Tag Archives: Sunday morning

SUNDAY MORNING COMING DOWN


 

William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
“On a Sunday morning sidewalk, I’m wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.. ‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday ; That makes a body feel alone. And there’s nothing short a’ dying; That’s half as lonesome as the sound; Of the sleeping city sidewalk; And Sunday morning coming down.”
So goes the mournful lyrics of the late country singer Johnny Cash as he depicted the feelings of a worldly, sinner faced with the loneliness and conviction of “Sunday morning coming down.” It is a well known feeling by too many in our world today, but why?
His lyrics explain that part of it is a terrible hangover from the night before. Another part is the accompanying messy, unkempt lifestyle of dirty clothes and house. Another is the complete absence of the nightlife, and scattering to their own corners of misery those who shared those false senses of a good time. Still another is seeing the joy of a small child playing, and a father swinging his little girl; reminiscent of clean, decent, good-times long gone. Still another is the smell of someone frying chicken, a smell of home, but not his home. Then there was the worshipful sounds of songs coming from a nearby church, then far away a church bell ringing, all bringing back gut-wrenching memories of a good life lost somewhere in the den and noise of sin. Truly, to someone in that situation, Sunday morning in its worshipful quietness was dreaded. How different it is for an obedient child of God who so looks forward to the joy of worship and fellowship with God’s wonderful people.
However, I fear there is yet another class of people dealing with Sunday morning in quite a different, but wrongful way. These are the nominal Christians who live in a breakneck world of speed, activities, and responsibilities. They see Sunday morning as a day of selfishness: to rest, to recreate; to do what they could not get done in the week. Seems there is little compunction or remorse in that absence of joy about what God expects and looks for in one’s manner of life. The mention of church brings conviction, but it is quickly passed off in the determination that what they want to do is right. How then will they mourn and cry when their opportunity to go to church is gone, and knowing they must soon stand face to face with their Creator? What will they hear in head and heart about “Sunday morning coming down?”

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To Stave Off Decline, Churches Attract New Members With Beer


 

Editor’s Note:  The Bible uses the generic word wine to describe both fermented (alcoholic) and unfermented grape juice. The context determines which wine is meant. Alcoholic wine is said to be a mocker (Proverbs 20), a poison,  (Deuteronomy 32) and something that should not even be looked at, let alone consumed (Proverbs 23).  The pure blood of the grape (Deuteronomy 32), however, comes directly from the cluster, is a blessing, and pictures the Lord’s blood atonement (Isaiah 65). Jesus Christ turned water into unfermented grape juice, as a symbol of his hour that was to come (John 2). It could not have been alcoholic as that would have contributed to folks getting drunk, which is a sin that the sinless lamb of God never would have committed.

 

 

With mainline religious congregations dwindling across America, a scattering of churches is trying to attract new members by creating a different sort of Christian community. They are gathering around draft beer.

 

Some church groups are brewing it themselves, while others are bring the Holy Mysteries to a taproom. The result is not sloshed congregants; rather, it’s an exploratory approach to do church differently.

 

Leah Stanfield stands at a microphone across the room from the beer taps and reads this evening’s gospel message.

 

She’s a 28-year-old leasing agent who’s been coming to here in Fort Worth, Tex., for a year, and occasionally leads worship.

 

I find the love, I find the support, I find the non-judgmental eyes when I come here,” she says. “And I find friends that love God, love craft beer.”

 

Every Sunday evening, 30 to 40 people gather at Zio Carlo brewpub to order pizza and pints of beer, to have fellowship, and have church — including communion.

 

Pastor Philip Heinze and his Calvary Lutheran Church sponsor Church-in-a-Pub, whose formal name is the Greek word, Kyrie.

 

Some patrons are understandably confused. They come in for a brew and there’s a religious service going on in their bar. They expected Trivia Night and they get the Holy Eucharist.

 

I tell ‘em, it’s a church service,” says bartender Les Bennett, “And they’re, like, ‘In a pub?’ And I’m, like, yeah. Some of ‘em stick around for trivia, some of ‘em take off, some of ‘em will hang out and have another pint or two.”

 

That’s one of the objectives: A guy sits at the bar nursing a beer, he overhears the Gospel of Luke, he sees people line up to take bread and wine, he gets curious. Phil Heinze says pub church has now become an official — if edgy — Lutheran mission.

