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Our Beliefs

 

When we begin to speak about what we believe about God, we first must say that there is already a story of hope and redemption which he has been telling for all the world and for a long time. His is a very large story of movement from creation  and fall to new creation and within that grand story is his invitation—from one living being to another living being— to you and me to become participants with him, in the restoration of our relationships with God, each other, ourselves, and creation.

Story is central to our belief about God. So, in reading about what we believe you won’t find isolated text references such as chapter and verse or a list of specific propositions in it, because neither of those things best reflects what we believe about God. What we believe about God is at the heart of what we believe also about each other, ourselves, and creation: that ultimately everything is part of the one great story.

We believe God inspired the authors of Scripture by his Spirit to speak to all generations of people, including us today. God calls us who believe in him to immerse ourselves in this authoritative narrative communally and individually to faithfully interpret and live out that story in our lives as we are led by the Spirit of God.

In the beginning God created all things good. He was and always will be in a communal relationship with himself – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God created us to be relational as well and marked us with an identity as his image bearers and a missional calling to serve, care for, and cultivate the earth. God created humans in his image to live in fellowship with him, one another, our inner self, and creation. The enemy tempted the first humans, and darkness and evil entered the story through human sin and are now a part of the world. This devastating event resulted in our relationships with God, others, ourselves, and creation being fractured beyond repair and in desperate need of mending.

We believe God did not abandon his creation to destruction and decay; rather he promised to do what could not be done and mend this broken world. Toward achieving this purpose, God chose a people, Abraham, his wife Sarah and their descendants to represent him in the world. God promised to bless them as a nation so that through them all nations would be blessed. In time they became enslaved in Egypt and cried out to God because of their oppression. God heard their cry, liberated them from their oppressor, and brought them to Sinai where he gave them an identity and a mission as his treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, a holy people. Throughout the story of Israel, God proved his constancy again and again, refusing to give up on his people despite their frequent acts of unfaithfulness to him.

God brought his people into the Promised Land. Their state of blessing from God was intimately bound to their calling to embody the living God to other nations. They made movement toward this missional calling, yet they disobeyed and allowed foreign gods into the land, overlooked and exploited the poor, and mistreated the foreigner. The prophetic voices that emerge from the Scriptures held the calling of Israel alongside her deeds and forced an accounting for their idolatry and treatment of the oppressed and marginalized. Through the prophets, God’s heart for the poor was made known, and we believe that God cares deeply for the marginalized and oppressed among us today.

In Israel’s disobedience, they became an obstacle to the purposes to which God had called them. For a time, they were sent into exile away from God’s presence; yet a hopeful remnant was always looking ahead with longing and hope to a renewed reign of God, where peace and justice would prevail.

We believe these longings found their fulfillment in and through Jesus the Messiah, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, mysteriously God having become flesh. Jesus came to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted and set captives free, proclaiming a new arrival of the Kingdom of God, bringing about a New Exodus  from slavery to sin, and mending our fractured world. He and his message were rejected by many as he confronted the oppressive nature of the social, economic, religious and political establishment within Israel and the entrenched occupying power of Rome. Yet his path of suffering, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and elevation to the right hand of God as LORD has brought hope to all creation. Jesus the Lord is our only hope for bringing peace between God and humans. In and through Jesus we have been justified, redeemed, reconciled, forgiven and brought into right relationship with God. In and through Christ God is now reconciling us to each other, ourselves, and creation. The Spirit of God affirms as children of God all those who trust Jesus. The Spirit empowers us with gifts, convicts, guides, comforts, prods, counsels, and leads us into truth through a communal life of worship and an apostolic expression of our faith.

The church is rooted and grounded in and through Christ, preaching Christ crucified, celebrating baptism and the Lord’s Supper and practicing the Christian “virtues” of faith, hope and love. The church is a global and local expression of living out the way of Jesus through love, peace, sacrifice, and healing as we who are in Christ embody the resurrected Christ to a broken and hurting world in slavery to sin.

We believe the day is coming when Jesus will return to judge the world, bringing an end to injustice and restoring all things to God’s full intent. God will reclaim this world as his own and rule forever. The earth’s groaning will cease and God will dwell with us here in new creation. On that day we will beat swords into tools for cultivating the earth, the wolf will lie down with the lamb, there will be no more death and God will wipe away all our tears. Our relationships with God, others, ourselves, and creation will be whole. All will flourish as God intends. This is what we long for. This is what we hope for. And we are giving our lives to living out the promise of that future reality in the present.

 

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