September 11, 2015
We are so honored to join the team of churches in Aurora who are shining the light of Jesus in the City of Lights. We feel the Lord calling us as a local church on the near west side of the city to be a City of Light: A place where people can experience the love of Jesus, find a safe place in his church, and be sent out to love their neighbors and neighborhoods.
We are so grateful for our partnership with the Aurora-based communications team Bureau Gravity who created this logo that captures our heart for the city of Aurora and for this new church. Here's a bit more about what being a city of light means to us.
In Isaiah 60 the prophet describes a city where the light of the Lord overcomes darkness:
Centuries later, when the apostle John sees a vision of heaven, he describes a city. He says, “I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God.'" (Rev. 21:2, ESV) Then to describe the city of heaven, John quotes Isaiah 60, “And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light," (Rev. 22:5, ESV).
When Jesus came to earth to, he taught that the heavenly city is breaking into earth now. Jesus says, “The Kingdom of heaven has come near" (Mt. 10:7, NIV). He teaches his followers to pray, “Our Father in heaven … Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
One day at the end, the city of heaven will descend to earth and things will be finally and fully put right. Jesus's coming from heaven to dwell among us (Jn. 1:14) announced that the coming of the city of heaven into the city of earth had begun.
Jesus said to his followers several times, “I am the light of the world." (Jn 8:12, ESV) But in Matthew 5 he unexpectedly tells his followers, “You are the light of the world." (v. 14a, ESV) Jesus's plan for shining his light in the world is his church. He goes on to say that, “a city on a hill cannot be hidden." (v. 14b, ESV) Jesus brings the city of heaven now through his church—a city on a hill.
The church should be and is a place where there's no more violence heard within our walls, the gates are always open, and the nations are welcomed. It is a place where people find salvation from sin and the fear of death. It is a place full of windows of worship into heaven where praise is eternally being sung around the throne. It is the place where we experience the Lord's transforming presence that changes us more and more into the image of Jesus, reflecting his glorious light and shining it in our lives. When we become a church like this, we can love our neighbors and our neighborhoods and see Jesus bringing the city of heaven to earth through his church. Darkness is real, but Jesus's light can scatter and destroy that darkness.
Right before Jesus entered into his city, Jerusalem, one last time before he was crucified, he stopped outside the gates and wept for the city he loved. “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace." (Luke 19:42, NIV) On another occasion Jesus says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing." (Mt. 23:37, NIV)
Jesus longs to gather the city into his arms and show its dwellers the way of peace. He sees the difference between what is and what should be—the contrast between the city of earth and its darkness and the city of heaven and its light. And we find ourselves living today in the difference between what should be and what is. And when Jesus sees that difference, he weeps for the city he loves. And so did Isaiah. And so should we.
In the chapter before Isaiah describes this heavenly city, Isaiah 59, he outlines the evil and the oppression going on in his own city. He says, your sin “has made a separation between you and your God … Your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness." (59:2a, 3, ESV) Later on, your “feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood … The way of peace they do not know." (59:7a, 8a, ESV)
But at the end of this chapter, right before Isaiah 60 begins, he says these hopeful words: “and a Redeemer will come to Zion." (59:20a, ESV) And seven centuries later a redeemer did come to the city of Zion and stood outside the gates of Jerusalem and wept and said, “Oh, if only you knew the way of peace." And then he walked into that city where they were quick to speak lies and falsely accuse him, feet were quick to shed innocent blood, and hands were defiled by blood as they beat him and crucified him.
And we were all there because we have all left the way of peace and walked the way of violence. We all have blood on our hands and lies on our lips. But by the power of his light; Jesus turned the way of violence into the way of peace. He entered into our darkness and death and he defeated it.
On the third day when the women who followed Jesus came to the empty tomb, the words of Isaiah the prophet came true:
Arise, shine, for your light has come, *
and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.
For behold, darkness covers the land; *
deep gloom enshrouds the peoples.
But over you the Lord will rise, *
and his glory will appear upon you.
They shall call you, The City of the Lord. (Isaiah 60:1-3, 14c BCP)
The light of Jesus's resurrection brings heaven to earth. It teaches us the way of peace so that we can lay down our lives to love our city like Jesus does. Darkness is real, but Jesus's light can scatter and destroy that darkness. He longs to gather all peoples into his city, the church, so that it can be the resurrection intersection of the city of heaven come to earth.
Click here to listen to the full sermon on this text from August 30, 2015.
May 18, 2015
Everyone at Resurrection recognizes the McMakens. Trevor and Bonnie have served the church for over ten years, and on any given Sunday you might have seen Bonnie leading worship while Trevor preached, acted as deacon, ran the Tech team, and jumped onto the worship team for a song or two. Trevor has been on staff for eight years (and held an unprecedented number of job titles in that time, as you'll see!).
