Dying for Rebirth

Sermon preached by Michael Cheuk, on June 22, 2014.  Taken from Matthew 10:24-39.

This morning’s New Testament lesson from Matthew is a challenging word. I didn’t choose it. It was the assigned Gospel lesson for today in the Revised Common Lectionary. This passage is a hard teaching of Jesus that challenges my tendency to see him solely in comforting, pastoral terms. But Jesus declares some sobering realities to his disciples. In the beginning of this chapter, Jesus had just sent out his twelve disciples to the nearby Jewish towns and villages on a mission of preaching and healing. Gone were the comforting days when these students were nestled in the cocoon of Jesus’ protective care, being fed by Jesus, watching and learning from Jesus their teacher. Now, Jesus is pushing his students out into the world, and Jesus is preparing them to face resistance and persecution as a result of the mission. This resistance will come not just from outside, from those who are not yet believers. No, the resistance may also come from within, from family members, and yes, even from themselves. Many times, “resistance” is too strong a word. “Concern” might better describe the feelings of those who need more information, who need greater clarity before going on mission. After all, Jesus himself advised his followers to “count the cost” before embarking on an important venture.

In the past couple of weeks, I have received comments and thoughts from some of you regarding my idea of launching a second service for the purpose of reaching out to the university community. Thanks to your input, I’ve come to realize that I need to explain and clarify more about what I’m proposing. Allow me to offer these thoughts for your consideration. read on

Thoughts about a second service

In my sermon last Sunday, I attempted to make a case for launching an alternative worship service as part of our missional strategy to reach out to the university community and a younger generation. You can read my sermon here.  I welcome your thoughts via email, personal conversations and/or anonymous notes slipped in the mail slot of the church office door.

In other matters, I will be away this Sunday as we take Thea to Dulles airport for her three-week trip to Guatemala. Please welcome Brian Williams to the pulpit this Sunday!

~ Blessings, Michael

 

Welcome Rev. Brian Williams

Brian WilliamsOur guest preacher on Sunday, June 15, will be Dr. Brian Williams, Pastor of Missional Communities at Spring Hill Baptist Church in Ruckersville. He has served as pastor of churches in Hampton Roads along with serving as an adjunct professor of biblical studies at Bluefield College, Regent University, and the John Leland Center for Theological Studies.

Brian earned a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in biblical studies from Baylor University. He is married to Donna, and they share in the joy of two grown daughters and a grandson.

We welcome Brian to the pulpit this Sunday.

 

Different Gifts, Common Good

Sermon preached by Michael Cheuk,  for Pentecost Sunday, June 8, 2014.  Taken from Acts 2:1-21; 1 Corinthians 12:3-13.

For those of us who are parents, we remember the birth of our children. On the morning of the day that Thea was born, Beth and I went to visit a church friend at Martha Jefferson Hospital because she had just given birth to a son. On the way back home from the visit, Beth’s water broke, and I turned the car around and hurried back to Beth’s obstetrician. Thankfully, his office was right across the street from Martha Jefferson Hospital (the old one on Locust Ave.), and he immediately admitted Beth to a room. The nurses at the birthing wing were surprised to see Beth again, this time sitting in a wheelchair and in full labor! An hour or so after we casually visited our friend’s new baby, we had one of our own!

For me, that experience was chaotic and disorienting, as I felt like a helpless bystander in a whirlwind of activity. I tried to support Beth the best that I could, but there was little that I could do. Beth’s labor came so quickly, she didn’t time for an epidural. So she experienced the full labor and the full pain of childbirth. But when the nurse brought Thea into the room for Beth to hold in her arms for the first time, we saw that living miracle and we knew that our lives would never be the same.

Little did we realize just how much our lives would change! read on

Hearing from UBC

This past weekend, Ruben Swint met with approximately one hundred church members representing all age groups, and members of Church Council, Deacons and the Stewardship and Finance Committees.

Here are some comments from church members about this weekend.

