Cedar Creek Chronicles

10.1.19 * Cedar Creek Church * Sherwood

In his collection of essays titled God in the Dock, C. S. Lewis writes one of my favorite lines of Lewisian wisdom: “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”

Lewis recognized -- arguably more than any Christian apologist in the 20th century -- that Christianity is complex and, because of its complexity, requires a nuanced way of communicating its richness to others, particularly nonbelievers. Because Lewis knew that many readers would stop reading if he was too overt in his claim of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, he turned to fiction to experiment with ways of presenting the Gospel in all of its depth without repelling others. The Chronicles of Narnia, for example, offer the Gospel story in ways that are not off-putting to a nonbeliever who may never draw parallels between Aslan and Jesus or the White Witch and Satan. The Narnia stories are fun, fantastical, and wonderfully Jesus-infused.

Most of us know people for whom the mere mention of the name “Jesus” raises walls of resistance. But therein lies our challenge, right? How do we bring Jesus’ hope, peace, love, and joy into the world without repelling those who need it the most? Our Cedar Creek Visioning Team met this past Friday evening and all day Saturday to wrestle through our core values as we seek to launch ourselves into a new Holy Spirit-ordained season for our church, and one theme arose again and again in our discussions: We are a church that seeks to serve and save, encourage and empower. We are excited about the new directions God is leading us, including opening our doors to such community organizations as Family Promise, Boy Scouts Troop 116, and the Oregon Driver Training Institute. Join us as we seek to speak Jesus’ truth into the lives of all those we encounter and encourage them to step into God’s plan in bold and remarkable ways.

If we haven’t seen you in a while, please don’t be shy! We would love to see friends both new and old at either of our gatherings this weekend:

10 a.m. Sunday (10/6): This week Joe Emmi will be speaking to us about God’s hand on Jacob’s life, as related to ReFrame Episode 4 titled “Israel’s Calling.”

6 p.m. Sunday (10/6): Join us at the Sherwood Family YMCA from 6 to 8 p.m. to witness the baptism of three members of our church family, followed by our ReFrame potluck dinner, video viewing, and discussion – all at the YMCA. If you are able to come at 5:30 p.m. to help set up tables and fellowship together, we welcome you!

Consider Paul’s words in Galatians 3:27-28: For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Praise Jesus for His calling on our lives and for the faithfulness of those who choose to answer. The Christian life does not promise fleeting happiness as our culture so often suggests; instead Jesus offers us a deep-seated joy that will carry us through anything that comes our way.

Christ’s peace to you today.

Jennie

Pastor Jennie Harrop

jennie@cedarcreeksherwood.org

Cedar Creek Chronicles

9.24.19 * Cedar Creek Church * Sherwood

One of my favorite moments in last week’s Episode 2 of ReFrame was when Dr. Sarah Williams reminded us of God’s truth in a simple answer: While our 21st-century fragmented culture’s most pressing existential question is “Who am I?” God answered that question long ago with the simplicity of his name: “I Am.”

So when our identity is in God, when our story is encapsulated by His story, we don’t need to carry the world’s anxiety about “finding ourselves” or “creating ourselves.” We are already found, we are already known, we were long ago created perfectly in His image, and we can find supernatural peace in knowing that our identity is most deeply aligned with God’s remarkable answer “I am.”

Are you at peace? If not, how can we be praying for you and walking alongside you? If your answer is “yes,” how are you sharing God’s peace daily with those you encounter?

As you ponder, consider the song “Great I Am” by the pastor trio Phillips, Craig & Dean. Here are some of the lyrics – a poetic answer to our culture’s question “Who am I?”:

I want to be close, close to your side
 So heaven is real and death is a lie 
I want to hear voices of angels above 
Singing as one

Hallelujah, holy, holy
 God Almighty, the great I AM
 Who is worthy, none beside thee
 God Almighty, the great I AM

I want to be near, near to your heart 
Loving the world and hating the dark 
I want to see dry bones living again
 Singing as one

Hallelujah, holy, holy
 God Almighty, the great I AM 
Who is worthy, none beside thee
 God Almighty, the great I AM

The great I AM


The mountains shake before you the demons run in fear
 At the mention of the name king of majesty
 There is no power in hell
 Or any who can stand
 Before the power and the presence of the great I AM …

The song itself is here: “Great I Am.”

