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 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!


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.



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!


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.


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.


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.


Concert at Trinity Lutheran!

This week (7/17), in lieu of our normal Bible study, we will be meeting at 10 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran church for a concert by a visiting Korean Choir, followed by breakfast.

Next week (7/24) we will resume our normal schedule, studying Isaiah at 9 a.m. on the green.


God is my Salvation

In that day you will say:

“I will praise you, LORD.
Although you were angry with me,
your anger has turned away
and you have comforted me.
2 Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.

Isaiah 12:1-3

Today at Agape, we spent an extended time praying to God, the one who himself is the very salvation for which we search. He saves us from the things from which we need saving. His anger has turned away as we draw water from the deep wells of his salvation.


Of a Savior

This week we talked more about the mysterious man of which Isaiah foretells. This man judges the needy with righteousness, and he gives justice to the poor (Isa. 11:4). He sounds like none other. Many among the Agape congregation said that he must be Jesus; no other man fits Isaiah's description. Yet we wonder at the fact that Isaiah lived hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth. Perhaps Isaiah will continue to surprise us, as we read through his writing, with descriptive characterizations of a savior who was yet come, a man named Jesus.


The Prophet Speaks

In the first week of our series, the prophet Isaiah bemoans the fact that the people merely go through the motions while living out their relationship with God. Isaiah carries the message of the Lord's displeasure towards a people who remember how to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings but who have forgotten the orphan and the widow (Isa. 1:13,17).
In the second week of the series, Isaiah tells of a time to come when the people will return to God, when there will be peace. In order to make sense of Isaiah's optimistic prediction in a time of chaos, we asked ourselves, "What is a prophet, and why would they matter to us?" Agape found that prophets are people anointed by God to deliver a message to his people. That message can regard the past, present, or future. So what? Well, Isaiah's era mirrors ours in certain ways; there is lawlessness, religiosity, corruption, rebellion, and war (Isa 1). Yet he brings a message about a time yet to come when "the cow will feed with the bear" and "the wolf will live with the lamb" (Isa 11:6-7). A certain man will usher in this time of eagerly awaited peace. Who is he? Has he come yet? Next week, the series continues.


Isaiah Series

This past week we wrapped up our series on the fruit of the spirit with self-control, watching how God can free us and empower us to choose steps that will follow him, if we just turn to him and ask.

Next week we will begin a series on the book of Isaiah, one of the great prophets of the Old Testament. We'll look at a time in Israel's history when there was a lot of injustice, and when times were particularly hard for poor people... and we'll see what God might have said about it, and what hope he might have to offer us!

Please join us any Sunday at 9 a.m. on the Green.


Agape: Summers on the Green!

Agape will be meeting on the Green from June through August, at a later time of 9 a.m. Please join us any Sunday morning for worship, bible study, breakfast, and friendship near the corner of Elm & College, behind United Church on the Green.

All are welcome!



Today at Agape we continued our series on the fruits of the spirit, this time focusing on gentleness (Prautes in Greek). We began by discussing conceptions of the idea of gentleness. Then we examined a couple scriptures from the Gospel to examine the biblical meaning of Prautes, and how Jesus exhibits this fruit. In the study we found connections between meekness and compassion, between an ability to bear with others in love and the ability to see through God's perspective. We realized that it is not out of a quashing of our true emotions but out of a release to the spirit of God that we will become gentle. We prayed for more patience to wait upon God (more space in our lives to allow God's spirit to work in us) and for God's compassion to live in us and bring us to see and act from God's perspective.

Our congregation is growing as a supportive family of believers each week! Please pray for the mutual love and bearing with each other to continue to grow!


The Gift of Peace

Every Sunday morning at Agape, we go around the circle introducing ourselves by saying our names an answering a question. This past Sunday, the question was: "What is one of your favorite gifts that you've received from someone"? The answers varied: my family, my children, my life, my God, my guitar, my peace. Can peace be a gift? Agape congregants sure think so. As they live lives rife with addiction, unemployment, and homelessness, peace is hard to come by; therefore, when peace is found and received, it is indeed a gift. In John 14:23-27, Jesus offers his followers peace: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." According to Jesus, peace is available. We just need to come to him and ask. Paul writes in Phillipians that this peace "transcends understanding," and it will "guard our hearts and minds." After the Bible Study, some prayed to receive this wonderful peace. May the Lord provide. May the Lord fulfill his promise to grant us this great gift.


