Get the 616: January Update

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Happy New Year! However you closed out 2018, it is our prayer that you find yourself more aware of who you are and Whose you are as we begin 2019 together. A new year brings lots of new opportunities. Here’s what you can look forward to this month at City Chapel!

Let’s Celebrate!

Did you know that January 6 was our three month launch-iversary? We can’t believe it either! When City Chapel began over a year ago as a small gathering of individuals in living rooms around Grand Rapids, we could have never imagined where we would be today. While there were dates to check off and a plan to follow, the individuals (you!) who make City Chapel what it is now is something we couldn’t have predicted. We’re so grateful God brought you here. Let’s celebrate where God has taken us as a church thus far and where He plans to take us in the future!

What We’re Up To

Since October, we’ve been working our way through the book of Matthew. We’ve learned that the gospel is both word and deed and that God offers grace and mercy before challenge. We’re also in the midst of launching City Groups, intentional, deep communities that meet throughout the week. Learn more below!

Get Involved

  • City Groups are in motion! These small, intentional communities (learn more here) are meant to help us be the church throughout the week as we disperse into the city. Several City Groups have already launched and others will launch this week. If you’re interested in joining a group, check out the hosts below and contact them regarding their address and information about their next meeting. We ask that you please RSVP before attending a group so hosts have an idea of who to expect! We encourage you to join a City Group based on your neighborhood, chemistry with a group leader(s), or simply what time/day works best for you. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact citychapelgr@gmail.com.

City Group Leader(s):

Thursdays, 7 pm, Grand Rapids Brewing Company

  • Doug and Dianne McClintic (dianne.mcclintic@gmail.com)
    More details to come!

  • We’re looking for volunteers! From setting up to nursery to picking up coffee, we have a job for you. If you’re interested in getting involved, contact citychapelgr@gmail.com for volunteer opportunities. Also, if you’ve been impacted by the ministry of City Chapel, we are always accepting donations here.

God With Us

Incarnation is not only a big word—it can also be a kind of confusing part of the Christmas story. Sometimes we avoid talking about things we don’t understand, but incarnation is the sort of miraculous, mysterious thing we should take some time to talk about. And this is the perfect time of year to do it.

It starts with a prophecy. Long before Jesus was born, there was a prophecy, or a prediction, about Him. You can read it in Isaiah 7:14. It was such an important prophecy it is also quoted in Matthew 1:23. It says, ““Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which means, God with us.”

That’s the idea behind incarnation—the idea that God is with us. God came to earth to be with us.

So, fast-forward about 700 years after the prophecy and Mary is engaged to Joseph. It’s a story we’re familiar with: one night an angel comes to tell Mary she is going to have a baby. But this baby is going to be called the Son of the Most High, the Son of God, as it says in Luke 1:32b and 35b.

This comes as a shock to both Mary and Joseph—for different reasons respectively. But they both knew, or had some suspicions, that God’s prophecy was coming true. So it’s another surprise when it’s time for the baby to be born and nothing glamorous happens. Jesus, God’s own Son, didn’t make a royal entrance. There was no big to-do and no epic party, which should be shocking to us. It’s probably why so many people in Jesus’ time didn’t suspect He was fulfilling God’s prophecy. This is God’s Son we are talking about—He should be dressed in a robe and have a royal entrance, or at least a party of the century!

Instead, Jesus was born in a dirty stable, to poor parents, in a country where they were not welcomed. He was a refugee.

It almost seems unbelievable, doesn’t it? But this is what we celebrate at Christmas. We celebrate that God doesn’t just love us; He loves us so much He wants to be with us. Jesus is God incarnate—God in human form. He is Emmanuel. He is the God who chooses to be with us. He isn’t inaccessible or unreachable. He doesn’t live somewhere else, somewhere far away. He doesn’t care about who we’re connected with on LinkedIn, how we drink our coffee, or what clothes line our closets. He chose to be close to us and He chose to make a way for us to be close to Him. And it’s not just at Christmas. God is always with us, not because He has to be but because He wants to be.

Just flip back all the way to the beginning. God created the world and said it was good. Then He created people—we were made in His image. And when He was finished, He said His creation was very good. You are very good and He wants to be with you.

The next time you hear the word incarnation, just think Immanuel. Just think God with us. God with us in the ordinary. God with us in the hard stuff and the happy stuff. God who never leaves us and loves us like crazy. God with us.

 

Written by Kelli Gilmore 

 

Pursuing Amidst Waiting

Advent (noun): “The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event”


“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17

We are in the season that the (Christian) church calls “advent.” This season is the weeks leading up to Christmas day (including the four Sundays before Christmas).  I have always found Romans 14: 13-19 helpful to read and ingest and try to live out during this season.

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if another is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”

Romans 14:13-19

Yeah, probably not what you were expecting for this holiday season.  

But, it’s the holidays. Which means so many things to so many people. Joy, laughter, music, singing, presents, family, friends, awkward dinners, stressful planning, consumerism, cold weather, snow, fireplaces, bad memories, fun traditions. So many things. And if you’re like me, it can be difficult navigating amongst family and friends whom you don’t always interact with.  

Which is why this is one of my favorite (and needed) passages that I return to each year.  

Here’s why: judging is easy. We all have a cousin or in-law that has that one thing that just annoys us. Or, we have preferences that, for some reason, clash more than usual with others preferences during this time. Which is why Paul reminds (commands) us to “not pass judgment on one another any longer” and to “never put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.” Just like when Jesus told us to “judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).  

This passage is a needed reminder to not judge others, but to judge myself.