And here are some fun dates for your calendar:

7 a.m. Wednesday (9/25): See You at the Pole 2019 is a time when students around the globe will meet at flagpoles to pray for their schools. Cedar Creek Youth will be joining at their various schools.

6:30-9 p.m. Friday (9/27) and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday (9/28): The Cedar Creek Visioning Team Retreat will be underway at the Hite House. If you are not able to join us, we covet your prayers as we anticipate God’s good work in the months and years to come!

10 a.m. Sunday (9/29): This week we will explore what it means to be culture makers rather than culture resisters. (Hmmm … what will the nametag question be this week?)

6 p.m. Sunday (9/29): All ages are invited to come to ReFrame in the Ministry Center: potluck dinner, Episode 3, discussion, prayer, kid activities. The Youth Group will be with us for dinner and then head to the Hite House for an evening of fun.

6 p.m. Sunday (10/6): Come witness Olivares and Mershon baptisms at the YMCA! Because Family Promise will be settling into the Ministry Center on October 6, we will shift our ReFrame gathering to the YMCA from 6 to 8 p.m., and we will begin the evening with several baptisms in the YMCA pool.

We will be opening our Ministry Center to Family Promise the week of October 6-13, and we encourage all ages to get involved as we set up sleeping areas, provide meals, and spend time with these families. You can find the online sign-up sheet here: Family Promise Signup

May you hear voices of angels singing as one this week. Christ’s peace to you.

Jennie

Pastor Jennie Harrop

jennie@cedarcreeksherwood.org

Cedar Creek Chronicles

9.17.19 * Cedar Creek Church * Sherwood, OR

In her 2015 book Reclaiming Conversation, MIT professor Sherry Turkle argues that our Digital Age is placing a mask over our deepest human needs:

Our devices seem to grant three wishes, as though gifts from a benevolent genie: first, that we will always be heard; second, that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; and third, that we will never be alone. And the granting of these three wishes implies another reward: that we will never have to be bored.

Later, Turkle describes what she calls a 21st-century "flight from conversation":

Face-to-face conversation is the most human - and humanizing - thing we do. Fully present to one another, we learn to listen. It's where we develop the capacity for empathy. It's where we experience the joy of being heard, of being understood.

Turkle's argument in her book is not anti-technology; it's pro-conversation. As we learned in Episode 1 of the ReFrame series this past Sunday, we are living in a world that is increasingly fragmented - by the internet, by social media, by our busy-ness. When our culture consistently separates "sacred" from "secular," for example, it becomes all-too comfortable to slide into a kind of "practical atheism" - not an ardent anti-God atheism, but an apathetic conclusion that there are places in your life where faith just doesn't connect. And the less we talk with one another, the more normalized this "practical atheism" can seem.

Are you in that place? Are there people you know in that place? What can we do as a church to encourage conversation, connection, and a biblical story that expands into everything that we are?

Jesus tells us in John 8 that He is the light shining over everything -- connecting and repairing, illuminating and offering hope:

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).

If we know this to be true, how are we carrying it forward into each moment of every day? How can we hold one another accountable as we work together as a church to bring Jesus' light to the communities around us?

This Sunday evening from 6 to 8 p.m., we will be watching Episode 2 of the ReFrame series, titled "Cultural Stories." Join us for dinner, the video, and rich conversation as we seek together the ways that God would have us apply these good ideas in our daily lives. (If you are unable to attend a Sunday evening gathering, remember that you can access all ReFrame videos and materials here: https://www.reframecourse.com/)

Here is what is coming up in the life of our church this week:

10 a.m. Sunday: Steve Wells will be sharing on "Cultural Stories" this Sunday, looking at the origin story in Genesis 1, the world story in Jonah 3, and the redemption story in Luke 7.