Easter Joy!

Today @ Agape we studied the Spiritual fruit of Joy. We began by discussing our ideas of Joy and then delved into the Bible, specifically Hebrews 12 verses 1-3. Seeing that Jesus had Joy set before him on the cross we talked about how such a crazy form of Joy was possible for us. We wondered how security in God's plan and our mission as well as increasing union with God could allow us to live in Joy amidst suffering. We also saw how the hope of the resurrection was not just Jesus's hope but ours as well, and not just at the end of the world. We concluded by discussing this possibility of new life, of resurrection now!

Lord we ask that you help the whole Body of Christ to live into the resurrection of Jesus, to find the joy set before him set before us as we come into the promises God has made over us and are born into new life. Help us to find Joy in Christ even at the worst of moments, knowing that God is working always for our good.


Fruit of the Spirit Series

This week we'll be starting a series at Agape on the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-24 reads, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires."

Notice that fruit is singular, suggesting that one Spirit brings one collection of good fruit. When we accept one Spirit, one Son, and one Father, we gain one collection of fruit against which there is no law. For us, there is freedom in this exchange. We are freed from our sinful nature and our lusts. The Lord crucifies these, and we are left holding and cultivating the Spirit's fruit.

As we talk through this fruit, enjoy the sweetness. Hope to see you there at 8am on Sunday.


Ninth Anniversary Celebration of Agape Church for the Homeless

Agape's 9th Anniversary Celebration
Trinity Lutheran Church (292 Orange St.)
Corner of Orange and Wall

This Sunday, Agape Church for the Homeless is celebrating its 9th anniversary! In our time with Agape, we have seen God do lots of cool stuff in our lives and in theirs. We have seen people receive jobs, enter recovery programs, get housing, experience physical healing, and form friendships across lines of race, class, and language. God is at work in this place, and it's been fun to join him in this adventure.

The 9th anniversary celebration starts at 5pm at Trinity Lutheran Church on the corner of Orange and Wall (292 Orange St; same place Agape meets). There will be presentations by different volunteers, partners, and a performance by PIVOT Ministries. It will conclude with an informal time of fellowship accompanied by a HUGE AMOUNT of delicious food. Last year, people feasted on a variety of Korean dishes and desserts. Anyway, the anniversary is a great way to hear about what Agape is doing, see its supporters and attenders, and grab some great dinner. Hope to see you there.

As always, you are also invited to Agape @ 8am on Sunday. There will be a joint teaching by my friend Will and me on Love that marks the official start of our series on the fruit of the Spirit.


The Resurrection!

This week at Agape we finished our series on the book of Mark with Mark 16, Jesus's resurrection. Our conversation focused on the end of the chapter, where Mark connects a number of miraculous signs to the actions of believers. We prayed that we would have boldness to ask Jesus for these signs, for his participation in our actions.

Please be praying that our congregation would grow in boldness, prayer and unity.


Implication and Forgiveness: Crucify him!

And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!" -Mark 15:39

"Crucify him!" Today in Agape, we repeated these words aloud: Our voices reminded us of the ancient crowd, one voice rising to the Roman authorities: "Crucify him!" As we joined that voice, we found ourselves implicated in the plot. We participated in the sentencing of an innocent man. Where was the justice? Where was his power? The soldiers mocked him, and they flogged him. They put his cross on another, Simon from Cyrene, and they nailed Jesus to that tree. The centurion watched him hang there. And after Jesus breathed his last, only then, did the centurion realize a great mystery: even though the centurion has committed such a heinous act, even though he and we were sinners, Jesus had already offered forgiveness. He had already forgiven during the flogging, the mocking, the dying. The solider finally spoke the truth; Jesus patiently waits for us to do the same.


