Sharing our stories around the table

Come share a good meal and conversations that help shape our ministry.

Next meal will be at noon on November 3 at First Baptist Church. 

No cost – childcare provided, limited seating so please RSVP

You’re invited to a time of conversation around a simple meal at First Baptist Church, hosted by Pastor Brian and Gabrielle and the Family Care team.
God is always at work in this church, inviting us further into the mission in each new season of ministry.  In order to be faithful and effective in that calling, we need to remember our unique history and values as a community, recognize the gifts and insights that God has given our whole church family, and respond to the needs and opportunities God has positioned us for.

A key part of that remembering our history and recognizing what people are seeing is taking the time to hear from one another.

Which brings us to a series of meals held weekly at noon beginning on October 20 and projected to go until November 24.  We’ll spend about an hour eating and sharing together.

We’ll be asking participants to share:

  • Where have you seen or experienced FBC most living out its values and calling?
  • What opportunities or needs are you aware of in the wider community?
  • What feedback do we need to hear to be more effective in our ministry?

The meals will be simple; soup and bread and dessert, and there will be no cost.  Childcare will be provided.  Each meal is limited to 10 people at a time, so reservations are necessary unless we have an open spot that Sunday.  Please contact the church office at: or  or use the sign up sheet on the welcome desk.

Vegetarian and gluten-free options will be available upon request.

Participating in Christ – Reflections on Michael Gorman’s book

Michael J. Gorman’s book Participating in Christ is a fascinating exploration of a phrase we encounter time and again in Paul’s writings, yet perhaps without considering what exactly it means to be in Christ.

True to the title of the book, Gorman invites us to consider that to be in Christ is not merely an attempt to imitate Jesus’ actions or ethics, but to participate in the very Triune life of God, taking seriously the language Paul uses (for example) in Galatians 5:20 when he says: “…it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me…”

Today, I’m picking up on a conversation begun at the First Baptist Church’s facebook page, and delving into chapter three of the book: “Cruciform or Resurrectiform?”  Scot McKnight in the Jesus Creed blog is also following this book, so I’ll try not to duplicate his analysis here.

Again, following Paul’s emphasis on the cross as the definitive revelation of God’s character in Christ, and thus the implications for us who then are caught up in the life of Christ here and now, Gorman addresses a pretty important potential critique: what about the resurrection?  Should we not give equal (or more) emphasis to participation in the resurrection of Jesus as part of the Christian life?

In one sense, absolutely – apart from the resurrection, our faith is futile, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:16.  Yet Gorman’s provocative argument, following the pattern of the Christ hymn in Philippians 2:4-11 and 2 Corinthians, chapters 3-5, is that it is precisely when we are vulnerable and ‘weak’ in the eyes of the world, that God’s resurrection power is displayed.  It is in Jesus’ “downward mobility”, of letting go of privilege and status to be a servant in human form, obedient even to death on a cross, that exaltation occurs.

Where that challenges me is to wonder about how anxious we can get (as churches, as pastors, as people) about whether or not we have enough (time / money / resources) to accomplish God’s mission.  Perhaps our anxiety stems from our desire to have so much that we can accomplish it “on our own” – though we’d never actually say it that way.  Perhaps it is only as we are willing to participate in Christ’s downward mobility, realizing that it’s not about our sufficiency but God’s provision that allows God’s grace and love and resurrection power to be shown.

When we have enough, there’s no need for God to show up, except perhaps to pat us on the head and say ‘well done’!  And yet, being willing to faithfully step out where God calls us when we don’t have enough, into the unknown, that’s a dying to ourselves that allows us to see God at work; and that transforms us as well as the world.

Blessings on the Journey

-Pastor Brian

Trunk or Treat

Join us for Trunk or Treat on Sunday October 27th from 4:00– 6:00 p.m!

Children from the area are invited to go “Trunk or Treating” in a safe, family-friendly setting in our church parking lot.

Photos from the 2018 Trunk or Treat Event!


“O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.”
– 1 Chronicles 16:8

Driving along rural roads in Illinois, one starts to see two sure signs that the seasons are indeed changing – the leaves are beginning to show their brilliant colors, and the farmers are busy in the field bringing in the harvest.
These rhythms of the year are also found in the festivals and offerings described in the Bible, as Rev. Cheri talked about on October 20. As the people of Israel planted and harvested the land, they were not only to bring in a portion of the first fruits from their fields, but to present them to the priests while telling the story of God’s faithfulness and love: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor… so now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O LORD, have given me.” (Deuteronomy 26:5,10)

It’s not that God needed the grain or animals (remember, the offerings went to care for those who had no fields or ability to work them; the Levites who had no land, the foreigners among them, the orphans and widows). But notice how the act of giving along with the telling of the story helped people remember God’s grace (providing the harvest, and in bringing them to this place), and the implications of that grace – extending compassion and care for those who needed help, so that everyone could eat and rejoice together before the LORD.
These habits of life are meant to reinforce something simple but essential; being rooted in gratitude, remembering God’s presence and provision and living our lives in response to that.

Gratitude is not always easy. As I write this, I know of many people I hold dear who are facing enormous challenges and heart-wrenching situations. In such times, gratitude is not putting on a smile and pretending that everything is just fine. Sometimes gratitude is choosing to remember the past in order to hold on to the faith that our present circumstances are not the last word, trusting that God is present and working here and now whether we sense it in the moment or not, and anticipating the revealing of God’s future where, as Julian of Norwich said: “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
In 1 Chronicles 16:8-36, we find a psalm calling us to praise God, to rejoice and to share the stories of God’s work. It is no accident that in the same breath, we find the invitation to seek God’s strength and salvation, along with remembering what God has done.

In times of plenty and when joy is easy, and when the road is hard; may we remember what God has done for us, and give God thanks – as an act of worship and as an act in which God shapes us to meet each day with the knowledge of God’s presence and work. May we join with the Apostle Paul, who said: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Blessings on the Journey,
-Pastor Brian