Last week Dwight ran across a quote from a missionary family from Dr. Francis Schaeffer, “You can change the world from around your kitchen table.” This family had hosted 73 people during the month of June in their home and in their guesthouses. That prompted us, as we approached the celebration of the freedom of our country, to consider conversation around our outdoor table as a means of examining the roots of our country’s founding with other people.
Probably one of the most influential books in my life is Hidden Art by Edith Schaeffer. I would like to begin by telling you about Edith Schaeffer because her own life is embodied in the book. I met Mrs. Schaeffer through her first book, L’Abri. Sometime in the mid-70’s I was librarian in a small church library. It was my custom to go to the local Christian bookstore to peruse the offerings. It was here that I learned about L’Abri.
I have a confession to make. I have been heavy of heart. I have lamented and questioned how, not only this church, but all of God’s greater body the Church, can come together to love one another and behave in such a manner that He will be glorified on earth. I fear that we have forgotten who we are. How gracious of God that He would remind me of Himself and what He has and is accomplishing on earth!
Do you know the traditions of a Galilean wedding? Galilean wedding traditions are unique to Galilee, and are different from general Jewish weddings. Jesus lived in Galilee, as did His disciples. When He talked to them, they were understanding the context of His words. Because we are unfamiliar with these particular traditions, we do not understand the context of His words, but it is helpful for us to learn about the way weddings were done in Galilee. We, the Church, are the bride of Jesus.
This strange and distorted season of 2020 has, so far, been characterized by two life-changing events. First came the corona virus, attacking the lungs, and rendering those severely affected by it with an inability to breathe. The second event, the death of George Floyd, occurred because a police officer placed his knee upon the neck of George Floyd in such a way that Floyd’s ability to breathe was restricted. Marchers, protesting on behalf of and in sympathy with Floyd, are walking around carrying signs reflecting Floyd’s last words, “I Can’t Breathe!”.
This current moment, perhaps, offers some parallels to the book of Exodus for us to consider. We are regularly faced with the injustices of racism and violence towards African Americans in this country, rolling into mainstream media like the plagues that hit Egypt, one after the other.
Friends, as the Community Pastor, I feel compelled to write in response to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. This is a post of lament first, reflection second. This is not intended to be a critique of White people or the White Church, although because I am white my experience will inevitably feel this way. My intention is only to represent my own thoughts and feelings.
Among the updates and stories was one in particular that stood out to me. Joo and Ashley Lee shared how they had invited a Japanese family to join them for the International Harvest Celebration the previous night. Ashley has been ministering to her friend for several months now, having developed a friendship through their young daughters.
Why has the Church not taken the gospel to the ends of the earth? Why are there places in the world where there is no church and no gospel witness? It has been almost 2,000 years, after all.
As we gather in the coming months, much of what we will do to celebrate will take place around the dinner table, amply supplied with an array of delicious holiday favorites. We will fill our plates with roasted turkey and casserole, buttered bread and yams, stuffing and mashed potatoes, and top it all off with more pie than we have eaten in all the preceding months of the year combined. So, the question naturally arises, IS THIS TOO MUCH?
In the past months, the unjust killing of innocent black men and women has laid heavily on our hearts – yours, ours, our African-American brothers and sisters, the Lord’s. There has been a smearing of God’s image through these deaths; not to mention the generations of systemic racism, socioeconomic and health disparities, and segregation both in implicit and explicit action.
Perspectives is wrapping up for the semester and what a journey the course has been for our students and instructors! We began the course way back in January—40 students gathering for dinner and teaching each Monday—learning about the biblical basis and strategy for missions. It has been such a blessing in our church to see a movement towards missions and how CHBC specifically can respond to the Great Commission.
The age of social distancing has made it difficult to love others in the ways that we’re comfortable with. Of the five love languages, only words of affirmation remains unscathed by the regulations we seek to follow for the sake of public health. Acts of service, gifts, physical touch, and quality time have all taken a serious hit as a result of our careful attempts to curb the virus’ spread. Some, including myself, have tried our hand at some written notes. We’ve called friends and loved ones. We’ve stayed home. But we’ve also yearned for more tangible ways to love our neighbors and community. A discipline that I’ve engaged in quite a bit over the past year has recently rushed to the center of my attention. That is the practice of platelet donation.
We have just celebrated a unique Easter, one tainted by social distancing directives which have kept the Chapel Hill Bible Church and churches across the world from gathering together. The uniqueness of this Easter prompted me to consider the Easter celebration in a new way. More than anything, I have reflected upon Christian love as practiced in the local church.
I was so pleased to see this update from Sarah Whang this past week regarding our initiative to sew cloth/N95 masks for our medical professionals on the frontline of this virus.
Given this this week’s report from the NC Governor that there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in Wake County, we want to let you know the preventative measures CHBC is taking to reduce the spread of the virus. We are monitoring the situation, and we are consulting with other churches and organizations to follow best practices in taking precaution.
The best Boards all come together with a united purpose to move the action steps along. Our goal of promoting the mission of the church through the work of service is best accomplished when we all discuss with vigor and then fully support the resulting decision.
On Sunday afternoon, 145 members of CHBC gathered to celebrate what God has done in our church over the past year, and to lay the groundwork for our upcoming season.
Some of you know that I love my work with the finances of our church. I love numbers and spreadsheets generally, and I love seeing how our ministries thrive when resources are available. The tool that we use to guide our spending is our operating budget.
Each year, CHBC holds an Annual Business Meeting. This meeting is required by our Bylaws, and is a great opportunity for members to participate in some vital decisions for our church. As well, non-members are welcome and encouraged to attend to learn more about some of the behind-the-scenes things that underlie our life together.
The carpet has been rolled up. The streamers torn down. All the confetti is still floating around somewhere. Night to Shine is over. Looking back it’s always amazing to see how quickly the actual event speeds by once that first guest hits the red carpet. One minute our guests are being cheered down the red carpet and the next they are leaving the church through a dome of sparklers.
As we kickoff our year of celebration for 50 years of ministry, a common story we often hear is the mutual connection parents have with their college-aged children attending UNC and discovering a thriving Christian community at the Bible Church. Here’s Nicole Wesche and her father, Ken, sharing their bond with CHBC.
This story of one-on-one discipleship is truly powerful by these three college students, but rarely duplicated in our day. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a question to a friend of “How can I pray for you?” or asking someone to read the Bible every week and talk about it. Listen to how the Spirit of God worked through these friends to discover salvation through Jesus and ultimately change their life trajectories forever.
For this, the final post from this blog, the “we” is going to change to “I” – this last post is not written by the “building committee,” but from my own viewpoint, myself – Emily Williams. I’m doing this in order to express some personal observations and thoughts, and recognize some people from the project who have meant something to me, personally, as we have worked together. I hope you will stay in your seat all the way to the end of the credits for this movie!
A copy of Dwight Thomas’ ribbon cutting speech given on Sunday, December 16, 2018 at the Building Dedication Ceremony.
It is just amazing to see all that has been happening this past week. The chapel ceiling and flooring and trim, the ceiling tiles in the chapel lobby and connector, flooring downstairs, classroom carpeting, a second (final) coat of paint in many areas … the place is being transformed. Many little things are being done, too, such as putting the faceplates on the light switches and outlets.