Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Growing Together in God's Temple by Jenica Cory

Diversity is a common subject of discussion at Sunnyside. We generally consider it to be a strength, but it is also something that we strive to improve upon. With this new vision statement, we have made clear that our vision for the future of the church involves the inclusion of all people, in our immediate community and throughout the world. While this can often seem like a daunting task (Where do we begin? How do we reach out to people we don't know? Are we really capable of being open and inclusive of everyone?), our task is made easier because we have a unifying spirit as our guide.

"In Christ the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord." What a beautiful concept - this relationship that each of us has with Christ, uniting us into a single structure. Having all drunk of the same spirit - no matter what our particular race, age, nationality, political views, or station in life - we create a holy temple and ponder God's steadfast love in the midst of that temple. And, in Christ, we do it together. He joins us to one another and serves as the deep shared foundation - the cornerstone - that allows us to utilize and learn from our many differences and unique perspectives, while still maintaining our collective identity as Christians.

With Christ as the cornerstone, Sunnyside is able to grow as a congregation. We should be emboldened and encouraged by the knowledge, as the vision statement recognizes, that the holy spirit is our guide. This allows us to reach into new areas and do new things with confidence in who we are as Sunnysiders. Similarly, the worldwide Christian church is joined together and grows when Christ is truly placed first and recognized as the foundation of all that we do.

I really love the scope of the vision statement - we want to serve people in our neighborhood, but also around the globe......from South Bend to South America. And I love that it's possible, with this unifying spirit, for Sunnyside to have that kind of impact, and to make those kinds of connections. As the author says of Mount Zion in Psalm 48, perhaps some day someone will say about Sunnyside, "go all around it, count it's [bell] towers, consider well its [gathering space]; go through its [sanctuary], that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will be our guide forever."

Questions for Reflection:
• What is this Vision calling you to become?
• What images used in this Vision are familiar to you; What elements are unfamiliar?
• In what respects does this Vision call us together to greater faith and courage than what is commonly expressed in our congregation.
• What difference do you hope this Vision will make in the life of our congregation?

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