This past February, the elders and I took on the task of presenting SFC with a Conversation Café. Through the Café we began to respond to 10 foundational questions for SFC. For several months, the committee clerks and I have read and re-read those answers, thought about the implications, and wondered what all could be gleaned. As one who tries to step back and look at the bigger picture, one thing I noticed were several items regarding our “identity” at SFC.
To begin, I tasked myself to address some of the issues I was seeing emerge from the Café through my own weekly sermons. I dedicated two sermon series to the task: Togethering and Seeing Spiritual. Both series emphasized areas where the Conversation Café had illumined the need for further teaching and discussion. In May, the elders appointed Laurel Summers to the task of Adult Education at SFC. Together, Laurel and I have been working to redesign and develop an adult education plan to fit our goals and mission at SFC. As well, Deborah Climer and our Christian Education Committee have been working very hard on rethinking our opportunities for children. Each area will be bringing exciting changes this fall for our continued growth.
Overall the Conversation Café did its job – it started a great deal of conversation. And when people begin to talk, differences and similarities in ideas always rise to the top of the discussion. I realized quickly SFC was a diverse place – theologically, stylistically, missionally, educationally, politically, economically, and in many other areas.
Whenever presented with such contrasts, I turn to Jesus (not trying to be cliché). Jesus was presented with diversity in thinking, in theology, in mission. He bridged a gap educationally, economically, politically, and even at times psychologically.
One time, when an expert in the law asked Jesus for the greatest commandment, Jesus responded with the Shema, the ancient Jewish creed that commanded Israel to love God with their heart, soul, mind, and strength. But it was the next part of Jesus’ answer that would literally change the course of history. Jesus amended the Shema, giving his followers (and that includes us) a new creed for life. Not only are we to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength, but we are to love others as we do ourselves.
It was in reviewing Jesus’ words that I realized his creed (considered by many as The Jesus Creed) to love God and others is at the core of our identity as followers of Christ. Jesus’ response needs to be our response at SFC. Ironically, we already use “Loving God…Loving Others” as a “tag line” on most of our materials and media, but how well do we understand what all that entails?
So in response to all that we have been learning, from September 2012 through the end of June 2013, we will unpack and explore what it means to love God and love others through a year-long theme of studying “The Jesus Creed.” We will explore the biblical foundations of the creed, the scriptural characters and stories, the kingdom values, how to live and love as Jesus, and how we are privileged to participate in the life of Christ each day!
My hope is that even though we are diverse in many ways, we can be united in our identity through living out the Jesus Creed – to love God and others. Jesus lived it and so can we!