The EmbRACE Study / 01

It is a repentance

This week, our church will be starting a monthly study on racism, systemic injustice, and white supremacy. We've called this study EmbRACE: a repentance and study on race, society, and culture. Now it is first called a repentance because we do not study this as a an external subject; we recognize from the start that talking about race in America requires that we acknowledge, not just to study the problems out there, but also in here -- in ourselves: the narratives we grew up with, our ideas of power, our ideals of beauty, our assumptions about the world.

Striving for unity in Christ

Our first study this week may seem only tangential to the hot issues in our national discussion, but for us it is foundational. While public discourse is becoming increasingly divided and antagonistic, that should not be the nature of the church. God calls us to unity, bearing with one another in love -- the love that we have through Christ. As we move through the various studies, and as our nation continues to grapple with the issues, we will likely find new ways to demonize those who seem to be the enemy. We will find new depths of anger or despair, but the gospel calls us to resist becoming self righteous and seeing ourselves better than others who may not share our views. The gospel calls us to a robust, deep, and enduring love. It calls us to be like Christ, to listen well, to bear with one another in love, to outdo one another in showing honor.

This is difficult, yet we must pray for strength to live into it as we engage in these studies. It is my prayer that as we go through this series of study, we will strive to keep a repentant posture even as we fight for justice. It is in this posture that we recognize that our strength is not in our outrage or zeal, but wholly in Christ.


Cheap Worship

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is well known for coining the term "cheap grace," a fallacy in our faith where we think of grace as "the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost!" Alternatively, he urges the Church to pursue costly grace: "Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field... It is the pearl of great price... Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ." In essence, Bonhoeffer calls us to not take our discipleship -- our following Christ -- lightly. There is a costly sacrifice involved; a regular offering given. We are not to treat our discipleship as something that can be discarded and picked up whenever we want -- it is costly!

David modeled this kind of costly discipleship in his worship. In the very last chapter of 2 Samuel, David is called to worship the LORD on a particular plot of land belonging to Araunah the Jebusite. But this plot of land was a threshing floor, not a place with an altar for worship. Araunah, recognizing that David was the king, happily offers the land, sacrificial animals, and additional worship supplies to David for free so he could build an altar and offer a sacrifice. But David would not accept this offer from Araunah; he says to him, "I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing." So David pays full price for the land (he would not accept any kingly discount!), builds an altar, and worships the LORD.

But this example should lead us to examine ourselves today: Is our worship costly? or is it cheap?

By now, most of us have already fallen into new patterns for worship; we've adapted to Zoom and virtual/remote worship. But I think it is worth our time to pause and consider how we have been shaped by these new norms.

One of the great losses we have with Zoom worship is the lack of a practiced corporate identity. There is an essential togetherness that is present when we are physically together. We sense one another. We hear one another's voices -- both in liturgy and in song. We notice when people stand up, sit down, raise their hands, drop a water bottle, rush out with a crying infant. We notice when people are distracted (and if we're honest, we also notice when we are distracted and attempt to hide our feed-reading and double-tapping from those around us -- we know we shouldn't be doing it!). Whether we realize it or not, just by "going to" church, we are active participants in one another's spiritual formation -- encouraging one another, just by our presence, to engage and be attentive to our God; through our actions, we are saying to one another, "We're worshiping together." We inherently (we don't have a choice!) "give up" our individual rights when we meet in person. But all this is lost on Zoom.

When we attend virtual service, we have a level of autonomy not present at an in-person service. Rather than having to give up our individual rights, we get to keep them. We don't have to get dressed. We don't need to travel or even leave the house. No one notices our silence if we abstain from liturgy or song (we're supposed to mute ourselves!). We don't have to been seen. Mics on mute; cameras off. Worship at home is easy! There's an intoxicating power that comes from being able to turn a worship service to God on and off.

I recall early in the pandemic I was in a gathering of ministers and lay leaders from around the city where our main speaker was so overjoyed at the convenience or in-home worship! He started going on and on about how we need to adapt to the times and move on with technology and the future! He even went so far as to say he hopes things stay this way; "Look at all the people you can now reach!" "There's so much untapped potential on the Internet!" I believe this thinking is seriously misguided; it incorrectly postures us into thinking that worship should cater to our comforts and conveniences. It forgets that when God called us to himself, he called us to belong to a people. When we attend a worship service, it is not a service to worship ourselves.

