WS Update: Salvation

January 17, 2022

Yesterday we started a new series on the book of Jonah (listen to the sermon here), a brilliant story that is a microcosm of the story of the world. The story begins with Jonah running from the face of God (Jonah 1:3), deciding that the good life is in Tarshish, not Nineveh. Tarshish was an exotic destination on the opposite side of the world, a far off and idealized port which is perhaps the way many view NYC when they move here. In Jonah’s decision we find why the human race lives under the shadow of death, poverty, illness, hatred and all forms of injustice. Essentially Jonah believes he is running for his best life when in reality he is running from it. God’s word, when spoken and obeyed, brings life and meaning. In Genesis 1 and 2 God speaks light out of darkness, order and beauty out of chaos and names the aspects of his creation, signifying the giving of purpose. So what we find in the first three verses of Jonah is that sin is not simply breaking rules and being bad, it is divine character assassination in which we decide that we know better than God what will bring us happiness and purpose. Instead what we find is that Jonah’s running is taking him ‘down’ – to Joppa, to Tarshish, to the bottom of the boat and ultimately the bottom of the sea. Rejection of God falsely promises a life of upward mobility but in the end leaves us in dark places looking up. But as the book states, ‘Salvation is from the Lord’ (Jonah 2:9), a salvation found in the one who was the perfect Jonah who came down from the ultimate heights, perfectly obeyed God’s word and was plunged into to the depths of Hell so that we might be written into God’s story, reconciled to God and one another (Philippians 2:6-8).

So as you start another week consider these questions we pondered yesterday:

In what ways have you fled from God’s presence and word? Explore where you feel lost, confused, angry?

What changes do you need to make in your approach to God’s word? Where do you need to turn around?

Read John 1:1-15 (below) and reflect on how the Word made flesh obeyed his Father and died so that God’s word is no longer a source of fear, but freedom.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1-5

In honor of the holiday consider taking the time to read Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, a brilliant summary of the struggle for justice, that ends with these words of hope rooted in his knowledge of Scripture and faith in God:

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

W83 Gallery | Opening reception for “At dawn on the first day”

Noemia Marinho and the Gleaning Project, a small group of low-income New Yorkers, work with discarded materials such as plastic bags, milk cartons, bottles, and used tea bags to transform trash into beautiful and evocative works of art. Through her artistic practice and the created pieces, Noemia hopes to inspire others to share a vision for life that believes nothing is wasted, and radical transformation is possible.

The exhibit runs from January 21 through March 27.

Opening reception is Friday, January 21, from 7 to 9 pm. RSVP here.

Coming Up at RWS

  • Discover your spiritual gifts, Feb 2: APEST is a spiritual gift framework from Ephesians 4. Paul says Jesus has given apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers—hence the acronym APEST. After registering, you’ll be given instructions on how to take the brief online assessment.
  • Become a member of RWS, Feb 6: Our Membership Class helps you learn the gospel theology and ministry of Redeemer West Side. WE cover what’s behind the five membership vows, how a PCA church is led, and how members step into our sacred call to love our neighbors and heal our city.
  • Getting married?, Feb 12: Plan on attending Redeemer’s Premarital Seminar. You don’t have to be engaged to participate in the seminar. Even if you’ve just begun considering the possibility of marriage, this is a powerful way to discover whether you should continue in your relationship. This seminar is a lively day of biblical teaching on marriage, exercises that help a couple learn more about each other, and ending with a time of Q&A. 
  • Sign up for Following Jesus, starting Feb 13: This class gives us a foundation to live on as a follower of Jesus and helps us understand the greater Christian story we are part of.
  • Bond with families without support systems: Compassionate volunteers are needed to bond with families in isolation. Find ways to serve them through Safe Families for Children, by creating a resource network, a communication chain, or offering translation.
  • Vision for Mercy and Justice: HFNY’s Young Supporters Community is hosting a virtual fireside chat with church partner leaders: Charles Chung/Redeemer Downtown, Jessica Rice/Renaissance, and Sarah Bourns Crosby/Hope Midtown. Join this free event on Wed. January 19 to hear their vision for mercy and justice in 2022!