In his book The Storytelling Animal, writer Jonathan Gottschall says “We are, as a species, addicted to story.” And it’s true. We love to tell stories and we love to consume stories in movies, books, or around a campfire with our friends. And stories have incredible power. They shape us, transform our thinking, and give us insight into the world. It’s no wonder, then, that nearly one third of Jesus’s teachings come in the form of stories – called parables! But what’s the point of Jesus’s parables? What’s he trying to tell us? In this series, we’ll explore some of Jesus’s parables and what they tell us about Jesus and His Kingdom.
Aristotle starts his Nicomachean Ethics by asking the question, “what is the good life?” A couple thousand years later and many people still ask the same question. Fortunately, 500 years before Aristotle asked his all important question, God inspired Solomon, king of Israel, to ask and answer that same question in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. At ULC, we’ll spend the weeks following Easter looking into this book of wisdom as it delivers ancient truth to an ever present question.
Christians are followers of Jesus. But, what does it actually look like to follow Jesus? Jesus said and did a lot, what does it look like for us to follow him in our daily lives? Well, Pastor Zach Zehnder has put together an excellent primer on practical ways to follow Jesus everyday in his book Red Letter Challenge. Join ULC this Lent as we engage in a 40 day challenge of following Jesus through being, serving, forgiving, giving, and going. Life won’t be the same after this.
ULC is a unique congregation. We are made up of people who are retired, students just getting started at the university, and everyone in between. We have people who have lived their whole lives in Ann Arbor, and people who are just passing through for a couple of years. We live on the doorstep of a world class institution in one of the more progressive cities in the country. So, what does it look like to be the people of God in our unique context? In this series, we’ll use the book of Daniel as our guide as we focus on the strategies of our congregation to multiply leaders for the church, engage the university, serve the city, and send into the world.
As the new year begins, many of us begin to begin to think about how our lives might be different. We get rid of old habits, pick up new habits, and get determined to turn our lives around. In short, we often want to push the “reset” button on our lives. In many ways, Paul, in the letter to the Galatians, urges the church in Galatia to hit the “reset” button. He urges them to get back to the basics – to get back to the foundation of their Christian faith. And his message is surprisingly simple: you are free and freed by Christ. You are free to believe in the message of Christ, free to receive his gifts, free to belong as a child of God, and free to live by the Spirit, and free to support and build each other up. As we enter this year, we are reminded of this basic message. Pure. Simple. Gospel.
Jesus is given many titles in scripture. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is King. Jesus is Savior. Jesus is Redeemer. And all of these titles are true, but Jesus favorite way to refer to himself was as son. Jesus calls himself the Son of God. Jesus calls himself the Son of Man. Join us this Advent and Christmas as we consider how Jesus’ sonship shapes our identity and activity as sons and daughters of the Father.
A common misconception about the Christian life is that to be a Christian means you have all of your questions answered. The reality is, much of the Christian life is about being confronted by a God who doesn’t play by our rules and wrestling with who he’s revealed himself to be. In the book of Habakkuk we see a prophet of God wrestle with his faith in the goodness of God amidst the calamity he sees all around him. As Habakkuk wrestles, we see a path forward for our struggles of faith too; a path of honesty, lament, and ultimately joy.
The artist Takashi Murakami has famously labeled contemporary Japanese culture as Superflat. Murakami coined this description because he sees in his culture a people that are visually stimulated but spiritually hollow. Amidst an abundance of consumer choices, technological advances, and a constant stream of entertainment there is no depth. In the same way, it’s no stretch to label much of life in 21st century America as Superflat. The existential questions that humanity has pondered over for millennia are now shoved to the back of our minds so we can remodel our kitchens, scroll through Instagram, or binge watch Stranger Things again. In the midst of a Superflat existence, the Christian story calls out to us and says we’re meant for more. We’re meant to know the God that created all things. We’re meant to love and serve our neighbors. We’re meant to be in deep communion with God, creation, and one another. In this series we’re doing a deep dive in to what it means to be meant for more.
As the song goes, the University of Michigan is home to the “leaders and the best.” But, what does it look like to be the best kind of leader? In his letter to a leader in the early church named Titus, St. Paul lays out what biblical leadership looks like. Whether you’re a leader at your work, in your family, in this church, or in some other organization, we’re all called to lead in some capacity. In this series we look at what Scripture says makes a qualified, faithful, and grace-filled leader.