There is a voluntary giving up of our comforts so that we can direct one another to worship Christ. Honestly this isn't that costly compared to other times and places. But in our culture and society that elevates individualism above all else, it is not an easy thing to give up. My hope is that it is the least we can do as we try to discipline ourselves at home to embrace our corporate identity as a church. May we practice giving up for one another that we may point one another to worship God. Every Sunday morning, may we have a heart like David: may we dare not offer to God that which cost us nothing.

Postscript: If you're curious, that piece of land that David bought from Araunah the Jebusite shows up again in scripture. This costly piece of land is the site upon which David's son, Solomon builds the Temple to the LORD. David's faithful and costly worship becomes the foundation -- literally -- upon which all of Israel and Judah worshiped the LORD.


Praying in distress

Church,

During times of distress and trial we are called to pray. Prayer is our strong tether to the one who is sovereign and keeps all things in order when everything around us feels like chaos. Today I reflected on the following verses from scripture (bolded text, mine):

Psalm 18:1–6

I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.

The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called upon the LORD;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.

and Exodus 2:23–24

During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

During these times we may feel like we’re at home… alone… disconnected from others and disconnected from God. I expect when the novelty of video-chatting wears off, we’re going to desire real connection deep in our bones. We’ll begin to recognize what a state we’re in… and we’ll start crying out… and we’ll wonder if anyone’s listening.

Scripture tells us over and over that God is not deaf to our cries. The model from scripture calls us to cry out for God to save. It’s possible we may feel comfortable in our homes and we may think, “I’m fine even while the world is in chaos outside.” But this is a farce.

If there’s anything our current situation has taught us, it’s that we’re more connected than ever. The plight of our neighbors is intimately connected to our own. We cannot “look out for number one” at the expense of our neighbors. So church, we are called to pray.

Pray for our health care professionals that are being swamped right now with work. They are our soldiers on the front lines putting themselves at great risk for the sake of the public. From what I hear from my contacts, they are tired, stressed, and in need of support and prayer.

Pray for our civic leaders who are having to make extremely difficult decisions regarding the welfare of the city. Though we are often quick to criticize, most of us do not bear the weight of responsibility that our leaders face. They need wisdom. Let us pray that God would give our leaders wisdom to know how to navigate the storm we find ourselves in.

Pray for your friends and neighbors. Many of us are anxious and fearful of what’s to come. No matter how many reassuring words we hear, the unrest in our stomachs seems unending. Pray for strength and boldness to overcome fear and panic. Pray also for those who are sick or most at-risk. They are all around us; some are fighting for life right now. God, help us now.

El Roi, the “God who sees,” look upon the distress of your people and rise to action. We need you now more than ever. As our daily comforts are stripped away, help us turn to you and rest in you. Help us to know in our hearts, not just in our heads, that you are the Sovereign Lord. Have mercy upon us. Amen.


The Discipleship Path

Am I supposed to be growing in my faith?
What does it look like to grow?
How do I know if this is what the Christian life is supposed to be, or if I'm just following the "christian trend" of my times?

Scripture makes it clear that the gospel is not something we receive at a singular point in time. Rather, it’s a lifestyle of repentance and faith, a life of following Jesus, a life of growing in grace.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities and continue to grow in them, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever lacks these traits is nearsighted to the point of blindness, having forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
2 Peter 1:5-9

Therefore, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him, established in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6-7

Vision + Mature Christians = Kingdom Transformation. If you've been here during our vision casting series last year, or even just have read through our Vision and Values page on our website, you should have some level of imagining what kind of church we want to be. However, we need to ask, “if that’s the kind of church we want to be, then, what kind of people do we want to become?" In other words, we’ve covered a lot about what King’s Cross Church as an organization is committed to and expects from our members. But in turn, how ought you expect to be shaped and formed into a mature Christian? How would we describe the way Jesus calls us to live, deeper into people saturated with God's love and wisdom evident and pouring out, through their lives?

The image above is what we call our Discipleship Path. It consists of 8 areas that encompass what it means for us to submit the whole of our lives to King Jesus.

