This fall we will be studying Jesus’ first teachings on the kingdom of God in the Gospel of Matthew. It is a section of Scripture we call the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus described God’s kingdom as one that stands in contrast to the world. It is a kingdom in which its citizens, the followers of Jesus, live a life marked by a new set of values and behaviors. The Sermon on the Mount depicts what human life and human community look like when they come under the gracious rule of their true King, Jesus Christ.
As we study, we will be asked to examine ourselves (inwardly and outwardly) to see how we are living and reflecting these kingdom values. If we allow Jesus to lead us, we will discover a greater dependency on Him and a greater freedom from the world. Ultimately Jesus teaches that life in His kingdom is abundant life.
God's people have always needed truth tellers. God's people have always needed stern calls to repentance. God's people have always needed reminders of God's faithfulness to the very end of the age. In the Old Testament, God provided prophets to meet these needs. One could summarize the work of the prophets in three words: reality, grief, and hope.
This summer we will study a small section of the Old Testament known as the Minor Prophets. Despite beginning as separate books, they were traditionally sewn together into one scroll. The unity of the scroll from which ancient rabbis taught these books points to their unified message of God's steadfast faithfulness and unyielding determination to rescue His people. Today we see their unity pointing us to God's ultimate rescue plan, Jesus Christ.
Join us on this journey exploring the reality, grief, and hope about which these prophets speak. Our prayer is that our journey together will lead us to our ultimate hope: God, made known in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
In this series, we will examine Jesus' movement through the church in the book of Acts. Our study will offer us an opportunity to discern the role He is asking us, both as individuals and as a church family, to play in His movement today. From the birth of the church on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 to its expansion throughout the Roman Empire in Acts 28, we see Jesus fulfilling the promise that we "will be witnesses... to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). That promise extends to us today, as we pray and seek the Holy Spirit to continue leading and directing the movement of the church.
Prayer is a virtually universal human behavior. Prayer fulfills a desire within us all to connect with something larger than ourselves. Prayer gives us access to the wisdom of the Almighty. Prayer offers a place to whisper what we dare not tell another soul or in frustration to cry out before God. Prayer is the starting point for every great spiritual movement. Yet, few people actually know how to pray. Most people know how important prayer is, but few people report having a vital prayer life. From Ash Wednesday to Easter we will examine the prayers of Jesus. We will learn how Jesus approached prayer, what he prayed and how he instructs us to pray. If we are going to discern Jesus’ movement in our midst, deep and abiding prayer is essential. This Lenten season let us look to the prayer life of our risen Savior as we embrace the resurrected life He offers each day through prayer.
It often seems that something is just not working when it comes to our discipleship journey. When our desire to continue moving toward Jesus is strong, but our actual movement is stunted, we may have hit an obstacle on our discipleship journey. When obstacles lie in our path, we can feel stuck, frustrated, and without joy. This is a universal experience. Every follower of Jesus encounters obstacles to movement. In addition, there are some obstacles that prevent people from even beginning a discipleship journey. Everyone knows what it feels like to hit an obstacle, and everyone can benefit from contemplating how to move through them with trust in God's providence and an experience of His provision. In this new year, we will focus on common obstacles to movement for both disciples and skeptics. We will examine what the Bible teaches about moving over, around, or sometimes alongside seven of our most familiar and frustrating obstacles.
In Colossians 1:15 we read that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God...” The season of Advent celebrates God's unmatched pursuit of reconciliation with man by becoming man. Theologians refer to this event as “the incarnation.” While this may not be a word we use often, the process by which the incarnation occurred included both the miraculous and the mundane, the appearance of angels and the shepherding of sheep. In light of this, the doctrine of the incarnation must be understood on both a spiritual and practical level. The Christmas story reveals both that God became flesh in real time and space as well as how God became flesh in real time and space. This Christmas season as we study both of these aspects of the incarnation, we hope to embrace the full implications of believing in and serving the God who first moved toward us as a baby in Bethlehem.
