‘To be in Christ’ is synonymous with ‘to be in the church-community.’
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theologian and martyr
As we approach our 50th anniversary, Messiah members have begun to actively reconsider what it means to be “church” together.
Fellow members of Messiah caught glimpses of our congregation’s own story in the book and movie, All Saints. Here, a radical, trust-centered hospitality and unlikely cooperation led to a struggling, small church’s vibrant renewal. This fostered great conversation and some new ideas for ministry. How have partnerships with others blessed us to be a blessing? Amidst difficulties, where have we seen God’s hand at work?
Your council will soon begin prayerful discernment as our budget and active ministry with All Souls Episcopal faces a challenging transition. What new opportunities and relationships await us? Are we willing to bend with the Holy Spirit’s guidance into uncharted territory?
Our theology on tap events have brought together people from several denominations as well as seekers for discussions on faith. Some who have been wounded by Church in the past overheard us and offered that our gatherings have given them “something to reconsider” when it comes to being “church.” We must continue to wrestle with faith questions openly; trusting Jesus will answer us and that others will hear the Good News though such public, vulnerable yet joyful witness.
And as someone reflected upon our 50th anniversary drone photo, they thought our “50” formation also looked like the word “SO.” This raised the question, “So what’s next for us?” That’s a wonderful, hopeful question for any believer to ask each day. Where is God asking us to help sow his love and mercy? Where will we discover new life?
No human knows all the answers regarding our future, but as Vicar Ginny noted in her farewell during worship (as others have): “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place. I can feel His mighty power and His grace. I can hear the brush of angels’ wings. I see glory on each face. Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.”
As the song suggests, Christ reveals himself to us through holy community. We can touch the hem of his garment and almost see his face. Only together can we come into the fullness of this new, promised life with the Risen Christ.
Not everyone will always have the heart to notice, understand or appreciate such authentic community. It is difficult and takes our time, attention and lots of grace. We often fail. Yet, God is doing something miraculous and beautiful each day in and through our lives together. We are growing; together with God and in love of our neighbor.
It is approaching harvest time. In the name of Jesus Christ and your brothers and sisters of the Church, reconsider your place. Wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve done or left undone, I invite you to walk with Jesus and us anew.
Be still and know. Be active to serve and grow. Be in Christ together.
Originally published in Messiah Lutheran’s newsletter, The Messenger (September 2018 edition).
© 2018 The Rev. Louis Florio. All content not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.