CCC Blog

A Reflection on Psalm 6

1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger,

or discipline me in your wrath.

2 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;

O LORD, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.

3 My soul also is struck with terror,

while you, O LORD—how long?

4 Turn, O LORD, save my life;

deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.

5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;

in Sheol who can give you praise?

6 I am weary with my moaning;

every night I flood my bed with tears;

I drench my couch with my weeping.

7 My eyes waste away because of grief;

they grow weak because of all my foes.

8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil,

for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.

9 The LORD has heard my supplication;

the LORD accepts my prayer.

10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror;

they shall turn back, and in a moment be put to shame.

 

Too often in our world today, we try to go it alone and are made to think that asking for help is a sign of weakness.  With each passing year, layer upon layer of practiced  self-sufficiency covers the most basic instinct within us – the unrestrained asking for help. Think about how a baby’s first action is to cry for help.  When it is hungry, it cries; without calculating beforehand what others might think.  Even as a toddler, when a child is hurt, it runs crying to mom or dad with arms held high, never once thinking how it is perceived by others.  Unabashedly asking for help – throwing heads back, sending arms skyward - is our most basic human characteristic.

 

The apostle Peter gives us an ideal example of this.  When Jesus stood on top of the stormy water and invited Peter to walk on the water toward him, Peter momentarily did so (Matthew 14:29-30).  But when Peter began to sink, he threw up his arms and cried out “Lord, save me!”  Without giving a second thought to what the other disciples might have thought, or how history would perceive him, he unashamedly asked for help.  This is the courage expressed by the psalmist in Psalm 6.  Brutal honesty brings forth the words, “I am languishing” (v. 2).  Not stopping there, they confess how they are shaken to the core, physically and spiritually, by whatever it is that plagues them.  Maybe they feel as though they are drowning in a stormy sea of guilt and shame; caught in the undertow of regrets and wished-for do-overs.  Whatever it is, things are so bad that they spend every night crying themselves to sleep and can barely see straight due to the grief that engulfs them.  Psalm 6 is honest – brutally honest – about the pain we feel in life.

 

Yet the psalm ends with a declaration of certainty.  Just as surely as Jesus’ hand was there to lift Peter up from the drowning waters pulling him down, the psalmist reassures themselves, and us, that the Lord hears our cries for help; our pleas; our prayers.  There is no shortage of messaging in the world today encouraging us to believe in the nobility in going it alone.  But for those that would be disciples, there is no greater expression of faith than to throw caution to the wind and arms up in surrender.  There are no two more powerful words than “help me!”  Whatever it is that may cause your body and spirit to be grieved or pained, may you find the liberating power of the words “Help me.”  Our loving God, who hears the sound of our weeping and accepts our prayers, stands ready to offer the only help that can truly save us.  

 

God of healing help, thank you for hearing my cries and accepting my prayers.  Grant me the courage to confess my need for help.  And may I, through the grace of your Holy Spirit, experience the help that only you can provide.

Posted by Michael Karunas with

Did You Know... Week 2

Did You Know… that the only thing needed to become a member is a confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior?  Both our primary founders, Alexander    Campbell and Barton Stone, believed that the church should structure itself on the practices found in the New Testament.  That is, if the New Testament gives evidence of the early Christians doing something, the church of today should do it.  Likewise, if there is no evidence of the earliest Christians doing something, we should refrain from doing it today. 

 

When Campbell and Stone looked around, on the western frontier of the    United States 200 years ago, they saw people joining other churches  (e.g.    Lutherans and Presbyterians) on the basis of that church’s creed.  A creed is a document that spells out that church’s beliefs.  Stone and Campbell were not against the substance of a creed.  That is, all creeds said that there was one God and that Jesus Christ was the son of that God.  No one would dispute that.  But Stone and Campbell felt that the Holy Spirit couldn’t be contained in the words of any one creed.  The Holy Spirit cannot be restricted and confined in this way.  Moreover, they saw how these creeds were used to divide Christians when, in essence, all Christians believed in Jesus as the way of salvation. 

