This issue includes information about our Parish System, our Community Group ministry as well as the story of Patrick Woods and God’s work in his life. To have hard copies of the newsletter delivered straight to your door, please email Shirley at email@example.com.
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It can be hard for all of us to remain in the joyfulness and seriousness of our faith during the week. Our prayer services during holy week can help with this! These services build toward our Good Friday and Easter Sunday services. Come join your brothers and sisters through the week to contemplate the severity of the Cross and the joy of the Empty Tomb and to lift up your hearts in prayer together for our church and this city.
Morning Prayer Service
Monday – Friday (March 25 – 29)
7:00 – 7:15 a.m.
Evening Prayer Service
Monday – Thursday (March 25 – 28)
6:30 – 7:15 p.m.
In November, our presbytery (our regional church) gathered together for a night of vision casting and worship together with a sermon by Michael Kelly. You can now watch the worship service online. It is embedded below.
Dear Redeemer spiritual family,
On Sunday, November 24th, 2002, our small – at that time – congregation gathered for an evening service of “organization, ordination and installation.”
In that service, we were called into worship from a text from I Kings 8:56-57 and we responded “May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us.” We lifted our hearts to Christ and sang “Crown Him with Many Crowns”. We confessed our sins using a confession that I had learned at Green Lake Presbyterian Church (Seattle,WA). Rev. Tim Kirk preached from Ephesians 2:1-22. And our first ruling elders – Mike Berend, Dennis Schell, and Bill Taft – were ordained.
Now, ten years later, on the weekend of Friday, November 9th through Sunday, November 11th, the Redeemer congregation will celebrate our ten year anniversary.
Over the past ten years so much has happened! We have celebrated hundreds of baptisms; we have received hundreds of members with joy; we have mourned the goodbyes of many of our friends. We have rejoiced over the birth of babies; we have grieved the death of church members. We have played soccer, gone on retreats, taught classes, led community groups, prayed, laughed, and wept together.
And through these last ten years we have gathered, again and again, as a community of worship. We have lifted our hearts to Jesus in song. We have knelt in confession. We have given tithes and offerings. We have stood to hear God’s Word read. We have listened to our Heavenly Father speak to us through His Word preached. And we have gathered together around Jesus’ table as broken sinners who love a beautiful Savior.
The worship of our Savior has “glued us together” as a community!
We have so much to be thankful for!
In light of that, I want to invite you to rich weekend giving thanks to God our Savior for his grace to our community over these past ten years. There are all kinds of different events that you can participate in.
Please join us for one – or all! – of these events:
All Central Indiana Presbytery’s Worship Service: Friday, November 9th, 6:30-8:00pm.
On Friday Redeemer is hosting the Central Indiana Presbytery’s worship service. Members and regulars from the ten churches of our Presbytery will be gathering to worship Christ. At this service you will receive our Presbytery’s 1000 Day Strategic Plan which shares how we hope to partner together as churches to impact central Indiana with the good news of Jesus Christ. Another highlight: Rev.Michael Kelly (who was my mentor and Nathan Partain’s mentor inSeattle) will be preaching.
Kipp Normand Lecture on the History of 1st Presbyterian Church and our Historic Facility: Saturday, November 10th, 3:00-4:30pm, in the Underground.
If you have never heard Kipp lecture you are in for a real treat. Kipp will take us back to the history of the congregation (First Presbyterian) that built our facility. He will share stories of that congregation’s impact in our city through ministry to children and youth. He will tell of the many civic leaders who called First Presbyterian their home. And he will share a bit of the story of the many churches that were planted through the First Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis. Kipp will also be sharing the particular history of our facility (which was the third building of the First Presbyterian Congregation) now called the Harrison Center for the Arts. After the lecture, guests will be invited to have dinner together at a downtown restaurant.
Hymn Sing: Saturday, November 10th, 7:00-9:00pm, in the Sanctuary.
You are encouraged to gather with us for this informal time of worship. Nathan is creating a hymnal of our favorite Redeemer hymns. We will gather and/or sit on the stage around the musicians and pick our favorites. There will also be time for individuals to share thanks and praise to God for his work over the past ten years.
Prayer Service: Saturday, November 10th, 9:00-11:00pm, in the Sanctuary
Whoever is feeling especially robust, or who just has a heart for prayer, is invited to stay/or join us for a service of prayer. This will be a time to kneel before our Heavenly Father and praise and thank him for his work over these past years. It will also be a time that we ask our Father to pour out His Spirit upon our congregation and our City over the next 10 years.
