Archive | January, 2016

Family Dinner Groups

20 Jan

(Below is a letter I wrote to our church about something we’re starting this year. It’s something I’m really excited about.)


As you’ve probably heard by now, we’re starting something in February that is going to be a major part of what we do at Center City in 2016 and beyond.

More and more, folks are trading face to face (that is to say, real) relationships for digital ones. I’m reading a book now on this phenomenon called “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age.” In it, the author Sherry Turkle outlines the death of conversation and as a result, the death of true relationships. This is startling.

The early church grew around dinner tables. They spent substantive time together sharing life—often in the form of meals (See Acts:2:42-47). We’re going to follow their lead. This year we’re going to grow and deepen our relationships with one another and with God. These groups are going to be the context for that growth. As we prioritize time with one another, we’ll move past the pleasantries of functional relationships into a genuine space where love is formed. We are all yearning for connection with people and yet continue to live isolated and fragmented lives. I don’t want that to be true of our community. If we’re really family, we should be spending unhurried time together regularly.

In addition to our meals together each week all around the city, we’re going to be reading NT Wright’s great book “Simply Good News” as a community. This book will be the starting point for conversation each week at dinner. Go ahead and order a copy here or we’ll have some copies available on Sunday for purchase.

On Sunday, January 31st, we’re going to be doing an interest meeting for potential hosts at the Docusen home. I would love for some of you to be at that meeting and consider hosting a group.

I will send additional information in the coming weeks.

God is going to do real stuff around your dinner tables this year.

-Pastor Joseph


6 Jan

Center City Church,

In the Christian Church calendar, today is Epiphany (I’m sure all of you had this in your personal calendars and have been counting down the days since last January 6th). As I was typing these words my wife Chelsi just asked what I was writing. When I said, “I’m writing an email to the church for Epiphany,” she said, “Excuse me, what?”

So what is Epiphany?

Epiphany means manifestation. What the Church celebrates today is the manifestation of Jesus to the whole world; after being made known to the shepherds of Bethlehem, He is revealed to the Magi (wise men) who have come from the East to adore Him.

Jesus is still able to be found today. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus said, “…seek and you will find…” (Mt. 7:7). I believe that. Advent reminded us that God became flesh in Jesus. But belief that Jesus existed isn’t the same as worshiping him now as Lord.

May we seek and ever find Jesus in this new year. And once found, may we give him the proper place as Lord in our hearts, lives, homes, cities, and world.

Below is an excerpt from Brian Zahnd about Epiphany…

“If you think finding Christ means nothing more than adding him to your life—(as one would add an insurance policy with death benefits to their life)—you haven’t yet had the real Epiphany, the Epiphany the old magi speaks of. Christ is not something that will nicely accommodate your cherished assumptions. Christ is the most radical thing that has ever happened to this world. To see Christ as Christ, the King of the Jews who is now King of the World—Is to realize that Caesar is not Lord, Pharaoh is not Lord, but Jesus is Lord. Jesus cannot be owned or incorporated or subsumed into any other nation—Not Babylon, not Egypt, not Rome, not Russia, not England, not America. Jesus is building his own nation (kingdom) — it’s the Kingdom of God. Christ does not come to endorse any nation — he comes to set up his own.” (Brian Zahnd)

-Pastor Joseph

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