Sunday, September 6, 2009

Who Ever Said That Unity Means Being The Same?

We folks of Faith Church are an odd lot!

When it comes to worship we seem to be on this road of everyone having to worship together all the time and we all have to like the same type of worship service? However, when it comes to outreach or ministry, it is impossible to get more than a handful or so to come together in any particular ministry? When it comes to worship, if the service or the message aren’t to our liking we tune out or leave? When it comes to benevolence the outreach budget is heavily biased with directed giving rather than a general benevolence fund?

Wait a minute - maybe we’re not that odd after all? Isn’t that the way of the world we live in? We all want what we want and we want everyone else to want the same thing? We all want to belong but we don’t want to change who we are? We all want to feel good about ourselves and help others, but we want that on our terms? I’m sorry but these behaviors reflect a “me first” attitude, and I’m as guilty as anyone. Yet, we are all in church because, deep down, we know there is something better. And somehow we all ended up in a place called Faith Presbyterian Church. So what is this place called Faith? Who are we? Who should we be?

The Church created and headed by Jesus Christ, in its worship, and mission, is supposed to be our best imitation of what God’s Kingdom is like. It’s supposed to be the place where we bring each of our God given individualities to multi-faceted worship of our one true God. And the Church is supposed to be the place where we bring each of our unique, God given talents together to help each other carry on God’s outward mission to this world. It is one of those paradoxes that we are supposed to show a “visible oneness” of being a united God’s people at the same time as we demonstrate the uniqueness of the Christian faith that recognizes the diversity of people in the world. From the Presbyterian constitution:

G-4.0203 Visible Oneness
Visible oneness, by which a diversity of persons, gifts, and understandings is brought together, is an important sign of the unity of God’s people.

G-4.0401 Variety of Forms
The church in its witness to the uniqueness of the Christian faith is called to mission and must be responsive to diversity in both the church and the world. Thus the fellowship of Christians as it gathers for worship and orders its corporate life will display a rich variety of form, practice, language, program, nurture, and service to suit culture and need.

So, how do we accomplish this? We do this by living up to the mission we are called to and modeled by Jesus, the head of the Church. That mission is to spread the good news of the Gospel and be humble servants. We start by rebuilding Faith Church’s identity by being servants to each other.

We start by communicating and understanding what each other needs in order to worship and serve God in a meaningful way. We demonstrate that in a mutual combined and blended worship.

We start by engaging as a community in the internal and outward missions and prayer of the church. We demonstrate that by getting personally involved through participation, either working in nurture, prayer, and outreach efforts or sharing in the decisions of how our outreach dollars are spent.

We start by engaging in the personal and communal study of God’s Word, preparing ourselves for the spreading of the good news. We demonstrate to each other the continual nature of learning and understanding the Word by studying with and teaching each other.

As we do these things we will recognize our common foundation in the resurrection and reestablish our common identity as Faith Church. Once we have regained that foundation and identity then we will be able to offer varied styles of worship services, not as divisions but as offerings of service and support to others. Once we have regained that foundation and identity the outreach life of Faith church will thrive, grow, and not be the burden of a few. These things will then be rooted in an eternal foundation with a common and current identity, not a nostalgic one.

Easier said than done, you say? You’re right! We cannot do this alone. Through what power can this be achieved? The Presbyterian constitution says it best:

G-3.0103 The Holy Spirit
God’s redeeming and reconciling activity in the world continues through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, who confronts individuals and societies with Christ’s Lordship of life and calls them to repentance and to obedience to the will of God.

G-3.0400 Called to Risk and Trust
The Church is called to undertake this mission even at the risk of losing its life, trusting in God alone as the author and giver of life, sharing the gospel, and doing those deeds in the world that point beyond themselves to the new reality in Christ.

I strongly urge everyone to read Chapters G-3 & G-4 of the Presbyterian constitution also called the Book of Order;