Some Key Observations:

  • This is really big. This not a yearly "theme," nor is this a "season" of where we want to focus. Rather, this is the core of the Christian life, simplified, but ever-unfolding. It's this fuzzy phrase we use, "following Jesus," brought into focus for us to gather around and agree and pursue together--this life that Christ calls us to grow deeper in... and by His grace, it will more or less encompass how we want to mature throughout our lives.
  • These are areas we want to grow. They’re not a checklist to Christian maturity. Rather, a template for a lifestyle we want to go deeper in. (Think of a work out regime)
  • The Holy Spirit may have us grow more in one area over another, in a certain period of our lives. It’s different for everyone.
  • There’s no “correct” order. They are part of an organic whole.
  • This is contextualized to mature Christians doing kingdom work particularly in the NYC/Queens context.

So... Where can I get started? 

Well, here's the thing: if you've been an active member of King's Cross Church--you hopefully have been growing in some of these ways already. We want to make following Jesus explicit, tangible and attainable for everyone of our church members. However, as we grow as a church, we want to use this as a lense for both us and you to see where we need to create spaces to develope, grow, and catalyze these areas of obedience and submission to the Lord. Meaning, it will unfold organically, but intentionally, as we have been growing. Again, we don't want to "program" christian growth--but we do need to be cognizant and intentional and clear about where we want to mature.

This will take place through are a mixture of mediums we want you to grow through in these areas. E.g. Community Group, sermons, classes, serving with our partners, etc. 

However, here are some ways you can begin considering how to grow more intentionally:

  • Take a moment to look at the individual areas and consider which ones you feel you've grown in the past year in. Consider, are there areas where you may have never even considered a possibility for growth?
  • Save the date for our Congregational Retreat this year: June 14-16th, where our theme will be kicking this off together as we explore our theme: Deeper, Together 
  • Take a glance over the brief explanations of each of these explanations for aspect of depth, and begin to pray that God would grant King's Cross a hunger to grow.

A Brief Explanation of the 8 Aspects of Christian Depth

  • Witness 
    • Public faith and evangelism. Growing in a missional life that compellingly displays life with Christ and shares the gospel story with unbelievers.
  • Faith & Work
    • A transformed way we work and see work. A life marked by a deep valuing of how our work plays out in God’s purposes and redemptive plans in the world.
  • Relationships 
    • A transformed view and application of how we are to engage in friendship, family, marriage, and sex. A life that is able to joyfully and wisely know how to pursue the other’s good.
  • Money
    • Understanding and wisely stewarding the role and purpose of money, wealth, finances and power.
  • Spiritual Disciplines (Prayer & Scripture)
    • Cultivating a life in prayer and in the Scriptures so as to be competent in renewing the inward-self in fellowship with God.
  • Worship 
    • Growing in delight of fellowship with God and with one another; a deeper understanding and enjoyment of the means of grace and participation in the gathering of God’s people to (Sunday) worship.
  • Mercy & Justice
    • A deepened heart of compassion and wisdom in how to pursue right relationships with others in the context of a broken world, lives and systems.
  • Church Life
    • Growing in a servant-like heart through engaging in and building up others lives in ministry and service.
       

For Him,


New Vision and Core Values

I'm very excited to share our new vision and core values with you, for King's Cross Church. We felt the need to revamp and refocus our vision, after our initial first 5 years as a church plant, having now been established as a particular church in our Presbytery. 

My hope and prayer is that this vision statement and core values will serve our church in the specific and unique calling God has placed upon our growing church, here in Flushing. During our leaders' retreat, we mapped out some of how this would breath new life into how we think about discipleship ministry, community groups, membership classes and preaching. 

This Fall, I am setting aside a special period in our Sunday Sermon Series to focus on each of these values specifically. During the rest of this year, our elders and pastoral staff will be working hard with our leaders to integrate this into our leadership culture. 

I’d like to encourage you to read and understand the vision and values. Take a moment tonight to pray over our church with this vision--that this would unite our efforts to pursue kingdom life together. 

-Robert 


VISION STATEMENT

King’s Cross Church is
a community of broken people
following Jesus
in the story of how he is renewing
our neighborhood and our lives.

Broken people... following Jesus. 

