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Sunday Recap for December 16, 2018:
The Pilgrim's Joy

“The world lies in the power of the evil one. The world does not recognize the light that shines in the darkness. It never did; it never will. But there are people who, in the midst of the world, live with the knowledge that he is alive and dwells within us, that he has overcome the power of death and opens the way to glory. Are there people who come together, who come around the table and do what he did, in memory of him? Are there people who keep telling each other the stories of hope and, together, go out to care for their fellow human beings, not pretending to solve all problems, but to bring a smile to a dying man and a little hope to a lonely child? It is so little, so unspectacular, yes, so hidden, this Eucharistic life, but it is like yeast, like a mustard seed, like a smile on a baby’s face. It is what keeps faith, hope, and love alive in a world that is constantly on the brink of self-destruction.” -Henri Nouwen
Mission Highlight: Former member Michelle and her husband Marc from Hands at Work (HAW) were visiting from Zambia. Thank you both for sharing a word from God with us. This year, they had the opportunity to travel to other countries HAW serves, including time together in Mcheneka with the Christ Church team. They expressed their gratitude for our love, support, and prayer, which enables them to do what they do there.

They wanted to share a central themes that has guided and shaped them. They shared the story of Gogo (grandma) P, (pictured) whose witness to faith, hope, and love had a profound impact on them. They met Gogo P in the Congo, and her life is marked with profound loss, tragedy, and suffering. She lost many of her own children: three died and the others ran away, unable to cope with the suffering. She currently cares for 3 beautiful granddaughters who were abandoned when both their parents ran away. Gogo P depends on her neighbors each day simply to provide the food she and her family need to survive.
They sat and listened as Gogo P shared her life, and they desperately searched for and failed to find words of comfort to share. They sat in silence for a little while and we prayed. From that, Marc began to share in faith about the mystery of God’s presence in the midst of our suffering and the brokenness of our lives. They noticed a shift in Gogo’s expression, and she excitedly launched into explaining her experience of Christ’s steadfast love and faithfulness and the hope and strength that she draws from it. She witnessed to them and they celebrated together who our Lord is.
Though Gogo was sharing from the valley of the shadow of death, they thought of Isaiah 61, as the prophet speaks about how God’s people shall be oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display His glory... and that they shall build up, repair, and heal the devastations of this world. We had the pleasure of sitting with a planting of the Lord. You don’t need to go to Africa to find oaks of righteousness. The Lord has planted them all around His church. In fact, we here are oaks of righteousness, if we choose to follow Christ. We want to live worthy of that calling.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the chaos, darkness, suffering and loneliness in our world, but by God’s grace, we are also able to experience love and hope around us, though not in the big splashy ways we may want to see it. God’s steadfast love and faithfulness meet us in our everyday lives, if we are open to Him as we share our stories and lives together. In this season of Advent, this is what we practice once again, to wait for God as He breaks into the ordinary, bringing light into darkness. As followers of Christ, we are called to witness to that as we love and serve others in humility and compassion.

Then they led us in prayer, thanking God for his love, faithfulness, and presence,  and for his Son who was sent for us, the poor and marginalized. We prayed for the courage to give witness to his presence, faithfulness hope, and love. He asked that we might walk more closely to him in our suffering. We prayed for Mcheneka, the Care Workers, Care Givers, and the Children, for those hurting in our city, and everyone that was gathered, that we would feel his presence and be used to build up and repair the devastations around us.
Praise God for our new members that were publicly affirmed, Will, Grace, Kendra, Daniel (in absentia), Viriginia, Kevin, Sharon, Steffen, Vanessa, and Cory (in absentia)! They affirmed their intention, with God’s help, to live loving and holy lives that reflect Christ; to maintain unity with and mutually encourage others in the body as they serve together; to commit themselves to growing in the truth of God’s Word, and to pray for our church and all in it, as well as those who have not yet put their faith in Christ. Toby, on behalf of existing members, affirmed the commitment of all to love, encourage, teach, admonish, comfort and exhort them to grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ and His Word.
Question #50: What does Christ’s resurrection mean for us?
Answer: Christ triumphed over sin and death by being physically resurrected, so that all who trust in him are raised to new life in this world and to everlasting life in the world to come. Just as we will one day be resurrected, so this world will one day be restored. But those who do not trust in Christ will be raised to everlasting death.
This Week's Sermon: “The Pilgrim's Joy
(Psalm 133)

“God has willed that we should seek and find God’s living Word in the testimony of other Christians, in the mouths of human beings. Therefore, Christians need other Christians who speak God’s Word to them. They need them again and again when they become uncertain and disheartened because, living by their own resources, they cannot help themselves without cheating themselves out of the truth. They need other Christians as bearers and proclaimers of the divine Word of Salvation ... Their own hearts are uncertain; those of their brothers and sisters are sure … the goal of all Christian community is to encounter one another as bringers of the message of salvation.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together           
“A community of faith flourishes when we view each other with this expectancy, wondering what God will do today in this one, in that one. When we are in a community with those Christ loves and redeems, we are constantly finding out new things about them. They are new persons each morning, endless in their possibilities.”
Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
Main Idea: A Pilgrim will find Joy in the Unity of Christ

Sermon SlidesSermon Application Questions
This sermon series: Restless
Help spread holiday cheer and support children in your community by donating a brand new toy to The Salvation Army's Christmas Toy Drive! Each year, The Salvation Army serves approximately 3,000 children from low-income families throughout San Francisco by opening a Toy & Joy Shop for the parents to be able to shop for their children and help their kids to have a wonderful and memorable gift: sftoyjoy.com If you have any questions, ask Sonny
-Jon Brackett, our church-planting resident pastor, has family that lived in Paradise, the town that was destroyed by the fire. His grandmother has lost her home and her shop, which was her source of livelihood. The GoFundMe is to help her rebuild her life, and every bit will count!
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