Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Witness, Mercy, Life Together (Part III)


Pastor’s Window for July 2011
Witness, Mercy, Life Together (Part III)

Beloved in the Lord,

The third component of our three-fold Synodical emphasis is Life Together, from the Greek word koinonia (κοινωνία), meaning communion, fellowship, close relationship, participation, sharing. This is the common life of the Church, the Body of Christ. We are brought into life together with our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in our Baptism. And so also, in this way, we are united to one another as individual members of Christ’s Body, the Church. This life together, this communion, is expressed most intimately and visibly in the Lord’s Supper, where we are united as brothers and sisters in Christ around the true body and blood of Christ given and distributed for our forgiveness, life, and salvation. When we come to the altar together, we confess that we are one Body, united in our confession of Christ, united in biblical doctrine, united in purpose as we proclaim Christ and Him crucified and extend His hand of mercy in our daily vocations.

Our life together flows from the cross of Christ and the altar of His body and blood into and through the various activities of the Church. It includes not only our Sacramental life, but our worship together, our study of the Word together, our witness and confession of Christ, our works of mercy, our gifts of love, our mutual conversation and consolation, our intercessory prayers (remember, the Church always prays together, even when you pray alone! We always pray Our Father…), and everything that the Church does as the Body of Christ.

Our life together has multiple levels. We confess one, holy, Christian, and apostolic Church that includes the Church of all times and all places. Then there is our life together as a church body within the Body of Christ. The word synod, as in The Lutheran Church – Missoui Synod, comes from the Greek syn (with/ together) + hodos (way), so that the idea of a synod is that we walk the way together with our brothers and sisters in Christ of the same confession. Thus the Missouri Synod is an expression of our life together in doctrine and mission. The Synod, as a collective of congregations, is able to do things that we cannot do individually as congregations, like missions, publishing, relations with other church bodies, universities and seminaries, etc. We also participate as a congregation with other congregations in districts (we are a member congregation of the English District of the LCMS) and at the circuit level (a smaller group of congregations whose pastors meet regularly to discuss doctrine and practice). And at the congregational level, we recognize that together we are the Body of Christ, and individually members of it.

St. Paul writes about this in 1 Corinthians 12: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member, but of many… Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (vv. 12-14, 27; ESV).

This also means that every individual is important to the functioning of the Body of Christ in our life together. St. Paul goes on to say, “as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be?” (vv. 18-19). No, every member is important and placed where he or she is, in the role he or she has, by God Himself. In fact, “the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor… But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (vv. 22-25). We are united in heart and mind and will in such a way that “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (v. 26).

And the point is, of course, that as Christians, we are not just autonomous individuals. We are parts of the whole, members of the Body. You belong to your fellow members of the Body, and they belong to you. In Christ, we are one. That’s why we miss you when you aren’t here on Sunday morning. That’s why we need you here. You’re important to us. You’re important to Christ. So important, He shed His precious blood to redeem you, that you may be His own, and be one with Him and with your fellow believers in our common life together.

Pastor Krenz

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