We invite you to join us for a weekly opportunity to fellowship together, and exploring how culture and God’s Word connect.  Each Wednesday, beginning at 5:30, we’ll have a time of teaching and discussion.  Some weeks we’ll hear from missions and missionaries we support.  Some weeks we’ll pray for one another and our community.  While exactly what goes on might change, what will be consistent is the opportunity we have to grow as a community and as individual disciples of Christ.
 
We’ll wrap up around 6:45 each week, so those of you who are in the choir will have plenty of time to get ready.
 
We look forward to seeing you on Wednesdays at 5:30!

What 21st-Century Christians Can Learn From The Early Church – A Lent 2019 Table Talk Series

Those who study and observe the ebb and flow of culture say that we are no longer a “post-Christian” culture but have actually returned to a “pre-Christian” state.  If that is true, we would do well to take a closer look at the Early Church and see what we can learn in order to more faithfully live and effectively share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
 
Table Talk meets each Wednesday from 5:30-6:45pm.
 
Here’s what each week of this series will focus on:
 

March 13: “How the Early Church Was Made”

Acts gives us the “formula” for how the early church was made: the ministry of prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. This first session will look at God’s blueprint for the church as laid out in scripture and illustrated in the first century. In matters as diverse as apostolic authority, church organization and discipline, and the confession of doctrine through creeds and hymns, we’ll explore how the “apostolic” and “sub apostolic” church was established. Whether it’s making a church, growing a church, or running a church, the divine formula is still the same today—prayer and the Holy Spirit.
 

March 20: “Going, Loving, Dying: The Missionary Church in Action”

The early church was a missionary church. It was a church that went to the ends of the earth, just as Jesus had commanded. The early church was also known for its love. In a groundbreaking study in 1996, American sociologist Rodney Stark argued that the early church grew in direct proportion to its love for others. Finally, the church evangelized by dying—that is, through the ultimate witness of martyrdom. Just as Jesus had commanded, the first believers “took up their cross” and followed Him. Christians today have been called to the same missionary task of going, loving, and dying to self.
 

March 27: “Lessons from the Catacombs”

Were you taught that the catacombs were places of refuge in times of persecution? Did you learn that the fish symbol was a secret message? Well, think again! There are many persistent myths about the catacombs. These burial places did, in fact, serve an important purpose in the early church—but it’s not entirely what you think. This session will explore the surprisingly rich world of catacomb art that will model for us a dynamic way of reading and applying scripture as we live for Christ in an ungodly world. The message of the catacombs is the message of Easter: Christ has triumphed over death!
 

April 3: “Contending for the Faith: Heresy and Orthodoxy”

The battle over “sound doctrine” was the defining challenge of the early church. To this day, we recite creeds that were formulated in direct response to false teachings. Docetism, gnosticism, Arianism—these heresies struck at the very heart of the gospel by redefining the person and work of Jesus Christ. In this session, we’ll not only explore these heresies in their historical setting; we’ll also see that these ancient heresies continue to rear their ugly head in the contemporary church in America. Christians today, no less than the earliest believers, have been called to contend earnestly for the faith.
 

April 10: “Constantine: The Church’s Worst Nightmare?”

On the evening of October 27, 312, Constantine was standing near the Milvian Bridge in Rome. As armies positioned themselves for a decisive battle, the emperor saw a vision that forever changed his life, the Christian Church, and the western world. But did he really see a vision? To this day, historians debate the facts and the significance of what happened—but the results were unmistakable. Constantine dramatically “converted” to Christianity and the status of the western church would never be the same. This session will explore what happens when the church makes common cause with politics.
 

April 17: “The Death Throes of Paganism”

By the end of the Roman period, Christianity had triumphed over paganism in Europe. Temples and idols were destroyed. Pagan institutions were shut down. Profane literature was censored and burned. But paganism proved to be remarkably resilient. The goddess Venus was repackaged as the Virgin Mary. Devotion to the pantheon of gods was replaced by prayers to the saints. This session will explore how Christians of every age must be vigilant in defending the purity of the church. This is particularly true for 21st-century Christians, who find themselves living in an increasingly neo-pagan society.

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December Table Talk Series: Aspects of Advent

Our December Table Talk series will be “Aspects of Advent.” There is a lot of nuance and “hidden” depths to the Advent and Christmas stories that we miss because the biblical authors assumed certain cultural, historical and prophetic knowledge that has been lost in the 2,000 years since the stories were recorded. Michael Babcock and Pastor David will explore several of these different facets in an effort to enrich and deepen our understanding and celebration of the incarnation of our Savior. Upcoming topics include:
November 28: Fulfilling Prophecy – Dr. Michael Babcock
December 5: Politics of the Times – Rev. David Garrison
December 12: No Room in the Inn – Rev. David Garrison
December 19: Questioning Christmas – Dr. Michael Babcock
December 26 & January 2: No Table Talk

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Table Talk Resumes Wednesday, September 19

This fall, we’ll launch our Wednesday evening Table Talk by concluding our series of studies Christian Faith and Other Faiths: Understanding and Outreach. We’ll begin with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), more popularly known as the Mormons. We’ll look first at the founding and the growth of the LDS. Then, following the pattern of our previous studies, we’ll look at points of contact and points of conflict between the LDS and historic Christianity. We’ll follow a similar outline in exploring the history, theology, and practices of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
 
If you’ve ever wondered about either of these faiths – what they believe, why they are so persistent about coming to your door, or how to engage them in conversation – bring your questions and join us Wednesday evenings, beginning at 5:30 PM.
 