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus declares, "...I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." What is the nature and character of the church Jesus founded? The New Testament offers three pictures of the church in order to grasp the depth of what Jesus intended to build: the bride, the household, and the body. Seeking clarity on these pictures will help us better understand what the church is, what the church does, and how a church functions as the primary vehicle for the movement of God's people. In addition, these images will teach us about our Discipleship Program Priorities: connecting to Jesus' bride through membership, growing in Jesus' household through small groups, and serving the church and the world as an expression of Jesus' body. If we gain clarity on the nature of the church, we will gain clarity about how Jesus is using the church as the vehicle for His movement in the world today.
In the fall of 1976, God moved in the lives of two couples from the local college community to launch Williamsburg Community Fellowship. The church met in a small home, the children’s ministry in a neighboring house. Each Sunday morning, folding chairs replaced furniture. Each Sunday afternoon, as the furniture replaced the folding chairs, it was clear that all who attended were to bring the shape of the Gospel wherever they found themselves in the coming week. They sought to focus on the essentials of the historic Christian faith irrespective of denominational differences. Williamsburg Community Fellowship was renamed Williamsburg Community Chapel when the church was formally organized. All who call the Chapel home today are part of this living room legacy and now face a decision: will we institutionalize our heritage and ministry methods, or will we refresh our embrace of the movement Jesus began in a living room 40 years ago?
This fall, in honor of the Chapel’s 40th anniversary, we will study the 40 day or 40 year journeys we find in Scripture. These stories will help us see how God moves His people and how God’s people can participate in His movement.
In the middle of the first century there was a man named Saul who lived out a radically transformed life. He was the chief persecutor of the church who became the chief architect for the proliferation of the church. He sought righteousness through his own good works, yet began to teach that righteousness comes through faith alone. He moved from abhorring Gentiles to advocating for their place among God’s people. He pursued status and power but came to embrace weakness, persecution, hunger, thirst, homelessness, and imprisonment.
What happened that this man would experience such changes? He encountered the resurrected Jesus. We learn about this encounter and gain access to his transformation in the book of Acts. The transformation he underwent was so thorough and complete that he even began to go by the name Paul. He went on to write 13 letters that appear in the New Testament. It is in these 13 letters that we hear Paul’s call for all people to place their faith in Jesus Christ and experience ultimate transformation, the transition from death to life.
We began our annual focus on the Gospel in the fall with a study of Romans, examining Paul’s clear presentation of the Gospel, that Jesus died so we might live (Romans 3:21-24). In this series, we will return to Romans to see the practical applications of the Gospel for daily living. The Chapel’s late Pastor Emeritus, Dick Woodward, called this the “Gospel in Reverse.” If the Gospel teaches, “Jesus died that we might live,” the Gospel in Reverse teaches, “We die that Jesus might live in us.” Paul writes, “I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God…” (Romans 12:1). This is the Gospel in Reverse: we die, Jesus lives. As we study Romans 12-16, we will grow in our understanding of what it means to offer ourselves to the One who offered Himself for us, that we might experience and share “the Gospel in Life.”
Luke 9:51-19:27 shows Jesus’ journey with His disciples from His ministry in Galilee to the focal point of His mission, His death and resurrection in Jerusalem. In this section of Luke, known as the Travel Narrative, we see Jesus slow down and prepare His followers for what is to come by telling many stories. Throughout Lent we will join Jesus on His journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, and we will listen to His stories. We will encounter memorable characters and images that illustrate the Gospel; and most importantly, we will ponder the meaning of these parables and imagine our place in Jesus’ stories, using Luke’s Travel Narrative as our roadmap to better understanding the Gospel.
We have been studying the Gospel which leads to a right relationship with God, but there’s more to the story. The Gospel leads to a right relationship with God AND right relationships with people. Yet we know there are speed bumps and road blocks on the path to right relationships with others, and often issues surrounding forgiveness are lurking beneath relational breakdowns. We will spend five weeks looking at forgiveness through the lens of biblical relationships that required forgiveness. Each relationship will help us understand a different aspect of forgiveness and help us gain insight into how we are to forgive, when we are to forgive and why we are to forgive. We hope the whole story of the Gospel, right relationship with God and others, will be embraced and applied in our community, as we study The Gospel in Relationships.