Father, Son, and Spirit, bound in love, welcome us into their community of love, which finds its expression in human – that is, broken, joyful, annoying, wonderous, difficult, surprising – communities of love.
We’ve just completed a short series on Sundays entitled “Renewing our Community Groups”. Community Groups have long been really, really important in the life of OCC! Community Groups are OCC's midweek groups, small groups, house groups, fellowship groups – whatever you want to call them!
“What are Community Groups for?”
Our Community Groups seek to be community in our transient, multi-cultural, 21st Century city. They love, serve, and reach the wider community, which could be those you live and work with, people in your local area, a certain demographic, or a group that you serve through a particular project.
This Summer at OCC we are starting a new Sunday series titled, God’s Love.
In Ephesians 3:17-19, Paul prays "that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
We've just ended an important series in the life of OCC. As we explained in a previous blog, as we all emerge from the constraints of the last 18 months, the elders agreed it is time to invest again in our relationships with God ー both as individuals and as communities.
In the series we focused on nine 'keystone' habits, as we explained here, the habits most likely to lead to other changes.
As we all know, there are going to be further easing of lockdown on Monday 19th July and even though we know some of what will be said, we don't know the full extent of what changes there will be for churches. So, before we can respond fully, we are waiting for the government to publish advice and legislation next week.
In the meantime, Steve shares some news and thoughts about refreshments, restrictions and the word of the Lord in this next season!
The idea of belonging to a church - or any other organisation for that matter - is increasingly alien in the world today. Tim Keller tweets: "Everyone says they want community and friendship. But mention accountability or commitment to people, and they run the other way." Krish Kandiah discerns a movement "towards a more eclectic individualistic spirituality.”
Why then does OCC hold to a habit of 'formal church membership'?
Recently I came across this tweet, which could sum up pretty much all that needs saying on this topic: "Church is a Spirit-filled family, not a weekly experience."
Assistant Pastor Sanjay Mahtani often puts it this way: "OCC: Community is our middle name!" And I can sometimes be heard to complain, "We don't go to church, we are the church!"
Yesterday I, with 500 other people from many nations, took part in a service of thanksgiving for the life of the late Eileen Elmitt, one of the founding leaders of Oxford Community Church. What was it about her that caused such a huge crowd to go to great lengths to attend this moving service of reflection and thanksgiving to honour Eileen's life?
For me, three phrases express my thoughts this morning as I reflect on this question.