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There will be no Saturday Morning Prayer Meeting the next two Saturdays (12/26 & 1/2).

Prayer meetings will resume at Nathan & Andrea’s at 10:00 AM on 1/9.

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All during the month of December we are collecting a special offering that goes directly to International Missionaries. If you desire to give and haven’t yet, there are still two Sundays left! Just write “Lottie Moon” in the memo and drop it in the basket.

Many churches from around the country are participating in this Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Last year $141 million was raised. The goal for this year is $175 million.

You can watch a little video explaining more about the offering here.

For those who are interested in reading and thinking more about vocation over your Christmas holiday, there’s a really good article by Richard Doster you can read here.

Here’s the provocative conclusion of the article:

“On their deathbeds, many Christians will regret that they didn’t love their neighbors, care for the poor, or advance Christ’s kingdom as they should have. They might therefore, with their final breath, gasp: ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office.’”

Starting on Sunday, January 17th, we will be having TWO services – 9:00 and 11:00 AM.

Hello Immanuel!

I don’t know how much you already heard about me… so now it’s possible that you’ll hear some things a second time. 🙂

Well, as you might know I am from Germany. My complete name is Katharina Hanna Walter. I am born in Bamberg – which is a wonderful little city in north of Bavaria (see the picture). My parents still live there and in the last week before travelling to Chicago I was with my family. I have two sisters (25 and 17 years old) and one brother (21). Perhaps you ask yourself how old I am… well, I am 27 – the eldest, but actually the smallest of us.

When I am not visiting my family in Bamberg or making big journeys to the States 🙂 I study Theology near to Berlin. It’s not exactly in Berlin but in a little village close to it – it’s called “Elstal”. When I came to Elstal – four years ago – I started with one year of BibleSchool and after it I went on with studying Theology. So I had four very special years in Elstal, but I noticed that I miss the practice, because the study is very theoretical and so I decided to do a study-break (because there still are two years left).

But actually the desire to go to the United States was there before. Perhaps you know that sentence “Once in my life I want to do…” and my sentence was “Once in my life I want to go to the US”. I decided that this sentence would not just be a wish but that it becomes reality. Two years ago I started with thinking about what I’d like to do and what possibilities are out there. I just knew that I want to make an internship in a BaptistChurch (because I’m a Baptist and studying also at the Theological Seminary of the German Baptists).

It was a funny way how I found Immanuel – God has a really good sense of humour! At google I found a website called http://www.usachurch.com and the interesting thing is that during all the months before starting making this wish reality I had Chicago in mind. I don’t know why Chicago… actually the Hollywood movie industry influenced me more to New York. 🙂 But there wasn’t New York in my heart and mind but Chicago. So I put “Chicago – Illinois” into the church finder, “Baptist” and “under 200” (I didn’t want to be in such a big church because I wanted to get to know all the church members – to feel more as in a family). And there it was “ImmanuelBaptistChurch” and I was sticking to it. So I wrote an email to Pastor Nathan and asked him if there is a possibility to make an internship at Immanuel… and two years later – with many ups and downs – I’m here. And I’m really grateful for this! Lately I arrived in Chicago – praise the Lord!

I’m looking forward to get to know you! I hope I can be a blessing for Immanuel!

Many greetings and see you on Sunday! 🙂

Kati

Remember the Immanuel Christmas Party is this Saturday night (12/12) at 7:00 PM at The Meeting Place! Invite some friends – we’ll have a lot of fun!

P.S. If you are coming and could bring some cookies to share, please let lindsey.avink know. Thanks!

Our ‘Vocation Vignettes’ series began back in March and since then 30 different essays have been contributed. We’ll take a break for the holidays and start back up after the New Year with more, but in the meantime I just want to take the opportunity to interject a few reminders and thoughts. The goal of this project is to push people towards theological reflection on what they do Monday through Saturday when they wake up in the morning. On Sundays we gather as the Church to experience again, through Word and Sacrament, what God has done in Christ for us and our salvation. We are confronted with the counterintuitive, liberating, perpetually shocking, unceasingly amazing truth that God does not need our good works!

But, as Luther pointed out, our neighbor does. In fact, the gospel of free grace frees us up from using people to feel affirmed or important so that we can actually start loving people. And the gospel provides more than just an individualistic, go-to-heaven-when-you-die kind of framework. It provides an all-encompassing, all-of-life-affirming, comprehensive worldview that’s not just interested in individual souls but structures and societies. It affects every aspect of life in the world God created and which he will one day re-create, indeed which he has already begun to re-create in the resurrection of Christ.

So how does this happen? Is it the Church’s responsibility to create and manage programs of social service and transformation? That’s the big question. Immanuel talks a lot about impacting the city, but what is it actually doing??

Earlier we used the language of ‘Two Kingdoms’ to guide us. ‘Two Kingdom’ theory is traditionally associated with Lutheranism, but isn’t unique to that stream. The ideas can be found in Reformed thinkers too and can be traced back further to Augustine and (hopefully) the Bible. This philosophy asserts that Christ sovereignly reigns over two kingdoms: the kingdom of Man and the kingdom of God, one via common grace and the other through special grace. And Christians are citizens of both kingdoms! The church is the instrument of the kingdom of God where the gospel is proclaimed; ‘secular’ culture is the realm of the kingdom of Man where Christians and non-Christians work together in the human task of cultivating healthy civilization. The Church should not be melded with the state and must remain distinct from the world; however, Christians are not to abandon culture but fully engage it for its good. We do this through our vocations in the kingdom of Man.

Perhaps another angle or other nomenclature may be helpful. The Dutch Calvinist Abraham Kuyper is not generally identified with the ‘Two Kingdoms’ approach, but some of his vocabulary lines up quite well with it and can be useful. He distinguished between the Church as institution and the Church as organism. The Church as institution is concerned with preaching the gospel, baptizing, catechizing, disciplining, fellowshipping, proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes again by eating the bread and drinking the wine… all under its ordained officers (elders and deacons). The Church as organism, on the other hand, works in the public sphere to affect positive change in all fields and disciplines. Kuyper has some great thoughts and leaves us a marvelous legacy even though there may be some places where I would quibble with him.

Another person who I wouldn’t agree with on everything, but who has many sound and provocative ideas is Lesslie Newbigin. He speaks of the sanctuary vs. the basement. In the sanctuary the Word is preached and the sacraments are administered. The pulpit is not the place to address issues of politics or economics. But the basement, as it were, is where ‘secret agents’ are trained to be embedded in the world to subvert through service. Education, art, science, politics, economics, etc… must all be infiltrated.

I like this a lot. I’m tasked with preaching the Word, not organizing an army of volunteers around my pet social agenda. If Immanuel doesn’t do this, who will? Yet there are already many voluntary organizations and vocational avenues in the city and I really want to see Immanuel people throw themselves into these, invigorated by the gospel and knowing that they are important even if they’re not always glamorous and are often frustrating (Jesus hasn’t come back yet!). I want to be part of training ‘secret agents’. Most of what Immanuel as organism does in the city will not be immediately obvious or something we can put on our church brochure, but I pray and trust that God is using us. May you find your identity more and more in Christ and may you be encouraged to live for Christ with renewed zeal in your vocations.

For the Sake of the Name,

Nathan

From @immanuelchicago on Twitter

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