The Church in the World Today

You-Are-the-Body-of-Christ

It helps, now and then, to stop and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise
that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are the workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

*This prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Utener of Saginaw in 1979 in dedication to Bishop Romera

1-ephesians-4-body-of-christ

I am finishing my final days of a doctorate class on Church in the World today. The objective of the course is to study the changing landscape of Christianity around the world and to think about ways we educate our congregations on these changes. We talked about mega churches, evangelical churches, churches in the global south, African churches, Korean churches, International churches, Reformed churches and home churches. We have fractured the church in so many ways, the body of Christ looks like shard glass. I wonder if all of these diverse and beautiful ways of worshiping and reading the Bible and praying was the purpose or the painful side of Pentecost. The more we break off, the more we need to stay connected. Ironically as difficult as it is to engage in inter-religious dialogue it is even more difficult it is to engage in ecumenical dialogue. How strange that we find ourselves in competition with each other.

I like big churches. I like small churches. I pretty much really like church. I am in no way interested in competing with them. I am interested in being in community with God’s people. I am interested in acknowledging our common interests, desires and hopes for building the Kingdom of God on Earth.

I think it would do us well to remember the words of Paul “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). Did he know when he wrote this letter to the Galatians that we would still be trying to live out that vision today?

It’s a humbling truth that nothing we do is complete and the kingdom of God is always beyond us.

I have no idea where the church going, but I do know that our desire to please God, pleases God. I also know that we aren’t perfect. But we are enough.

We are One in The Spirit,
We are One in The Lord.
We are One in The Spirit,
We are One in The Lord.
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love,
By our Love,
Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

Amen

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