Our New Plan

As you know, CCfB is in a season of change. In many ways, this year has been our puberty. We’re growing up. It’s been painful, confusing, and sometimes ugly… but that’s the nature of growth, isn’t it? After surveys, email conversations, brainstorming, and many productive conversations, we now present our plan for the future of Christ’s Church for Brooklyn.

The Big Picture:

Starting in June, CCfB will meet at least twice per month as a house church. These meetings will not be on Sunday morning, however. This gives those of us who need (to paraphrase Jenny B) church with a capital “C” the opportunity to worship with congregations that have the resources to provide things CCfB cannot. This also give our families with small children the ability to take their kids to churches where they get organized classes, socialization, etc.

At least one of our monthly meetings will be “regular,” meaning that it will happen on the same day of every month (eg. the first Saturday morning of each month). This regularly scheduled meeting will be a brunch break at someone’s home.

The second meeting will be fluid, meeting at a different place/time depending on the purpose of the meeting. (for example, the timing of a service project might be less fluid since it might be in corporation with another organization, while a Bible study can happen whenever interested people are available.)

The Execution:

CCfB folks will all sign up to be the “logistics coordinator” of a one of the rotating meetings. Since rotating meetings only happen (approximately) once per month, each of us should only have to be a logistics coordinator once a year. The logistics coordinator will only be responsible for securing a location for our meeting (someone’s house, restaurant, bar, park, etc) and finding what day/time works best for everyone. The content of the meeting will be planned by the existing leadership team (and anyone else who volunteers to come on board or has an idea for a meeting, discussion, study, service project, etc.)

Our rotating meetings will be a combination of service projects, discussions, Bible studies, worship, Eucharist (Lord’s Supper), worship, prayer time, meals, etc. If we build a study, discussion, or project that we want to continue for a while, there’s no reason we can’t have an “every [insert day of the week] night” event for a month, or two months, or however long we want it to be!

The Transition:

This new structure will officially begin on June 1.

In order to ease the transition into our new structure, May will be a “hybrid” month. We well meet as usual in the cafeteria at PS 261 on May 2, 16, and 30. The Sundays that we don’t meet together (May 9 and 23) will be go visit Sundays. Go visit Sundays give each of us the chance to check out new churches before CCfB’s new “no Sunday schedule” officially goes into effect.

Before each go visit Sunday, CCfBers who are visiting another congregation will let everyone know where they’re going and invite folks to visit with them. That way, we don’t have to explore new churches alone. Likewise, when we come back together after a go visit Sunday, people who visited new churches will report back on where the went, how they liked it, etc.

So… that’s the plan. If you have any questions, want to give some feedback, or have ideas for how this plan can be done even better post a comment and let us know what you think!


Our New Site Is Up

Our new site is up at: christschurchforbrooklyn.org

and the blog will now be at: christschurchforbrooklyn.org/blog

Please update your links. All new posts will be made to the new site. Thanks!


Christ’s Resurrection and Us

Tomorrow we’ll be starting a new series about Christ’s Resurrection and what it means for us today. We’ll be approaching the topic in way that will engage everyone and we’ll be trying some new things to help get everyone involved in the discussion. So come prepared to engage. A central passage to this study is 1 Corinthians 15 so I’ve posted it below to give you a head start.

The Resurrection of Christ

Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. 19If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection’, it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. 28When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.

29 Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?

30 And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? 31I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you—a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised,
‘Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.’
33Do not be deceived:
‘Bad company ruins good morals.’
34Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

The Resurrection Body

35 But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ 36Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. 41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.

42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45Thus it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is* from heaven. 48As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.

50 What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
55‘Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?’
56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.


on the ELCA

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) met in a church-wide assembly last week and, among other things, debated, considered and adopted “a social statement as well as policy changes that now allow congregations to bless and hold publicly accountable those in same-sex, lifelong, monogamous relationships, as well as to call GLBTQ pastors in such relationships to serve as their clergy.”

