Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Built Together Spiritually by Mila Pierce

In the Ephesians 2:19-22 passage, Paul reminded Gentile believers that they were not excluded and were equal in status with Jews as members of God's house. The two groups were united to form one new humanity. Jews and Gentiles had been separated by racial, religious, cultural and social barriers. These differences created large gulfs between them. Jesus bridged the gulfs, and his death meant unity for all.

In some Bible verses, the family of God is referred to as a building . This summer we have been looking to Jesus as the cornerstone, the apostles and prophets as the foundation, and individual believers as building stones. Back in Paul's time the believers, Jews and Gentiles, were being built together spiritually. This described creating the church, but not as a physical building. The church is people, individual members like you and me.

Every individual stone has a place into which it is fitted as a building is made. Every individual has an indispensable part to play in the life of the church. This was true back then and is true today. When we are built together spiritually we include millions of Christians throughout time in whom God's spirit lives.

Paul told the church in Corinth that there were different kinds of gifts, different kinds of service, and different kinds of activities, but with the same God at work. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Cor 12:7) Some of the diverse gifts listed are wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirit, and tongues. Today in our congregation, we may think that individual stones (members) do not have all that much in common. We have different economic situations, different interests and obligations, and even different ethnic backgrounds. But Jesus, like an architect and builder, can take us, piece us together, and join us together spiritually in his building.

Last fall a few of us were asked to join a committee to think into the future for a vision for Sunnyside, to study scripture and then together write a vision by the time summer arrived. None of us probably had much prior experience in vision writing, but we came with our diverse backgrounds, gifts, and willing hearts to do the work we had been asked to do. As the weeks went by, we were built together spiritually and were able to study and then write and rewrite drafts of a vision for Sunnyside. Good humor, honest concern, and tasty refreshments helped us build the bridges.

As Sunnyside's future unfolds, I hope the church is a loving and caring community in which the power of the Holy Spirit is present and operates through the unique and complementary gifts of each of you. What a great thing it would be if we are built together spiritually again and again.

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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