 

Most important, however, was the fact that when our founders read the New Testament, they didn’t see people coming to Christ by means of a creed or an explanation of their faith.  Rather, they were saved by a confession of their faith.  They pointed to Matthew 16:16 where Jesus asks the disciples “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter replied, “You are the Christ (the savior), the son of the living God.”  That was enough for Jesus and it was enough for Campbell and Stone.

 

As the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) today, we still base membership on this Great Confession of Peter.  We are more concerned that you believe in  Jesus as God’s chosen instrument of salvation than we are with in what way you understand him to be simultaneously fully human and fully divine; or with how you think Jesus relates to the other members of the Holy Trinity (Father and Holy Spirit).  Should you come forward one Sunday to join the church, we will ask you one question – the same question Jesus asked Peter in Matthew 16:16.  We believe this is what God intends – an emphasis on what unites us more than the distinctions of how we articulate our faith, which can divide us. 

Blessings – Michael

 

Posted by Michael Karunas with

Did You Know... Week 1

Did You Know… that the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) almost didn’t exist? 

 

In 1801, Barton Stone and five other Presbyterian ministers split from the Kentucky Synod of the Presbyterian church to form their own independent Springfield Presbytery.  They had been inspired by an event that had occurred recently at Stone’s congregation in Cane Ridge, KY.  Thousands of people, representing different Christian denominations, met together for a weekend of fellowship, preaching, and the Lord’s Supper.  Prior to that time, Presbyterians only served communion to other Presbyterians.  But over that weekend, Stone watched as the Holy Spirit brought people together for worship and inspiration, regardless of their denominational affiliation.  When Sunday arrived and it came time to serve communion, Stone felt it was impossible to withhold the Bread and Cup from the Methodists, Lutherans, and Baptists who were also there, since they had been moved by the same Holy Spirit as the Presbyterians were.  He broke with the tradition of his Presbyterian Church and served communion to all who were gathered.  

 

Shortly thereafter, he and the other like-believing Presbyterian pastors formed their own Springfield Presbytery, which focused on the unity of all Christians based on a shared belief in Jesus as the Christ.  Unity, Stone would say, should be our “polar star” that must guide us in all things.  Over the next few years, 15 congregations in Kentucky joined the movement.  But then, not even three years later, the six pastors – led by Stone – published a document called “The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery.”  They wrote: “We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but one body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling.”  They disbanded the very thing they had created, believing that creating a new church was not bringing people together in Christian unity, but rather adding another layer of division.  They envisioned that all congregations would be independent, only refer to one another as “Christians,” and focus on what they had in common with other congregations and not what was different among them.  

Barton Stone and others would continue this independent “Christian” movement for many years until one day joining with Alexander Campbell (who was leading a movement calling themselves “Disciples”) to form the Christian-Disciples Movement.  Though this would one day become the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), it never lost the desire to promote Christian unity and to emphasize what we have in common with other Christians and not on what distinguishes us from them.  

- Blessings, Michael

Posted by Michael Karunas with

Actions Speak Louder Than Words sermon series, Spring 2024

The word “apostle” means “sent” – as in, Jesus “sent” his 12 apostles out into the world to do the work of God on his behalf.  When he did this, he even gave them the authority he himself had been given.  Yet the last time we saw these apostles (before Easter), they were doing the opposite – running away,      abandoning Jesus, denying him, betraying him.  What happened to them after Easter?  That will be our focus for the next five weeks.  These early apostles got together, picked themselves up, and started building the church and spreading the Gospel.  They did it with their words, but even more so with their actions.  Their actions validated their beliefs and became the foundation on which the church was built.  We will look at 5 key actions exemplified by the apostles as described in the Book of Acts.  We will learn how they can help shape our faith – as individuals and as a church – today. 

 

Each Sunday we will also publish a one-page “Did You Know” about the      Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Our founders wanted to restore the church to it’s New Testament foundations (to model our church after the one the apostles were building).  Each of the actions the apostles took in building the church can be witnessed in our current practices at Central Christian Church.

 

April 14           Acts 1:15-16, 21-26                 Take the Next Best Step in Front of You

 

April 21           Acts 2:37-41                            Be Open!

 

April 28           Acts 2:42-47                            Get Back to Basics

 

May 5           Acts 4:32-37                                Be a Bridge 

 

May 12           Acts 8:26-39                              Build a Relationship

 

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