We may rightly say that this is at the heart of what being a Christian is about. It's also at the heart of our vision statement. Our vision statement tells us not only who we are, but what we are striving together towards. Here's the breakdown of why every part of this matters to us:
 

A COMMUNITY. The concept of communal life of the church encompasses both our gathering to worship the Triune God both in formal [Sunday] worship and informal [community groups, praise and prayer nights, etc.] worship. It also encompasses our scattering, which takes our kingdom life outside the spaces we worship together in, and understands that the life of the church calls us to be faithfully present in all of life.

BROKEN PEOPLE. Jesus made it clear why he had come to live among us when he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). By extension, we understand the Church exists to continue that same inviting call to broken sinners who are desperately in need of God’s reconciling grace. This means that we are not about becoming “better” people, but rather, people who rely on and are filled with the only one who was good, the Lord Jesus Christ.

FOLLOWING JESUS. We believe that spiritual growth happens when people simultaneously grasp the depth of their own brokenness and the height of God’s love and grace for them in Jesus. This is the re-creative power of the gospel: to turn us from our false-gods, and receive and embrace the incredible adoption we have, as God’s children and heirs of his kingdom. (Romans 8:16-17)

We also understand that following Jesus means we are free to pursue others good and wellbeing. Our lives take on the contours of his life as we grow in our relationship with him, which means we will be growing in a deeper desire and capacity to dwell with others, for the sake of pursuing their good and flourishing.

THE STORY OF HOW HE IS RENEWING OUR NEIGHBORHOOD AND OUR LIVES. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is literally the most beautiful and good news we could imagine; and like all news there is a story of how this news comes to us. Scripture tells us that we are caught up in the grand story of Creation, The Fall, Redemption, and Restoration.

Because of the fall, sin brought all of God’s good creation under what Ecclesiastes puts so well, “...there is nothing new under the sun.” We live in a world crying out in “sackcloth and ashes,”--biblical imagery of decay and corruption. The gospel is such good news because it tells us, upon the finished work of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection--Jesus has begun to make “all things new,” in a world where sin has made all things old.

Therefore our role in the story is to live a missional life--It means we are seeking to see the kingdom of God changing and transforming our Flushing neighborhood, block by block, and our lives, day by day, as we dwell together.*


Core Values

Core values describe how we will embody our vision and help shape how we behave as a church.

REDISCOVERING THE GOSPEL | proclamation

The gospel message tells us that God so loved his fallen creation that he sent his one and only son, Jesus, to renew all things through his kingdom. We believe the gospel is not merely how we receive grace and pardon for our sins, but in fact, the gospel is at the heart of how we experience the love and person of Jesus. Through the gospel, we are drawn together as a family. It is in this life of the family that we most deeply experience the power of the gospel at work in our lives.

REDEFINING THE GOOD LIFE | transformation

As we experience the deep heart-work of being made more like Jesus, we are given new desires, new dreams, and a new heart. Our world is redefined by who God is and what he has done for us which gives a completely new way of seeing the things we get our deepest identity and meaning and purpose from.

REFLECTING OUR NEIGHBORS | incarnation

Jesus entered into our world and shared all of life with us. Therefore, we desire to live and dwell with others in the same way. This means we want to be so embedded in our neighborhood that it colors the way we worship and live. It also means that we worship and cultivate our faith in ways that are relevant and relatable to neighbors and non-christians.

REIMAGINING FLUSHING | restoration

We want to be able to reimagine Flushing in light of God’s story, understanding what peace and flourishing of God’s kingdom would look like, here on earth. This means we want to foster a genuine appreciation for the ways God is already at work in our neighborhood. It also means we are called to address the brokenness, injustice, and oppression through intercessory prayer, engaging in mercy, (meeting basic needs,) and doing justice, (generous sharing of our resources and voice for our others’ good.)

REPLICATING CHURCH | multiplication

Whether in discipleship relationships, community groups, or raising up leaders, we believe a sign of true growth and flourishing is through multiplying. This also applies to how we envision our church growing, as, we would rather grow outward, seeking to plant like-minded churches to further share the gospel with those yet unreached in our city.


*You might wonder how this could apply to those of us who live outside of Flushing? When we say, "the story of how he is renewing our neighborhood and our lives," we can embrace the fact that as a church, we have corporately been given a goal, a vision for the kingdom of God to further manifest itself in Flushing, and at the same time, recognize that God has given us individual callings--"our lives"--meaning, where we work, where we live, etc., we have individual callings to pursue the kingdom of God there, without denying our corporate calling, to love and serve Flushing's good, too. 