Worship: Sunday, November 11th, 8:30 and 11:00am, in the Sanctuary
Our regular Sunday worship will be a chance for us as a gathered community to remember God’s grace to us over these past years as well as look forward to his work in the next decade. One exciting aspect of our worship service will be the ordination of our new elders and deacons (just as elders were ordained 10 years ago). Another highlight will be the Rev. Michael Kelly preaching.
The Next Ten Years
Looking back is a way of looking forward. As we look back we remember how faithful our Lord God has been to us. We worship Him and thank him for his goodness. This act of looking back also encourages us to look forward – to dream big dreams of what our Heavenly Father is calling us to in this next decade.
I look forward to dreaming those dreams with you all.
Over the past month, our Deacon Team distributed over $6,000 to the congregation. The congregation was asked to use that money to extend mercy to someone else and then to report back to the Deacon Team. The presentation below highlights some of those stories. If the embedded slideshow does not display properly, you can view it online.
Sermon Series on God and Money
This Sunday I begin a 14 week sermon series on “money” – more precisely, on God and money.
Tomorrow morning in my sermon I hope to offer an “apology” (defense) from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (6:19-34) on why money matters!
In my sermon I will also mention that I have been profoundly challenged the last couple of weeks in regards to how I think about money by reading French thinker Jacque Ellul’s book Money and Power.
In this chapter Ellul speaks about how Jesus refer’s to Money as “Mammon”. He also challenges Christians that to be faithful followers of Jesus they must “profane money.”
In what follows I will give an overview of Ellul’s teaching.
The god Mammon
Jesus says that “no one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Mammon).” (Matthew 6:24).
Ellul points out that “Mammon” is an Aramaic word that usually means “money” and can also mean “wealth.” Jesus is here personifying money, considering it a sort of god.
“Jesus gives this term a force and a precision that it did not have in its milieu. This personification of money, this affirmation that we are talking about something that claims divinity…What Jesus is revealing is that money is a power…Power is something that acts by itself, is capable of moving other things, is autonomous (or claims to be), is a law unto itself, and presents itself as an active agent. This is its first characteristic. Its second is that power has a spiritual value. It is not only of the material world, although this is where it acts. It has a spiritual meaning and direction. Power is never neutral. It is oriented; it also orients people. Finally, power is more or less personal.
Ellul points out that Jesus makes a parallel between God and Mammon. Jesus “is not using a rhetorical figure but pointing out a reality. God as a Person and Mammon as a person find themselves in conflict. Jesus describes the relation between us and one or the other the same way: it is the relationship between servant and master. Mammon can be a Master the same way God is; that is, Mammon can be a personal master.” (76)
Money as a Power
What does Ellul mean that “money is a power.” By this he means that money brings us under its law and subordinates us to its aims; it also means that our total situation is under the “sphere” or “reign” of Money; that is, we are not free to direct the use of money one way or another, for we are in the hands of this controlling power.
What does it mean to be under the sphere or control of money?
What Money Does
The power of money establishes in the world a certain type of human relationship and a specific human behavior: it creates what could broadly be called a buying-selling relationship.
- Everything can, in one way or another, be bought.
- The world sees this behavior as normal; w/o constant exchange we could not continue to live.
- This leads to the commodification of human beings; the valuing of human beings based on their “net worth.”
Spiritual Power that can “possess” us
Ellul points out that Money’s attack is not only exterior. Human life is at risk not only in the power struggle that money provokes. Money brings another familiar idea into play: temptation. The power of moneys is always actively tempting us. This temptation can lead to being “possessed” by the power of Money.
“Possession by this power is broadly characterized by the general consensus which gives money effective social and political power in every human society. Money has not material force except as people attribute force to it. Money as an object is not the master of states, of armies, of the masses or the mind except by humanity’s consent to its authority. And it is possible to speak of laws of money only to the extent that people are willing to comply by them. Money would be nothing, materially speaking, without human consent.” (81)
“It is a strange sort of convention which leads people to attribute, both by judgment and by will, value to something which in itself has no value of use or of exchange. This is completely unexplainable and irrational. Nothing, whether in human nature or in the nature of things, whether in technology or in reason, adequately explains the original act of creating and accepting money. Nothing explains the blind confidence that we continue, in spite of all crisis, to place in money. This is an absurdity which neither economists nor sociologists are able to clarify. The collective attitude of all humankind, this consensus, this submission, are incomprehensible if they are not traced back to the spiritual power of money. If money is not a spiritual power which invades us, enslaving our hearts and minds, replacing God’s spirit in us, then our behavior is simply absurd. If people everywhere place such importance on the symbol of money, it is because they have already been seduced and internally possessed by the spirit of money.” (81)
The power of money to posses us calls us to make a choice! To either love God or Love Mammon!