I don’t know if we have any Lutheran CCfB’ers or not, or how many of you might have Lutheran friends who followed this while it was happening, but, as you might imagine, this was a big deal.

There’s a beautiful blog post by an ELCA pastor recounting her perspective on the debate leading up to the adoption of the ELCA’s policy changes, asking the question, “where did Jesus stand at the ELCA assembly?”

(For those of us not Lutheran, it may be enlightening to point out that this is an allusion to Luther’s famous statement, “here I stand, I can do no other.”)

A bit of a teaser from the article:

“To be sure, there are places to go in the ELCA for triumphalism. But while celebrating a victory is understandable, these are not the words of eternal life.

To be sure, there are some places in the ELCA where you can hear the words of angry indignation and revolt. But while disappointment is understandable, these are not the words of eternal life.

There are words of eternal life, but they are not our words.  So let us not go to ourselves because as deeply as we hold our beliefs about inclusion, or social justice, or as deeply as we hold our beliefs about social conservatism or personal morality, we do not have the words of eternal life.  We have our beliefs, our convictions, our understandings of scripture, and, hear me clearly — these are not to be taken lightly or walked away from.  But they are not the words of eternal life.

…So let’s again look to Christ and not ourselves, because in the end there are no winners and losers, there is just what there has always been, the good news of Jesus Christ, The Holy One of God.  To whom else shall we go? He has the words of eternal life and offers all the inexplicable gift of his own self, body, blood, and word. And bids all come and eat.”


a postscript on Tillich from RB

One of the more startling statements in Tillich’s sermon, “You are accepted,” is this one:

“It would be better to refuse God, and the Christ, and the Bible, than to accept them without grace.”

Tillich goes on to explain that the reason for this startling pronouncement is his conviction that, without grace, even spiritual truths can only serve to deepen the sin and brokenness of human relationships (with self, others, and God).

We had a great discussion the Sunday following the presentation of Tillich’s sermon, and we talked a bit about this statement, as well as Tillich’s view of sin and corresponding view of grace. It was–seriously, y’all–one of the best discussions of Tillich’s theology I’ve ever gotten to be a part of.

Today I followed a link to a sermon at Highland Church of Christ by Richard Beck, in which he talks about the ways in which Christianity can get in the way of being a Christian. It’s right in line with Tillich’s point: without grace, even our religion–the thing that’s supposed to help us become better, kinder, more just–becomes just another way we screw up. It’s worth a listen. (And when you’re done, you can vote below for whether or not the men’s public restroom sermon illustration goes on the list for Best or Worst Sermon Illustrations Ever.)


You Are Accepted

This past Sunday Jen read a sermon by a dead German-American guy, one of Paul Tillich’s most famous sermons, “You Are Accepted”. I have to confess, when I heard she was going to read a sermon from someone most people have never heard of, I was a little wary. But, I was pleasantly surprised.

[from JenTB now, because Steven’s uber-sick. Take a sec and remind God to take care of Steven and to take care of Jennie while she takes care of Steven.]

This upcoming Sunday we’ll spend some time discussing Tillich’s sermon, and his thoughts on the meaning and experience of “sin” and “grace.” Here are some questions to think about as we reflect on the sermon and our own experiences of sin and grace. I hope that our discussion will cover everything from the intellectual to the personal…so come prepared for, well, pretty much anything. 🙂

