|Photo by Regina Holmes|
|The Brethren Revival Fellowship dinner, an annual event for Conference-goers, considered the story of Zacchaeus with leadership from Bob Kettering (at podium). Kettering is pastor at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.|
Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) has existed since 1959 with a mission to revive the Church of the Brethren and hold the denomination to scripture. The BRF sponsors an annual dinner meeting at Annual Conference for fellowship and edification.
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Craig Myers, moderator for the dinner meeting, shared that there were 350 persons in attendance. Upcoming BRF events, Brethren Alive, and the Brethren Bible Institute were announced. Myers stated that the group will not hold a Fall BRF meeting, with Brethren Alive serving that purpose.
Following the meal the program began with songs by Jeanie Mummert from Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren in Southern Pennsylvania District, including “The 23rd Psalm” and “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.”
The speaker for the evening was Bob Kettering, pastor at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. He brought a message titled “Going Out on a Limb,” based on Luke 19:1-10, the story of Zacchaeus.
Kettering described Zacchaeus as a small, bullying, self-centered, greedy man--not a good role model, with whom no self-respecting Jew would associate. For Zacchaeus money was his god, his master. One question for us is, who is our master? Kettering noted.
However, Zacchaeus was curious about Jesus. And Jesus was willing to take a risk and be in conversation with this lowly man, a man who needed to get to know Christ. Zacchaeus needed redemption.
Christ is concerned about us in the same way, Kettering said. Jesus is calling us to redemption. Christ’s welcome is wide, wide enough to be in conversation with everyone. The call of Christ to be His disciple is narrow.
Kettering expressed concerned that today many people want cheap grace rather than costly discipleship. We want forgiveness without repentance, he said. The story of Zachaeus is not one of cheap grace. Because Jesus entered into conversation with Zacchaeus, Zacchaeus became a believer. Once Zacchaeus became a believer, his life was transformed.
Kettering’s challenge to the Brethren is: Are we willing to be friends of sinners, or would we rather stay at a distance? Are we willing to be transformed?
-- Karen Garrett is a volunteer writer on the news team for Annual Conference, and staff of the Brethren Journal Association