From the Pastor, May 2014
What Do We Mean By 'Family'
Many of us would describe our St. Paul’s community as a family. I think that’s a good thing. We are more like a family than like a business or a club or service organization or a school or a dojo or a city or a ship of fools. Though we may be all those things, too, I still believe that family — actually I prefer household — to be much more apt than any other comparison. At the same time, it’s important to say what we mean when we say St. Paul’s is family. It’s important because we are called to invite others into the life of this family, and we would do well to be able to explain what being a member of this family entails and what benefits we receive from it.
A lot of times, when we talk about say church is family, we are talking about an emotional support system, people who care for us, people who love us, people who are present to us and for us, people who serve us and who count on us to do the same. God powerfully sustains and strengthens us through the love, support and consolation of our sisters and brothers in Christ. No one of us need face any trial or strain alone, but we have by God’s grace an entire community God rallies to our aid, through whom God saves us from times of trial and despair. Together, we extend and generously share of the grace we have received with the people we meet in our daily lives. God makes us and scatters us as salt and light and witness to God’s salvation in a world that is often rotten, dark and oppressed.
In that way, the family we are talking about then is so much more than a secondary emotional support system — it’s a social and political fellowship and an economy (household). That’s the power of using family to describe us as church. In Christ, through baptism, we become part of God’s family, God’s household, not as servants, hired-hands, contractors or distant relatives, but as full heirs to the abundance of God’s grace and the power of Christ’s resurrection to eternal life. We belong to God’s family. We are made God’s people. We once lived under the power of sin, death and devil, but now we have been redeemed, and we live under the loving authority of the servant king, Jesus Christ. That means the way we organize ourselves matters, as does the way we use the resources God has entrusted to us. That means that all have an important contribution to make, and the least among us is the truly great. That means we have a future because our future has been promised in the will and covenant of Jesus blood shed for us and for our redemption.
That’s the witness this family celebrates every time we gather for Holy Communion; every time we gather around the font and watch God raise a new child to life; every time we hear the good news of Jesus Christ for us and by the power of the Holy Spirit that word takes root and grows into faith, hope and love.
This family — along with all our sisters and brothers in God’s household around the world — witnesses to God’s grace and the new reality of God’s kingdom in our worship, in our love and service, in our humility and fearless generosity. In this newsletter, you will find stories of God and God’s people in action for each other and for the sake of the world. I pray that you will use this news to invite others into God’s grace and the fellowship we share as heirs of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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