Walking in love is hard. We all have a tendency to turn inwards and be selfish and self-centered.  Especially around family. They can get under our skin quicker than anyone. Which is why I need to be reminded (challenged) to not grieve anyone by what I eat (drink, do, say). Paul says that our eating can “destroy the one for whom Christ died.” Wow. He’s not playing around.  

This passage is a needed reminder that what I have decided as “best” might not be the same for others, and this is okay at times. My decisions in what I eat or drink are mine. Do not judge another for what they eat or drink. And, if you eat or drink something that would, at best, annoy, and at worst, destroy someone around you, don’t eat or drink it. It’s that simple (okay, hard).  

I need this reminder to be thinking of others, and not just myself, when it comes to holiday get-togethers.  

Finally, let us “pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding” (emphasis added).  If you like to debate politics and you love the phrase “iron sharpens iron,” but those around you can’t stand it, stop. If something is only uplifting for one side and isn’t mutually upbuilding, we are not supposed to pursue it. A.k.a. stop it. “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

When we are with family and friends and loved ones this holiday season, may we all seek righteousness and peace and joy and mutual upbuilding in the Holy Spirit. May we not hinder others by what we eat or drink or do or say. Instead, seek peace, seek joy, laugh. And walk in love as we wait for the arrival of our King and Savior and Lord as a baby in a manger. Happy Advent!


Written by Pastor Ron Radcliffe


Get the 616: December Update

Welcome to December! In the midst of a busy season, we’re called to slow down and narrow our focus. Even on that first Christmas, amid the hustle and bustle of a census, traveling, and a new marriage, Mary and Joseph were forced to slow down among animals in a stable to welcome the Son of God into the world.

This month, we pray that as a church we help create spaces to slow down and reflect on the true meaning of this season. There is a lot happening this month, but we encourage you to discern what you fill this season with. Fewer distractions and more intention.

All that being said, here’s what we’re up to this month at City Chapel.

Let’s Celebrate!

It’s a season of celebration and new births! We want to celebrate the starting of City Groups. Find out more about them here. It’s also not too late to join one! Let us know if you are interested and want to participate. Email us at citychapelgr@gmail.com with your neighborhood and name and we will get you connected.

What We’re Up To

This past Sunday we entered into a time of Advent as a church and larger body of believers. Stay tuned for more advent focused blogs to come as we anticipate celebrating the birth of Jesus later this month.

Get Involved

  • We had a great City Group launch party for all who attended last month. If you attended, be on the lookout for opportunities to join one of our leaders for a casual evening of food, fellowship, and fleshing out what that specific City Group will look like. An email will be coming your way with these dates and locations very soon!

  • In this season of giving, we’re supporting our community by partnering with Access of West Michigan. Help feed the physical needs of our brothers and sisters this holiday by donating to Access. Learn more about this opportunity here.

  • Bring your singing voices for a Christmas carol sing on December 20. The location is TBD, but there will be hot chocolate and lots of great friends to sing along with. Stay tuned for more information!

  • Treetops Collective, one of our partnership organizations, is in the midst of a huge campaign--raising $100,000 in 100 days. If you have a passion for welcoming your neighbor and opening our city to refugees, learn more about Treetops and how you can get involved in their initiative.

  • We’re looking for volunteers! From set up to nursery or prepping coffee, we have a job for you. If you’re interested in getting involved, contact citychapelgr@gmail.com for volunteer opportunities. Also, if you’ve been impacted by the ministry of City Chapel, we are always accepting donations here.

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Church Talk with a Millennial

As young adults, we hear a lot of negative things about our generation, and very rarely do we hear good things. Yet millennials are dominating the workplace. More than that, we are entrepreneurs, leaders within our community, activists, social justice seekers, hungry and searching for something bigger than ourselves. We are looking for an authentic expression of our faith, we are looking for the church. How do we find the church? Well Jesus tells us; we look for where the presence of God dwells and wherever God is, so also is love.

I think the church is finally waking up, disoriented and trying to figure out this very question, trying to understand the transformation of Christianity that has happened over the last 50 years. And what a transformation; baby boomers are no longer the majority population, Christianity is no longer a white western dominant faith, and oh yeah, millennials are everywhere, working to figure out our place in a world turned upside down. How is the church facing this new world? How is the church welcoming in new leadership, encouraging this generation, and adapting to the new face of Christianity? How is the church leaning in and getting on board with the way the Holy Spirit is working?

The church needs to start here, with millennials; to fling wide its doors, put more chairs around the table and graciously say, “come, sit, join us, there’s much work to be done. I can’t wait for us to do it together.” The church cannot afford to leave millennials out of the discussion. But how does the church go about this transformation when for centuries it has been age exclusive, gender exclusive, and race exclusive?

Maybe what the church needs is a new vision. I am saying this because the truth of the matter is, the church needs a new vision to allow it to articulate the current diversity and social context it is in. Maybe part of the reason the church is struggling to bring people to its doors is because it is failing to make room for them at its table. The church thinks it has been written off by our generation, when in reality, we are pressing in, waiting to see the church participate in the lived out gospel. We are hoping to be a part of a liberation that is rooted in faith. We’re asking to be invited to the table, hoping for the church to be the gospel-living and gospel-loving being that it is meant to be. We want to know how the church is responding to social movements in the face of the gospel’s cry for justice. Our work is bigger than a generational gap; our work is disciple making; obeying the only command from Jesus about the church.

So, invite us to the table. Let’s live and love together. Let’s call others to Jesus so the church may be built even stronger! Invite us to the table, for there is much work to be done. Invite us to the table so that we may be part of God’s work. Together.

 

Written by Ruth Langkamp