and spring should begin on the first day of March. 

I have a couple of stories to tell you:

A Christ Church member, whom I’ll call “Sam,” because he wishes to remain anonymous, was traveling down a very busy road here in Northern Virginia when he noticed a woman lying on the side of the road.  Her four-year-old son was with her.  She had gotten off a bus and accidentally stepped into a hole, broken her ankle and could not get up.  For 15 minutes she tried to flag down passing motorists, but no one stopped to help.  When Sam saw her, he immediately stopped.  He discovered that she spoke no English, only Spanish, but by God’s grace, he was able to communicate with her since he also spoke Spanish.  He called the woman’s husband, but her husband had no transportation to get to her.  Sam picked her up, put her into his vehicle, and took her and her son to the hospital, where he waited until someone was able to get there to be with them.  He asked for her phone number, so that he could follow up with her to see how she was doing.  Later, he and several other Christ Church members took the family some food and prayed with them.  The woman wrote a note of thanks to him and our church.  I had it translated, and it says:

“I, Consuelo Castro and family give a million thanks to (Sam), his pastor and all the people of Christ Church.  Thank you for the food and for your prayers.  I wish for you many blessings with all my heart.  May God take care of all of you and bless you always.  Thank you.”

Does that story remind you of a biblical story?  I see a living example of the Good Samaritan, don’t you?  Living out the gospel life is what we do.  We are followers of Jesus.  We are Christ Church.  Keep the stories coming.

I appreciate all of the feedback that I’ve been getting about our current sermon/teaching series.  It’s called “TRUEish,” and we’re digging into the clichés that many Christians say.  These clichés sound good and biblical, but are often contrary to God’s Word.  They have a ring of truth, but they fail to tell the whole story.  Thus far Pastor Ryan and I have debunked the following myths:  “Everything happens for a reason,” and “God helps those who help themselves.”   This week I received the following comments in an email:

"I wanted to mention just about every time I’ve heard someone say, “God helps those who help themselves,” they seem to be justifying stealing something.  Most recently, at the post office in line, someone told me that they weren’t going to admit exactly what they were shipping because it would be more expensive.  They were shipping something at the “book rate” that wasn’t books and very proud of themselves for saving money and out-smarting the post office.  The idea that people use a phrase that makes it sound like God is excusing their dishonesty has always been upsetting to me.”

The fact is, that phrase, “God helps those who help themselves,” is almost always used to justify our actions that are in direct opposition to what we Christians are to be about.  This weekend in worship I’m going to address another statement that well-meaning Christians say all the time to people going through difficult times:  God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  Is that a true statement or a TRUEish statement?  Is it biblical?  We’ll get to the bottom of it this Sunday.  Don’t miss it.

Finally, I want to personally thank all 550 of you who gave generously of your time to help out at our Children’s Consignment Sale.  The sale was a rousing success.  Not only did it raise significant funds to support the ever growing and expanding ministry of the church, but we had numerous opportunities to tell people about the church and invite them to join us for worship.  In case you didn’t hear the statistics last Sunday, they are:

Total Transactions = 2,162.  This means that at least 2,000 people came to the sale.

Total Items Sold = 40,255. 

Total Gross Sales = $140,707.  The church receives approximately 30% of this amount.

Total Items Donated to Community Charities = 10,000.

Value of Donated Items = $30,500.

 Our Children’s Consignment Sale is just another way that the Christ Church family lives out the gospel life. 

 I am proud to be your pastor and humbled to serve alongside you each and every day.

 

 

Posted by John Speight with

12Next