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August 2, 2015

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This summer in my congregation, the theme for our worship gatherings could be described as “church life.” We have reflected on a number of scriptures together as part of this theme (e.g. John 16, 17, 1 Cor 13, Col 1, 3), hosted witness workers who shared with us about the church in a West African village, and received reports from members of our congregation who attended the Mennonite Church USA convention in Kansas City and the Mennonite World Conference in Harrisburg. To put it simply: this summer church has been about church.

In worship today we celebrated the Lord’s Supper and reflected on the words of Ephesians 4:1-16.

Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God. 2 Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, 3 and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. 4 You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.

7 God has given his grace to each one of us measured out by the gift that is given by Christ. 8 That’s why scripture says, When he climbed up to the heights, he captured prisoners, and he gave gifts to people.[a]

9 What does the phrase “he climbed up” mean if it doesn’t mean that he had first gone down into the lower regions, the earth? 10 The one who went down is the same one who climbed up above all the heavens so that he might fill everything.

11 He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. 12 His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ 13 until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. 15 Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, 16 who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part.

Our congregational response to this scripture reading (and to the summer theme) was to create a 6 word story about the church. We shared the stories on social media with the hashtag #My6WordStoryAboutChurch. It was a great way to do some creative writing and reflection, and to help us notice what the Spirit has been bringing to our minds about the purpose and calling of the church. Below are the stories we shared with each other this morning:

“One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

“Light through darkness; living the peace.”

“Jesus’ hands and feet in community.”

“Sharing God’s love with the world.”

“Supporting each other on the journey.”

“Growing in every way through Christ.”

“Sharing God’s love with each other.”

“Church brings me a great blessing.”

“The church provides healing and redemption.”

“I, you, we; salt, light encouragement.”

“Supportive/Sharing Christ/Fellowship/Friendship/Sharing”

“Place of worship, fellowship, and encouragement.”

“Jesus’ hands incarnated to the world.”

“Frail people partnering with God’s mission.”

“My anchor to God and life.”

“Offering hope to a broken world.”

“Being formed, being sent, by Christ.” (this is also our church mission statement)

“Playing, Surfing, God, Praying, Greeting, Meeting.” (the contribution from my 6 year old son)

I’m thankful for this congregation’s willingness to listen to the Spirit and teach each other today. My hope is that we will grow more and more into Christ, be observant to what God is doing and join in, and be a foretaste of the shalom that God desires for the whole world.

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