painting of medieval church in summer

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

A long day, but a good one.

We were fortunate to have Rev. Dennis Smith, with whom our congregation has had a mission relationship for many years, visit and come study the Bible with us and preach on Mark 8:27-38 and stay for brunch and fill us in on how things are going in S. America with sister churches and with his work and with his family.

His sermon pointed out that Jesus does not so much “fix things” with his messianic “magic wand.” Instead, He makes it possible for us to answer the call to “take up your cross and follow me,” to be salt of the earth and light to the world and to recognize that in life and in death we belong to God, and to live like that. “Change is possible.” Taking up our cross and following Jesus and being that change, that is where life being stronger than death and nothing separating us from the love of God goes. “What do we possibly have to lose? Except our lives … for the sake of the gospel.”

We used this confession of faith, from the newly adopted Confession of Belhar:

We believe in the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who gathers, protects, and cares for the church through Word and Spirit. God has done this since the beginning of the world and will do it to the end.

We believe that Christ’s work of reconciliation is made manifest in the church as the community of believers who have been reconciled with God and with one another.

We believe that unity is, therefore, both a gift and an obligation for the church of Jesus Christ.

We believe that, through the working of God’s Spirit, this unity is a binding force, yet simultaneously a reality which must be earnestly pursued and sought: one which the people of God must continually be built up to attain.

We believe that the church must together come to know the height and the breadth and the depth of love of Christ.

We believe that together we are built up to the stature of Christ, the new humanity.

We believe that we must together know and bear one another’s burdens, thereby fulfilling the law of Christ.

We believe that we are called to admonish and comfort one another; to suffer with one another for the sake of righteousness; to pray together; and together serve God in this world.

It is always wonderful to get to visit with friends we haven’t seen for a long time.

And then, it is often good to be reminded of things that we sometimes forget.

Because we don’t always remember how big the church really is, how extensive its work is; and then when we think of that, sometimes it sounds kind of big and impersonal; but in the end it is always personal, so that what it means to pray for “the church” always turns out to mean praying for people, people we know, and the people they know, and the people they know …

Belonging to God, in life and in death, salt-y, bright, beloved.

painting of medieval church in summer

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