Sermon Series – “Our Happy Place”

Six week series exploring together the six core values for KirkWood that our Session (church board of elders) has been working on for six months now. These values expand upon our mission statement, lean into our identity as a PCUSA congregation by pulling directly from our Book of Order, and paint a picture both of who KirkWood is becoming in the present and who we feel God has called us to be in the future.

Video MessageResources
Week 1:
Praise and Worship
Monday Memo notes

More This Week
1. Even though many of us will be discussing and exploring KirkWood’s core values in our classes, groups, etc., know that our consideration is more open-ended than that. At any point, you can email or contact Pastor Chris with your thoughts on either a) what you’ve really appreciated at KirkWood in regard to that week’s core value, so prayer and worship this week, or b) ideas you have for how we can live into the core value better, or express it more creatively. 
2. This week, keep the three biblical metaphors for prayer in mind as you pray day by day: may your prayer be healing like oil, permeating like incense, and an expression of your own brokenness like tears. 
3. Pray Romans 12.1 for yourself and others a few times this week, especially in the morning as you get ready for your day: present yourself to God as a living sacrifice, which is our chief way of worshiping Him. 
4. More on prayer: 
– Esteemed biblical scholar talking about what prayer is – and is not – from the pages of the gospels (2.5 min. video): What is Prayer? | Gospel According to Luke | N.T. Wright Online
– Some daily devotions about prayer: Whisper a Prayer – United Church of Christ and Wisdom of the Ages – United Church of Christ A Hope and a Future and Praying all the Time – United Church of Christ Praying all the Time
– Try using the online Common Prayer Book, complied by Shane Claiborne, this week…it’s just once per day and pretty short: Common Prayer | Common Prayer Common Prayer
5. More on worship: 
– Short video about worship being our reaction to God’s action (2.5 min.): 3 Minute Theology 5.4: What is Worship?
  – Some devotionals on worship to sprinkle throughout your week: Why We Worship – United Church of Christ and The Usefulness of Beauty – United Church of Christ and Sleep, Play and Worship – United Church of Christ
Week 2:
Monday Memo notes

More to Explore
Here are some more ways to explore community building…and Bonhoeffer: 
– From a leading Christian periodical for those 40 and under, three simple ways for churches to build better community: Three Ways the Church Can Build Better Community
– A short devotional on how God’s Spirit unites us together in community: Real Community – James Bryan Smith
– An excellent piece from Forbes on building community: How To Build Community And Why It Matters So Much
– Used in one of our Sunday School classes, this 2.5 min. talks about how one crisis pregnancy center seeks to create community: What Is Community
– A short devotional on building Christian community not by way of the maxim, “Only the strong survive,” but by practicing “the strong survive to help the weak”: The Strong Survive to Help the Weak
– A 27 min. video overview of the life and death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (note – it’s from a 7th Day Adventist group, so we’re not necessarily recommending all their products/videos, just this one): Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Story of Courage and Faith
Week 3:
Spiritual Growth
Monday Memo notes

More on Spiritual Growth this Week
– Here’s the full text of the hymn “Abide with Me,” written by Anglican pastor Henry Francis Lyte in 1847 as he lay dying of tuberculosis (the 2nd link is to a simple performance of the tune): Abide With Me and Abide With Me – Audrey Assad
– 9 min. whiteboard video on the key components of growing spiritually – worship, fellowship, and discipleship: The BEST ways to accelerate Spiritual GROWTH! – Whiteboard Series
– So how exactly do we gauge our spiritual growth, courtesy of Dallas Willard: How Do We Assess Spiritual Growth?
– Spiritual habits/routines (or “disciplines”) are how we open the door and let God into our lives to do the work only He can do: Spiritual Disciplines are an Invitation
– On being a “sailboat” church, not a “rowboat” church: being a sailboat church
Week 4:
Monday Memo notes

So, what does this tell us about openness? Two things, at the least: 
1) Each one of us needs to be open to God inspiring us to prophesy (to provoke or speak out), to dream, and to catch a vision of God’s preferred present and future. 
Dallas Willard in his classic work, “Hearing God,” notes several ways that we can close ourselves off from being inspired by God in this way:
– God’s communication comes to us in many forms, not merely the ones we expect or want, so our ears and hearts need to be open as wide as the many ways God might inspire us. 
– Are we open to hearing whatever it is that God might want to say to us, even if it goes against one of our present assumptions or cherished values? When God comes to inspire you to challenge or envision, it will be with His message, provocation, or dream, not your own. To be inspired by God is bigger than what we currently believe or think is possible. 
– Are we willing to speak or act when the message comes, because more often than not, when God inspires a prophetic message or dream, it is to be shared with others, not kept to ourselves? 
2) But, equally, Joel 2 says that we need to be open to how God inspires others, because they have been given God’s Spirit to the very same degree that we have been. We cannot really say that we are heeding God’s Spirit in our own lives if we aren’t hearing what God’s Spirit is saying through the lives of others. 
Joel 2.28-32 says that we need to listen deeply to challenges and dreams of generations that are not our own. To value only the perspective of your own generation is to miss out on so much of what God is saying in and to the world. 
Also, Joel 2 counsels us to pay close attention to the provocations and visions for God’s better future that come to us from the marginalized and overlooked. 
3) It is this openness to God’s inspiration in ourselves and all others that will be no less than, as Dr. Willie James Jennings of Yale Divinity School puts it, “a new world order, the beginning of God’s good end.”
The late Henri Nouwen wrote that, “Without Pentecost the Christ-event – the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – remains imprisoned in history as something to remember, think about and reflect on. The Spirit of Jesus comes to dwell within us, so that we can become living Christs here and now.” To put that in the words of Joel 2, Jesus was a prophet, dreamer, and visionary, and God has given us His Spirit so that we might be God’s prophets, dreamers, and visionaries too.
Week 5:
Monday Memo notes
Week 6:
Outreach and Mission
Monday Memo notes