I am a self-proclaimed “word-nerd.” I love to play with words and work on sentence structure. I love reading powerful statements specifically about faith and the church. As we have been in the midst of this season of pandemic, I have been wondering about what folks have as priority. Merriam-Webster Dictionary states that a priority: something that is more important than other things and that needs to be done or dealt with first. So over that past two years, the health and safety of the community has been our priority. As we have gotten accustomed to protocols, vaccines and masks, hybrid church events have been our priority.
As the governor of NJ prepares to lift the mask mandate, I believe our next priority is “koinonia” – that is Christian fellowship. The Greek word Koinonia is translated as “fellowship” and literally it means “to share with someone something.” Koinonia becomes a way to express our life and love together as a community, as friends. Koinonia is the place where we share life together; sharing means to be present and engaged within each other’s lives. It is the building up of relationships that lead to friendship which make for a healthy congregation.
Sang H. Lee’s words “God calls and gathers together the community of faith, the new “ethos” in and through which is God’s intention for the whole race. The Bible portrays this new ethos as a new family, the household of God.” Building friendships is a sign of a healthy member, and I would like to invite all of you that are able to join us for worship, Christian Education, Prayer and Service as part of this community of faith. I am still struck by the image of the early church from the Acts of the Apostles: Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at homeand ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. The call is to gather as a body of believers!!
We will still offer hybrid worship for those that are physically unable to come to 67 South Broad, or when the weather is bad, but I believe that it should be a priority for followers of Jesus Christ to come together for koinonia – for fellowship! I know that folks are weary and tired, but I believe that gathering to worship, study and serve the Living Christ will help each of us in our faith journey! I look forward to seeing you on the Lord’s Day!!
Reb. Dr. Philip W. Oehler, Sr.
HOW DO WE SING THE LORD’S SONG IN A FOREIGN LAND?
OFFICER TRAINING EVENT
MARCH 27, 2022
12noon – 3:30pm
1 By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows[a] there
we hung up our harps.
3 For there our captors
asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How could we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land? —Psalm 137:1-4
Pastors, church leaders, and congregations are searching to reconnect themselves to a changing culture. The church we once knew has lost its relevance and is searching for meaning amidst shifting contexts. No longer is the church the priority of families and the spiritual pivot point for communities. It has been replaced with less engagement of its members, low involvement, and programs that are not connecting with those outside its walls. The church, once relevant has become a relic of a time gone by. Often churches believe that “if only” they had more resources then they would be able to make an impact for God, instead of believing that God has already provided for them. Based upon Psalm 139, church officers (All Currently Serving and Recently Elected Elders, Deacons & Trustees) will gather on Sunday, March 27 to prayerfully consider how we might “sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land” using the gifts that God has provided for this congregation.
Please Sunday, March 27th on your calendar
and make every effort to join us for worship & this essential training event!
Rev. Dr. Sean Chow will be facilitating this officer training event on Sunday, March 27th. Sean is a former member of the Presbytery for Southern New Jersey and is the Associate for 1001 New Worshiping Communities for Training and Leadership Cohorts for the Presbyterian Church. He resources and consults with regional denomination bodies, churches, and church plants as they launch new creative expressions of church.
He is a graduate of Azusa Pacific University (2005), Master of Divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary (2009) and a Doctor of Ministry at New York Theological Seminary (2022). Through it all there is an inner desire is to be a part of a God driven movement that impacts the world for God’s glory. His aim is to prepare, equip, and sustain leaders to do the work in which God calls them. He is a frequent speaker to churches, committees, gatherings, and conferences.
Sean and his family live in Southern California where he can be found on a local tennis court having reconnected to an old passion.