The Church: Gathered and Scattered

We believe God has planted King's Cross Church in Flushing to be a witness and community of Kingdom Minded, Kingdom People in this city, for this city. 

As we approach summer, I want to invite you to review or for some, explain, our vision of where we are moving as a church this year. I shared at our last town hall meeting how our Congregational Retreat will be vitally important for us to grow in our understanding of how God has and is gathering and scattering us as a people--to accomplish his mission of redeeming creation and doing good for the city.


This year, as we gather once again around the table of God’s great banquet of grace, the Lord of the banquet has disclosed a deep, intimate yearning in his heart. It is not our request, nor is it a man-made vision. Jesus, himself, reveals to us our Father’s great longing: to see his house filled.

The Greek word being used here, gemizo, means "to fill or to saturate completely." Other uses in Scripture refer to pots being gemizo’ed with water, or a boat that is sinking, being gemizo’ed by massive waves. Our Father’s desire is not for what is on the table, but for those who have not yet tasted how good and satisfying the Bread of Life really is!

The Dynamic of "Gathered and Scattered"

We can lay out the vision like this:

We see our Father’s mission and desire is to restore all of creation, the first fruits of which are worshipers who have been captured by the love of his Son, Jesus Christ. The way he moves and stirs us to fill his dwelling place is by this missional movement we see as the Gathering and Scattering of his people with the compelling power of the gospel message. It’s the process of calling us into worship and building up of our faith, and as we’re filled up with the Word, sent out to live and proclaim that same good news.

If you have served in some of these areas before, challenge yourself to go deeper, to bring others with you, and to experience the wonder of God afresh. If you haven't, challenge yourself and consider how you might want to partner and join in with where we see God at work in our community. Here are just a few areas where we invite you to join to consider joining with us:

  • Prayer Walks. As we walk through where we live, work, worship and eat, let's stop and come aware to what God wants to reveal to us.  
  • Sunday Worship. This might seem strange to have here, but we have a very high rate of visitors that non-regular attendees that gather with us every week. How might God be calling you to simply reach out, get to know someone new, welcome someone into your circle, and possibly become a part of their story of how they became a part of this family. 
  • Theology of Work. As we began to think about how much time we spend at our work places and work communities, we saw what an incredible culture-shaping impact it would be to integrate a deep and wide understanding of how God sees us, our work, and how he calls us to an amazing truth about his Kingdom that could transform not only our hearts, but also our workplaces.
  • Congregational Retreat. Our retreat, this year, will be focusing on our vision of The Church: Gathered and Scattered. We've invited pastor Reyne Cabinte, who will be helping us think, pray and worship in the gospel, and challenge us to consider some ways we can compel others to come to the banquet table of grace in our own context. 
  • Summer Saturday Program. Each summer, for 5 Saturdays, we invite children from our community into our lives and hearts as we engage in sharing the gospel through songs, activities, and teaching--often to children who have never heard the gospel before! Our desire is to build relationships with these children and their families, planting seeds of faith that we pray God will grow into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Ruth: Background and Introduction

Dear King's Cross,

This past Easter Sunday we saw Jesus open scripture and claim that all of it points to him. In other words, if we truly want to know God and have a relationship that brings life abundant--we need to find him throughout the whole of scripture. 

We'd like to invite you to go through a short series in Ruth with us, and see God working and revealing himself throughout each passage in this beloved story of friendship, courage, romance and redemption. 

I'm also including a short intro to Ruth from the New Bible Commentary to help you gain a little context, as many of us may be new to OT literature or need to brush up on Ruth's background. 

-Robert C.


Introduction

It is not difficult to account for the appeal of this short book. As an example of storytelling alone it has outstanding merit, with its symmetry of form and vivid characterization, but above all, it is a book with a message. When Naomi was finding life bleak and pointless, Ruth chose to stand by her mother–in–law rather than leave the older widow to face the journey into the future all alone. Tragedy in Moab led to a happy ending in Bethlehem, and selfless loyalty was rewarded. God overruled events to bring love and security to those who trusted him, while at the same time weaving their lives into his purpose for the world. God remained hidden, but was nevertheless at work in the ordinary affairs of daily life, fulfilling his promises to his people.