 

I’m not interested, frankly, in making more church members,” Heinze. “I’m interested in having people have significant relationships around Jesus. And if it turns out to be craft beer, fine.”

 

For most of the folks who attend regularly, this is their Sundaynightcongregation. Church leaders, initially skeptical, are now paying attention. Last month, the regional council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America named Church-in-a-pub a . Next year, it will call a young pastor to expand the idea to other taverns around Dallas-Fort Worth.

 

I think the institutional church now is getting onboard,” says Heinze, “because there’s a lot of anxiety frankly about the church’s decline and they’re trying to think outside of that institutional box.”

 

In downtown Portland, Ore., at the stately old First Christian Church, one Saturday night a month they open the parish hall for an event.

 

There must be 100 people here tonight, most of them young, the kind you rarely see in church on Sunday morning. They’re swigging homemade stout from plastic cups — with a two-beer limit. They’re singing traditional hymns from a projection screen like Be Thou My Vision. And they’re having way too much fun.

 

Like the crowd at Church-in-a-pub, a lot of folks at Beer & Hymns appear to be refugees from traditional churches.

 

Between hymns, people can stand up and say anything they want. Jolie Shempert, a transgender person who’s studying humanities at Portland State University, steps up to the mike.

 

Shempert was raised in a strict church that taught that animals don’t have souls, only people do. But Shempert’s beloved dog, Gunner, has just died.

 

I want to sing this song in defiance of that because Gunner was my friend. And he has emotions and a personality and I had a relationship with him that’s as real as any relationship I had with any human being.”

 

The Christian Church Disciples of Christ — a small mainline Protestant denomination — has experienced a steep drop in membership in recent decades. Beer & Hymns is one attempt to attract new people, in this hip, beer-loving city, while keeping a safe distance away from stained-glass windows.

 

Rodney Page is optimistic. The 78-year-old is a long-time member of First Christian Portland and a Beer & Hymns convert.

 

I know that initially there were some people who had some trepidation,” says Page. “This church has had a history and background of being anti-alcohol, so it took some convincing for some people. But eventually people went ahead with it and it’s been a great success.”

 

No one is suggesting that Beer & Hymns or Church-in-a-Pub — or any of the dozens of other beer-in-church events that are popping up around the nation — are permanent. They’re transitional experiments.

 

Amy Piatt is senior pastor at First Christian Church Portland. She’s a sixth-generation Disciple of Christ and the originator of Beer & Hymns. She says in this postmodern age, what it means to attend church is changing.

 

It’s probably, in the very near future, not going to be at 10 am on Sunday morning wearing your best shoes and tie or dress,” she says. “It’s going to be something different. I mean, what that is, we are still finding out, we’re still learning together. But it’s still holy, God is still there, and that’s what’s most important.”

 

To doubters, the Beer & God crowd has this pop quiz. What was the first miracle Jesus performed? Turning water into wine.

 

The post To Stave Off Decline, Churches Attract New Members With Beer appeared first on The Trumpet Online.

 

What have we come to and where are we going?

 

 

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Infection of Unbelief


 

Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen,” Mark 16:14.

 

Recently, our home was hit with a stomach virus. It only took one member of our family to introduce the virus to the rest of us and then, over the course of a week, we each fell ill with the bug. That is the way germs work, especially in close-knit families. They find ways to travel from host to host until the whole family is infected. Unfortunately, some diseases can spread to infect entire communities if proper sanitation procedures are not followed.

 

After Jesus rose from the tomb on Sunday morning, His appearances were staggered so that by the end of the day, the majority of the disciples had not seen Him in person, though word of His resurrection spread quickly. In spite of His constant teaching about His resurrection, Jesus’ disciples could not bring themselves to believe what He said, and it was beginning to have an adverse affect on them. When Jesus did appear to them, He rebuked them for not having faith in Him and His word. I wonder how often God rebukes us because of our unbelief? How much do we suffer because we allow unbelief to infect our lives, contaminating the pure and simple life of faith?  Please be aware. Unbelief is infectious. If we are not careful to live out the abundant life of faith in Jesus Christ, we will spread the germs of unbelief to our families, churches and communities.

 

 

JUST A THOUGHT

 

Will you live in faith today?

 

Mark Clements

 

 

 

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