In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
We talk about KINDRED being something that we are creating together. It’s not something you go to, it’s something you’re a part of. Belong. Become. Be loved. We are a community that is still becoming. Together, we are midwifing this KINDRED life into the world. It’s an exciting time. The Holy Spirit is doing so so much in our midst that I feel like we’re just trying to keep up! Have you noticed it? When we gather together, this almost palpable passion for possibility?
That raw lurching in your chest? That divine curiosity? That yearning for something more and having this sense that something is happening, is coming, even if you can’t quite put your finger on it? This is what Pentecost does to us. It stirs us up. And for what? Because it’s not just agitation for the sake of itself. Remember, last week Paul told us in his letter that ese various gifts and passions are given not for ourselves, our own glory, but for the common good.
So how do we keep this divine energy, these sacred stirrings, from missing that mark? From going off in just any direction? We do that by coming together, by faithfully looking to scripture, and by praying for discernment and guidance, so that we might know what God is up to around here, and align ourselves with that vision. So to get us started, this is what your Restart Team has been doing. Beth, Allison, Kinnon, Chris Markert, Angela, John....at the time Xavier was with us... and we all met weekly since January to read the book of Acts together, to learn about how the Early church was born, to witness their life together, to take a look at what values they clung to, and to pray that we might be faithful to those same values, following in the way of Christ. After months of looking to scripture, to God, looking to each other, and to our neighborhood and our city...we had a stronger sense of what God was calling us, as KINDRED, to be. And so, to be keep this divine energy pointed toward God, to keep our focus as a community on Christ, we wrote down what we understand to be God’s vision for KINDRED. Here it is:
KINDRED is cultivating bold community that reveals God’s presence in the city.
Now, it’s easy to wax eloquent about these theological matters and then turn around and continue to live our lives no differently. I get that. I confess that I am guilty of this often, that the church has been guilty of empty words for millennia. But God fills up that which is empty, even beyond its banks until it overflows. God takes what is dead and gives it life. God creates an entire universe out of a formless void. As KINDRED, to prevent that vision from becoming a meaningless static statement, we identify these enduring values that guide our life together:
Word of God.
Families & Framlies.
Our City - Houston.
Pentecost has stirred us up, animated us with gifts to share. Now we get to explore those gifts in practice. Just as the natural world has season, so too does the church year follow a rhythm of seasons. Now we enter the season AFTER Pentecost, one of the great green growing seasons. Now we, as KINDRED, will spend our summer exploring what this life together means, what it looks like. SO each time we gather for DINNER CHURCH, for WORD & WONDERING, we’re going to be looking at one of our values. Today, I want us to talk about the WORD OF GOD. I want us to talk about it in three different ways. The Word of God as Anchor. As Promise. And As Creation.
When I say Word of God, what do you think of?
Growing up, I thought about the Word of God in one way - scripture. The Good Book, the WRITTEN word. As I continued to read it, to study it alongside others and with mentors, I discovered that even the bible isn’t as static as I thought. It’s not a simple encyclopedia for living, or a manual as some call it. It is poetry, and humor, and innuendo, and metaphor, and vibrant history, and mystery, and song, and prayer, and letters, and parable. It is the story of God, of God’s people, our story, our people. When we look closely it is beautiful. Just don’t look too closely at 1 and 2 Chronicles. I really struggle to find the beauty in lists of genealogy And it’s true, not all of the bible is beautiful. It is also raw - a story of pain, of fear, of wrath and violence. But I’d rather have a bible that’s honest and real. I want scripture that can speak to God’s presence in the midst of THAT. God’s story with people throughout the whole of experience.
2 tim 3:16-17
16All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”
Scripture anchor us in God’s story throughout creation, throughout our lives. It reveals God’s presence and faithfulness throughout time, it shows God’s people wrestling with God and with each other throughout time. It points us back to God and God’s hope for the world, it grounds us in this hope, so that we don’t get blown about by every breeze or shiney thing that crosses our path. It keeps me from creating the church of “me.” The Word of God as Scripture anchors us in something bigger than ourselves.
That points us to another understanding of the Word of God. The Word of God is hope, it’s promise, it is good news! It is not only literary but alive. It is living and breathing. It is not abstract but actual. It takes shape and form, it takes on flesh and blood. The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus is the embodiment of the Word, of this promise. A Word that transcends time but also enters fully and deeply into a specific time and place, into humanity, into the human body. The Word is incarnational, in the carnal, in the body, in OUR bodies. This Word of God does not exist separate from the world we live in. It enters our hearts.
The prophet Jeremiah tells us,
“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
The Word is relationship, connection, embodied. It is something we can touch and taste. The Word of God is the word of communion. “This is my body, given FOR YOU” “taste and see that God is good.”
The Word of God is living promise.
And that, that does something to us. It’s affecting, it affects us. It forms and transforms, right? God speaks and we are changed, the world is changed. Jesus tells the paralytic man, get up and go, take your mat and walk….and it happens. Jesus says your go and wash, your sins are forgiven, and it is accomplished. This has been the power of the Word of God since the dawn of time. “God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” The Word of God is an act of creation, still speaking, still creating.
KINDRED, we have the Word of God to lean on in scripture to ensure we are following Christ and not just ourselves. KINDRED, we we get to witness, to be on the lookout for the Word of god active in our midst, in the voice of friends and strangers, in our relationships, in our humanity, in our flesh and bones. KINDRED, we get to be a part of the Word of God in it’s act of creation, creating a way of life, creating a bold community that reveals God’s presence in the city.
What does the Word of God mean for you?
What questions do you still have about the Word of God?