Ruben’s comments were informative and particularly helpful as he emphasized the importance of targeted communication to various age groups.”  – Ed Smith

Having someone from the outside to help us achieve clarity on our mission/passion and then structure accordingly is a vital process throughout an organization’s life cycle. … We will leverage the unique lens Ruben provides to revitalize and refocus our efforts.”  – Brad Groff

In the coming weeks, Ruben will be writing a report of his findings and that report will be available for all members to read sometime this summer.

At my debriefing breakfast meeting with Ruben this morning, he shared with me that he observed positive and enthusiastic participation from the groups that met with him.  University Baptist is in a good position to enter into a fruitful future.  The church is blessed with a fine facility that is well-kept, clean and functional.  Ruben observes that our church has a strong capacity for generosity — in the giving of our time, talents, and finances.  The challenge is to clarify our vision and mission in order to focus our resources toward that goal.  Finally, further church-wide conversations are needed to leverage our excellent worship and music ministries toward accomplishing our mission.

I want to thank everyone who participated in these sessions.  Your input and thoughts were crucial in helping Ruben assess where we are and where we can go as a congregation.  I’m excited about the journey!

~Blessings, Michael

Welcome, Ruben Swint!

ruben_swintCongregational Coach Ruben Swint will be visiting UBC, beginning on June 1. During Ruben’s time with us, he will meet with various groups in the church to learn more about us — our strengths and opportunities, as well as our challenges and weaknesses. It will be a time of envisioning God’s future for University Baptist.

Below is a schedule of meetings. We invite you to attend the one scheduled for your age group. But if you’re not available at that time, feel free to join another group!

SUNDAY, June 1

8:30 – 9:30 am………Ruben meets with Church Council & Deacons (Choir Suite)

9:45 – 10:40 am……..Ruben meets with Young Couples & Young Families

11:00 am……………..Ruben joins us in morning Worship

12:15 – 2:00 pm……..Ruben meets with Finance & Stewardship Committees (Fellowship Hall — Light lunch served)

6:00 – 8:00 pm………Ruben meets with Median Adults (Fellowship Hall)

MONDAY, June 2

11 am – 1 pm…………Ruben meets with Senior Adults (Light lunch served)

3:00 – 4:00 pm……….Ruben meets with Church Staff

7:00 – 8:30 pm……….ALL church members and regular attenders are invited to meet Ruben (Fellowship Hall — Light refreshments are served)

Please attend one of these meetings and make your voice heard!

~Blessings, Michael

 

Building God’s People

In my sermon last Sunday, I talked about how in the past several years UBC has embarked on a series of capital campaigns called “Building God’s House” and “Caring for God’s House.” These campaigns renovated our building, which is now a wonderful asset for ministries. Our building now hosts a variety of groups, including university voice professors and students, a Hispanic Bible study, a Christian counseling practice, and the Central Virginia Baptist Association steering committee.

As wonderful an asset as our building is, I believe that the greatest asset God has given to UBC is her people — members and regular attenders who participate in the life, ministry and worship here at UBC. Now that our physical building is in good shape, I believe that it is time to “Build God’s People,” to bless, nurture and grow the people of University Baptist.

Therefore, in a couple of weeks, Ruben Swint, a congregational coach, will be visiting us to help us with this journey. He will spend time with various groups in the congregation to help us assess where we are, to clarify our mission, to strengthen our faith, to build our capacity for generosity in reaching out to the university community and beyond, to give birth to new groups, and to launch us on a journey of transformation. A schedule of these meetings will be posted in next week’s Word. In the meantime, pray that God will prepare us for this exciting journey ahead!

~Blessings, Michael

Ceiling Tiles

Tonight we started a new tradition. I gave each youth permission to take one of the ceiling tiles in the youth room and personalize it with their names and a bible verse. The bible verse could be one that applies to their lives right now, one that they hope will apply in the future, or it could be a “birth verse.” A birth verse is kind of a kitschy idea but the premise involves aligning your birthday with a chapter and verse from a book in the bible. For example, my birthday is September 1st, so I was looking at the first verse of a ninth chapter (9:1). I settled on Romans 9:1 – I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit. I really identified with this one as it touches on my role as the Youth Coordinator and how I approach my relationships with all of the kids. It’s also a lot better than Nehemiah 9:1 which reads- On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads.