    Many attempts have been made to classify the book of Ruth according to the categories of modern European literature. It has been regarded in turn as a novella, an idyll and a historical novel, all of which imply a large fictional element. In an attempt to set the book against a Near Eastern background, other scholars have suggested that it had its origins in cultic mythology, but without producing convincing evidence. The book itself, with its opening words, ‘In the days when the judges ruled’, and its concluding genealogy ending with King David, imply historical and verifiable events. True, it deals with an ordinary family and not with the exploits of the great, but the link between Ruth the Moabitess and King David is not likely to have been invented, for it did nothing to enhance his standing in Israel. Though the writer took great pains to make his book a work of art, he evidently intended it to be accepted as historical. It is a true story, beautifully told, after the style of the patriarchal narratives, where some of the same themes occur, such as famine, exile and return, and childlessness, through which God makes himself known.

Themes

    Famine is the circumstance that caused an Israelite family to migrate to alien Moab. Famine was a recurring event in patriarchal times, causing Jacob and his sons to migrate to Egypt. Enslaved and oppressed, they experienced God’s deliverance, an event remembered annually at Passover (Ex. 12:1-29). In the book of Ruth the same God came to the aid of two needy women, demonstrating his power to bring good out of sorrow, life out of death.

    Marriage is another theme central to the book. It was central in Naomi’s thinking. While she regarded herself as too old for marriage, for her daughters–in–law it was a priority which she urged them to pursue (1:9). The birth of a grandson would give her new zest for life and if, by God’s providence, he could be legally accepted as Elimelech’s heir then her joy would be complete. Ruth, the young widow from Moab who had thrown in her lot with her mother–in–law and had embraced the faith of Israel, assumed that remarriage was not only right and proper but also her express duty. In order that she could provide for Naomi, she needed a husband who would accept Naomi as a member of the family. For that reason her story had to be a love story with a difference, but under Naomi’s guidance it turned out to be even more unusual. She might have married an eligible young man of her own generation, but that would not have solved Naomi’s problem over the family property, nor would it have given an heir to Elimelech. By marrying into her late husband’s family, Ruth brought security into Naomi’s life as well as into her own. Her selfless love mirrored that of the God of Israel, in whom she had put her trust.     The two women dominate the story, but Boaz, a close relative of Elimelech, also had to be willing for new responsibilities. Not only was Naomi expecting him to marry the widow of Mahlon, his relative who had died in Moab, but also to buy property which might not in the end be his. The legal provision favoured the family which had been bereft, ensuring that a son born of the marriage would inherit Elimelech’s property and continue his line. The nearer relative to whom Boaz put the proposition rejected it on the grounds that it endangered his own estate (4:6). Boaz large–heartedly accepted the family responsibility, though it was costly, to the unqualified approval of the elders and people of Bethlehem, who prayed for God’s blessing to prosper his standing in the community and give children to Ruth.

    By the end of the story those prayers were answered more fully than any of the participants could have imagined. Israel’s felt need of a king was to be met after Saul’s death through David, a grandson of the boy called Obed who was born to Ruth and Boaz. David, for all his faults, established the kingdom, built Jerusalem, and inspired visions of the ideal king to come. God took the love and obedience of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz, and wove it into his eternal purpose to show ‘love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments’ (Dt. 5:10). The Messiah was indeed born into this same family (Mt. 1:5-6, 16; Lk. 3:23-31).

    A further theme, implicit in all that has been written thus far, is God’s providential ordering of human life. The author of Ruth could see part of God’s purpose for human history being fulfilled in David; the Christian reader can fit the part into the whole, for God was executing a plan to redeem humankind through great David’s greater son. The author of Ruth was also aware of God’s hand upon the personal circumstances of families and individuals, encouraging them to look back over events and to trace the mysterious outworking of God’s overflowing goodness in their lives. The events speak for themselves. In personal life and in history God was working out his good purpose.

- Joyce Baldwin


Today is Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday: the beginning of the Lenten season. We don't officially practice Lent at King's Cross but if you'd indulge me anyway with some thoughts on the season.

