What’s Worship?!

May 4, 2015 by  
Filed under Pulse

Worship 2Dear Convergence Family,

What exactly is worship? Is it the songs that we sing together at church on Sunday? Is it the music playing on Christian radio? Is it the sum total of a pious lifestyle offered in praise of God? Until very recently, I would have answered yes to each of these questions and not thought about the subject any further. Worship in my mind had something to do with music and something to do with righteous living, but it was not anything that I could easily define beyond those broad categories.

In one of my current classes, Worship on the Lord’s Day, I’ve come to learn that worship is so much more than I’d ever previously understood. First and foremost, worship is an experience initiated by God, into which He invites us to participate. By taking action to save us, both through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and through the Holy Spirit’s intervention in our daily lives, God makes the first move in reaching out to us. Pondering this, theologian Constance Cherry suggests, “Worship would greatly change if an entire congregation truly sensed they were coming to worship in answer to God’s personal invitation. The spirit of the service would change dramatically. Can you imagine the expectancy? The electricity? The reverence? The awesome joy that would quickly be manifest?”

Indeed, when we worship at church, we aren’t just meeting with one another; we are encountering the risen Lord Jesus. Furthermore, Jesus doesn’t just sit back and watch. As our high priest (Hebrews 4:14-16), He takes an active and leading role. When Scripture is read and the Word is preached, He speaks to us anew. These are moments of revelation, in which He shares or reveals Himself to us. This experience is far more significant than a typical conversation. The Word of God spoken to us is meant to nourish us, heal us, transform us and empower us as the collective Body of Christ.

What about communion? This mysterious sacrament is undoubtedly powerful, but can be extremely difficult to understand, articulate or explain. While no one can grasp all that God accomplishes in our worship at the table, traditionally Christians have experienced Christ in three major ways through the bread and wine. First, communion invites us to share in Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice at the crucifixion. Second, it encourages and empowers us as we celebrate His resurrection, His victory over Sin and our own acceptance into His family. Third, as we take the elements together, we are spiritually united together as Christ’s Body. When done in expectation of Christ’s presence and leadership, taking communion is far from a mere human ritual. It is another means by which Jesus acts in our lives and we submit to His loving Lordship.

When we come together on Sunday, let’s do so in eager expectation of meeting with the risen Lord. He has invited us together to hear from Him, experience Him and respond. Let’s see what He has in store for us next!

~Diana Wong

For further reading, see The Worship Architect by Constance M. Cherry.

 

 

Together in Mission!

April 29, 2015 by  
Filed under Pulse

Together in Mission

Dear Convergence Family,

I’m on a plane right now heading to a denominational gathering in Pasadena. As I have been preparing for the conference, I have been encouraged and reinvigorated by the reality that we don’t do ministry alone. The reality is: we are part of a larger family on mission. In fact, I am going to be leading worship with a group of musicians that I’ve never met before, yet I know that we are bonded by the blood of Christ, which unites us at a soul level. Knowing this, I am stepping into our time together with confidence because I know we are on mission together. I know that the gospel of Jesus courses through our veins. I know that we are truly covenant family.

The gathering itself is one where pastors and leaders from different churches, places, spaces, contexts, and communities will join together to worship Christ and engage with one another. It is a beautiful mosaic of God’s global family. We are not competing, but rather collaborating. We are not pointing out shortcomings, but embracing one another on this messy journey of faith.

So, be encouraged… You are not alone. God is with you, we are with you, and we are on Christ’s mission together!!!

On the journey with you,

Pastor Bobby

 

Come Join Us this Sunday Evening!

October 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Pulse

Renovate_SimpleGraphic Dear Convergence Family,

 

In case you haven’t heard, we are having a gathering on November 2nd from 5pm to 8pm called “Renovate.”  What is this? and Why are we doing this?

 

In any journey, there comes a moment when it is both healthy and necessary to pause, reflect, reassess, and adjust.  We’re about to begin our seventh year as a church and I believe that we are at that moment.  There are things to be pruned, things to be cultivated, and new things to be imagined! In order to grow into the future as a healthy and vibrant church, we need all of us as a diverse and unified body of Christ to pour into the establishing of our church for the future.  We need our whole presence and our whole participation so that we can truly be a whole church.  Even if you’ve joined our church in the last week, this is an opportunity to jump in and be a part of shaping our future.

 

You can find details for “Renovate” (how to RSVP, location, time, etc.) HERE.  I really want to encourage you to RSVP and join us!

 

 

In partnership with you,

 

 

Pastor Bobby

 

RENOVATE!!!

October 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Events

Renovate_SimpleGraphicWHO: Everyone who calls Convergence their church community.

WHAT: This will be an event that will be our launching pad for 2015. Our purpose is to share a meal together, fellowship, hear each others’ experiences of Convergence (good and bad), testify of God’s movement in our lives, and envision our future.

