8.04.2012

          This summer Agape church has focused its teachings on the importance of pursuing biblical wisdom for one's personal edification. This series has led us to define wisdom, discuss the ways in which one pursues wisdom, and how gained wisdom can transform our daily existence in New Haven and elsewhere. Though it is sometimes difficult to predict how an audience will engage with a specific sermon series, each Sunday has yielded many fruitful discussions. By presenting the obtainment of Christ's wisdom as our primary goal as believers, we have gotten to also thoroughly address the essential avenues leading to this destination. One week in the middle of a discussion there was a mild dispute regarding a few people's seating. The conflict was not resolved until one individual decided to get up and leave the service. The  next week during our discussion, we touched upon the idea of forgiveness. As we were defining forgiveness and its power to mend   and transform our relationships, a woman who had been a part of the conflict the previous week, interjected into the discussion and apologized sincerely for her frustration and anger displayed last Sunday. Everyone present at Agape willingly forgave her, and in that moment, the power of forgiveness became quite tangible. 
         We are all hungry for more strength to endure life's trials that so quickly ensnare our hope. We believe our strength is gained through greater dependence on Jesus. We know that Jesus is wise, because we know his father is beyond wise. In order to not only endure, but to live life to the fullest we choose to follow the way of Jesus to pursue wisdom, and to allow his wisdom to become a part of our daily interactions. We desire for this wisdom to empower us to apologize, forgive, and love selflessly. 

10.28.2011

Project Homelessness Connect: Volunteers Needed!

Jesus told us many times to honor the poor and marginalized of our society, to serve and set others before ourselves. He demonstrated it himself on the night before he was crucified, by washing the feet of the disciples who had been following him for the last several years. Footwashing has since become an important tradition within the church.

On Friday November 11, from 7 a.m. - 11 a.m., Agape Church will be running a footwashing station at "Project Homelessness Connect", an event that will bring together many organizations and service-providers for the homeless population as winter is coming on. We really need some more volunteers to work rotating shifts at the footwashing station. This is a really amazing way to honor the poor, and we're so excited to have been asked to do this. We especially need volunteers from 9 - 11 a.m., but any help you or people you know can give at any time during the event would be great!

If you aren't comfortable with footwashing, you can also help out by praying for people at the Agape table, or (if you are musically inclined) by being part of the acoustic band that will be serving the event by providing live music. Again, all volunteers will be greatly appreciated!

Please email juliet.buesing@gmail.com ASAP if you are interested in helping out and able to commit to a certain part (or all) of the time frame, or if you have any questions about the event. More details about location and time assignments will be sent out to volunteers closer to the event. Thank you so much for considering this!

10.27.2011

What God does

This Sunday at Agape we looked at two parallel stories in the life of Peter, one of Jesus' earliest followers. In examining Peter in similar situations before and after Jesus' ressurection and Pentecost, we hoped to see the changes God made in his life, and the changes he might make in ours.
The first story we discussed was Peter's denial of Jesus in Mark. When Jesus has been arrested, and Peter goes to look for him, three times people ask Peter whether he is a follower of Jesus, and each time Peter denies it. While we couldn't agree on whether, in some sense, Peter made "the right choice," we came to the consensus that, even if it was for the best, Jesus must have been very hurt by it, knowing it would happen. We talked about betrayal, and several people talked about experiences with betrayal, one person speaking about feeling betrayed, and another thinking of a time when he could tell his friend felt betrayed by him.
Then we fast-forwarded to after Pentecost, to the story in Acts where Peter and John heal a man outside the temple, start telling people about Jesus, and then get called in by the authorities. The authorities ask, "By what power or what name did you do this?" Again, Peter is asked, essentially, to identify with Jesus or not.
This time, however, Peter is "filled with the Holy Spirit," and shares the gospel openly. When we talked about why Peter was so different, someone immediately pointed out the Holy Spirit as the source of the change. We talked about what this might mean, and there was disagreement as to whether being filled with the Holy Spirit is something that has to be earned, or something that happens without regard for what we've done.
When we looked back at the first story, however, we could see that, although Peter had certainly done a lot for God already, here he was denying God. If God could forgive Peter, and fill him with the Holy Spirit, surely God will forgive us for what we've done, and offer the same gift. Ending with a message of God's desire to forgive us and lead us forward with his Spirit, we prayed and had breakfast.

10.17.2011

Thankfulness.

We've been going through a series on the fruit of life with Jesus... how a living God that dwells among us can transform our lives. This past week we read through the introductions of 10 out of Paul's 11 letters in the Bible to find the common denominator... a practice of thankfulness! Paul started every letter by introducing himself, blessing his readers, and then praising and thanking God before all else. As we then turned as a group to the story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers, we placed ourselves right in the story. Are we like the lepers begging Jesus to heal them-- do we need our lives to be transformed by God? Are we like the lepers who have been healed? Do we have reasons to praise God for something in our lives? Are we like the nine lepers who didn't return? Do we need to return to God and thank him for something?

It was amazing hearing the stories of blessing-- we had so many people wanting to chime in with praising God that we had to cut them off at the end! And being able to pray with our congregation about their families and struggles this week was an honor as well. Praise God!

10.04.2011

The Fruit of Jesus in Our Lives

After listening to Isaiah's cries about a Messiah in our last teaching series, we thought we should look at Jesus' life. Since Isaiah cast huge vision for what the Messiah will do in all the Earth, we thought we'd look at the ways Jesus creates fruit in the lives of others in our new teaching series.. Hopefully, God will help connect the grand reality Isaiah called forth with the action oriented style Jesus takes in loving others.

We started with the beginning of Jesus' story with the church, His body on Earth. Reading Acts 2, we learned that God's Spirit is being poured out on ALL people even though those same people "partnered with wicked men to kill Jesus." It's almost like God's response to disobedience is even more love and generosity with His gifts. In fact, Peter strongly states that all one has to do is repent, or change one's mind, and be baptized with forgiveness and then one can receive the Holy Spirit as a gift. That is not an invitation to some, but to all. This Sunday, we received that gift by stretching our hands and asking God to pour out His Spirit on us in order to bring love and light into our lives. With that joy, we can change our mind and ask God to renew and restore us with the gift of His Spirit. That same Spirit, which raised Christ from the dead, gives power, comfort, peace, and joy freely to ALL who ask. Pray with us to receive that Spirit and pray for us to always partner with God in giving His Spirit away at Agape.

9.04.2011

God's Justice

This week @ Agape we read and conversed about the first seven verses of the 42nd chapter of the book of Isaiah. We found that God's justice is unique and beautiful, more like a family than like the proverbial scales. We pray that it would break forth in this world and in our community. Lord, make us a family, the rich and the poor, the "backslider" and the "pastor", the white and the black and the brown. Bring us your justice, heal us of our sins, open our eyes, free us from our chains; make us a family. Only in you and through you it is possible. Make us one. In Jesus's name, Amen.

7.25.2011

Returning in quietness, resting in trust.

Yesterday at Agape we studied some verses from the 30th chapter of the Book of Isaiah. We attempted to get into the nitty gritty of the text and to tease out the meaning. At the end we sort of found out that God is waiting for us to wait on him! He desires to be gracious, and all we need to do is return to him in quietness and rest in our trust of him!

Please pray that our congregation would return to God this week in times of trouble and difficulty and find true salvation and deep strength in his arms.