"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good....For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body..." 1 Cor. 12: 4-11
+++ REFLECTION +++
There have been a few things recently I feel particularly excited about -- that I think speak to our health as a religious community and areas in which we are growing.
One is the recent Fair Trade event, sponsored by our Social Justice Committee. For this event, the committee got together a group of three panelists, one a Loyola professor, the other a fair trade worker from Ethiopia, and the third a member of Chicago Fair Trade.
Each of the panelists spoke convincingly and compellingly -- in his/her own unique voice -- about the need for fair trade. I appreciated the opportunity to buy and sample fair trade goods. The hand-out packet listing venues that sell fairly traded goods will be very helpful. I liked the combination of in-depth background information and specific suggestions for action steps. Members of the audience had thoughtful questions and comments. Several expressed interest in worshipping with us. The hospitality was a nice touch (wicked good chocolate chip cookies there).
Another significant piece was that the Reconciler laypeople who organized this event were demonstrating the priesthood of all believers. Ministry is not just for ordained people or professional clergy, it's something for every member of the church, to the degree to which they feel called and capable. Clergy serve as representative leaders, icons if you will. Ordained ministry represents a specific level of commitment and training. But clergy do not have -- and are not meant to have -- a monopoly on ministry, which belongs to all the people of God. Paul talks in 1st Corinthians 12 about the variety of spiritual gifts, and likens church members to parts of a body which united is greater than the sum of its parts. We worked on this passage together on our retreat in December, when we identified areas in which we as a church wanted to grow.
In seminaries and churches there is much talk about every-member ministry and the need for lay people to be actively engaged and empowered, but often this is more talked about than lived out. I am glad to see Reconciler showing health and growth in this area, as demonstated by the Fair Trade event and the harmonious work of our search committee for a new Baptist pastor.
Another exciting new development is our invitation to explore a partnership with North Shore church, a Baptist church in our neighborhood, that is seeking to assist a church in New Orleans with its re-building efforts. To that end, North Shore is planning several mission trips to New Orleans. Larry and I attended an exploratory meeting last week at North Shore, with members of other Chicago-area churches.
Another thing I'm excited about is a conference on the emerging church, sponsored by the Episcopal diocese of Chicago, which I recently attended. Reconciler demonstrates many earmarks of the emerging church movement, including a merging of old and new traditions, an emphasis on community and relationality as exemplified by the Trinity, a concern for social justice, a general "thinking outside the box." And again, an understanding of the church as the body of Christ, a la Paul. Our new bishop, Jeffrey Lee, is supportive of innovative ways of being and doing church, and expressed enthusiasm for follow-up conversation and a visit to Reconciler. I found the emerging church conference exciting, heartening, and instructive, and will be excited to share more with you about it in the days to come.
Yours in Christ,
for The Pastoral Team
The Church of Jesus Christ, Reconciler
+++ ANNOUNCEMENTS +++
Melissa Browning, our candidate for the Interim Baptist pastor position, will be preaching today at our 5:00 p.m. worship service.
The Pulse: A Gathering for Christian Artists, is having a special event on Saturday June 28th, 1 PM at the Brixen Ivy Community Center 1242 West Addison. The event will be featuring the Labco Dance Company and the Matoto Children's Choir.
Pastor Laura and her family are in the process of moving. She is inviting the Reconciler congregation to a "P" party at her home: Pizza and Packing with Pastor. Date to be announced soon.
We will have a booth at the Clark Street Festival on Sunday July 13th. Talk with Kate or Daniel if you'd like to help set up, take down, and/or take a shift staffing the booth. It's fun! and good outreach to the community.
Reconciler's next church council meeting will be next Thursday June 19th, 7:30 PM at the 'Nidge. All are welcome to attend.