On October 31, 1517, an obscure Augustinian monk and theology professor posted a notice on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, calling for a formal, public debate on a minor point of church doctrine and practice: whether it was proper for the church to give papal indulgences promising release from purgatory in return for contributions made toward the renovation of St. Peter’s cathedral in Rome. The monk was Martin Luther and the notice was his Ninety-five Theses. No one that day, least of all, Brother Martin, had any idea of the momentous significance of his rather ordinary deed, nor of the tumultuous, world-shattering consequences that it would bring. But that single action marked the birth of the Protestant Reformation, and sparked a move of God that is still ongoing in its effects around the globe and into eternity.
Neither Luther nor any of the other major figures of the Reformation (such as John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, or John Knox) began with the intention of breaking from the established church or of starting new denominations. Like many before them, they sought an end to the corruption and worldliness that had come to dominate the medieval church. They wanted to see the church cleansed and restored to a purer state, one in which the clergy was characterized by conformity to the ways and teaching of Jesus instead of the pursuit of political power, wealth, comfort, and pleasure. They saw the problems that had developed in the church as a result of the neglect of the Scriptures in favor of ecclesiastical laws and papal decrees, and began appealing to the Bible as the church’s supreme authority, rather than to established church traditions. But as they continued to press for specific changes in the church’s practices, an amazing thing began to happen. The seed of the word of God, which these reformers were intensely studying and teaching to others, began to take root–first in their own hearts, then in their congregations and students, and eventually in the wider public. And that seed grew and produced fruit.
The result was a move of God–an explosion on the continent of Europe, as thousands upon thousands of people who thought of themselves as Christians (because they had been baptized and attended the church services) discovered the reality and power of biblical conversion. They heard the gospel for the first time–the good news that God loved them despite their sins, and that they could be forgiven, fully pardoned, and made righteous in God’s sight on the basis of their faith in Jesus Christ, who died for them and sent his Spirit to indwell them. They heard the words of the Bible in their own languages, something that most of them had never experienced. They heard the teaching of Jesus and the apostles explained by preachers and teachers so that the people themselves could understand what God had done, what he had promised, and what he required. They listened to the preachers, heard the word of God, understood the gospel, and believed. And it changed the world.
Those reformers–and their followers–were rebuilding walls. They were rebuilding the identity of the church, laying bricks of faith on the foundation of Christ. Salvation by grace through faith, apart from religious works. The truth and authority of the Scriptures. Teaching the Bible as the primary work of the church. Worship as the privilege of every believer. All the people–not just the clergy–invited to know God and welcomed into God’s kingdom, declared saints by virtue of their faith, made righteous and given standing before God, a kingdom of priests.
There were a lot of things that they had to un-learn, doctrines and habits and practices and assumptions that had found a home in the church for over a thousand years. They had to break with the thing they had previously loved the most–the church as they knew it–in order to be true to what they now loved the most–Jesus Christ, his word, and the church that he was building. Some of their efforts at reforming the church proved to be misguided or inadequate–some were epic failures. (When has that ever not been true of the church?!) But much of what they did had the blessing and favor of God, and bore genuine spiritual fruit that remains to this day, and continues to spread through the preaching of the gospel and the teaching of biblical truth.
On this Reformation Day, while others are “celebrating” a day devoted to things that are sharply opposed to Christian faith, I choose to remember those heroes of the faith who bravely and boldly suffered the hatred, misunderstanding, and opposition of the most powerful rulers of the world of their day–not to mention the spiritual attacks of demonic forces who faced an awakened church. They did so in order to follow Jesus, proclaim the gospel, and teach the word of God. It is these men and women of faith whose efforts to rebuild the walls of the church in the sixteenth century give me hope and confidence and courage to undertake our own rebuilding effort in the twenty-first. To God be the glory, great things he hath done!
Reformation Day, October 31, 2019
From the Trustees
At the end of September, FCC revenue for 2019 totaled $196,767.36. Expenses during the same period were $203,780.08. The deficit of $7,012.72 is being covered by funds held in reserve in our checking account at Central Bank of the Midwest. I will mention that none of the increase in value of the funds invested at Christian Church Foundation have been credited to the revenue total.
Crystal Stude began her duties as custodian for FCC in October. Crystal and her husband Beau have a daughter, Grace, in the Giving Tree preschool and they plan to enroll their youngest daughter, Hope, next year.
At the October 29 meeting the trustees discussed a proposal to be at the annual congregation meeting on Sunday, November 10.
In previous newsletters we have discussed the need to address some critical repair items that need attention. Bids for repairs to the roof, to fix several masonry problems, and do exterior painting total approximately $150,000. In addition, the trustees are aware of several other issues that might need attention anytime, which is expected when we consider a portion of the facility is more than 100 years old.
Because the trustees believe it is critical to proceed with the repairs as soon as possible, the following proposal will be presented to the congregation on November 10:
Request For Loan Approval
The First Christian Church Board of Trustees requests approval from the congregation to borrow a sum not to exceed $170,000. Proceeds from the loan would be used to finance needed repairs to the facility. The Trustees propose to offer the south parking lot as collateral.
