Third Sunday after the Epiphany

So, I'm like massively excited this week. Know why? Because the Stechmeyer House Church is launching Alpha on Thursday night at Hope. Alpha, if you don't know, is an 11 week course designed to create a space for seekers to ask all the questions they want about the Christian faith, in a safe and utterly hospitable environment. Since its inception in the UK back in the 90s, literally millions of people from nearly every continent (I don't think they run it in Antarctica) have encountered Christ through it. The Holy Spirit has been using it in remarkable ways across denominational and theological lines to draw people to Jesus. We're joining this remarkable movement of the Spirit... and I couldn't be more excited.

And you know why that is? Because at the end of the day, the community of faith is about this. It's about seeing those that are far off come and taste the goodness of the Lord. The Gospel reading from Matthew this past weekend (Matt 4:12-25) describes the ministry of Jesus as one of teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and then demonstrating the kingdom's power through miraculous healings. The result: "Large crowds...followed him" (v25). 

But of course they did. They followed him because he was addressing the concerns of their lives with the power of the kingdom. This is what made his ministry effective. It's what has continued to make the ministry of Jesus effective through the church across historical eras--Jesus, through his people, relentlessly addresses himself to the concerns of human life, quenching every thirst of our lives through the power of the kingdom that he IS and BRINGS. This is what draws wayward sons and daughters home to God. 

When the Church is at its best, it is living true to this identity, sweeping all kinds and sorts of people up into the kingdom movement inaugurated in Jesus and continuing now through his people. Paul says that "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them" (2 Cor 5:17). And he adds: "He has committed to us" both the ministry and the message of reconciliation.

The Father has sons and daughters that are far from home. He's getting them back. He's using us. Absurd as it may seem sometimes, it's how he's set the whole thing up.

And THAT'S why I'm so excited about Alpha, and why I'm calling on you to support this wonderful work with your prayers. Our being a community of radical, gospel-driven hospitality is how we live true to the mission of Jesus to "seek and save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). People are the center of the mission of Jesus. When they are the center of our mission, then we are living true to him, and his grace rests on us in powerful and unexpected ways.

So... pray for the Stechmeyer house church. And if you or someone you know would like to attend Alpha, just head here (https://bloom.church/alpha) and sign up. And let's all of us be trusting Jesus to do a wonderful work through this important ministry.

Grace and peace,

- Andrew