April 17, 2013

welcome

Mission: We are an open and affirming congregation sharing
God’s love by creating community and encouraging faithfulness.

 

Welcome to the new Saint Andrew Christian Church in Goodlettsville, TN. We are a part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and invite you to be our guests for worship every Sunday morning at 11am.

 

We are a congregation that welcomes ALL who desire to come. We truly believe that Jesus did not shun those whom many deemed unclean or unwelcome, and who were looked down upon by society and others in the church, rather he welcomed them with open arms as his beloved brothers and sisters.

 

You are welcome here!

 

New Day New Look

Welcome to the new look of the Saint Andrew Christian Church website. While the new look is not finished, it is well under way. Over the next few weeks more changes are planned which also includes more functionality for members and guests. All that is asked, is patience as I continue to test and make adjustments to both the look and function of the site.  At this time some of the look is temporary as I use place holders until I can get what I need for the spot, or fix currently broken pages. Once the broken pages are fixed, I will move on to adding the functionality mentioned. During this time, the website will either change many times, or be down for major revisions to the look and functionality as I will not have complete or final say on the completed site.

Website Administrator

Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Happy Independence Day!

Today we celebrate the Declaration of Independence, the day the founding fathers basically told King George and the English Parliament to get stuffed. A lot has happened over the past 239 years a lot of bickering, a lot of fighting, and a lot more labeling then is healthy for any country. This is the point that needs to be made, for all of the inequality, racism, sexism, and let’s not forget the whole thing about sexual orientation, we label everything regardless of what the label may cause. If we as citizens want this country to survive, if we as citizens want this country to live peacefully, if we as citizens want to see the vision of the founding fathers, then we as citizens must with determination and a firm goal put the labels aside and look at each other as humans and children of God.

Now let me state up front I am not the Pastor nor do I pretend to be, I am the Web Administrator, and handle all things I.T. for the church, but in discussing certain issues with the Pastor, and other members of the church, I think I can safely say that the church does not now or ever will endorse the use of labels against others. This actually goes against our Mission Statement as well as the Mission statement of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in general. We read and hear almost every day where someone states that the bible says this about gays, or the bible says this about interracial marriage, or the bible says this about this race, however the quoted scripture always tends to either come from the Old Testament, or from the Letters of Paul to certain churches. Very rarely do we see the quoted scripture come Jesus Christ according to Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. These people are so tied up in these few verses and being as divisive as possible, they do not take the time to actually ask the question. What Would Jesus Do?

Now according to the Gospel of Christ, when asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus answered to Love thy god with all your heart. When asked what the second greatest was, Jesus stated to Love thy neighbor as one would love one’s self. With this in mind I ask one question, how does labeling people by race, sex, sexual orientation, or disability play into the second greatest commandment? The simple answer, is it does not. On the contrary, it just feeds the monster that the majority of us are fighting to defeat. Now realizing that Utopia will never really exist, we can and should do everything possible to get as close as possible to Utopia as we can. This does not mean we must all agree on the same thing, or behave in the same way, or think the same way, this simply means we must be willing to at least think about someone else’s point of view on a subject. This means as citizens, we must at least be willing to look at a given topic and be able to politely discuss the topic without the name calling, without the hatred, most certainly with respect.

As a country we as citizens are one, just as Christians we are all one in the body of Christ. The calling of Christ is upon us all. The calling of Christ is at once simple and complex. The Calling of Christ is to love one another regardless of what they look like or who they desire to love. The hard fought Independence of this country goes the same way. It is not for one group of people no matter what labels are put on us. The Independence that so many fought and died for is for all. All persons were created equal, where in that simple statement from the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence does it say it is subject one group? It is time we all as one body in Christ and one body as Citizens celebrate the Birth of Our Country.

Happy Independence Day!

Web Administrator

Saint Andrew Christian Church

(Disciples of Christ)

“Till Death Us Do Part”

The following was given last Sunday as a preamble to worship at Spruce Pine UMC in the Western North Carolina Conference. We are grateful to its author, Rev. Jeremy Troxler, for letting us share this excellent reflection. Rev. Troxler is pastor of Spruce Pine UMC in Spruce Pine, NC, and former Director of the Thriving Rural Communities Initiative at Duke Divinity School. Today, I share it with all who care to read it because this letter is so Disciple. We, as Disciples of Christ, believe strongly in the call to be one in Christ. This means that in spite of our differences or maybe because of our differences, when we gather around the table of remembrance of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, we are being molded into the one body of Christ. Whichever side of the SCOTUS decision you are on, you are still, especially called to love one another as Christ has loved us.

