“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God.”
Easter is a central time in the life of the church- perhaps because at Easter we remember, the precise events that took place in human history for God to bring rebellious people back to himself. The book of revelation reminds us of, among other things, the meaning of Easter in its own wild way. In Revelation 4-5 John describing a vision of an open heaven, reveals that God the father is seated on a throne and is holding a scroll that is sealed in his right hand. “Who is worthy to open the scroll, he asks?” To which heaven and earth is silent for a moment. John weeps at the fact that no one can be found to open the scroll. But then John is consoled- there is one who is worthy. John expected someone mighty and powerful- but instead the one who appears is a wounded lamb. Those present fall and worship the lamb, they start to sing the words that appear above. This wounded lamb of course- is the messiah. This wounded lamb is alive and he has purchased people from every tribe and tongue- that they might be a kingdom of priests.
Grace and peace from Marcus
We have a new logo! The question is why? I guess a simple answer would be; we needed an update. As great as our previous logo was, (thanks Jeremy McBride) these things from time to time just need an update. I wouldn't say that the process was a simple one. Such things are very subjective in nature, different people like different things. Nevertheless, we thought that this one fit our brief really well. So what was our brief and what does our logo mean?
Well of course, on a very simple level, the logo is grounded in our local community- and simply depicts a flowing river inside a stone, making it a symbol that honours our home suburb, “Riverstone”.There is no more to this logo than just "tribute to Riverstone." As elders and leaders we wanted our logo to have significant theological meaning and substance- to say something of speaks of who we are? So our logo features some potent symbols that depict who we are as God’s people. So what are those symbols?
The Empty Cross:
Hardly original- but certainly significant, our logo includes an empty cross. This symbol is of course right at the heart of our Christian identity. Our hope is in a crucified and resurrected Messiah. The empty cross points to two climactic moments in redemptive history. The saving death of Christ with all of its demonstration of the love of God and his redemptive power and the glorious resurrection of Christ that so clearly reveals the victory of God and the enthronement of Jesus as Gods’ becoming king.
In both Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 22 the authors of scripture depict the presence of the Lord as a life giving river- under whose influence the people flourish and prosper and find life and vitality. It is of course our hope and desire that our church be a place in which God’s life giving presence flows like a river, to bring new life, healing and flourishing. Our logo seeks to depict this reality in picture form, to reveal something of who we are and what we hope to be by the grace of God.
It just so happens that the word “stone” in the providence of God, seems to be packed full of theological weight also. In 1 Peter 2:4-10, Jesus is depicted as the cornerstone whose life giving ministry creates “living stones,” who in turn minister. As they minister they do so out of what is derived from the cornerstone- they are renamed a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God whose role is to declare the praises of God. Now that sounds like a mandate and a mission to be the church.
Sure on one level- a logo is just a picture but it is our hope- that whenever you look at it; you might be inspired, reminded and encouraged about who we are and what we are called to be.
In his service, with gratitude from Marcus
(A minister of Riverstone Baptist Church)
In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. (Hebrews 1:1-3)
Theophanies or God encounters are often big, awesome and sometimes scary moments in the bibles’ story- after all God is awesome and holy (Isaiah 6:1-8, Ezekiel 1:1-28, Daniel 10-12, Exodus 33-34 & Revelation 10-12). People often end up on their faces and the words- “do not fear” have to be uttered a lot. There is an otherness and awesomeness to God- that is apparently a little overwhelming. That is what makes the Christmas story all the more amazing.
Matthew in his story of Jesus, speaks of an angelic figure that appears to Joseph after he becomes aware of his fiancées pregnancy. He intends to quietly divorce her but the angel told Joseph that the child, born of a virgin and would be called Emmanuel; which means “God is with us.” At Christmas we celebrate another awesome theophany. However this one comes in a “less awesome manner.” This one comes in the form of a baby- born in humble circumstances, flesh and blood dependency, in obscurity and poverty. Crying, needy and humble and yet- in this baby we no less meet the great and awesome God.
Hebrews 1:1-3; tells us that this is so- when it says that in the past God spoke in many and various ways but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. Jesus is power wrapped in apparent weakness; came to redeem us, entering into our story to bring us into his. So let’s celebrate with awe and wonder the greatness of God revealed in Jesus. He is after all- the exact representation of his being
Grace and peace from Marcus
Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:6-7
I was listening to a story this week on the ABC about the prevalence of orphanages in Cambodia. On the face of it this sounds like good news right. Abandoned and poor children being given care sounds like a positive. But sadly, in the best cases- were people had good motives they had inadvertently encouraged families to give their children up for economic reasons and in the worst cases these orphanages have been surprisingly money making systems of exploitation. The young lady telling the story said- “what these children need most are families- their families. If only we would wise up and empower people to set up businesses and give micro finance so that children could be a part of the families were they belong- we know she said, that this situation has far better outcomes than institutional care.” At the heart of the gospel is the invitation to be a part of the family of God. Through faith in Christ- me and you are invited into intimate communion with God. In fact, in Galatians 4:6-7 we are told that by faith in Christ- the Spirit of Christ is sent into our hearts- so that in our inner most being we can cry- have full rights to cry- “ABBA father!” If you are in Christ Jesus- you can call God Father- because you are his child. Phil Mason in his book- The New creation miracle says- “All human beings have as their default core identity- an orphan spirit. An orphan has no deep sense of family or belonging; they feel very much alone! Orphans often struggle with a strong sense of abandonment or rejection. From God’s perspective the world is a giant orphanage in which billions of orphans are struggling to create an identity and a sense of belonging.” I believe Christ is the one who liberates us from that orphan spirit and gives us a new identity in him. His Spirit, is a gift and is evidence of our adoption. By faith the search for belonging is over-we are God’s children.
Grace and peace from Marcus, one child of God to another.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain. - 1 Corinthians 15:58
This verse begins with the word therefore, and whenever we see this word in scripture we must, according to Rick Warren ask- what is it there for? Well; Paul has just finished arguing for the resurrection. The resurrection of Christ is on the one hand, and then the hope of resurrection for those in Christ, on the other. Paul says; because of the resurrection of Jesus and our hope in him and indeed because of his victory over death itself everything is different and because everything is different Paul says; “stand firm”. Don’t get distracted. Don’t lose heart. Don’t let your faith give way- stand firm on the fact that Jesus is raised, making him King of all, and giving us an invisible hope in Him. Don’t let anything shake you Paul says. Instead give yourself fully to the work of the Lord.
This is a wonderful encouragement. If Jesus is raised from the dead, then any other task, any other god (lower case “g”), is not worthy of our time or energy what matters most is the “work of the Lord”. What is this work- anything we might do to the glory of God of course; but surely right at the guts of that work is the work of making disciples of the King. The death conquering King. We are to give ourselves fully to that work- why because such work is of eternal value- it is not in vain. Jesus was raised from the dead. So let’s be a people who give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord.
Grace and peace from Marcus