The Darkest Day

This morning (Good Friday), followers of Jesus all around the world will pause to meditate on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This was not the only time someone was killed on a cross — in fact, Jesus was centred between two others the day He was executed — but His cross alone stands as a symbol of hope, forgiveness, and God’s love.

…But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He Himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins [pays for our wrongs] — and not only our sins, but the sins of all the world.

1 John 2:1-2

Although, we all have “good days”, humans are sinful. We lack control, including self-control, and cope poorly with suffering and disappointment. Our world is sick with regret over the past, and anxiousness about the future. In other words, our burdens are heavy.

Jesus invites everyone to trade their weariness for His lightness. He says, “I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

Historical accounts tell us that around noon on the day Jesus was crucified, the sky went dark. The champion of the oppressed had died. Anyone watching would have expected this terrible scene to become a lasting picture of hopelessness, and yet that is so far from the truth. This error in thought and sight continues today.

Today, many skeptics point to “darkness”, and scoff at the idea of God. How can God be real when the world is full of sin, suffering, addiction, tragedy, and on? Yet so many people have been deeply grieved by all of these things, only to find Jesus sweeter still.

How can this be? Simply put — Jesus really has defeated sin and shame, and His presence in our lives really is enough to provide rest for our souls.

We sincerely hope you have an amazing weekend, but we also hope you don’t this:

The most “Easter” thing you can possibly do is give your burdens up to Jesus, and celebrate that you can!

A Loving Saviour

This week, followers of Jesus all over the world will honour His terrible crucifixion on a Roman cross, and celebrate His miraculous resurrection from the dead. As believers, we know the hope of the world hinges on these events, and look at Christ’s death as the ultimate picture of sacrificial love. It was this astonishingly merciful love that made Him so unpopular with the religious elite of His time.

John 8 describes a pretty despicable scene. A bunch of “holier than thou” men surround a woman caught in the act of adultery. Apparently excusing the man she was with, they take her and humiliate her in front of a crowd. They bring her in front of Jesus and challenge him to have her stoned to death (knowing that’s what Jewish law commanded). These were men of good reputation. These were men who good little boys and girls were taught to look up to. These men stand in complete contrast to what Jesus came to demonstrate, and how He calls His followers to live.

The end of the story goes like this:

They kept demanding an answer, so he [Jesus] stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”  

Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

John 8:7-11

While Jesus was alive, religious people had completely wrong ideas about how God wanted His people to live, and things haven’t changed too much since then. There are tons of misconceptions in and outside of churches about what God is about, and what He wants of us.

To be clear, the Bible calls us to live like Jesus, and this is what Jesus is about (Mark 12:29-31):
1. Loving God first and foremost
2. Loving others

Whether you’ve known Jesus as your Saviour for a long time, or you are just learning about Him, we promise He loves you. The cross stands as a symbol of His compassion and His sincere DISINTEREST in condemning you. In Christ, we are forgiven and free. This is news even long-time Christians need to be reminded of!

Though we may not always do a great job, it is our hope that the world would know the love of God though us. We want you to know God’s forgiveness. We want you to enjoy His mercy and blessings. We want to help you move forward to a full life in Christ.

Reach out to us by emailing info@forwardcity.ca or JOIN US ANY SUNDAY MORNING. We would be happy to talk about why Easter is worth celebrating!

“_____” Like Jesus

Jesus is arguably one of the best known historical figures of all time. However, in spite of His popularity, many haters and lovers of Jesus alike have misguided ideas of how Jesus lived. This leads us to misguided ideas about the heart of God, and how God’s people were called to live.

If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, we believe it is important that you take time to actually study how Jesus lived and what He is about. We are called to live like Him — not like famous preachers or esteemed church goers. We believe that when God’s people actually choose to live like Jesus, it transforms lives and communities in amazing ways. 

If you are not a Jesus follower, we hope you’ll join us for our current Sunday morning message series — “______ LIKE JESUS”. We think you’ll really like the example Jesus modelled for us.

