On October 31, 5017, Martin Luther walked to the Wittenberg Church door, where he nailed his ninety-five theses for the reformation of the church, and set off a firestorm. (And we know about firestorms!) There was much that needed reforming. Money was a corrupting factor in the church of Luther’s day as grace, faith, and discipleship had given way to one of the great fundraising schemes of all time… indulgences. Indulgences were literally “get out of hell” cards that were for sale to one and all. Want to live life your way with a little debauchery thrown in from time to time, and still know God’s forgiveness so that you have a place in heaven? Just give some money and it will be taken care of. St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome was build with funds raised in this manner.
For all the right reasons, Luther spoke out. But the resulting firestorm is still burning in the Western Protestant Church as we continue to argue among ourselves and churches continue to split from one other, with accusations of unfaithfulness hurled at one another. No wonder non-Christians around us, the fastest growing segment of our communities, find the Church and faith more and more irrelevant to their lives. We talk about the unity of faith in Jesus Christ…one Spirit…one baptism…but there is often little or no unity within a particular congregation, let alone among churches.
I am writing this Preacher’s Post from my room in Sighisoara, Romania, as we work with our Romania Baptist partners to find ways to express our unity in Christ by sharing projects that directly lift the lives of children living in unbelievable poverty. There is much I know we could argue about theologically, but our focus is in joining our hands and voices together in mission, living together Jesus’ call to follow Him by visiting the sick, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry. (Matthew 25)
With more and more conflicts resulting in more and more divisions among us, I need to get centered on the call of Jesus Christ to follow Him and live His way not my way. I deeply need to humble myself and be part of the body of Christ with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ. While it might feel the Church is pushed farther and farther to the side of our culture, from God’s perspective the Church is meant to be at the center of who we are and how we live.
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for… The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. (Ephesians 1:11, 23)
The message this Sunday will emerge from Ephesians 4:1-7. Here is Eugene Peterson’s translation from The Message
In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.
You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift.
This is what I found on my desk…
REMINDER: TIME CHANGE THIS SUNDAY!!
This Sunday, November 45 we will FALL BACK as we end Daylight Saving’s time. Set your clocks back an hour on Saturday evening and enjoy that extra hour of sleep before joining us here at St. Andrew for the opening songs!
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19TH: NEW MEMBERS INFORMATIONAL CLASS —11:30 AM in the LIBRARY. Join Pastor Rich for a light lunch and discussion on what it means to be a member of St. Andrew.
RSVP for your lunch and to request child care on your Communication Card this Sunday.
SEPTIC SYSTEM UPDATE: You might notice work has begun on the septic system upgrade on the West side of the church. This is going to be a big project that will extend into the spring and require a fundraising effort in February. But do not be alarmed, the system is still functioning during this phase of the project.