WHY: In any journey, there comes a moment when it is both healthy and necessary to pause, reflect, reassess, and adjust.  We’re about to begin our seventh year as a church and we are at that moment.  There are things to be pruned, things to be cultivated, new things to be imagined! In order to grow into the future as a healthy and vibrant church, we need all of you.  We need your whole presence and your whole participation so that we can truly be a whole church.  Even if you’ve joined our church in the last week, this is the opportunity to jump in and be a part of shaping our future.

WHEN: November 2 from 5pm-8pm.

WHERE: West Oakland Senior Center (1724 Adeline St.)

HOW: RSVP HERE.

 

Beautiful and Eternal!

May 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Pulse

maui

Dear Convergence Family,

I was so blessed to be able to officiate the wedding of Stephen and Kathy Mew this past weekend in Maui! It was absolutely beautiful. As I was enjoying spending time with the Convergence folks that were able to make it out and reflecting on Stephen and Kathy’s journey to marriage, I was deeply encouraged. It is so encouraging to know that Jesus has been, is, and will continue to work through our church to form marriages, birth new life, and restore relationships with God and with one another. It was such a testament to the life giving nature of Christ’s body – Convergence.

I want to encourage you to take one step closer in engaging with the church. If you’ve been following us from a distance (online), I encourage you to join us for worship on Sunday (10:30am at DeFremery Park, Oakland). If you’ve been attending our services on Sunday, I encourage you to join a Life Group (http://convergeoakland.org/life-groups/). If you’ve been attending service and are part of a Life Group, I encourage you to serve and pursue covenant membership with Convergence (http://convergeoakland.org/serving/). Only God knows what the future holds. But I am certain that following Him will lead us to that which is both beautiful and eternal.

In His Amazing Grace,

Pastor Bobby

The Cost & the Life

April 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Pulse

This week’s pulse comes from Becky Luoh, Convergence Women’s Ministry Leader and Greek IV Director at Cal:

As a church we’ve begun this journey of studying the book of Romans. I’ve been looking forward to this as this particular book of the Bible is a meaty one– a delicious meat that’s even better shared with a group of people. The last two weeks of hearing sermons on Sunday and then talking with my life group about the same passages has felt a lot like a satisfying meal: special meals, one where you laugh and share stories but also manage to learn something and have newfound appreciation for something that wasn’t previously there before. Upon further reflection, this may be how my dad got me to appreciate red wine…

This week in particular, I was struck by our life group’s discussion around Paul’s fervor and passion for the Good News of Jesus Christ, and how that produces a deep love and sense of obligation for his fellow man. It got me thinking: does my own faith in the Gospel produce a kind of love for others that cannot be contained?

I think one of the hardest things is admitting that I don’t like to love on anyone’s terms but my own. It’s far easier to choose my friends, to show someone I care when I feel like it, to be in control. When I love on my own terms, I can protect myself from hurt and there’s no messiness involved.

But Paul is willing to get into the mess. He embodies the Good News he’s sharing by living his life for the sake of others– he loves on God’s terms instead of his own. His love comes from truly understanding Jesus’ faithfulness on the cross. His letter to the Roman church helps me realize that it’s in both the joy of relationship and all the mess and brokenness that comes with it that Jesus’ resurrection power comes to life, and in that we experience the depth and width of His love over ours.

Perhaps that’s why studying Scripture with life group and church community has been so rich as of late. Over the past few years of committing to this group of friends, we’ve seen a lot together (marriages, new & lost jobs, scary moments of unknown, growing families, disagreements, discernment about calling, and all the little things in between). Though it’s been incredibly uncomfortable at times: feeling like the only extravert in a room of introverts, or just thinking that our differences in communication, lifestyle, and values just won’t mesh, even entertaining thoughts about leaving for an “easier” church where it just won’t be so “hard”, or just plain not liking someone– this life group and church has been one of the deepest places of growth and maturity for me. By staying in the messiness, I’ve grown to appreciate and love beyond myself, beyond my limited selfish terms. A sense of obligation to my church family and the larger community has grown by the power of Jesus, because I couldn’t do it on my own terms. In a place of fear and death of being hurt and being uncomfortable, I’ve tasted how resurrection power brings life to a place we so easily give up on. It is in the lives of those around us– not just those we choose, but even those that God chooses for us– that the Good News comes to life.

Becky

Barbecue Spirituality

April 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Pulse

This week’s post comes from Pastor Bobby

I was barbecuing the other day and thinking about the meat I was cooking. I was thinking about the marinade and how delicious it was going to be. The meat had been sitting in the marinade for more than an entire day. It was thoroughly soaked and I knew that every bite would be incredibly flavorful.

The last time I barbecued, however, wasn’t quite the same experience. I was grilling chicken and didn’t have time to marinate the meat and so I ended up brushing the sauce on. I tried to rigorously brush to see if the sauce would penetrate the meat even more, but all of my efforts failed. Although the chicken looked flavorful and tasty, it came out tasting dry and flavorless.

