Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Saul to Paul

Paul the Apostle (formerly Saul) is definitely an important ancestor of our faith.  13 of the New Testament books are attributed to him!  Paul wrote letters to the various early churches offering them encouragement and critique on how they were to live and function as a church and as followers of Jesus Christ.  On Sunday night, we learned more about Paul's life and work and how he was very important in the issues surrounding Jew verses Gentile when it came to this new faith of following Jesus Christ as God's Son.  What do you know about Paul?  Check out the book of Acts to find out more and read Paul's letters to see what he had to say to the early churches.  I think you will find that his words of encouragement and critique still apply to us today!

Then, just for fun, we tried our hand at building a tent since Paul was a tent-maker by trade.  You can see pictures here: FUSION Fall 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Doubting Thomas

This week we took a look at Thomas...better known as doubting Thomas.  Thomas was one of the named 12 disciples of Jesus.  We know from Scripture in John's Gospel that Thomas was willing to follow Jesus, even to the point of death (see John 11:1-16).  We probably know Thomas better by the story of him asking to see Jesus' hands and side as proof that it was actually him after Jesus had been crucified.

We often think of doubt as a bad thing.  In reality, though, if doubt helps lead us to asking questions, it can be a very good thing.  It is difficult to grow in our faith if we never ask questions about things that confuse or concern us.  Asking questions and seeking answers helps us better understand our faith and what it means to be a Christian.  And I would venture to guess that each of you has at least one person you know that you can go to with your questions.  It is so important to have these people in our lives.  Without them, doubt can sometimes start to overcome our faith.

We did a little experiment to visualize this.  Some of us filled a balloon with air and tied it off.  Others of us filled up a balloon with water and tied it shut.  When we have faith without any support like the balloon with nothing in it but air, and expose it to something difficult (in our experiment, a candle flame) it pops!  But when we have support in our faith journey, like the balloon filled with water, and we run into a difficult situation, our faith survives and helps get us through!  Those balloons didn't pop when held over the flame.  Who do you have in your life that supports you in your faith and you can ask questions to when you have concerns or are confused?

Don't have someone like that in your life?  Let's talk!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Look at Pontius Pilate

This past Sunday we continued our "Ancestors" series with a look at Pontius Pilate, "the troubled politician".  Pilate served as the governor of sorts for the province of Judea.  With that title came much power and authority over the people.  We are not really sure what exactly was going through Pilate's mind when he chose to follow the people's cheers to release Jesus Barabbas and crucify Jesus Christ instead.  Maybe Pilate was trying to keep peace among the people and follow what they wanted.  Maybe he had some agenda of his own which he wanted to make happen.  We are not really sure.  We do know from Matthew 27 that Pilate's wife had a dream and told Pilate to not have anything to do with Jesus Christ, but Pilate followed the voices of the people instead.  So once Barabbas was released and Jesus was sentenced to death, Pilate washed his hands to try to signify that Jesus' death was not his fault.

We all make mistakes.  We have all done something we regret doing.  The amazing thing about the God we worship is that we are forgiven for those things.  Jesus' died that we might all have life and live our lives as forgiven and reconciled people...not matter how many times we screw up.  We spent time writing down some things we struggle with--sins we do or things we should do but don't.  Then we took a permanent marker and wrote "FORGIVEN" over top of that sin.  Together we washed our cloths clean, leaving only the proclamation of God's forgiveness there!  What is it that you struggle with?  Do you know God's forgiveness?  I pray that you do!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Adventure Park

If you have not yet gone to The Adventure Park at Sandy River Retreat in Rice, you must!!!  The youth had a blast climbing and swinging in the trees on Sunday.  We are already planning a trip back there in the spring.  Check out pictures from our great afternoon.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

John the Baptist

This past Sunday we spent time learning about another ancestor of our faith: John the Baptist!  John served in the role of a prophet for much of his life, teaching and preaching to others of who Jesus was and encouraging them to follow Jesus.  The life of a prophet is not always easy.  There were many people who didn't like what John had to say...especially when he spoke out against the King who had married his brother's wife while his brother was still alive.  And so, in the end, John ended up being beheaded by the King.

Thankfully for us, we don't often face persecution in quite the same way as John did living in the United States.  But, being a disciple of Jesus is not always an easy task.  God calls us to follow Jesus in ways that are not always easy in the midst of the daily pressures of school, work and life in general.  How God calls us to live is not always the way the world pushes us to live, and that can cause some people to not like us very much.  Thankfully, we have a God who will never abandon us and ensures us that we have the tools we need to fulfill our calling!  After making some crayon rubbings of things around the church that represent the "rough" job of being a prophet while still knowing that God is with us, we played a few rounds of Gorgon!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The End of Summer Vacation

Summer is coming to an end (and has already ended for some of our students).  BUT, on the plus side, that means Sunday nights for FUSION Gathering are back!

We had a great annual end-of-the-summer float down the James River on Saturday:

Then we met up on Sunday night for our first FUSION Gathering of the fall.  We had a delicious dinner and tried our hand at playing handbells before getting into our lesson for the week.  We are starting a series called "Ancestors" where we will take a look at various people and groups of people in the Bible who are the ancestors of our faith.  This Sunday we began with Mary, the mother of Jesus.  What a faithful servant she was.  God called her to be the mother of Jesus when she was only a teenager, and despite her fears and what this would do to her reputation, she accepted willingly.  Together we talked about how crazy and interesting our family trees can be.  Sometimes we have extra branches here and there from broken relationships.  Sometimes there are severed ties with certain family members.  Sometimes we have family members who are added in either from new marriages or adoption.  For most of us, when we draw our family tree, it doesn't always look quite perfect or balanced on every side.

Can you imagine the conversations Mary and Joseph must have had to have with Jesus when he was a kid.  How do you explain to a little boy that his dad is God, creator of everything?!?  Thankfully, though, Mary and Joseph had not only some of their blood relatives, but also others in the faith that helped them throughout their lives and in raising their children (yes, Jesus had other siblings...well, I guess you could call them half-siblings).  So, if you were to make another family tree...this time a "Faith Family Tree", who would be included?  It probably includes more than just your blood relatives.  We spent time making our own Faith Family Trees on Sunday night, and I challenge you to do the same this week.  For the roots of the tree, write in those people who root, support and connect you to faith.  For the trunk of the tree, write the names of the people who are ancestors of the faith for you...those who help ground and strengthen your faith.  For the branches of the tree, write in those who stretch you toward heaven.  For the leaves of the tree, write in those who receive light from the sun/Son and help nourish your faith.  And when you are done creating your faith family tree, choose someone on that tree to contact this week and thank for everything they have done and continue to do to make you who you are today.  I know it will mean a lot to that person, and i am sure it will mean a lot to you as well!  Feel free to comment on this post with your response to how it went.  See you next week!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sweet Frog & Fellowship

This summer we are meeting at Sweet Frog on Tuesdays at 2pm for some fro-yo, fellowship and a short Bible study!  It's a great way to stay connected with friends during the summer, and gives us something to do during the day while the youth are home from school.

Yesterday was our first meeting, and we began our study on 2 Timothy!  We will be looking at the ways that Paul still speaks to us like he did to Timothy in these letters.  Yesterday we talked about Paul's support and encouragement of Timothy to remain faithful even when times are tough.  Who encourages and supports you when you are having a difficult time?  Comment on this post with your responses!

Hope to see you next Tuesday at 2pm at Sweet Frog!  By the way, for those of you who don't know, Sweet Frog is a Christian business!  FROG stands for "Fully Rely On God"!  How cool is that?