|THE JOYFUL NOISE
Holding Onto Our Common Bond
It’s been 25-years since this church celebrated its 100th anniversary. Linda Barnes Patzke was the minister. The OJ simpson trial was in full swing. People were renting videos at Blockbuster. The world wide web was just getting started. Cell phones came into common use.
DVD’s were starting to be used. Bill Clinton was president. Amazon and Yahoo were starting up. ER and Friends were big TV hits. Forest Gump and the Lion King were popular movies. The trucks were smaller. It was a different time. And we, we look 25-years different. At that celebration service back in April of 1995, they were looking back too – at 10-decades of service. At that service they remembered, honored and pledged to go on holding fast to what they had in common – faith in Jesus Christ.
When we opened the service, I read from their bulletin from April 1995. The section was called, “Into the Next century, a service of remembrance and visioning.” I read that section when we opened our service. In it they voiced their hopes for us here today. First, they asked us to remember our history and share the time capsule. Second they asked that we recall the joys that were shared back in 1995. Third, they asked that we use this opportunity to affirm our commitment to continuing the ministry of Jesus Christ in the world.
In our affirmative response, we honor those who came before us. And we continue the work they handed off to us. We remembered our church history here in our service and during fellowship yesterday. We have heard from people who were here back then and listened to their heartfelt sharing and love for this church.
In order to fulfill “our commitment to continuing the ministry of Jesus Christ in the world,” we look to Ephesians chapter 4:2-4. Paul helps us see our current challenges in the proper light.
“2 Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, 3 and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. 4 You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope.”
We understand that working together requires these qualities, even though sometimes they are not easy to apply. Sometimes we fail, but we try to be humble,
gentle and patient with one another. We must seek again the path that leads us back into relationship.
Fulfilling our commitment comes directly from, Paul’s points, our conduct and our acceptance of one another in love. Third, it comes with unity produced through love for one another. Finally, the peace, which ties us together. We can look with confidence toward the future when we are united as a body of believers. We can overcome our differences if we will reaffirm and hold on to the importance of these words of scripture.
Paul suggests in Ephesians that our ability to fulfill our commitment to ministry is tied up in seeing ourselves in each other. It suggests that your faith is inextricably bound up in mine and visa versa. Note that Paul calls us to focus on our commonalities, rather than our differences. He tells us to reestablish a common connection in faith with one another and hold on to it, regardless of our differences. In this way, we are able to overcome the obstacles facing us. If we are to succeed in this time of trial and uncertainty, we will do so by holding on to our common bond in Christ.
Today we remind ourselves of what is truly important and reestablish our common bond so we may continue on. This is our common bond - Jesus Christ. He created our connection in faith by going to the cross and overcoming death. In doing so he established an unbreakable spiritual bond of agape love with all who believe. He holds on to us with this love, even when we fail him. Because he holds onto us, we, in return have the ability to hold onto one another.
Our history, our common faith heritage and our churches’ future are bound up in seeking and reestablishing our connection with one another in the risen Christ. By doing so, we renew our church ministry and affirm our church heritage. And through these affirmations we may find a way to new hope, new vision and a unity that leads us on with confidence.
Grace and peace be with you
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