Now, I recognize that there may be a few critics of the youth personalizing anything in the church, but I assure you this was not an unseemly undertaking. You see, over the last year and a half I have often heard Michael preach or talk about the history of our church. I have repeatedly heard the story of how the bank moved in and our congregation had to ban together to raise the money to purchase the church. I heard about the decision to stay and be UNIVERSITY Baptist Church and how the congregation felt there was a purpose and calling to be located so close to the campus (grounds). Today, I heard Michael preach on the importance of the cornerstone and it reminded me of the connection that so many in our congregation have to this building. They are invested in it (literally). They have a history here. Their children were born into this church community and have been nurtured to adulthood only to then have their own children now become a part of the congregation. The walls and pillars are richly coated with the memories of the saints that have gone before us and many in the church experience the same comfort and solace that we would expect to find in our own homes.

So, what does this have to do with the youth taking the ceiling apart….? Simply this: The youth are making their own memories. The way I see it is – there’s no great crisis or concern that will underlie or define their church experience (hopefully). They will grow up, go to college, and possibly move away to accomplish great and wonderful things. We hope that they will remember their time at UBC with fondness but in reality they may not have the same connection to this church that some our members have had in the past, or still have today! The world is getting smaller and we can no longer expect our youth to always come back and pick out a permanent pew for the rest of their lives. In fact, if we look at our current membership – we can already identify this gap forming.

By allowing our youth to personalize the ceiling tiles, we are helping them become invested in this building. They get to say, “Look. That’s me.” When they set off into the world, there will always be a piece of them that will remain here. There will always be a marker of their time, and a tangible connection to this part of their lives that will forever connect them to this place, and by extension, to the people that are here. I want the Emily Morrises, John Browns, Audrey Millers, and Thea Cheuks to all bring their own children back to that 3rd floor and show them their tiles. I want them to be able to tell their children about what they did, and who they knew, and how God was with them through all of it! I want people to visit our church and see that we have a living history – one that’s not only retold around the tables on a Wednesday night, but one that is actively happening. I want new families to come in and see that ceiling, and know that their child will get a tile, that their child will make memories here, that their child will know a faith community, and their child will forever be connected to the family and house of God!

This is their cornerstone. This is a way for them to identify and recognize that they are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God’s special possession.

I would like to encourage everyone to visit the 3rd floor when we’re done. If you’ve ever been a member of the UBC youth, then there’s a tile for you. Even if you weren’t in the youth group – if you have found family here at UBC, or if you want to create a memory – then there’s a tile for you too. Come see what God is doing and come see how his word is speaking to the hearts and minds of our youth.

In Christ,

Phil

Parking this Sunday (5/18)

Parking SignPlease be forewarned!

Due to UVA’s graduation, the 14th St. Garage will charge for parking this Sunday.

Free parking is still available in the Stacey Hall lot.

 

God’s Love on Display

“God’s love on display” That’s what came to mind as I saw over seventy-five members and friends of UBC show up this past Saturday for Operation Inasmuch.

I spent most of the morning going to various work sites and taking a few pictures. I saw folks joyfully fixing drainage problems, sawing and hauling branches, cataloging library books at the Venable School, weeding and planting a garden, painting rooms and cleaning out a front yard.

On a couple of sites, I saw two Charlottesville officers from the Crime Prevention Unit giving out pens to our volunteers as a way to say thanks.

One of the leaders of the Bridge Ministry told me just how grateful she was for the same members of UBC who came back year after year to work on their garden.

On one site, OIAM members worked from 7 am to 8 pm, through the rain storms and sunshine to build and install a wheelchair ramp for a retired Albemarle County maintenance worker suffering from kidney failure and colon cancer.

I cannot add more to what a member of that team wrote later: “Thank each of you for a long hard day of work done in Christian love. Clearly a team effort that I was proud to be a part of. University Baptist Church spread the love of Christ on Saturday.” Indeed, God’s love was on display!

~ With a thankful heart, Michael

PS – Pictures of our OIAM day can be found here.

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