Square Inch Community is an Inviting, Caring, Christian Church in East Hills

We are a Christian Community striving to live fully in this life and on this earth that God has given to us. Because we believe that Christ has ownership over all, we acknowledge and respect the fact that each human being bears the Image of God. We aim to be a hospitable community where people feel safe to ask questions and find answers to all of life’s questions. While we don’t hide the fact that we are Christians, we understand that not everything in life is easy or cut and dry. Even if you are not sure you believe what the Bible teaches, come and explore our community and see if there is a word from God for you here. We won’t reject you because you don’t believe. We will, however, do our best to love you as Christ has taught us. Take a look around and see what we do, what we value, and what is here for you.

This is what we believe:

We believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic* church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

*catholic represents the universal timeless and boundless scope of the Christian Church past, present, and future.

Read up on the historical expressions of faith we affirm here.

Sunday’s Passage

On Wednesdays, the passage posted will be the passage Pastor Steve plans to preach on Sunday. This will help us prepare our hearts for what God has to say through us through the preaching of the Word when we gather for Worship/LoveFeast.

Matthew 3:1-12

New Living Translation (NLT)

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

3 In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was,2 “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.[a]” 3 The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said,

“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’”[b]

4 John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. 5 People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. 6 And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.

7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize,[c] he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? 8 Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. 9 Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. 10 Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.

11 “I baptize with[d] water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.[e] 12 He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”

A family prayer for the first week of Advent

Father in heaven,
our hearts desire the warmth of your love, and our minds are searching for the light of your Word. Increase our longing for Christ our Savior and give us the strength to grow in love, that the dawn of his coming may find us rejoicing in his presence and welcoming the light of his truth. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
Amen.

 

December 3 Meditation

See if you can carve out some space to spend with Scripture today.  Allow yourself an uninterrupted moment to ponder what Paul is saying about the reach of Jesus’ saving power.  Then reflect on the questions from Sunday.  Lord!  Thank you for your faithfulness.

Romans 15:4-13

New Living Translation (NLT)

4 Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

5 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. 6 Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7 Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. 8 Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews[a] to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors. 9 He also came so that the Gentiles might give glory to God for his mercies to them. That is what the psalmist meant when he wrote:

“For this, I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing praises to your name.”[b]

10 And in another place it is written,

“Rejoice with his people,
you Gentiles.”[c]

11 And yet again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles.
Praise him, all you people of the earth.”[d]

12 And in another place Isaiah said,

“The heir to David’s throne[e] will come,
and he will rule over the Gentiles.
They will place their hope on him.”[f]

13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

What if we pause to think about the plan of God for setting the world right?

What if we pause to think about salvation in the way Isaiah paints it in the passage we read: Salvation that not only promises me heaven over hell, but a salvation that sets the world spinning back in the direction God has always intended it to go.

What if when we’re on our way to the first of a hundred Christmas parties we take a breath and think about the fact that when Jesus stepped into our time and space He was taking the first step towards the cross…Towards resurrection

What if we joined that stream of people from all nations and walked the road to Christmas embracing the rumble beneath our feet? The rumble of God’s unbreakable promise. That the salvation Christ offers is a salvation that actually changes things. Actually changes us.

What if, when we heard Jesus beckon us to come, we actually did?

Questions to Ponder this Week

At our Community meeting a few weeks ago a few people mentioned that they appreciated take home questions to ponder.  Here are the questions asked yesterday in the message.  Following the questions is today’s Advent Scripture Reading.  May God bless you and encourage you as we walk the path to Christmas!

What if we pause to think about the plan of God for setting the world right?

What if we pause to think about salvation in the way Isaiah paints it in the passage we read: Salvation that not only promises me heaven over hell, but a salvation that sets the world spinning back in the direction God has always intended it to go.

What if when we’re on our way to the first of a hundred Christmas parties we take a breath and think about the fact that when Jesus stepped into our time and space He was taking the first step towards the cross…Towards resurrection

What if we joined that stream of people from all nations and walked the road to Christmas embracing the rumble beneath our feet? The rumble of God’s unbreakable promise. That the salvation Christ offers is a salvation that actually changes things. Actually changes us.

What if, when we heard Jesus beckon us to come, we actually did?

 

Psalm 72

A psalm of Solomon.

1 Give your love of justice to the king, O God,
and righteousness to the king’s son.
2 Help him judge your people in the right way;
let the poor always be treated fairly.
3 May the mountains yield prosperity for all,
and may the hills be fruitful.
4 Help him to defend the poor,
to rescue the children of the needy,
and to crush their oppressors.
5 May they fear you[a] as long as the sun shines,
as long as the moon remains in the sky.
Yes, forever!

6 May the king’s rule be refreshing like spring rain on freshly cut grass,
like the showers that water the earth.
7 May all the godly flourish during his reign.
May there be abundant prosperity until the moon is no more.

18 Praise the Lord God, the God of Israel,
who alone does such wonderful things.
19 Praise his glorious name forever!
Let the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and amen!

 

Congregational meeting

This Sunday we will be having a congregational meeting to vote on our yearly budget and also to discuss elder care districts.

Because we will be having this meeting, our worship time and Love Feast will all be wrapped into one hour. The message will be a variation on a homily from a few Christmases ago. It sets the stage for the following two weeks where we will take a deeper look into Philippians 2:1-11. The two sections of these verses are potent and packed with so much insight on how we are to live as people united in faith. While shorter, this week’s message will hopefully serve as a catalyst for thoughtful preparation for the next few weeks.

