Summary: Change within the unchanging ‘story’ of God’s promise and purpose

Introduction: Change within the unchanging ‘story’ of God’s promise and purpose.

This past week our ministry staff has been at the Vineyard’s national Pastor’s Conference… a time of reaffirming much of what I feel and see as we go forward as a church into the 21st century here on the Westside.

Reminded that we are truly “a movement”… something about us that is naturally in motion… going forward.

· Expanding into new places and cultures…. Over 100 new Vineyard churches being birthed in the current 12 months… including several Hispanic…moving outward into world… in just ten years… 70 countries … as fellowships like ours partner to help raise up new fellowships in places like India.

· Whole new generation is on the move…. nearly half were under 30 or 35.

· Like the wind which so often reflected the movement of God… so there is a constant sense of movement, motion, mission.

Not just in what we’re doing… but in how we’re doing it.

Taking a journey into a changing culture… the 21st century brings with it changes in the common worldview, basic assumptions about what is and should be,… causes many who love the church to be afraid.

Not afraid. Why? > Because the problem of relevancy isn’t that of Christ in this world, it’s the understanding the church….of what it means to be his followers in this world. The church as the people of God have simply reduced the reality of God to narrow forms, to politics… popularity.

> So we’re entering a time of openness… in terms of discovering “what it means to be Christians, to be the church, to be authentically spiritual … for the sake of the world.” (Todd)

· Not a sense of changing our calling or the core values which God has raised up in us… but rather how we live it out.

· It’s a great time to be the church… God’s people.

· If you’re seeker, there’s a place for you. …. If your one who’s trying to make sense of a faith long held but unconnected to a community of faith, there’s a place for you. If you’ve shared this journey, as part of this Vineyard community, there’s a place for you.

> We live amidst change within the unchanging hand of God’s story / promise.

One of the central themes of this national gathering was that of community… and in particular, the significance of understanding the story we share… namely God’s story (history = ‘his-story’).

We live in a time in which we face the crisis of reaping the intense individualism we’ve sown.

> We have sought to try to find identity only in our individuation and the result is isolation.

We need to recover the reality that at the core we are a community rooted in a common story.

I want to draw upon the framework which Don Williams shared this week to help us connect with our common story… and then touch upon it’s significance.

Ephes. 2:11-13, 17-22 [NIV]

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)-- [12] remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

STOP > … Repeat that statement with me…“without hope and without God in the world.”

You had no part in what God was doing

That’s where our story begins. Why ? > Because we were “excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise.”

Imagine what a Jew living under the calling of God felt.

· Their very heritage was called into being by God… to bless the world.

· Connected to God by an unchanging covenant… initiated by God.

· Such a connection to God was in your blood… marked your body… your burden as a community called out from the world by God.

[13] But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

…. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. [18] For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

[19] Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, [20] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. [21] In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. [22] And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

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