SERMON SERIES: EVERYDAY SAINTS
PART 1: WHO IS HOLY?
If you're a follower of Jesus, you're a Saint. Don't believe it? You need this message.
Text: Ephesians 2:13,19
8/19/18 Speaker: Justin Gerhardt
PART 2: CALLED OUT
Are you stepping into your calling? If you're a follower of Jesus, your sainthood comes with a high calling to become more than you are now. In this message, we explore why holiness is such a challenging, thrilling prospect.
Text: Matthew 5:43-48
8/26/18 Speaker: Justin Gerhardt
PART 3: DARE TO BE DIFFERENT
Here's the thing about saints: they're different. But here's the thing about being different: there are consequences. Some of them, however, are pretty fantastic.
Text: Romans 12:1-2
9/2/18 Speaker: Justin Gerhardt
PART 4: INCREDIBLE INHERITANCE
No matter who you are, you need hope. Thankfully, God has an inheritance for his saints—heaven—that gives us a lasting hope capable of getting us through the hardest of times. But we're not the only ones who look forward to heaven…
9/9/18 Speaker: Justin Gerhardt
PART 5: STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
One thing Scripture makes clear about Saints: There always seems to be more than one. In this message, we'll explore what God says about how it's only together that we fully reach our identity in him.
Text: Ephesians 3:17-19
9/16/18 Speaker: Justin Gerhardt
Stories of Our Saints
When we think of saints we think of people like the apostles: Saint Peter or Saint John. We think of Saint Francis of Assisi and his vow of poverty or Saint Teresa of Calcutta and her devotion to the sick and poor in India. We think of people who're extra holy, more holy than we are. More holy than we'll ever be. But that's not the way the Bible talks about saints. In scripture all followers of Christ are called saints, literally "the set apart" or "the holy ones." To choose Christ is to choose to be a saint; clothed in His righteousness, washed in His blood, we are made (and being made) holy.
For a few years now we've been imagining this series and planning a set of images to communicate the very real way in which everyday efforts represent the stuff of sainthood: calling a friend in need, being devoted to excellence at work, cleaning up after your kids, breaking free of addiction, maintaining joy in illness, reading your Bible, waking up in the middle of the night for yet another feeding or diaper change.
Each of these photographs depicts a real person in this very church, not unlike yourself. Like you, they're walking in their identities as Christ's called people. Like you, they sometimes fail or stumble or walk outside the light. And like you, they grapple with what it looks like to be wholly holy. Still, their holiness shines through, marking their minutes and missions. We share these images to remind you how simple sainthood can be, and we share them to inspire you to embrace your status as saint.
Becoming a mother is a beautiful and exhausting thing. You hand over not just your time and attention, but also your very body. Like most first time moms, Jasmine Bolay's been up all night. She's stressed over her choices. She's cried and laughed and cried. And in all of it, she's found motherhood to be a sacred gift. In the past year Jasmine's begun advocating for adopted children, encouraging other women to embrace the joys and struggles of loving a precious human being.
Thanks, Saint Jasmine, for bearing and carrying light and for doing it with contagious love and joy.
About the image:
There's no missing that this image looks like a number of depictions of Saint Mary holding her son, the son of God. We liked the idea that God called a woman to carry His own presence in her body and then on her body, probably wrapped much the same way Jasmine's wearing her daughter, Esther. Too, we like that Jasmine's eyes are closed. We hope she's grabbing a nap.
Balancing family and a high stress career isn't always easy, but Danielle Arnold's doing her best (and asking God to make her best enough). As a doctor, Danielle is often on call, perennially available to her patients, ever interrupted by their needs. She can feel stretched too thin sometimes. But she keeps showing up, doing good work, helping, healing. Sometimes we're tempted to undervalue the holiness of our "secular "jobs, but all work done with excellence and virtue is an opportunity to glorify God.
Thanks, Saint Danielle, for doing work that matters, work that blesses God's people and lifts God high.
About the image:
Danielle's hand position communicates wonder and awe. We thought this appropriate given the up close look she daily gets at God's awe-inspiring creation. Though we had a number of more serious images to choose from, we thought this one best communicated the mix of sleep deprivation, duty, and devotion playing out in her life.
For years John Schneider carried a flip phone with the number of every member of the Round Rock Church of Christ painstakingly entered in his contacts. These days he's upgraded to the directory app. So many people at this church have received a call from John. Whether we're grieving, struggling, doubting, or thinking about walking away, John calls at just the right moment to say...
You're loved. I see you. Keep going.
Yes, he'll likely be sarcastic and probably blunt. But that phone call will be just what you need to hang on.
Thanks, Saint John, for seeing the strugglers, for reaching out, grabbing hold, and helping us carry our pains.
About the image:
We've chosen to pose John looking down and away from the camera, head bowed, for a few reasons, primarily to convey John's reluctance to be noticed and to communicate a posture of prayer, a comfortable posture for John. Often in a saint's portrait you'll find the saint holding a sacred object like a cross or scroll. We've given John his sacred object, the everyday tool he uses to live out God's calling for his life: his phone.
