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Back to the Beginning

Encounter: Slowly read through John 1:1-18 and Genesis 1:1-5. Try reading from two translations you have not used before. You can find a diverse group of translations on Underline any words or phrases that are similar in these passages.

This week after Easter, I spent a few days at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Indianapolis for my mother’s surgery and walked a few halls as we waited to take her home. The public spaces have been created with an artistic theme and gardens in the lobby areas tell the story of how such a health ministry was founded. One of the plaques read, “On April 26, 1881, the first four Daughters of Charity arrived by train in Indianapolis as true pioneers. Brave in heart but poor in pocket, the Daughters shared only $34.77 among them. Their mission: convert an abandoned seminary into a healing place to help the poor, sick and injured.” They wrote it in these words: “We have a mission, a reason for being here. To keep health care human, human for our patients, human for our families, human for our doctors and human for all associates. The poor will come and the rich will come, if they know they are going to be treated as people.”

After they received a $50 donation from Bishop Chatard they began to transform the seminary on East Vermont Street into a Catholic hospital to heal their patients’ bodies, minds and spirits. It goes on to tell the story of the sisters who persevered establishing the first 50 beds in 1884 and how this small beginning has grown to what we see today, a 919-bed general medical and surgical facility with 35,300 admissions in the most recent year reported. It has performed 11,138 annual inpatient and 13,746 outpatient surgeries with Its emergency room having 82,390 visits. St. Vincent’s operates 22 facilities over 46 Indiana counties as one of the largest ministries in the Catholic health care organization Ascension Health.

Traveling back to the origins of this institution causes me to stand in awe of how $34.77 and an abandoned building has grown into the hospital system it is today, saving thousands of lives a year, blessing the new lives that are birthed and healing the broken in body, mind and spirit. And all because there was a group of people who saw a need, asked God for a vision to meet that need, and facing one obstacle after another, did what they could each day to stay committed and involved in its fulfillment into the next generations.

In Episode 1 of Season 2 of The Chosen, John goes back to the origins and begins writing down the disciple’s memories of their experiences with Jesus. As he talks with Mary He decides to go back and think about where it all began and how what Jesus revealed in his life and ministry fulfilled the light that was needed to illuminate the darkness. John traces the origin of Jesus to our origin and the beginning of when God separated the light from the darkness. And the stories John is recording show how wherever Jesus shows up it that is exactly what happens.

Stories like when Jesus asks John and Big James to go against their ingrained, traditional beliefs and plant a field belonging to a man who because of injury could not support his family. How he encouraged a daughter to leave her father and home to follow him as a disciple. He challenged the disciples to see all people as worthy of God’s love and he taught them to respond with love even to those who were cruel to them. How Jesus prioritizes hospitality, always inviting people to gather around the table as friends and family. And, of course, wherever you find Jesus, there is the healing of mind, body and spirit and a leaving the ninety-nine to go after the one sheep who has wandered away. Light coming into the darkness.

But why go back to the beginning? Maybe it allows us to see the effects of what happens when a group of people walk together in long obedience in the same direction in order to see a vision come to pass. Maybe because Jesus said the light would bring such transformation in people’s lives it would feed generations.

Like St. Vincent’s Hospital, Eden Church began with a vision, a modest investment with the first meeting place in a home, saving lives from darkness, blessing new generations of believers and bringing healing and hope to this community. So many through the years have come to have faith in Jesus and even when the obstacles have come one after another, God reminds us to keep planting and watering and before long like spring time in a garden, we will see the green shoots coming out of the ground, at times where you least expect it. It will have grown and will look different than its beginnings.

This week is the Sunday after Easter and with it comes a new series based on The Chosen TV Film series. For some it seems like all the excitement is over. Jesus lived, died and rose again, end of story. But actually, this is just the beginning. Like a book that begins with the end of the story and then the author takes you back to the beginning to explain how you got there, in the next couple of months we are going back before the cross and the resurrection. We are going back to some of the stories in the beginning to be inspired by what happens when a few people empowered by God, invest their lives in seeing a vision come to pass.

Jesus wants us to know, He has given the vision. A reason for being here. We are a welcoming community seeking transformation through relationship with Jesus Christ and encouraging others to join us. Like the beginning, in the end it really is how each of us bring His light into the world. Jesus said, “I ask a lot of those who follow Me…” What is he asking of you?

Bringing His Light,

Pastor Tammy

Reflect: God has always been concerned about His people passing their understanding of Him as Creator and Sustainer, Savior, Friend and Guide on to their children and their children’s children, so on and so on. How are you passing your faith on to those around you, especially the next generation of believers?

Encourage: Remember to go back to the “B” in BLESS – and continue to pray for your neighbors and ministries in the church that encourages children and youth to follow Jesus.

Gather: Don’t forget to watch Episode 1 of Season 2 and in your small group time use the Discussion Guides for The Chosen series on our website:

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