Love God or Love Mammon
Ellul says it is vitally important to understand what the Bible means by love.
“Although it is possible to say, following biblical guidelines, that the conflict is ultimately a conflict of love, a decision to love either God or money, we must be careful not to take love to mean a rather vague sentiment, a more or less valid passion, in any case a limited relationship. In reality love, in the Bible, is utterly totalitarian. It comes from the entire person; it involves the whole person and binds the whole person without distinction. Love reaches down into the roots of human beings and does not leave them intact. It leads to identification and assimilation between the lover and the beloved. Jesus Christ teaches us in great detail that our love binds us to the spiritual future of the beloved. This is how we must understand the connection between Christians and Christ, which is a love relationship. Love led Christ to follow us in our entire condition, but inversely, today it joins us to Christ in everything – his life, his death, his resurrection and his glory. Where Christ is, there also is the one who loves Christ. Such is the force, the vigor, of this bond. Love for money is not a lesser relationship. By this love, we join ourselves to money’s fate. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (82-83)
“To the extent that biblical love is totalitarian, it cannot stand sharing. We cannot have two spiritual lives; we cannot be divided. We cannot ‘halt between two opinions’; we can neither serve nor love two masters. Because love makes us follow the beloved and nothing else, we cannot love two things at the same time. Jesus firmly points out the necessity of choosing. ‘He will hate the one, and love the other.’ To love one is not simply to be unacquainted with or indifferent to the other; it is to hate the other.” (83-84)
What does it mean to hate money, or to put it in Ellul’s terms, to profane money?
Make Money Profane
According to Ellul, to profane money…”is to take away its sacred character. It is to bring money back to its simple role as a material instrument. “When money is no more than an object, when it has lost its seductiveness, its supreme value, its superhuman splendor, then we can use it like any other of our belongings, like any machine. Of course, even if this relieves our fears, we must always be vigilant and very attentive because the power is never totally eliminated. Now this profanation is first of all the result of a spiritual battle, but this must be translated into behavior. There is one act par excellence which profanes money by going directly against the law of money, an act for which money is not made. This act is giving.” (110)
Ellul continues:“In the biblical view, this is precisely how giving which is a consecration to God, is seen. It is, as a matter of fact, the penetration of grace into the world of competition and selling.”
I imagine Ellul’s words have been a challenge to you as they have been to me. I look forward to going on this journey with you all as we learn that profaning money is the path to intimacy with and service to God!
As we enter into the summer season – a time of rest and renewal from the ardors of school, and, for many, a time of respite from the day to day grind of work – I would encourage us all to carve out time for friendship.
Friendship is one of the greatest goods that we have in this world. But, as Samuel Johnson said, friendship takes work because you have to continually “keep friendships in repair.”
As you think about spending time with Friends this summer consider these words from an ancient church Father, John Chrysostom, on Friendship.
“He who loves, ought so to love, that if he were asked even for his own soul, and it were possible, he would not refuse it. I do not say ‘if he were asked,’ but so that he would even run to present him with the gift. For nothing, nothing can be sweeter than such love; nothing will fall out there that is grievous. Truly a ‘faithful friend is the medicine of life.’ Truly ‘a faithful friend is a strong defense.’ For what will not a genuine friend perform? What pleasure will he not afford? What benefit? What security? Though you should name infinite treasures, none of them is comparable to a genuine friend.”St. John Chrysostom
One of the classics books on prayer is Lord Teach us to Pray by Presbyterian minister Dr. Alexander Whyte (1836-1921), who was by general consent the greatest Scottish preacher of his day.
Lord Teach us to Pray, is a compilation of sermons preached by Whyte where he took a phrase from the Lord’s Prayer and combined it with some other text in order to exhibit various aspects of the life of prayer. Titles such as ”The Magnificence of Prayer”, “Job – Groping”, “Moses – Making Haste”, Jacob – Wrestling”, “The Pleading Note in Prayer”, and “Concentration in prayer”, reveal the width and depth in which Whyte treated prayer.
One of the great legacies bequethed to us by the Scottish pulpit is just such sermon series, or “courses” of sermons, in which “some great theme could be deliberately treated, some vast tract of doctrine or experience adequately surveyed” (Preface, vii).
In one of these sermons/chapters is “The Geometry of Prayer.”
