Last weekend, at the kind invitation of the leaders at New Covenant Fellowship (The Bridge) in Champaign IL, Kris and I traveled through the windy plains of central Illinois to do a Jesus Creed weekend. One of our home town friends, and someone I grew up (in church) with, Lorna Engels, planned, organized and … did everything for the event, and it was fantastic to see her again. Thanks Lorna! Kris and I experienced the generous hospitality of pastor Rom Simkins and his wife Donna. And I got to see two of my former NPU students, Laura (Prentiss) and Anders Wennstrom, though they had to endure hearing some things I taught them years back about the Jesus Creed.
When I think of New Covenant an expression comes to mind: the table of the Lord. That’s what we experienced at New Covenant. The only way to describe this community of faith is to say they are committed to one another, they are committed as Christians to their local community, they welcome their community, regardless of where they are in their faith journey, their practices, and their politics. As a result, our experience there reminded me of what it was like to be with Jesus in the Galilee at table in the evening: everyone was invited — some were committed, some weren’t convinced, some were curious, but all were given the invitation to Come! It is truly extraordinary to drive home pondering how it is possible for a church community to be so missional (before it was a catchy term) that a handful of Jewish non-Christians not only attended our sessions but are part of this faith community. Yes, diversity is everywhere present but it was so organic it was obvious it was not an attempt to “reach” into missed demographics; it felt like a neighborhood faith community.
We had two sessions, one Saturday evening and one Sunday morning, both on the Jesus Creed, and I focused Saturday night on Luke 10 and Sunday morning on Mark 12. Saturday night then focused on the problem followers of Jesus in learning to treat all as neighbors, and Sunday morning on how the Jesus Creed in its biblical context reshapes the meaning of love. (More of that in another post someday down the road.)