The Big Heart of Jesus

This week at Agape we did a dramatic presentation of the Gospel of Mark, chapter 14, in which Jesus has his last supper with his disciples, and then is betrayed by Judas Iscariot into the hands of the rulers. In this chapter, Jesus is also anointed with perfume by an unnamed woman, and Peter denies Jesus three times in the courtyard next to Jesus' trial.
    Thanks to the whole cast of the dramatic reading! Everyone was great.
    Some of the interesting thoughts brought up in discussion were how worship comes before service, but that LOVE needs to be the basis for both, most of all. We also see how Jesus' love is still strong, compassionate, and welcoming, even when he knows that he is betrayed. By asking us to love like he does, we are called to love and forgive, even when we feel hurt or betrayed. But we know, in return, that for those times we have betrayed or denied God, there is forgiveness to be had, and he waits for us, with belovedness and open arms.
     Please be praying for our city and for the entire Agape congregation, particularly those who might need healing of body or heart, and for those who need shelter, community, freedom from addiction, and/or employment. Also, please be praying for our continued fundraising for a building.


Elm City Echo

The Agape team is thrilled to be working with Elm City Echo, New Haven's first street newspaper. Elm City Echo is a part of YHHAP (Yale Hunger Homelessness Action Project) and is just getting started this year. Elm City Echo will be a paper that highlights the voice of the streets of New Haven. We are actively promoting it to our Agape family, and we already have two guys who are working on their stories. Agape will also provide a list of prayer requests that will be printed in the paper. Those who submit articles get $10. Contact emily (dot) foxhall (at) yale (dot) edu, if you're interested.

Also, Elm City Echo is currently one of Blue State Coffee's projects available for donations so be sure to check out Blue State and vote for ELM CITY ECHO!


Keep Watch!

Today's verse: Mark 13:32-33

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.”

Keep watch! But for what? This might have been the question of Jesus’ disciples after Jesus warned them to keep watch for his return. Often, we forget that the disciples did not know the future events of Jesus’ life that might be common knowledge for us. Jesus returning…before he even died or left…that makes no sense! Jesus often speaks past our reality and only speaks to our faith. The faith we need to keep following him.

At Agape, we talked about how to look past our reality of violence and brokenness in New Haven plus our 2000+ years of waiting for Jesus in order to actively wait for Jesus to come through promoting the peace of our city. After all, it’s not that we completely forget to keep watch. It’s that we slowly get distracted…by wealth, by romance, by addictions, and more. These things (just like the astounding buildings on Jerusalem…the distraction that begins Jesus’ exhortation) distract us from keeping watch for someone who constantly empowers us to love, serve, and promote the peace of our city.

Please pray for our Agape community as we seek to wait for a God who loves us and who desire us to love others instead of giving into other distractions that will keep us from that path of help and health.


The Greatest Commandment

Today's verse: Mark 12:29-30
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'"

A teacher of the law had just asked Jesus which of the commandments was the most important. The verse above was Jesus' answer. Definitely a clear and direct one. Around the circle in Agape today we tried to answer two additional questions: what does it mean to love the Lord with everything that we are, and why would we even want to do that? One of the answers that surfaced brought us back to the parable of the tenants at the beginning of Mark 12.

The parable describes God as a vineyard owner who is gracious and merciful beyond reason. Some might even describe his character as naive, foolish, or ignorant. Certainly, God's response to the evil tenants in the parable was probably very different from what ours might have been, as we often look for opportunities to institute justice or to "make things right." in our lives and in this world. Instead, the vineyard owner sends his only son, revealing his desire to pursue us to the point of death, to the point of divine sacrifice.

This God is the one that desires our hearts. And once we offer that heart to him, he starts the work of healing it. He takes our heart, our soul, our mind, and our strength and refines them all. Do you want to be in relationship with a God who sees the heart, offers his son, and only desires intimacy with us? Come as you are. At Agape, that's what we're trying to do.


Welcome Back!

Thanks to Tina for leading us in an extended service of worship and prayer this Sunday. The memory verse for this week is:

"Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain."
-1 Corinthians 15:57-58