For those of you (like myself) who did not grow up practicing this because it was too formal/dry/dead or had the perspective, "Isn't Lent for Catholics?!"... Lent is a season of lament, intended to help the church posture herself in repentance to anticipate the cross (Good Friday) and the resurrection (Easter). Just as we prepare for anything in our lives (wedding, job interview, certification, exam, etc) with practices of anticipation, Lent helps the church prepare together... to form us together. So here is one reflection for us to consider as we anticipate the cross and resurrection:

You may have noticed people in your offices, or on the subway, or walking around carrying the ashen mark on their foreheads. There's a line from one of my favorite psalms that I love: "For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103:14)

How often do we live or serve the church on our own strength, forgetting that we are dust, animated by the breath (Spirit) of God? (Gen 2:7) We forget; but David reminds us in the psalm that He knows our frame. God does not forget. The wise sage who authored Ecclesiastes reminds us: "All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return." (Ecc 3:20)

Being of dust reminds us that we live in a neighborhood that lives in brokenness, and we are part of that brokenness that needs restoration. We lament with the poor because we are also poor. We lament with the weak because we are also weak. We lament with immigrants because scripture reminds us we are foreigners who were invited to be natives of the Kingdom.

And in Christ coming, he who lived in perfect splendor came down to be dust with us. (John 1:14) So today, if you are so inclined, join your heart with me and many others all over the world (just as we recite the Apostle's Creed every Sunday), to remember who we are, and that this symbolic smear of ash on our foreheads remind us that we are dust. We lament the state of our lives and the state of our world. But it is being fully immersed in this lament (not trying to avoid it or fast forward it til we get to the "good part") that we can better see the beauty of the life we've been given through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As we are exploring Gathered & Scattered, how can we lament well and join our hearts *with* and alongside our neighbors? Let us seek to understand and know our community, our church, and those who've been entrusted to our care and friendships.

Prayer:
Lord, remind us by whose power we live and move and have our being. Give us eyes to properly see ourselves and more clearly see the brokenness of our lives and community. And give us hearts of love that models after your heart: that you came and dwelt among people like us. Empower us by your Holy Spirit to show forth the Gospel in all areas of our lives. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.


Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes

As of now, King's Cross does not follow the liturgical calendar too strictly. However, both Norman and I wanted to share a few thoughts on this day that many will be observing around the world.

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, which is the solemn preparation for the church to move toward the reflection and consideration of Jesus Christ’s passion—especially his crucifixion and then, subsequent resurrection.

The significance of the ash on the forehead, which many “high-church” or liturgically heavy churches practice are demonstrative of the reflection on our own human brokenness. Ashes or dust are commonly poured on one’s head in the bible as a symbol of mourning. Why all the soil and detritus? It’s because of this “earthy-curse” that came from our defiance of everything that God is and loves, we are relegated to a destiny of dust.

Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes.

Therefore, by placing the ashes on our foreheads, we’re identifying with the frustration and futility that our one common end will bring. Rich and poor, small and great, we all inherit the same thing in the end... dust and ashes. 

However, while the journey of Lent begins with dust and ashes, it brings us to a much fairer end, a much finer destination which we cannot miss.

The gospel of Jesus Christ tells us that upon Christ’s brow, he bore the symbol of that “earthy-curse” (Gen 3:18,)—a crown of cruel, piercing thorns while he hung on the cross. However, after rising anew, we see the arisen Lord in Revelation 19:12, which says, “and on his head are many crowns...”

Through Jesus’s triumph over shame, sin and death— he’s not simply reversed the curse, he’s greatly multiplied the inheritance we all long for. In Christ, I no longer am destined to dust and ashes as my eternal reward—but he places on my head his own reward and inheritance, it’s often referred to in the bible as “eternal life.”

Is it good to put ashes on our forehead? Sure. But only if it leads you to deeper mourn the brokenness of how the curse of sin has embittered much of which should have been sweet, and ultimately, must lead you to confess yet again, that your only hope and salvation and glory... is in Christ Jesus. 

I’ll leave you with this. The story of the God’s redemption ends with our foreheads—much like how it quickly began with shame and contempt marring the minds and thoughts of mankind. Revelation 22:4, “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.” What could this mean? It means that better than dust and ashes, better than even a crown—we belong to him. It’s adoption as children of God. He’s kissed his name upon our foreheads, to ever be his beloved children. Thank you Jesus for bearing that crown of thorns on your brow so that we could have blessing on ours.