The congregation will be asked to vote on the Request at the annual meeting: Yes___ No___
Jim Congrove, Chair of Trustees
Happy thankful season, church family!
The word “remember” occurs almost 150 times in the bible.
In Colossians 3:15-16, Paul encouraged us (yes, he was really writing for us!) to “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Being thankful requires us to take stock and remember what’s been done, both on our behalf, and what we’ve done for others. In this culture of “what’s in it for me”, where just about every other commercial on TV is yelling at us that “you deserve” whatever they’re selling, let’s consciously guard against the spirits of selfishness and pride in the coming weeks. Choose instead to purposefully remember the good you see around you and look for opportunities where you can build on that. Just think about what God has done for us as a family of His followers within this past year. I am so grateful for the wisdom and guidance He has provided for us this far. As He has in the past, if we keep our focus on Him, he will do so even more going forward: “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore” Psalm 125: 1-2.
Years ago, when my children were young, I put up a piece of poster paper and asked them to write what they were thankful for on it. The postings ranged from silly (no school) to serious (clean water). I kept that poster, and over the years we’ve enjoyed looking back and remembering. Through the difficult and the serene, from the chaotic to the peaceful, what I’m most grateful for is my family, for the memories we’ve made and the adventures yet to come. The same holds true for my church family. I read a Washington Post article recently that stated research shows that millennials are less likely to attend church, are much busier, but also much lonelier. We need each other.
We were created to be a family. Thanks to all of you for being a faithful part of it.
Your sister in Christ,
Hyacinth Self, Elder Chair
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1
I hope you are being blessed by Sunday morning services at First Christian. There is a substantial amount of prayerful and coordinated
planning, innovative creativity, and deliberate preparation going into each and every gathering of congregational worship. We are blessed to have a great deal of experience and talent on the worship team, along with a devotion to serving the Lord through this incredible ministry of music.
“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” 1 Chronicles 16:29
I hope you are enjoying Sunday morning services. I certainly am! When I served as Worship Minister at the First Colony Church of Christ in Sugar Land, TX, we had a traditional service and a separate contemporary service. This is the first time I have been part of a service that blends such contrasting styles of music. It’s been challenging, I admit, but deeply gratifying and rewarding to experience the ongoing product each Sunday.
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16
I hope God is glorified through each of our Sunday morning services and that what He receives is a sweet aroma from our sacrifices of praise. After all…it’s all about Him.
“Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” Psalm 115:1
Greg Boyle, Worship Leader
What a successful Fall Festival!!
With the creativity and enthusiastic leadership of Kay Emerson, organization of Sarah Johnson, cooperation of Julie at the Giving Tree, and support of Pastor Barry, the Children’s Ministry experienced a wonderful afternoon of fun and fellowship for our first cosponsored event! Families from both First Christian and Giving Tree got to enjoy crafts, games, popcorn, hopscotch, face painting and a bouncy house.
The kids had a blast, and it was a great opportunity to get to know each other better!
On Sunday mornings, we’re finishing up a portion focused on the Old Testament. We’ve talked about Noah and the flood, the Tower of Babel, and the man of faith, Abraham. We made rainbows with Skittles candies, built with Legos, and had to follow instructions on a scavenger hunt.
As we approach the holiday season, we get to encourage each other to be thankful to God who loves us and provides for us more than we’ll ever understand.
Jennifer Boyle, Children’s Ministry
The Giving Tree Preschool
Popcorn, apple cider, games, face painting, crafts, an inflatable bounce house, and many smiling faces, filled our parking lot on Sunday, October 27th.
The Giving Tree partnered with FCC Children’s Ministry for a Fall Festival. We were blessed with wonderful fall weather, allowing for an afternoon of fellowship and fun within these two ministries of FCC. Thank you to all of the teachers, parents, FCC staff, and volunteers for your help in making this a successful event.
We continue to learn about the fall season and look forward to sharing
with our preschoolers what it means to give thanks, and to be thankful, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday. This provides us the opportunity to learn about friendships and family traditions. The Thanksgiving season allows us to reflect on what is truly important to each one of us. We are thankful to be able to share God’s love through play, music, literature, and Bible stories within our daily curriculum.
The Giving Tree has a couple of openings still available for the current school year. If you have family or friends with children age 3 to kindergarten, please tell them about the Giving Tree. Brochures are available in the Fellowship Hall. We provide a faith-based environment to grow, explore, discover, and promotes school readiness using fun and innovative techniques.
The Giving Tree Preschool Director
Twenty-plus good sports from FCC met to eat BBQ, compete in silly games with great gusto, drive go-karts, and get to know each other much better. Jennifer Boyle’s stirring, hilarious performance in the final event gave the Mellow Yellow team the top prize (DQ gift cards!).
We all had a wonderful time, and came away encouraged to step into what God is building among us!