Inspired by the Early Church

April 2010 Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Article

The message of Easter shapes our life. The message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ stands at the heart of who we are, and how we understand ourselves. On Easter we celebrate that our God, who is more powerful even than death itself, loves us enough to die for us, and takes the first step in renewing our lives and granting us the gift of eternity.

If there is one way to describe the first generations of Christians, it is that they were shaped by the message of Easter. The resurrection of Jesus changed everything for them. It gave them a new world-view. It emboldened their faith and their proclamation. It invited them into an entirely new relationship with God and with one another – one that is grounded in grace and forgiveness and new beginnings. The believers in the early church were an Easter people.

Because the believers in the early church were an Easter people, they were also a courageous people; a Spirit-driven people; a welcoming people; a forgiven people; a mission focused community; a faith family that was committed to and aware of the needs that surrounded them; a people who were committed to God above all things – even wealth and comfort!

During the month of Easter, we are going to take time to consider the faith and character of the early church through a sermon series based on the fifth book of the New Testament: “The Acts of the Apostles.” The series will cover the following themes:

4/11 Acts 5:27-32 The Early Church followed God, even when human traditions and authorities opposed them
4/18 Acts 9:1-20 The Early Church was turned around the Holy Spirit, to go in a new (“in God’s”) direction
4/25 Acts 10:23-24, 34-43 The Early Church was a “New Covenant People” – committed to welcoming all, and focused on the forgiveness of sins through Christ
5/2 Acts 11:1-18 The Early Church was criticized for being “too inclusive” – but understood that inclusiveness was demanded by God
5/9 Acts 16:9-15 The Early Church was aware of those who might be on the verge of faith, and reached out to them
5/16 Acts 16:16-34 The Early Church believed that faithfulness was more important that financial implications

We live in a world that is increasingly similar to the world of our first-century ancestors. We are transformed by the Gospel, yet surrounded by friends and neighbors who don’t know Christ. By studying the lives and experiences of the early church, we hope to grow in our ability to live as God’s faithful people.

Happy Easter to you all – and may the message of the resurrection shape your lives, and empower your witness, for Jesus’ sake.

God’s peace to you all,

David J. Risendal, Pastor