This past Sunday was the end of our 500 year Reformation celebration Annual Focus, “What does this mean?” This coming Sunday, we’re going to be starting a new Annual Focus, “We are the Body”. Last year we prepared ourselves by immersing ourselves in Lutheran theological concepts. This year, we’re going to look at how those concepts play themselves out in the Church, the Body of Christ.
This past week we confessed the following from the Catechism:
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
What does this mean?
I believe that . . . On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.
One of the things that it means for us to be Lutherans is to have a defined sense of what it means to be the Church. It means that we believe in the “priesthood of all believers“. It means that all of us are commissioned by the Great Commission, that all of us are equally a part of the Church together. But it doesn’t mean that all of us have to give up our jobs and become full or even part time church workers. Rather, it means the opposite. Because we are Lutherans, we don’t see one vocation as more sacrosanct than another. The roofers on top of the building right now are no more or less God’s workers than I am sitting in my office writing an obviously religious email. We’re all in this together, but we’re all in this in our own ways, in our own vocations.
The most important thing about the Lutheran sense of the Church, however, is what makes us the Church. We aren’t made the Church by our functioning, we are made the Church by our faith.
To most of us, this seems like a subtle difference. After all, to have faith most of the time is to function. The things that I have faith in cause my functions, I have faith that there will be people here on Sunday. Because of that, I have researched for sermon, I have put together a bulletin, and later on I’ll be drafting ballots for our vote after worship.
But likewise, sometimes to have faith is sometimes to not function. I have faith that the roofer outside my window is doing a good job, therefore I am not worrying about how I’m going to make time to lay shingles. I have faith that the District is paying for the roof, so I’m not worrying about where the $12,000+ dollars are coming from to pay the roofer outside of my window. Both my function and my non-function are dictated by my faith – what I believe is true and trustworthy.
It is the same in the Church. Our function and our non-function is dictated by our faith. When we act, we act out of faith. When we don’t act, we don’t act out of faith. So when we confess that we believe that on the Last Day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all of the dead and give Life to me and all believers, I take it on faith. That faith guides my action and my inaction, my function and non-function.
This year we will be considering three things in terms of the mystery of the Church as the Body of Christ: Our identity in Christ (faith), our function, and our relationships within the Body and outside of it. I’m looking forward to our confession of faith together, that we are the Body – because of the faith that we have in Jesus.