Some years ago, the World Council of Churches gathered from around the world, Christians from the many and varied traditions to reflect on and discern together, the heart of what it is to be “the church”. Through prayer, honest dialogue and study, they saw that the following three understandings are essential for the church to be church.
The heart of the matter is that Church is, first and foremost, a gift from God, rooted in the very nature of God as Love. It is only as we let go and allow God’s love to nourish and guide that true church unfolds!
Let’s continually recognize that the Church’s life and future do not depend only on our own human efforts and endeavors, however noble, well-meaning and God-pleasing they may be.
God graciously calls us into the Church and into active participation in the Church’s mis- sion, but shocking as it may sound to human ears, the Church, as a divine gift, does not depend ultimately on our response and faithfulness.
Upon what then, does the Church depend? The Church depends on God’s faithfulness, presence, power and grace. Remembering this is at the heart of the Church.
Second, the heart and very nature of the Church is in its’ communal life together. No one can be “church” alone. “We need each other to be “church”. As Paul, the Apostle, says, “We are the body of Christ.” We can only be “church” together.
Third, the very nature and heart of the Church is mission oriented, that is, as a Church, we’re called and sent to serve, as an instrument of Christ’s loving presence; a witness to God’s realm.
As Church, we are not led by personal preferences, personal comfort, opinions, past history or anything else. Rather all actions, all decisions, all future plans and all ways we interact with those within the faith community and with those beyond the community are powerfully informed by this threefold nature of who we are as Church:
• Church – a divine gift
• Church – all together, communal in nature
• Church – called and sent out to serve
Oh yes, sometimes we let personal preferences blur our calling; we allow opinions to sway us; we get stuck in past history and let that dictate actions. Then, in humility, we claim the shortcomings and again lean heavily on the faithfulness, presence, power and grace of God.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
￼￼Your Own in Christ, Pastor Monique-Cheri