WS Update : Spiritual Challenges

February 14, 2022

Yesterday I preached on one of the most well-known passages in all of Scripture: Jonah and the great fish (Jonah 2). You can listen to the sermon here, but what I want to highlight today is the context of Jonah’s experience, summarized by Jack Sasson this way:

Once Jonah plunges into the waters, further events turn strangely limp, with only the novelty of an enwombed human to occupy an audience’s attention and to stir its curiosity. The action is about to come to a full halt in order to leave Jonah alone with his God

Jonah was a prophet with a deep knowledge of Scripture, theology and God’s role in history. But when the old life he knew disappeared and he suddenly was faced with a new challenge (called by God to love his enemy the Ninevites) he discovered that his level of spiritual functioning was insufficient for his new reality. The pandemic and other societal disruptions have revealed the same reality in many of us, that our level of spiritual resources are inadequate for our new reality. Jonah reminds us that the way into a deeper relationship with God is Psalm-soaked prayer. His prayer, despite his weak grasp of God’s grace and level of despair, reflected someone schooled in the Psalms, language that reconnects us to our deepest longing and God’s unfailing love. Take some time to read and reflect on Jonah’s prayer (Jonah 2:1-9) and may it be a gateway into a deeper experience of God’s presence in your life this week.

Blessed is the one

    who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

    or sit in the company of mockers,

 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

    and who meditates on his law day and night.

 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,

    which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither—

    whatever they do prospers.

  • Psalm 1:1-3

Caleb: Spiritual Vision in a Time of Uncertainty

It was a time of spiritual compromise and loss of spiritual vision. Caleb’s generation lived through incredible tumult – wilderness and wars, cataclysmic generational change and an uncertain future. Such monumental change and uncertainty can have a way of blurring our vision of God and his purposes and shrinking our lives to narrow self-preservation and compromise. Yet in the midst of all this, Caleb stood out. He was able to see God more clearly than most and lived to see God’s promises fulfilled in his lifetime. God understands our fears and anxieties, but he gives us his power and presence and calls us higher. Join us as we explore what the life and faith of Caleb may have to teach us about living with spiritual vitality in uncertain times.

Coming Up

  • Serve and Love: There are so many ways you can help! From helping Redeemer West Side to helping our New York neighbors.
  • Serve Food at the Frederick Douglass Houses: Connect with and serve our neighbors living in the Frederick Douglass Houses by giving out food to the community. Come be a part of building relationships with and loving our neighbors in the West Side!
  • Don’t Walk By changes for 2022: This year, Don’t Walk By is moving to March/April and shortening to three Saturdays: March 26, April 2, and April 9. Our goal is to continue serving our homeless neighbors but also keep everyone (guests, volunteers, staff) safe. Volunteers are still needed!
  • Ways to volunteer virtually: With the increase in Omicron cases and winter weather, find a way to serve virtually. There are many opportunities to serve outside your neighborhood but still make an impact on a new community.