Of course, since I’m a pastor, I started thinking about our lives in the midst of my barbecue experience. I thought about how necessary it is to be thoroughly soaked in the Spirit and the Word. I think; however, that more often than not, we try and give a last minute effort and “brush on” spirituality when we need it. We approach God in our times of trial and suffering, but don’t necessarily “soak” in His presence. We read a scripture here and there. We pray here and there. We attend a church function here and there. It’s like brushing on barbecue sauce. The irony is that although we “look” spiritual and appear to be rich in flavor (like when Jesus likens us to being the salt of the earth), we’re really dry and flavorless in our faith. A “brushed on” spirituality is just that… Brushed on. It’s not really in us.

As we enter into our new sermon series through the book of Romans, our hope is that we will “soak” in the Scriptures and allow it and the Spirit to sink deeply into our souls. In order to help facilitate this soaking, we’re creating Life Group curriculum that coincides with the sermons to help us dig deeper into the Scriptures each week. If you haven’t engaged with a Life Group yet, I want to encourage you, or better yet, challenge you to do so. I believe it will make significant difference in your life and journey as a follower of Jesus.

We begin our new sermon series this Sunday and our Life Groups will be starting with the new curriculum next week so there’s still time to begin soaking with us!  Let’s be truly flavorful to the world as we are fully marinated in Christ!

Click here for more information on our Life Groups and I truly hope to see you this Sunday!

In His Amazing Grace,

Pastor Bobby

The Heart Work of Easter

March 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Pulse

This week’s pulse comes from Becky Luoh, Convergence Women’s Ministry Leader and Greek IV Director at Cal:

As this season of Lent is drawing to a close, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. The past six weeks have, at times, both dragged on and raced forward.

This week before Easter Sunday (also known as Passion or Holy Week), I find myself inching closer and closer to breaking my Lenten fasts and indulging in some pastel egg-shaped candy in the days to come. As this season draws to a close, my eyes are on the celebration of new life: or, in other words, getting back to my everyday life and habits. The weeks of suffering in fasting and mourning are ending, and I’m ready for things to be normal again.

I was reflecting on this today as I found myself in the car driving through the North Bay today. Taking from Pastor Bobby’s blog post a while back about being in a posture of listening, I decided to turn off my usual driving music and sit silently in my thoughts for a while, looking back on this season of fasting and Lent.

And here are some of my honest reflections:

– I’m still not great at fasting. My self-discipline really needs some work.

– I’m really glad Lent’s coming to an end.

– The church Easter choir on Sunday is going to be awesome!!!

– I’m not sure I’m any different now than I was at the start of Lent.

In the quiet of the car I had to face a hard realization… that I want my “suffering” to be in a neat little package and to come with some awesome outcomes that make the hard parts worth it. I want my sacrifices and struggling (even something as little as giving up coffee) to mean something. I want something to show for it. I want to give myself a pat on the back and endless celebratory cups of coffee to commemorate that I’ve done it. Despite everything, I still just want and focus on the benefits of new life without being fully present in the suffering. More than I care to admit, I’m ready to live back in my normal reality where I have freedom and new life. Suffering and fasting is just too hard.

Especially in this last week of Lent where Jesus lived his final week, it’s tempting to get ready for the Sunday celebration instead of staying present with the richness of His suffering and passion, which comes to a head this week. The depth of the suffering and passion paves the way for the depth and meaning of crucifixion and subsequent new life. Those two aspects – the crucifixion and the resurrection – simply cannot be unlinked.

Suffering is simply that– suffering. It’s hard! We people are pain adverse. A big part of entering into suffering is holding myself there in that hard place; that is half the battle for me. We have the freedom to choose out of it, and ironically the same freedom that Jesus paid for is the same freedom and willpower we exercise when we choose into crucifixion alongside Him today. We have the choice. He’s inviting us into the depth of His faithfulness and power that remain through both the suffering and the rising. Do we have the courage to say yes and to engage more deeply this week, despite any hard realizations we may have about our weakness?

Becky

 

Convergence Weekly 3/11/2011

March 11, 2011 by  
Filed under News

Dear  Convergence Family,

I wanted to remind you that this Sunday marks the ‘leap forward’ for your clocks by one hour!  That’s right! Daylight savings time is here which means one hour of less sleep but more daylight.

This Sunday, we’ll also be taking a break from Philippians and exploring Jesus’ time in the wilderness.  This is such a rich passage that will help us further engage in this season of Lent.

This Sunday is also ‘Freedom Sunday’ so there’s going to be a screening of the rockumentary ‘Call and Response’ in the evening.  There’ll be another announcement for this coming out later today and more information on Sunday at service as well.

I’m looking forward to our Sunday together!!!

Grace and Peace,

Bobby