Into the Neighbourhood

This coming Sunday, March 17, Forward City Church will be having its first “Neighbourhood Church” of 2019. What does that mean exactly?

We will not be gathering all together at the Cineplex (DON’T GO THERE…THE DOORS WILL BE LOCKED). Instead, we will gather as smaller groups of people in the homes of certain Forward City family members.

We will be scattered throughout neighbourhoods in Chatham, but home with one another, enjoying some good gifts from God — relationships, His presence, and FOOD!

If you are already part of a Life Group (a small group that meets weekly), you will be meeting with your Life Group, and will be contacted this week about whose house you’re going to, what time your group is meeting (likely around 10 or 11AM on Sunday), and if you are able to contribute to the meal. No pressure if it’s a hassle for you to prepare something — typically there is too much food.

If you aren’t part of a Life Group already, sign up for Neighbourhood Church by filling out the form below. If you’re not interested, please keep reading beneath the form :).

Please provide an email address and/or phone number for us to contact you. Thank you!

In The Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrases John 1:14 like this: “The Word [Jesus] became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood”.

In his book Sidewalks in the Kingdom: New Urbanism and the Christian Faith, Author Eric Jacobsen writes: “By and large, most of his [Jesus’] ministry took place in public places, where he risked relationship with people he didn’t know and interacted with them on neutral territory.”

Christ brought good news, hope, salvation, deliverance and healing to the world by first becoming vulnerable. Philippians 2:7 tells us Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity (or “God-ness”) to take on the likeness of humankind. Letting our walls come down is a first step in seeing God do amazing things!

If you do not feel connected to Forward City as your church family, or do not yet feel comfortable enough to have breakfast with a small group of us. Our prayer is that you would risk personal discomfort, for the blessing of community. Why?

  1. We believe that God’s plans for us are totally worth feeling uncomfortable for.
  2. We want you to join us! God’s word tells us He knows you perfectly, and loves you fully. If God cherishes your company, so do we.

Come as you are. Be yourself, and eat some brunch with us this Sunday!

The Home for Christ’s Family

The church is not a building. The church is the people of God — saved by His grace, forgiven by Christ’s blood, called out to model His love, and empowered for this calling by the Holy Spirit.

Still, though blessed and strengthened by God Himself, the church is not perfect. Forward City is not perfect. We simply do our best, helped and guided by the Spirit, to love imperfect people (like ourselves) well. The goal: that through our love, the love of Christ would be experienced and felt in a way that leads to life-changing relationship with God Himself.

We have our share of relational tension at Forward City, but by God’s grace, we have become a home, family, and expression of Christ’s love to many. What a miracle and privilege! Celebrate this testimony by one of our own at Forward City:

“God brought me to Chatham. It was not a choice I wanted to make, but rather a choice I was forced to make. I left an abusive partner and watched my world crumble. I moved in with a friend in a town hours away from home and hid. There were moments and days where I hated God and could hardly function.

Somehow, I found Forward City. It was a fluke really. But we showed up and sat down. The first Sunday, Pastor Marc’s wife sat with me. And that is why I came back. For the first time, I didn’t feel alone. The year progressed and my heart healed. With the help of some special Forward City friends, we moved into our own home and began to rebuild. Through our Life Group and Next Group we began building relationships with people who have now become family and have taken the time to walk along side me, by God’s grace, through the yuck that was the past year. In a moment where I was ready to give up, I knew that God had found me a home with my Forward City family.”

God is powerful enough to use weak people, and loving enough to shock people with His goodness at the worst of times. We believe that in the midst of dark and broken situations, the love of Christ is powerful enough to bring light and healing. He fills the gaps, and works miracles. He gives the abandoned a home. He gives His church a family.

“If I had never joined a church till I had found one that was perfect, I should never have joined one at all, and the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us.”

Charles Spurgeon, “The Best Donation” (No. 2234) /
A sermon delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England, April 5, 1891

Want to learn more about God’s vision for the church, check out this sermon “What is the Church”, by The Village Church in Texas.