2017 Elected Leader Nominations

Dear King’s Cross,

This has been an incredible season of seeing God’s provision and faithfulness to us a church. We are growing, as is our commitment and vision to the Kingdom here in our neighborhood and city. However, we need to recognize the great importance and role of leadership in the church. In Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul reminds the Church:

“And he [God] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

I am hardpressed to believe there can be any lasting and impactful work done for our Lord and King here in our city, lives, and church, apart from us continuing to truly believe that it is Christ’s will and desire to raise up such leaders as the apostle is speaking of. Therefore, as one of my first pastoral exhortations to you as a congregation, I urge you to take up this weighty matter of discerning those among us who the Lord may be calling to help lead King’s Cross to be truly Kingdom Minded, Kingdom People--that God would receive the great glory and worship he is worthy of in all the earth. 

In Christ,
-Robert C. 


Nomination process

The nomination process is exclusively for members of Living Faith Community Church. The nominations must be submitted in hard copy and must be submitted in person to either Ester Linton between February 19-March 31
We will have forms at the welcoming table on Sundays or you can download and print your own here. For any other questions, please email info@kingscrossnyc.org. 

All nominees will be initially screened for membership and Christian experience requirements. If the nominee qualifies under both categories, they will receive a letter confirming their nomination and the process to follow. 

Once the nominations are in, a personal interview will be set up with the nominee and two elders (for elder nominees) and/or two Diaconate Members) to discuss the appropriateness and timing of their nomination. Nominees will begin training in April once they have been recommended. 

After the training, a personal interview and a group theological and doctrinal interview take place. The Session then votes on each nominee to either recommend or not recommend them to the congregation as officers.

All nominees who are approved and recommended to stand for election will then be voted on by the congregation at the Annual Anniversary congregational meeting. Nominees who are voted in are then installed in February and begin their office on March. 

Qualifications

  • Requirements Nominating a member for either Diaconate or Elder:
    • Nominees should have been a professing Christian for at least (3) years.
    • They should either have been a King’s Cross member for at least (1) year
      • OR a King’s Cross member for at least (6) months with committed regular attendance at King’s Cross for at least (2) years.
    • In order to enter the screening process, a member needs a minimum of (3) nominations is required.

Personal questions to consider

  1. Should I nominate a particular member to be an elder, diaconate at King’s Cross?
  2. Should I accept a nomination to be considered as an elder, diaconate at King’s Cross?

*The following guidelines, though not the final word on the matter, ought to help as you consider these questions.

Five categories of qualifications

  • Calling: Calling is both inward and outward. A candidate should desire to serve and should be recognized by others as possessing the gifts and graces necessary for the task.
  • Character: Though no leader can expect to be perfect, he or she must be exemplary, modeling in a consistent way the character of Christ. 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:5-9 offer a useful summary of the character qualifications.
  • Competency: God calls elders, and diaconate team to serve in distinct and varying ways. A candidate should evidence the inclination and ability to fulfill that particular biblical role.
    • Elder candidates should be able to equip and care for people spiritually and should know their way around the Bible and be able to teach it. They should be comfortable praying with people in need and should be good managers.
    • Diaconate candidates should demonstrate a practical and caring spirit. They should be willing to serve under the authority of the elders and in such a way as to free the elders to focus on their particular responsibilities. At King’s Cross, diaconate members pray for individuals after services on Sundays, assist in membership interviews, assist in examining diaconate candidates, assist with finances and advocate and care for those in need.
  • Compatibility: Candidates need to understand and fit into the King’s Cross life and vision.
  • Comprehension: Candidates need to understand and accept King’s Cross convictions about theology and church government. This involves commitment to the Bible’s authority, to Presbyterian Church government and to the Westminster standards. 

Training schedule

Training begins in April of each year with the theological and doctrinal class. Both Diaconate and elder nominees attend this training class. It is taught by elders.

After the conclusion of theological training, elder nominees attend a practical skills training class for elders, while diaconate nominees attend a practical skills training class for the Diaconate. Nominee training is held on agreed upon schedule with all the candidates.

Deferments

If a nominee is unable to continue with the nomination process due to time constraints or other life circumstances, they may defer their nomination for up to one year. The Diaconate Director should be contacted and a deferment requested. If the nominee is unable to move forward with the process within the year, they will need to be re-nominated at a later date.