This is a very rare thing that we need to meet and discuss “business” in a meeting. We still want visitors to know they are welcome and valued. I ask each of you to take Love Feast as an opportunity to talk with people who are newer or there for the first time. It might seem a bit odd to them that we are shortening things and we don’t want this meeting to come off as some sort of “exclusive club” type of thing.

But there are certain things we need to vote on as a congregation and legally speaking, those who are official members of the church are the only ones who may vote on them.

Let me stress! If you are not a member on “paper” this does not mean you are not considered part of the family. It’s just one of those things.

If this message makes you curious about officially joining the church, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

If you wouldn’t mind praying that our abbreviated service still be a welcoming time for newer folks, that would be awesome.

Also please start praying now that our discussion is profitable and productive.

Members will receive a copy of the budget in their email by Friday afternoon. Please prepare any questions you might have. We aim to answer them all as clearly and transparently as possible.

peace and love,
pastor steveImage

The point of the snippets

If you worship with us regularly (or even if you were just there yesterday) you’ll know that this coming Sunday we are going to have an open discussion about the sermon series on James we completed.  The snippets are not meant to be tight summaries or anything like that.  The stuff I put in there is meant to tease the brain for questions or things that occurred to us during our meditations on this book of the Bible.  If you have heard these sermons, you’ll probably remember other stuff that was said.  If you haven’t heard these sermons, hopefully these snippets will still edify you.  Just keep in mind, that not all the transitions between paragraphs will be smooth or obvious. (Some say James is kind of like that.  He was way more brilliant than I am though.)

Final James sermon Snippet

James 5:7-20

 

James does not limit prayer to suffering.  Definitely, definitely, when we suffer, we have to pray.  But we also pray when things are going great.  Those prayers may sound pretty different, but we have to be conversant with God in good times and bad.

 

Think about it.  If it’s true like we said last week, that God’s Covenant with us is like that of a marriage relationship…it doesn’t take much to understand that we talk to God all the time.  Just like you talk to your spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend, or even just your best friend all the time.

 

So prayer is something for all seasons.

 

The conversations during good times are pretty restful.  They can be playful.  They can be about hopes and dreams and they can be full of gratitude and statements of absolute adoration.  Or, they can be about nothing at all…and even those are good.

 

But when we do suffer.  

When things are awful

We lean extra hard on the one with whom we are in love.

 

And even that can be full of gratitude

Even when the one we love doesn’t speak…but just listens

And holds us

And whispers, “you can’t see how it’s all going to work out right now…but I’m with you as we go through this”

And you’re just grateful for his or her presence.

 

The Catechism says that we pray to God because it is the most important part of showing our thankfulness to God.  But it says something really interesting right after that.  Because you would think the next sentence would be something like, “So when you pray, make sure it’s all about thanking God from saving your lousy soul from hell and damnation.”

 

But it doesn’t say that

It talks about groaning

It says that God has given us grace

God has given us God’s Holy Spirit

And our expression of gratitude is potent

in moments of groaning inwardly for these gifts.

 

Prayer is so crucial to our showing of gratitude to God

That God accepts it as gratitude even when we are groaning out

What the world is going on

I’m suffering

I need grace!

Come on God!

 

What about those close to us who get sick for no apparent reason and no matter how hard we pray from the heart for physical healing…still die?

 

Sometimes we don’t get the answer we want.

And it’s awful

In our own community we have people who have buried brothers, fathers, and friends way earlier than seems right.

 

And we hate it.

 

Why God?  Don’t you care about this pain?  Did you have to have my brother all to yourself in heaven right now?  I mean, you’ve got all eternity to be with him…and now I have be down here without him for decades.  

 

Sometimes when we sit on the couch next to our spouse, our spouse doesn’t give answers.  Sometimes all the spouse can say is, “I am with you and you are not going to go through this hell alone.”

 

When your spouse does that, our hearts still hurt like crazy, but we take some kind of comfort in her presence.

 

The truth is God doesn’t always flip on the light switch and give us all the reasons why this person had to die.  Or why this ailment you’ve suffered with for years sticks with you.

 

But the prayer of faith James is talking about is really all about humbling ourselves to God.  And sometimes that is going to mean trusting God when sickness takes life.  Sometimes that means we’re just going to have to let God hold us on the couch while we weep.

 

God doesn’t take sickness and death lightly

Psalm 116 says, “Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of one of his holy ones.”

 

That doesn’t mean God relishes death

It means that death troubles God as well

And God takes death seriously.

That’s why God pledges to save

And raise people up

Raise people up to the life of eternity with God.

 

That’s where we can rest in faith

That God isn’t forgetting the ones we love who are sick and dying

God is right in the room, preparing everything for an eternity where sickness and death are no more.

 

But it still hurts like hell.

It still seems like a bunch of needless pain.

And I’m not going to sit here and tell you that considering God’s grand plan of reconciliation for all things will make you hurt less

 

But I will tell you it means you do not hurt alone

You are not alone

You are a child of the God who wants you to talk to him.

Even if your words need to be “Why are you doing this to us?”

 

And sometimes our words are going to simply be

I believe…oh God help my unbelief.

And then we have to let God hold us.

It’s a big deal that James ends his letter this way.

Because after all of the tough talk against the rich

And after all the tough talk about envy and arrogance

and the urging he does to look only to God

James gives us the “here’s why you look only to God.”

 

Because when the struggle of life brings the kind of pain that threatens to swallow you up and obliterate your spirit

 

God is present

Jesus is right here.

With you

Saying, yes, I know your pain is so potent you can taste it on your tongue

 

But I’m with you as you walk through these difficult rivers

I’m not going to let the flames of pain burn you up

Because I’m your Savior. I’m your lover

No matter what…I redeem you

You are not alone

I’ve called you by name

You are mine.