Of all the characters in the Bible, second to Jesus Christ, none is more prominent than Abraham. He is held up as the father of faith. He left his family, his homeland, and everything he knew trusting that God would show up, and God did! In the story of Abraham we find an ancient faith that inspires us to trust God in all things. As we, like Abraham, put our faith in God, we see that he always keeps his promises.
Justice is a word that is thrown around a lot in our current cultural climate. Even within the Christian Church this can lead to heated conversations about if we should pursue justice, why we would pursue justice, and how we pursue justice. Fortunately, Scripture speaks a lot to the issue of justice, and how God’s people might pursue it. In particular, the Bible shows us a direct relationship between a person’s grasp and experience of God’s grace in Christ Jesus, and his or her heart for justice and the poor. Each week we’ll be joined by organizations in our community who have responded to God’s grace by seeking justice for the sick, the recovery community, and the poor. Join us as we learn how the cross and empty tomb propel us to live life for those in need.
Often times, we look to pursuing God’s mission through big and grandiose displays. But, the reality is, the mission of God is best fulfilled in our day to day life. Vocatio is Latin for calling. Every single follower of Jesus has a specific calling that God has placed them in. Every day life presents every day opportunities to pursue God’s mission in the way he has called us to. In this series, we’ll explore how to pursue God’s mission in our regular callings.
The Gospel of Mark is considered by many to be the first gospel written. In this short book, Mark’s goal is to make it clear that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. For this season of Lent, we take time to listen to Mark’s message as he strips away all that would distract us, and leaves us face to face with our Savior, Simply Jesus.
DNA |A Series About Who We Are
As we mobilize generations to join Jesus on his mission, we’ve chosen to embody certain values as a church family. In this series we’ll dive deep into our DNA as a church and explore “What makes ULC, ULC?” From that place, we’ll also discover the DNA of what it is to follow after Jesus in our individual lives as well.
The reality of sin is dark: an eternal separation from God. But he was never going to let the story end there. God loves our world so much that he shattered our darkness and sends us out to shine his light. Join us in worship this December as we celebrate Advent and the light it brings with our new sermon series, GLOW.
In our effort to mobilize generations to join Jesus on his mission, one of our values is active faith. What does it look like to have a faith extending beyond a Sunday morning? What does it look like to trust and follow Jesus in all aspects of our life? The book of James helps us answer these questions. James is a wisdom book. It teaches us how to navigate life well as followers of Jesus Christ. Join us in this series as we look at how to put our faith into practice every day.
According to a recent Gallup Poll, 89% of people believe in God, or some kind of higher power. At the same time, the number of people that would consider themsevles religously unaffiliated is on the rise, to 25% of the total population and up towards 50% of young adults (18-29). These numbers tell us there is a general belief in “a” god, but a general disbelief in who or what that God may or may not be. But can it be that simple? Don’t we all wonder if there is more than what we see? If there is a reason for why we are here? We explore those questions and much more in this series.
Facing Leviathan | A Series on the Book of Jonah
Whether it’s the Melville’s Moby Dick, Jules Verne’s Nautilus, or Job’s Leviathan, nearly all of western literature uses a “monster of the deep” to describe the chaos we often find in our culture. If you’ve paid attention to the news the last 6 months, you know our culture is in the midst of a chaotic storm. In this 3-week series, we’ll use the book of Jonah to explore what it means to be the prophetic people of God “Facing Leviathan” in a cultural storm.
It’s pretty common for folks to “like Jesus, but not the church.” And often times, there’s a good reason for that. But, what would it look like to be a church that is irresistible? A church that shows the world who Jesus really is? In the book of Ephesians, St. Paul challenges us to be a “Deep Church.” A church whose roots are so deep that it can’t help but continually produce fruit and connect the world to their life-giving savior. In this series, we’ll study the book of Ephesians and explore that possibility for us here at ULC.
Missio Dei is Latin for the Mission of God. The reality is, we have a God on mission. We have a God who is moving and active and actually doing things right now. In this series as we consider the Missio Dei, we will recognize that this is God’s mission. It’s not about the mission of us as individuals, it’s not even about the mission of the church, it’s about the mission of God. And God, has revealed himself to us as the Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three distinct persons, one being. As we look at each person of the Trinity, we will see a different aspect of God’s mission in this world and hopefully find our place in it. Looking forward to digging into this with you.