Click here to learn more about Table Talk.

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Pastor’s Corner – April 2018

Easter is HERE!

The forty days of spiritual house-cleaning has come to a glorious conclusion! Springtime for our souls, and in our lives, has finally arrived! All that kept us from God – our sinfulness, our insecurities, our doubts and so much more – has been swept away through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The wonder of this is more than can be comprehended in a day, and so with Easter Sunday we also begin the fifty day season of Easter. “The Easter season is a time to let the implications of the resurrection sink in deeper, inviting us to realign our worldview and conform our living to the reality that we have been raised with Christ to new life” (Philip Reinders, Seeking God’s Face pg 329).

The Centrality of the Atonement

But that is the crux of our modern struggle – realigning our worldview and conforming our lives to the reality of new life in Christ through his sacrifice on the cross. In short, we struggle to believe and accept the doctrine of the Atonement – so much so that many Christians have rejected it outright. But as Emil Brunner once wrote, the atonement “is the Christian religion itself; it is the main point; it is not something alongside of the center, it is the substance and kernel, not the husk.” To that end, on Sunday mornings through the season of Easter, we will seek to explore and unpack the wonder and glory of the atonement in order to “realign our worldview and conform our living” to our new life in Christ.

Tiptoeing Through the TULIPs

 
As Presbyterians, we are a part of a “stream” of Christianity known as Reformed Theology, which is itself heavily inspired by the writings and teachings of John Calvin. If you want to kill the mood at a party, just casually mention you’re a “Calvinist.” Most people view Calvin and the theology named after him with something of a stuffy, negative intellectual light. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Calvin and his theology is very passionate and full of life and Spirit, as evidenced by his logo and slogan, pictured at right. We hope you’ll consider joining us for Table Talk on Wednesday evenings beginning at 5:30 on April 11 as we “tiptoe through the TULIPs” and see just what Calvin taught and what it means for us today.
 

 

 
Blessings,
Rev. David Garrison

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Christian Faith & Other Faiths: Judaism

Beginning Wednesday, February 21, Table Talk will resume the series Christian Faith and Other Faiths: Understanding and Outreach. Our focus will be on Judaism, emphasizing how our understanding of Jewish history and theology shapes our understanding of Christianity. On the first two evenings, Michael Babcock will highlight Jewish history from the biblical era until today. For the next two weeks, Bob Mills will help us explore three distinctive Jewish doctrines – monotheism, covenant, and law – and consider how those doctrines are foundational to, and have been transformed by, Christianity. Our final evening will return to the topic of outreach, specifically looking at the local church as the base for evangelism.

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Truth, Understanding, Purpose and the Five Living Generations

For the first time in human history, we have five generations alive, interacting, and shaping our world at the same time. Actually, we have an unprecedented SIX generations, although the youngest is just now finishing their first decade. Each of these generations has very different values, priorities, understandings of truth and meaning, and approach life in very different ways. What does that mean for us, individually? What does it mean for us, as a church?
 
With each passing year, these questions and the challenges these generations face in understanding each other only grows. And yet, we are called to be a people of many generations, and if we want to effectively pass the faith on to the generations to come, we need to build bridges and relationships across generational lines. There is much each generation can learn from the others, and much each generation has to offer the others.
 
Join us at Table Talk, beginning January 10 at 5:30pm.

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Join us for Table Talk, beginning January 10.

We invite you to join us for a new weekly opportunity to fellowship together, explore how culture and God’s Word connect, and enjoy a great dinner.  Each Wednesday, beginning at 5:30, we’ll enjoy a delicious dinner and then have a time of teach and discussion.  Some weeks we’ll hear from missions and missionaries we support.  Some weeks we’ll pray for one another and our community.  While exactly what goes on might change, what will be consistent is the opportunity we have to grow as a community and as individual disciples of Christ.
 
Dinner is $5 per person, $15 per family. RSVPs (contact the church office) are appreciated, so we can make sure to have enough food.  But don’t worry, if you don’t RSVP, come anyway, we’ll always make sure to have plenty.
 
We’ll wrap up around 6:45 each week, so those of you who are in the choir will have plenty of time to get ready.
 
We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, January 10 for our first Table Talk!

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