Friday, October 10, 2008

Preparing for Sunday October 12th

This week’s focus is on what it means to believe in the holy catholic Church. Given much of what we see on a regular basis, this sometimes seems like the most ridiculous claim of the creed. How can we say the church is holy when it is made up of such ordinary and sometimes difficult individuals? How can we say the church is “catholic,” or “universal,” when we are divided into more denominations than we can count and we argue and fight even among them? How can we say it is catholic when Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week? And why can’t we just give our lives to Christ, pray and study at home and just ignore this thing called Church?

I honestly doubt we’ll cover it all this week, but I look forward to reflecting on and celebrating this beautiful and frustrating gift of God called the Church!
Here is our scripture for this Sunday:

4I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. 7But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.” 9(When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. EPHESIANS 4:1-16

1. What does it mean to say we believe in “one body and one Spirit . . . one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism”? What does that say about denominational differences? What does it mean to believe in “one faith”? What makes the “one baptism” effective?

2. What does the image of the church as the body of Christ tell us about the nature of the church and the nature of the unity it exhibits?

3. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in all of this?

4. If we believe in the one body of Christ, what does it say about our strong reactions for and against certain denominations within that body?

5. Paul begs us to lead a life worthy of our calling. The Greek word for church is Ekklesia – or “to call out.” What would you need to change in your life if you were to live a life worthy of being a part of those who are “called out,” that is The Church?

See you on Sunday!

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