Belonging Means Participating

As I prepare for Vestry (Sunday, Feb. 24th) I was reviewing our parish list. It is always interesting as you come across names of people who you have never seen at church. Out of the blue I will get a phone call to do a funeral or wedding and the person will say that they are parishioners – yet I or other members of the congregation have no idea who they are. Maybe they were baptized at the church or maybe it is because they have always been an Anglican.

It is true that our baptism brings us into the community called the ‘people of God’. But is there more to being a part of the community then being baptized or considering yourself an Anglican?

As I read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31(a) Paul uses a very important illustration. For the body to be in harmony or in sync with itself, all the parts of the body have to be working. I think that Paul would say belonging to a church while important is not enough. Belonging means participating in the community or body of Christ.

Paul tells as that in our baptism in Christ, the Holy Spirit gives us gifts. The gifts of each person will vary from person to person. However, all our gifts – big or small, important or mundane – whatever they maybe are equally important and valued. That is why Paul reminds us that even the lesser parts of have role to play in the body’s harmony. Our gifts are  intended to used for the good of the community. We use our gifts not to build ourselves up but to build up the common good of the church and for the people of God.

Therefore by the grace of God we have been given gifts to use for the benefit of our church community. When we use these gifts we participate in the life of a Christian community. We do this not out of some obligation. Rather,  it is because of who we are as a Christian. It is part of our calling to be in Christ in everything we do.

When we participate and use our gifts for the church it is an example of the parts of the body working for the good of the body. In doing so the body is then in sync or is in harmony. Of course no church is always going to be in sync. There is always a part of our bodies that maybe sick or injured. Just as the body finds a way to cope so do we in the church. There will be times when it is needed to simply sit and worship making no demands upon yourself – time to be with God. There will be times when I may approach you and ask if you have thought of doing something you would never have considered. However, sometimes being called out of our comfort zone can be a wonderful way to see God working in your life. The point is that we need to rely on and help each other in both good and bad times.

Over the last one and half years this church has gone through conflict and crisis. The good news is that we have moved on or forward or redefined. However you may want to describe it, God is doing great things at the Ascension.  We have come out of  this conflict by knitting a community of loving and caring people. As we move forward we will continue to consider the reality that God is calling us to take up new challenges and find new paths of faithful expression.

I invite you to consider how you may ‘participate’ in these challenges and new paths as we continue to build up God’s kingdom in our community.

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