1. What do you think Tillich means when he says that the words “sin” and “grace” are “strange, because they are so well-known” (93)? Do you agree?
2. Tillich’s method for “rediscovering” the meaning of the “strange words” sin and grace is a process of introspection—in his words, to contemplate “the depth of our human existence” (93). How often do we do this? Is this a necessary part of the Christian life? How might we incorporate this kind of reflection into our lives more regularly? What are the different ways or strategies we might employ to lead ourselves into “that depth?”
3. Tillich also says that these words are irreplaceable, and substitutions—including his own!—fail (93). Do you think so? What “substitutions” or synonyms for “sin” and “grace” might you suggest? How do these other words change our understanding of the concepts of sin and grace? How does Tillich’s interpretation of sin as separation (94) shift or change our understanding of the concept of sin? How does the corresponding interpretation of grace as “reunion” (95) shift or change our understanding of grace?
4. What do you make of Tillich’s complaint that we should never use the word sin in the plural (94)? What do you think he means?
5. Does Tillich’s existential understanding of sin and grace seem overly individualistic to you? Why or why not?
6. Tillich’s uses Paul’s description of the experience of sin as an “alien power” to claim that sin results in separation, or estrangement, not just from others but from one’s own self (97). Have we too experienced what the apostle describes, and what Tillich talks about as estrangement from the self?
7. Tillich writes, “It would be better to refuse God and the Christ and the Bible than to accept them without grace” (99). What do you think that means, and do you think you might agree with that? Why or why not?

P.S. 8. Is Tillich depressing or encouraging to you? Just curious…


dead German guy preaching this Sunday

So, this Sunday we’ll be hearing from Paul Tillich.

For John Cleese fans who may recall this line from the short-lived comedy Fawlty Towers, I add, “You’ll love it! He’s German!”

He’s also dead, so I’ve volunteered to channel him from the Great Beyond. By which I mean, I will be reading his most famous sermon, entitled, “You are Accepted,” from a book.

It’s a beautiful sermon, very theological and existential and Tillichian (which is a word, I didn’t make that up), but also, extremely moving. As I’ve practiced it this week, I’ve teared up nearly every time at the crucial paragraph that gives the sermon its title. I hope I don’t on Sunday, but you all are forewarned. It’s powerful stuff we’re dabbling in here: Tillich wants nothing less than to create a moment for his listeners in which they experience God’s grace.

I’ve experienced those rare moments of grace many times in the unlikely setting of the PS 261 cafeteria. I anticipate yet another astonishing and unlikely moment this Sunday, as we listen to the words of this member of the communion of saints who now, I can only trust, lives eternally in the experience of that grace which is still for the rest of us so rare and momentary.


Life of the Church.

For the past almost three years, I have been in charge of sending out an (almost) weekly e-Bulletin to CCfB’s members and friends. This includes our praise and prayer, and news and birthdays, reminders of upcoming events. For the purpose of compiling this, I write down all of the things expressed during the period of our service each week that we call ‘Life of the Church’…of the LoC for short. On the pages of my notebooks and calendars and random sheets of paper tucked in, I carry with me our history. Trials and triumphs, worries and elations. The processes of time that have led us to where we are today. I sometimes flip through the pages to see the work the Lord has done in us. It is a beautiful sight.

If you have anything you’d like to us to add to the list, please let us know. You can post it in the comments, or e-mail it to us at info@christschurchforbrooklyn.org. Peace be with you.


“On Vocation” Part 2

You may remember that just over a month ago Ehi spoke to us about his job, his faith, and the place where they intersect.  Jen blogged about that experience both here and at her personal blog.  What you may not know is that was the first part in what we hope will be a monthly series for some time to come.  This Sunday Gilda will lead us in part two of that series.  So come prepared to learn about what makes Gilda tick and the reasons she’s chosen to teach English as a second language in the NY City public school system.  I’m sure we’ll hear some of her frustrations, as well as her triumphs.  Be prepared to be touched and be ready to learn more about one of our members in a way that isn’t often presented in a normal church environment.


Wonderful News.

At 7:30 pm on July 21st, Opal June Hays was born weighing 8lbs. and measuring 20 in. long. Laura is doing well and in Joe’s words, “Opal is absolutely perfect.”

Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Congratulations, Hays family. (I’m sure there will be more details and photos to follow at Joe’s blog).

Welcome to the Christ's Church for Brooklyn blog. We are a loving community of believers who seek to be the hands and feet of Christ, in service to our neighbors in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn and beyond.
February 2023

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