In Mark 14, seemingly in contradiction to all that he preached, Jesus praises a lavish gift. A woman pours perfume worth a year’s wages on Jesus rather than selling it for charity. His disciples complain and Jesus teaches them (and us) an important lesson.
From our perspective, the question comes to: What should I do on a Sunday morning? Go out to help the poor or gather to worship?
The two great commandments balance against each other. Earlier in his ministry, a man asked Jesus how to summarize the law of God. He replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
We are called to love both God and our neighbor with sacrificial devotion. Loving one without the other is a distortion of God’s design for his kingdom. The work of the saints is both worship and service, praising and healing.
Helping the poor and fighting for justice are good actions. But if they aim to craft God’s kingdom without a king, in other words to build a substitute heaven on earth, then those deeds are hollow. They serve a good purpose. But they are not righteous because the motivation does not come from a heart of worship (cf WCF 16:7).
Likewise, a churchgoer who ignores others displays a lopsided expression of faith. Brian Fikkert, an expert on global poverty, writes: “Personal piety and formal worship are essential to the Christian life, but they must lead to lives that ‘act justly and love mercy’ (Mic. 6:8)… When people look at the church, they should see the One who declared — in word and deed to the leper, the lame, and the poor — that His kingdom is bringing healing to every speck of the universe.” (When Helping Hurts)
So back to the question: church or service? Church. Jesus shows that worshiping him first leads to faithful ministry in his name. It is right to pause to praise him — for the deeds will still be there. Our worship declares that it is ultimately God alone who heals through his people.
20s & 30s Group
Whatever your history with faith may be, young adulthood is a decisive period for anyone’s beliefs—spiritual or otherwise. We learn and unlearn a lot as we wrestle with big questions about God and ourselves. You’re not alone in this. And you shouldn’t feel alone. Let’s travel through this season together. Beginning in August, weekly gatherings will be hosted Wednesday nights from 7:00-9:00pm at the W83 Ministry Center and open to all 20s & 30s.
- Youth Group is coming back, Sept 9: The fall kickoff of youth group on Friday nights is Sept 9 from 7-9 pm and we’ll meet weekly thereafter. Middle School (6th-8th) and High School (9th-12th) will meet separately at W83 (but at the same time Fridays) for pizza, worship, building friendships, etc.
- Marriage Lab, Sept 14: Marriage Lab is a monthly gathering of newly married couples, grouped with seasoned mentor couples. Monthly discussions will include topics such as a gospel framework for marriage, intimacy, communication, finances, conflict resolution and others. You must have been married during the period from January 2020 through September 2022 and attend either Redeemer West Side or Redeemer Lincoln Square to participate.
- Youth Partners Cocktail Social, Sept 15: A new ministry year is upon us and the WS Youth team is excited to share all about its plans for the year! Learn what’s coming up for youth while enjoying a night of socializing over cocktails with other parents, guardians, volunteers, and youth-loving adults.
- Build your community: Every community has a mission, and every mission has a community behind it. So if you’re interested in building communities for following Jesus together and making an impact in our neighborhoods, please let us know. Community groups have always been a crucial part of Redeemer’s life together, all the more so when communities have been fragmented the last couple years.
Redeemer West Side is aiming to start up to 5 new community groups this fall. We’re looking for hosts and leaders who are hospitable, can facilitate discussions, and help their group find ways to serve the city and each other. If you feel like that’s you, send an email to [email protected]
- We are hiring: Do you know anyone who’d be a great fit at Redeemer? We are looking to fill several roles on our team before the end of the year. Check them out and spread the word!
- Volunteer at Youth Group on Friday nights: Build involvement with our amazing middle & high schoolers by joining a weekly pizza dinner at W83, leading small group discussions, and being a Christ-like presence in their lives.
- Register for Redeemer Counseling’s fall Renewal Groups: Renewal Groups combine gospel-centered, biblical truth with some of the best tools from counseling psychology. Each Renewal Group is made up of six to eight people and a professional counselor focusing on a particular area of healing and growth. In each group, you will learn skills as well as receive the encouragement of peers who are on the same journey as you. This fall, RCS has three groups: Your Asian American Journey (for women) Sexual Integrity for Men, and Calming Your Anxious Mind.
- Join our Children’s Ministry Volunteer Team: Sharing the gospel with our kids is discipleship. Please consider volunteering.
- Join a Do For One info session: This fall, meet in person to learn more about a special community that supports adults with disabilities. Gain a deeper understanding of the history behind Do For One’s mission, and hear stories about real Do For One relationships!
- Serve at All Angels’ Community Meal: Serve along West Siders to set up, distribute, and clean up meals for our neighbors experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity.
- Become a tutor or mentor this year: As the school year starts, consider connecting with a child to support dreams and goals throughout the year! Look for ways to mentor and/or tutor for the 2022-2023 academic year.
- Volunteer for The Open Door, Fall Program: Volunteer to teach in-person classes starting in September (various dates at different sites). Meet hardworking people and make deep connections, all while supporting our marginalized brothers and sisters in the immigrant community.