When Brenda Dodd moved to Round Rock her condition was dire. Her health was declining rapidly, and her relationship with her children was strained. If she didn't finally get clean she'd likely die. Soon. So she moved in with her daughter, Jodi Posadas (Brenda says Jodi's the real saint), and committed to sobriety--attending Celebration Recovery meetings, welcoming therapy, and getting plugged in in a meaningful way here at this church. In the last six or seven months Brenda's found more than just freedom from addiction, she's discovered the power of Christ. Brenda finally surrendered to God in baptism on June 8, 2018. Oh, and she's seven months sober.
Thanks, Saint Brenda, for fighting. And for your surrender.
About the image:
Our inspiration for Brenda's portrait was Joan of Arc, the warrior saint often depicted with a white flag. When we handed Brenda her flag she asked, "What's this?" We said, "It's the white flag of surrender and victory." She smiled and wept. We also included Brenda's six month chip, a symbol of her new found freedom.
Jim Flemmons has been a fixture in this church for a long time, his laughter ringing across the foyer most Sunday mornings, his tenor voice leading us in worship from his front row praise team spot. About three years ago Jim began a battle with Leukemia. While being treated for cancer, a more serious, underlying condition was identified in Jim's immune system. The process of discovering and labeling Jim's problem has often unearthed more questions than answers. His barely understood condition left him particularly vulnerable to chemotherapy, leading to numerous, unexpected complications for which there is no known treatment. As a bone marrow transplant (the usual next step for a leukemia sufferer) is too risky in light of Jim's condition, Jim has no clear forward path for treatment. Which might leave a person with no hope. But not Jim. Jim's laughter still rings through the foyer. He still sings tenor from the front row. And he still smiles that broad, full-face smile he always has. He says his hope and joy lie in what comes next.
Thanks, Saint Jim, for your indefatigable joy.
About the image:
We've posed Jim with a balloon as a nod to our "Finding Joy" sermon series a few years back. The balloon represents Jim's dedication to persevering in joy even when joy isn't easy. He holds it just as a saint might have held a scepter or sword, communicating that the joy of the Lord is his strength.
Sometimes taking care of a family--managing chaos, maintaining routine, getting the kids to school and volleyball practice and baseball and youth group, shopping for school supplies, and getting stains out of shirts--seems ordinary. But when it's done with patience and love, intention and wisdom, daily tasks are transformed into sacred rites. Natalie Bogue first came to this church when her eldest daughter attended the preschool program we provided. She decided then that she wanted Jesus to be at the center of her family. Ever since, she's committed to motherhood as a holy vocation, inspiring all of us to remember that taking care of others, our children included, is at the heart of our mission to Live Love.
Thanks, Saint Natalie, for not growing weary in doing good, or at least for persevering with hope and determination in the midst of the weariness.
About the image:
In this image we wanted to capture the chaos of raising kids and the peace that's at the core of a saint's home. We think Natalie's face captures both. We've placed ketchup smeared napkins in her open hands as a nod to saints depicted bearing the stigmata (the wounds of Christ on their hands and sometimes side or feet). The sacrifice of motherhood is a way of giving oneself for another, of choosing to bear the cross of Christ.
Nick Shultz hasn't been at Round Rock Church of Christ for long, but he and God have a long history. In the last few years Nick's returned to church after a while away, spurred on by his wife's faith and the love this body has shown him in hard times. Recently Nick discovered, after experiencing debilitating pain, that he had two large tumors on his kidney and a mass on his liver. While recuperating from surgery in CCU, Nick and his wife Lisa found out that Lisa would be losing her job and that Nick, who worked for the same company, may lose his too. Nick was let go on his first day back to work. All in all it was the kind of storm that wrecks ships. But not Nick's. God didn't offer easy answers for all Nick's questions, but He did walk with Nick as Nick walked with Him.
Thanks, Saint Nick, for your example of faithfulness and trust, for letting hard things draw you closer to God when they might have pushed you far away.
About the image:
In images of saints the positioning of their hands often tells a lot about their story. We've photographed Nick with open hands and lifted eyes because that's the way he's lived through the last year of difficulty and trial, with hands open to lose and open to gain, hands surrendered to God's plan and God's way, eyes locked on God, confident in His provision.
When Natalie Norbut heard the story of the Ethiopian eunuch's baptism she told her mom and dad that she wanted to be baptized too. Just like that. She said she wanted to be close to God and wanted to get rid of everything standing between her and Him. Natalie's young, but that doesn't mean she's not a saint. Natalie loves to worship and writes her own songs of praise. She said to her mother one day, “Mom, if I see something beautiful or that I really like in nature, my heart wants to worship God. And if I don't want to sing, my heart sings and God still hears it, and he likes it.” Natalie's also devoted to hearing and following God's word. Her mom says she's stubborn, but soft when it comes to scripture.
Thanks, Saint Natalie, for your conviction.
About the image:
We've portrayed Natalie holding her Bible, as so many saints have been depicted over centuries of church history. Her upheld hand communicates her identity as a messenger, one who shares the good news of Christ.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Chris Reynolds
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Jennifer Gerhardt