Every Sunday morning, beginning at 10:00 a.m., people come together to worship here at FUBC. I invite you to worship with us this Sunday and every Sunday. Each worship service is unique. True, by and large we follow the same format – although that is subject to change now and then – yet the Spirit never moves among us the same way. New and deeper friendships are forged. New understandings are gained. Some ideas are affirmed, others are challenged. In worship we discover that our being is not identical to our body, yet our body is wrapped up in our being and Being itself. We awaken. We discover the difference between going through life on auto-pilot and going through life fully aware. We begin to merge our rote actions and routines with our deeper longings and passion for being whole. We discover the Being we worship is not external to us and our experiences. Jesus is integral with Being, and so are we. In worship, we are reminded that the God in whom Jesus walked this earth, and in whom he is alive, is the same God in whom we are walking this earth, and in whom we do and shall live. ~~Pastor Jim Sinclair
Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler quote Psalm 119.97, “O how I love your teaching! It is my study all day long.” Then they write, “These two themes—the love for Torah (teaching) and dedication to the study of it—have characterized Jewish reading and interpretation of the Bible ever since. The love is the impetus for the study; the study is the expression of the love.”1 The same is true for Christian study of that same Bible, the Scriptures of the New Testament, and of course, the person and spirit of Jesus. The ideas within Psalm 119.97 remind me of the Four Fragile Freedomsas laid out by Walter Shurden in The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms.2
“BIBLE FREEDOM is the historic Baptist affirmation that the Bible, under the Lordship of Christ, must be central in the life of the individual and church and that Christians, with the best and most scholarly tools of inquiry, are both free and obligated to study and obey the Scripture.”3
“SOUL FREEDOM is the historic Baptist affirmation of the inalienable right and responsibility of every person to deal with God without the imposition of creed, the interference of clergy, or the intervention of civil government.”4
“CHURCH FREEDOM is the historic Baptist affirmation that local churches are free, under the Lordship of Christ, to determine their membership and leadership, to order their worship and work, to ordain whom they perceive as gifted for ministry, male or female, and to participate in the larger Body of Christ, of whose unity and mission Baptists are proudly a part.”5
“RELIGIOUS FREEDOM is the historic Baptist affirmation of freedom OF religion, freedom FOR religion, and freedom FROM religion, insisting that Caesar is not Christ and Christ is not Caesar.”6
Taken together, I understand these ideas to mean that the Bible is to be taken seriously, studied regularly, applied diligently, and discussed frequently by people of the Book. I understand these ideas to mean that we learn together; that while some ideas are more “sound” than others, all ideas are subject to being morphed, strengthened, or discarded. I understand these ideas to mean that devout study does not lead people to the same conclusions, that a belief once strongly held might turn out to be wrong, and a belief thought to be wrong might turn out to be right. I understand that FREEDOM is the key word. Without it, intellectual inquiry would be limited, debate would be muted, righting wrongs would be hampered, faith would lose its meaning, and a personal relationship with Christ would be hindered. Without FREEDOM there would be two choices: accept or reject the dogma. Such a forced choice limits options, and unless a person agrees with the dogma right down the line or does not want to be free, the only choice is to reject the dogma so as to find a better path. Let’s keep learning together. See you soon!
Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, eds. The Jewish Study Bible(New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. ix.
Walter Shurden, The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms(Macon, Georgia: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc., 1993).
ibid, p. 9.
ibid, p. 23.
ibid, p. 33.
ibid, p. 45.
First United Baptist Church is a multi-generational, multi-cultural community in the heart of Lowell. We are committed to growing together in Christ’s love by joining together in worship, learning, spiritual practice and service to each other and our community. Join us on Sunday morning or at any church event. There is always room at the table!
Worship on Sundays at 10:00AM
99 Church Street Lowell, MA 01852 978-452-9281 FUBoffice@gmail.com