A Preamble to Worship and a Call To Unity Offered at Spruce Pine UMC the Sunday after SCOTUS Decision

Unless you have been living in a cave in the woods for the past week, most of you know by now that on Friday the Supreme Court made a historic ruling that same-sex couples have the right to marry in the United States.

Different folks in our congregation have had dramatically different responses to this decision.

Some of you celebrated with elation and even wept with joy, because to you Friday felt like a kind of divine miracle, because you believe the ruling was victory for civil rights and for equality among God’s children, because now either you, or your children, or your family members, or your friends who are gay or lesbian can have the opportunity to have their love for their partner formally recognized, because you feel grateful that all people can now share in the affirmation of dignity and the blessing of committed companionship that the status of legal marriage brings, because perhaps you feel that gay and lesbian human beings are finally accepted as full and equal citizens of our country.

Others of you viewed the Supreme Court’s decision Friday with great sadness or even anger, not because of any hatred in your heart, but because you believe the ruling to be a misguided over-reach of the courts, because you believe it to represent an example of how society is either ignoring or badly interpreting or even defying what you hold to be God’s clear commands in Scripture, because you believe that a sacred institution has been redefined in a way contrary to God’s will, because you believe the practice of homosexuality to be a sin incompatible with Christian teaching, and because you are concerned over whether now you can practice freedom of conscience in this regard.

Some of you feel anger rising within you that I have even mentioned the other side’s point of view here in worship, because it is just so obvious to you that you are on the right side and they aren’t, so why even talk about it? You came here maybe expecting everybody else to be dancing in the aisles with you or you came here maybe expecting everybody else to be shaking their heads with you, and now you hear that’s not the case. Others of you feel caught in the middle between people who feel so strongly: you think it’s complicated and you don’t know exactly what to think, but it breaks your heart to see people in such conflict, and you just wish people could get along better.

I share this with you because even though the Supreme Court’s decision changes nothing about the formal stance of the United Methodist Church towards same-sex marriage – only our United Methodist General Conference next summer has the power to do that – the last few days have reminded many of us how divided we are as a United Methodist church and as a people over questions such as these.

The Bible says that in the church we are to “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice” – but what do you do when half of you are weeping and half of you are rejoicing?

One thing I might propose for us is that sometime before General Conference next spring, we hold a Bible Study and holy conferencing dialogue about this issue. But in the meantime, another thing we can do is to remember what binds us together.

The Bible says that the church is like a family, where we are brothers and sisters with each other. If your family is like mine, then there are a lot of important things that you and your family members disagree about or even fight about. But at the end of the day you are still a family; you are still held together by something deeper than whether or not you agree. You are held together by the fact that you have been made part of one another, and you are held together by stubborn, durable, steady love.

The church is a family like that. We are a family that can disagree about important things, but at the end of the day we are held together by something deeper than the fact we agree about everything, or even about every important thing: we are held together by the fact that God’s grace has rescued us and is remaking us and has made us a part of one another.

We are held together by love, the love of Christ.

That love does not banish disagreement, but it does join us in a oneness deeper than all difference, a fidelity more enduring than our fights, a reconciliation that outlasts our wrongs.

Perhaps we even need some level of disagreement for this love to grow among us.

In his 2nd Inaugural Address, in the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln meditated on the fact that both the North and the South prayed to the same God, and believed the same God was on their side, and trusted that the same God would grant their side victory, and yet the war just kept going on. Lincoln said that the prayers of both could not be answered, and the prayers of neither were answered fully. Clearly neither side could be wholly in the right, or God would have ended the bloodshed. Lincoln speculated that perhaps in allowing the struggle to continue, God was accomplishing larger purposes that neither side had taken into account.

Perhaps God has God’s own purposes in putting us very different people, with our dueling facebook posts and our rival news sources, all together next to each other in the pew. Perhaps one of those purposes is to learn the meaning of love. Perhaps it is only by learning to love people we disagree with, only by learning to love people who we know are wrong, only by learning to love sinners that we learn what love, Christ-like love, even, yes, married love, really is.

Later this morning as we receive new members we will read words from I Corinthians 12, where the Apostle Paul writes to a divided church about how we are all part of the body of Christ, a body where the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor can the head say to the feet, “I have no need of you.” We are a body, where, paraphrasing what the Bible says about marriage, the many become one flesh.

Here’s what I think that means:

If you celebrated on Friday, you belong here and are needed here.

If you were upset on Friday, you belong here and are needed here.

If you didn’t know how to feel on Friday, you belong here and are needed here.

If you think what I have said here is too wishy-washy, and you wish your preacher took a stronger stand with your side today, you belong here and are needed here.