In this sermon, Whyte considers “the directions and the distances, the dimensions and the measurements that, of necessity, enter into all the conceptions of our devotional life.”
He treats such matters as the transcendence (distance) of God from us, and our need to “rise up and draw near” to God in our prayers.
He also considers praying out of a broken and humble heart: “Yes, he dwelleth on high; but all the time, He hath respect to the humble” and he quotes St. Augustine: “Would’st thou pray in His Temple? Then pray within thyself; for thou thyself art the true temple of the living God.”
But there is one particular passage that I find sweet and compelling. In this passage White encourages his hearer/reader to “come close to Christ”, bringing our burdens to him in prayer. I will quote it in full:
“Then again, ‘Come unto Me, all yet that labour and are heavy laden.” Now, just how do we come to Christ? We come in this way. Not on our feet, but on our knees. “Not on our feet,” says Augustine, “but on our affections.” When we are burdened in our minds; when we are oppressed with manifold cares and sorrows; when we are ill-used, humiliated, despised, trampled upon; when we are weary of the world and of ourselves; and then, when, instead of rebelling and raging and repining, we accept our lost as laid on us by God, and according to his invitation take all our burden to Christ in prayer, – that is the way to come to him. That is to say, we come from pride to humility; and from a heart tossed with tempest to a harbour of rest and peace; and from rebellion to resignation; and from a life of unbelief to a a life of faith and love.”
Here, truly, is wisdom in regards to prayer.
Dear Redeemer Spiritual Family,
It has become part of our life and rhythm as a spiritual family to set aside the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday for intentional and rigorous prayer and meditation on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.
Let me invite you to participate with us this week and let the great work of Redemption accomplished by Christ be remembered and lingered in.
Morning and Evening Prayers
Each morning (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday), at 7:00am, we will join together in the Sanctuary for a time of prayer. This service of prayer lasts about 30-40 minutes and is a perfect way to start off your day – with Christ and his community!
Each Evening (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday), at 6:30pm, we will join together in the Sanctuary for a brief exhortation from the Gospels and for a time of prayer. This service of prayer lasts about 40 minutes to one hour.
For both morning and evening prayers please enter through the sanctuary doors on Delaware Street; no childcare is provided at morning and evening prayers.
Good Friday Service
On Friday, April 6th, we will have our Good Friday service at 7:00pm. This service is one of the high points of our year as Scripture Readings and Songs and Sermon lead us through a profound contemplation of the Cross of our Savior and His Victory on our behalf. According to our Tradition, this service ends in silence as we remember the death of our Savior and, together, wait in anticipation for the joy of the message of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Childcare will be provided at this service.
Easter Worship and Feasting
Along with Good Friday, Easter Sunday is one of the great days of celebration and worship for our Spiritual Family. We expect both services to be full of worshippers of our Risen Christ as well as seekers who are investigating the Christian faith. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to be powerfully present as we worship our Risen Lord.
In between our two worship services, we will feast together as a community in the Underground with the special treat of Long’s Donuts. And, after the services, Redeemerites will be gathering together in homes and apartments throughout Indy for Easter brunches to continue to celebrate the Risen Christ and His community.
As your pastor and as your brother in Christ, I greatly look forward to this week of prayer, remembrance, and celebration.
Grace, Jason Dorsey
Some friends sent me this quote on prayer.
In light of our committment to make 2012 a year of an intentional focus on prayer and the great challenges we face in praying (see quote below) I thought I should pass it on.
“There is no greater proof in the world of our spiritual danger than the reluctance of which most people always have and all people sometimes have to pray; so weary of their length, so glad when they are done, so clever to excuse and neglect their opportunity. Yet prayer is nothing but desiring God to give us the greatest and best things we can have and that can make us happy. It is a work so easy, so honorable, and to so great a purpose, that (except in the incarnation of His Son) God has never given us a greater argument of His willingness to have us saved and our unwillingness to accept it, of His goodness and our gracelessness, of His infinite condescension and our folly, than by rewarding so easy a duty with such great blessings.” (Jeremy Taylor)
Prayer – coming before the throne of the Almighty God our Heavenly Father and worshipping him, casting our anxiety on him, interceeding for the world – is the highest and most noblest work of the saint. I am reminded of the words of the great Scottish preacher, Andrew Whyte, regarding the magnificence and roprayer: “The magnificence of all true prayer – its nobility, its royalty, its absolute divinity – all stand in this, that it is the greatest kind of act and office that man, or angel, can ever enter on and perform.”