6 p.m. Sunday: All ages are invited to join us for ReFrame in the Ministry Center: potluck dinner, Episode 2 video, lively discussion, prayer, kids' activities.

6 p.m. Sunday: Cedar Creek Youth will meet at the Hite House to walk to New Life Church for dinner and a pre-See You at the Pole gathering with several youth groups. See You at the Pole is an international youth gathering happening at 7 a.m. September 25; look here for details: https://syatp.com/

If you haven't perused our website in a while, look here: https://cedarcreeksherwood.org/. We are excited about the doors God is opening for our church as we interact with our community on a deeper level. Did you know we had 50 Boy Scouts and their families gathered in our Ministry Center last Sunday afternoon for an Eagle Scout Court of Honor? So fun - God is good!

Blessings on your week,

Jennie

Pastor Jennie Harrop

jennie@cedarcreeksherwood.org


Cedar Creek Chronicles

9.10.19 * Cedar Creek Church * Sherwood, OR

Have you heard C. S. Lewis' delightful description of the motorcycle ride with his brother when Lewis moved from theism (belief in God) to Christianity (belief in Jesus)? As he describes in his 1955 autobiography Surprised by Joy, each step of Lewis' slow conversion from atheist to believer was marked by moments when he realized one has less chance "to call one's soul one's own":

I know very well when, but hardly how, the final step was taken. I was driven to Whipsnade one sunny morning. When we set out, I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo, I did. Yet I had not exactly spent the journey in thought. Nor in great emotion. "Emotional" is perhaps the last word we can apply to some of the most important events. It was more like when a man, after long sleep, still lying motionless in bed, becomes aware that he is now awake.

Have you experienced the awareness that Lewis describes - when you are lying in bed, unmoving, your brain slowly emerging from the fog of sleep, and you realize that it is morning and you are awake? How might you equate that kind of "awakening" with your faith walk? Are there moments when you are sure that God is God and that He is close, and moments when you realize that so much time has passed and you have forgotten to watch for God's presence? What does it take for you to step beyond the bustle of the world around you and recognize your own awakening in the Holy Spirit? ReFrame is an opportunity this fall for us to explore together how we can emerge from the fog of daily living and truly experience God's presence.

For those of you who joined us this past Sunday evening for our first night of ReFrame, thank you for a wonderful evening of conversation, prayer, and friendship! We had plenty of food, activities for kids of all ages, and ample space to ponder who we are as a church and as God's children. If you weren't able to join us, mark your calendars for this Sunday evening, 6 to 8 p.m. We will share a potluck meal together (bring whatever you like), watch our first full ReFrame video together, and dive into a discussion of "The Story We Find Ourselves In."

To access ReFrame materials, look here: https://www.reframecourse.com/

We will be gathering together as a full church every Sunday evening through the end of November, and we hope you will join us as often as you are able. Here is a list of the weeks to come:

Part 1: The Story We Find Ourselves In

Session 1: The Reframing Story ... 9.15.19

Session 2: Cultural Stories ... 9.22.19

Part 2: The Story of Scripture

Session 3: Creation & Fall ... 9.29.19

Session 4: Israel's Calling ... 10.6.19

Session 5: Jesus the King ... 10.13.19

Session 6: New Heavens & New Earth ... 10.20.19

Session 7: The Church & The Spirit ... 10.27.19

Part 3: The Ongoing Story

Session 8: Strangers & Exiles ... 11.3.19

Session 9: Ambassadors ... 11.10.19

Session 10: Joyful Living ... 11.17.19

ReFrame Wrap-Up: Continuing the Story ... 11.24.19

Peace on your week, Friends. May the Holy Spirit surprise you with moments when you realize that you are, indeed, awake in Him.

Jennie

Pastor Jennie Harrop

jennie@cedarcreeksherwood.org