Sermon Series “Onward and Upward”

Four week series reflecting on the year that has passed and looking at the year that is to come.

Video MessageResources
Week 1:
A Journe of Many Turns
Monday Memo notes

1) Two quotes to remember: 
 – “In other words, a human being is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor — that is the only way out of a ‘hole.’ This process of surrender — this movement full speed astern — is what Christians call repentance.” (C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity)
 – “Life was a myriad of twists and turns that no one could unravel, a path that must be traveled to be understood.” (writer Terry Brooks)
2) Here’s a great overview article of the book Pastor Chris cited at the start of the sermon, “Wayfinding – The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate the World,” by M. R. O’Connor: Place, Personhood, and the Hippocampus: The Fascinating Science of Magnetism, Autonoeic Consciousness, and What Makes Us Who We Are
3) How repentance and hope are tied together – Repentance and Hope – Chris Hall
Week 2:
A Liminal Journey
Monday Memo notes

1) In yesterday’s sermon, Pastor Chris read a small excerpt from a series of devotionals that Richard Rohr wrote about liminal spirituality, back at the start of the CoVid pandemic in 2020. As promised, here’s a link to that entire week-long series – you can link to individual entry from this page: Liminal Space
2) Hebrews 11 calls Abraham an example of liminal faith. So maybe spend a little time with him this week, both how God called him initially in Genesis, and then the New Testament’s reflection back on him as such an important figure: 
– Genesis 11.31-12.9: Genesis 11.31 – 12.9 NRSV
– Romans 4: Romans 4 NRSV
– James 2.18-26: James 2.18-26 NRSV
– Galatians 3.6-14: Gal 3.6-14 NRSV
3) Another key resource behind yesterday’s sermon was Susan Beaumont, who has written a good deal about leadership during liminal times. Here’s a brief summary article of the book she’s written on that subject: How To Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going
Week 3:
A Journey of Loss and Gain
Monday Memo notes

1) Read St. Paul’s spiritual autobiography, which according to his own words is a tale of losing a great deal of his own previous self identity, and finding something greater in Christ:  Phil 3.1-16 NRSV
2) The idea that our spiritual journey will involve a lot of “addition by subtraction” is similar to the idea that God’s intent is for us to lose our false self along the way to discovering and becoming our true selves. This false/true self movement is something explored a good deal in contemplative Christianity. For example, check out this short devotional written about Thomas Merton’s notion of the false/true self transition: The Illusion of Our False Self 
3) Here’s a spiritual reflection exercise for you this week, one you could do in your journal, time of prayer, with a friend over coffee, or in your class/small group…
Look backward at your life and try to find all the times we had to lose something – anything – in order for God to give you something new, a gain perhaps you couldn’t yet see when He first asked you to let go. 
Here are two tips for how to do this: 
– Think backward and find all those moments or seasons in life of great spiritual growth or change, and then try to find what, if any, losses might have preceded them. 
– Reverse that first process: start with the big losses in your life, especially the ones in which you felt God asking you to let go of something, and then try to identify the gain that came afterward.
Week 4:
A Predictable Journey
Monday Memo notes

1) In light of the sermon, and perhaps using some of the resources in #3 below, reflect upon which spiritual season you might be in right now. Why? And how should you respond to it?  Maybe a good conversation with a friend or your small group/class about the seasons, and where you find yourself at present? 
2) Adapt Dave Ferguson’s 30 day challenge, itself drawn from the Christian philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal, into a daily habit this week: 
Pray every day this week, “God, if I am sleeping wake me up, amen.” Come the end of the week, take note of what God has shown you that you might not have been seeing beforehand, or how He has spurred you to action. 
3) Exploring the four spiritual seasons more:
    – Here’s a good podcast from a reliable author on spiritual formation. They don’t emphasize that the seasons repeat in our lives, but that’s the only downside…the seasons descriptions are very helpful:  Season 10: Episode 6 | The Classic Christian Pilgrimage
    – Here’s an easy read that devotes one chapter to each of the four seasons…very accessible and enjoyable, even for those don’t read many books:  Eternity Is Now in Session: A Radical Rediscovery of What Jesus Really Taught about Salvation, Eternity, and Getting to the Good Place: Ortberg, John
    – A good short summary of the four seasons, which has the added benefit of touching on characteristics of the phases that Pastor Chris couldn’t yesterday because of time limitations: Everyday with dan…: The classical christian pilgrimage