I asked Trevor and Bonnie to reflect on the past ten years of involvement at Church of the Resurrection, and their answers reflect the incredible love and hard work they have both poured into this church both as ministry leaders and staff members.
Trevor: We started attending in the Fall of 2004, our sophomore year at Wheaton College. Karen and Kevin Miller were family friends of the Woodleys (Bonnie's family), and they picked us up early in the Fisher U on campus. We got to church 30 or 40 minutes early so the Millers could get ready, and we watched as the sound team scrambled around Glenbard West because the sound system wasn't working. Little did I know I would lead that team for 8 years...Then after the service, the Millers treated us to lunch at Panera, the first of many incredible and life-changing conversations with them!
Bonnie: I remember thinking, "Well, this is pretty weird. So many robes. But I feel like everyone is experiencing the holiness and presence of God." And then, "Oh, well that was interesting ... wait, it's not over?! Wait, there's still Communion?!" Later that day, as Trevor and I processed "what just happened," we realized there was a lot we didn't understand about the service, but it didn't scare us; it intrigued us."
Trevor: All logistical details seemed to fade away and we were drawn in to worship and into the presence of Jesus.
Bonnie: It didn't take us even a month to get involved, thanks to the late, great John Fawcett, former worship pastor at Rez. He had heard from a "little bird" (i.e., Karen Miller) that we were musicians, so he called us up. We went in a Wheaton College Conservatory practice room, played and sang through some songs with us, and that was it! We were on the worship team twice a month.
Trevor: The first thing we ever did on worship team was an offertory, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" gospel style. I remember coming onstage and realizing that John stood when he played keyboard, and feeling really clumsy trying to stand and play.
Bonnie: And we've been hooked ever since. Trevor has played guitar, mandolin, bass guitar, electric guitar, drums, piano, keyboard, organ, penny whistle, and probably other miscellaneous instruments. As life-giving as it's been to be involved with worship here at Rez, it's also been exciting to get our feet wet in other areas of ministry, some a good fit for us, some not-so-good.
Bonnie: Our time at Rez has been the most formational season of my life. I got married here. I had babies here. I experienced healing here. I learned how to pray here. I became a leader here. I found home here. There are so many incredible memories that I could point to: my children's baptisms, leading worship during Holy Week, Trevor's ordination, etc.
One of my favorite memories is from the Easter Vigil 2014. I had led worship for the first half of the Vigil (the readings portion), and there was a completely separate music team for the second, Communion half. When the song "Happy Day" started at the evening Vigil, about 15 extra music team members jumped on stage. The vocalists shared mics, we danced like crazy, I laughed until my sides hurt, and we worshiped with abandon--like David did.
I love that moment because it's so indicative of my experience at Rez. When we lead the congregation in worship, it's not a performance. It's about entering into a communal and holy reality of worship where we are known, loved, and shaped into the Body of Christ. Also, in this holy reality, there's a lot of laughing. So much laughing.
How do you capture 10 years of worship, friends, ministry, Holy Weeks, challenges, and joys? A bulleted list, of course:
Oh boy, here goes. These are directly from personnel documents, so they're all official titles:
Worship Intern/Worship Intern, Receptionist, Assistant to the Rector/Worship Coordinator, Receptionist, Assistant to the Rector/Pastoral Care Intern, Worship Coordinator, Church Secretary, Assistant to the Rector/College Coordinator, Rector's Assistant, Media Arts Coordinator/Communications Manager, Assistant Director of Community Care/Communications and Media Arts Manager, Pastoral Care Associate Coordinator/Communications Manager, Assistant Coordinator of Community Care/Communication Manager, Community Care Director/Assistant Community Care Pastor, Communications Manager/Communications Manager/Communications Director/Church Planter
Trevor: There are so many things about Resurrection that we have imbibed. Come visit us in Aurora and when you see the family resemblance, you'll know!
Bonnie: Our family needs to be covered in prayer every day. We feel very needy in so many ways, and the Lord continues to satisfy those needs. Specifically, we are stepping into a rhythm and pace of life that is very different from what we've had before. I'll be home schooling the kids this year while leading worship at the Aurora church plant, while Trevor will be taking on more responsibility as our church's rector. Please pray for our family on Sundays, particularly that the Lord would bring us someone with a heart for watching our kids every week while we both need to focus on serving our congregation in an intense way.
Bonnie: We love you. We will never and can never be the same after living within your safe walls for so many years. Thank you for giving us refuge and thank you for setting us free. This is sadder and more joyful than any of us could ever express, this Kingdom life. It is the way of the Cross and the Resurrection. It is the way of dark longing and radiant hope. It is the way of Jesus. Take heart.