The only way you might not belong here is if you believe the body of Christ should be a place where everybody agrees with you 100%, and where what you hear from the pulpit every week should just confirm whatever you came here already believing; basically if you think the body should be made up of one part: your brain.

I would say that if that’s what you want, the only way to get it is if you keep your own company. But maybe you won’t find satisfaction even there: I can’t get even the different sides of my own mind to agree with themselves half the time.

Perhaps if you searched hard enough you might finally be able to find another group of believers who agree with each other on things like this 100% – but if you do, whatever it is, it won’t be the church of Jesus Christ.

So I guess we’ll just have to accept God’s own mysterious purposes and continue struggling to seek God’s bigger-than-we-thought will with each other.

I guess we’ll have to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice, even all at the same time, even if it means we try to force a smile through our tears because at least our friends are happy, of if it means we celebrate but with a catch in our throat because we can’t totally forget those who find it hard to rejoice with us because of conscience.

I guess we’ll have to stay together and try to respect and love each other and fail and ask forgiveness and forgive and then try again.

I guess we in the church will need to choose again

to have and to hold each other,

from this day forward,

for better or for worse,

for richer or for poorer,

in sickness and in health,

to love and to cherish,

in agreement and disagreement

until death us do part:

just like all married folks must do.

Now let us worship God together.

Mother Emanuel AME response

justiceTzedek, tzedek tirdof: Justice, justice shall you pursue. Deuteronomy 16:20

 

In the Hebrew Scriptures, justice is an extremely important concept. In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses is given instructions to “appoint judges and officials for your tribes . . . and they shall govern the people with due justice. You shall not judge unfairly” (Deuteronomy 16:18). With those words, and in countless other places, Moses insists that justice is an eternal religious obligation, at the very core of what it means to be a Jew. And that insistence is not restricted to biblical Judaism. How we treat the weakest in our midst (the “widow” and “orphan,” to use the Torah’s language) is still the irreplaceable core of Jewish identity. [1] This is still the core concept of the Christian faith as well. ­­­ Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:27)

Last week, a terrible tragedy took place in Charleston, SC. Nine persons were shot and killed by a lone gunman who has since stated that his intent was to start a civil war. His hatred of African American people was so strong that he seemed to have thought his acts of violence were necessary to establish the supremacy of white people in our nation. I can’t help but wonder where he learned such hatred. I also wonder where he missed the idea of our republic that all are created equal. We might fall back on the time-honored theory that this young man was mentally ill and therefore not responsible. But he was responsible. He shot nine people. He killed nine people who had gathered to study the Bible. His statement that he almost didn’t go through with his plan because the persons in the church were so kind and welcoming proves he was able to make a better moral decision than he did.

The backlash has been interesting, to say the least. It’s the kind of interesting to which that old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” speaks. First came the denial that this was a hate crime in spite of the fact that the unfortunate perpetrator was clear about his intent. Then came the denial that the confederate battle flag should be offensive to anyone. After all, the flag only represents Southern heritage. Let’s agree that is true but the heritage is the history of enslaving people for profit.

So the question is always, “Where is God in all of this?” I believe that God was in the room with the shooter and Cynthia Hurd, Rev Clementa Pinckney, Rev Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Rev Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Susie Jackson, Rev Daniel Simmons, Sr., Myra Thompson. God was shouting into the ear of the gunman telling him that what he was intending to do was wrong. God is in the response that is causing people to reconsider flying the confederate battle flag. God is in the recognition that while some people may believe that flag does not represent racism, for the millions of black Americans who see it displayed on state capitol grounds, on the front of houses, and hanging out of the backs of trucks, or as decals on cars, it does represent racism. It represents the desire to return to a time of segregation, of even more inequality than that which exists today.

I will admit that I have no idea how my white privilege has made life easier for me than for my black sisters. I have never feared for the lives of my children as they walk down our street. I cannot experience those kinds of things. What I can do is recognize that these are very real challenges for my black brothers and sisters. I can speak out when I see the ugliness of racism. I can advocate for fairer and more just practices for people of color. And I can pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. I can strive to make that true in my own faith community with the complete cooperation of all the members. The words of the hymn ring true: Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.[2]

[1] http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/justice-justice-you-shall-pursue/

[2] http://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-let-there-be-peace-on-earth

Christmas Eve Candle Light Service

December 24th marks the second Christmas Eve Service for Saint Andrew Christian Church. We as a congregation thanks Ben Kole for stepping into play the piano while Vance Nichols is away visiting family. We also would like to thank all that visited on this wonderful night.

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Christmas Eve 2014