Experiencing Pentecost gave birth to “the Church” … a universal community celebrating the “free gift of God to go and be a new thing in the world – a witness that all of life could be different for everybody…”
The first disciples believed in the Jesus who put fellowship at the center of his life, ate with outcasts, welcomed all, and was centered in God’s abundant love. Over time, structure based on like-minded theology, doctrine, worship styles, etc. came about, and one could debate for hours the pros and cons of that happening, and whether or not these structured communities always resemble the life and witness of Jesus, but regardless “the Church”, this universal community of followers, is still alive, essential … and relevant! Why?
- The Church keeps sacred scripture accessible so God can still speak to us through the Bible, guiding us by the the Holy Spirit.
- Worshipping together shapes us; reinforcing values, guidelines, and moral direction.
- We are rooted over time and nurtured through community.
- Though we are as diverse as the day is long, the Church is a physical manifestation of Christ, (i.e., his body), a universal community united in awe and worship, in fellowship and ministry, and in discovering how each branch of the “Jesus Movement” can best proclaim the Gospel that promotes justice, loves mercy, and walks humbly with God.
Laying aside personal theories on The Atonement for a moment (and there are multiple theories to explore) this universal community believes that somehow, in some way, the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ reconciles us with our Creator, and that through the power of the Holy Spirit our souls and minds are infused with the love of God. We are filled with the love of God so we can be partners with God in reconciling the broken relationships in the human family. This is the work of salvation and that is the work of the Church.
How does the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement live into being the Church?
- The Church is the community of the New Covenant; the Body of which Jesus Christ is the Head and of which all baptized persons are members.
- The Church is one, because it is one Body, under one Head, our Lord Jesus Christ.
- The Church is holy, because the Holy Spirit dwells in it, consecrates its members, and guides them to do God’s work.
- The Church is catholic, because it proclaims the whole faith to all people, to the end of time.
- The Church is apostolic, because it continues in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles and is sent to carry out Christ’s mission to all people.
- The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
- And, the Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.
It’s the season of Pentecost … and it’s goes on and on! This is not only a day, but a season to celebrate the surprising turns and astonishing connections that happen in the lives of people trying to live faithful Christian lives.
The Day of Pentecost (Whit Sunday) is Sunday, May 28, 2023.