In Church today we started a series of the missions and the vision of Bridge of Life church. Dave (our pastor) started out by telling the story of how the church first started and then how the church received its name. This is actually something that we talked about when I first got here because I thought that the name of the church is so interesting. He explained this by talking about the gap between us and god and what separates us from God. Sin made it impossible for us to be with God, but the person that God sent to bridge this gap, the one who gives us new life through him is Jesus. So Jesus is the Bridge of Life and this is what Dave wants to proclaim to this community. It is also interesting because if you look at the community here there are distinct barriers and entrances. One is the American river that separates the Garden land/Northgate community from downtown. The only way to get to the city is to go over the river via the Northgate Bridge. Because this bridge is one of the main ways to the city, this is also were a very large population of homeless live in our community. This bridge is one way that we can extend the love and message of God to our community. So not only is the name of the church due to the meaning of the gospel, but also the community it self.
As he continued to talk about the area and the need to Gods love to move in this area he connected our community to the story of the Prodigal Son. The story talks about a rebellious son who basically tells his father that he wishes he were dead so that he can have his portion of the inheritance. Ouch! I am sure we can all think of people in our own lives (including ourselves) that have acted in this way in some way or another, and in this community where families are struggling with each other and relationships have been broken, this vision of the rebellious son hits deep. So what does the son do once he gets his portion? He hits the road to use all of what he has been given with worldly desires. He ends up spending everything and no being able to even afford food. He eats with the pigs, which is a huge humiliation as a Jew. He realizes the significance of what he has done, the wrongs he has committed, and he knows that he not only hurt his earthly father but his heavenly father with his actions. So he goes home and tries to tell his father that he will pay him back for everything. The father runs to his son and tells his servants to bring the best gown and the family ring to remind the son that no matter what he has done no matter how far he has strayed, that he is loved and still part of this family.
Now if you look at the beauty of this story and see just how amazing this meaning is it can shatter peoples views of forgiveness and of grace. The father in this parable is God. We are the younger son (we also could be the older son, but that is what I’ll talk about later), we turn our back to God, to friends, to family and some times tell them to give us what we want and leave. We have hurt people and once we are alone and no longer satisfied by what we had, or we are worse off then we were, we may see the wrongs we have done and want to fix what we have done, to go back to family, friends, or God and ask for a second chance. The beauty is that when we wrong God, we don’t have to pay everything back. His gift for us was free of charge. There is nothing we could ever do to make God love us less. Wow. Think about that! This message to our community is pretty amazing. It isn’t often that you see this play out in families, so for us to go out and share this story with people is mind blowing, some would maybe even say crazy, but it is true for all of us.
It was a great way to begin our learning about our churches missions and to show how much Gods loves his children no matter what they have done.