In the past few weeks we have been looking at call and discipleship and observed the Week of prayer for Christian Unity. We began an ended the week with additions to our usual liturgy and adapting the Lima liturgy to our regular Reconciler liturgy. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the connection between our worship of the last few weeks, ecumenism and discipleship. Our liturgical worship and especially the liturgies we have been using the past few weeks, subordinate individual expression of faith and worship to something else. This subordination of individual response or expression can run counter to many images of discipleship and living faith as usually found in American contexts. In general in American Christianity tends to see discipleship as an individual endeavor. Discipleship is primarily about my relationship to Jesus, and only secondarily about the kingdom of God or being a member of the body of Christ. I see our lectionary texts for the Season after Epiphany as challenging this American conception of discipleship. Or at least the confluence of these texts asks us to make a major corrective in our understanding of the relationship between our life of faith and our individuality.
Implicit in the Gospel's sense of being a follower of Jesus, a disciple, is that while our individuality is respected it is not the primary focus of a life of discipleship. Discipleship forms our individuality into something better and it does it by emphasizing community, and by calling us to be conformed to the Mind of Christ. If we move our sense of being a Christian and following Christ away from a focus on our individual beliefs, feelings, doubts etc., and realize that the life of faith is seeing all of our individuality being formed by God in Christ into Christ and being built into the the temple of God the Church then ecumenism simply takes on the tinge of discipleship. Also, our worship on Sundays becomes less about whether or not I can come and feel certain feelings or express certain things about myself and my faith and more about being formed and molded and built into something as the person I am. All of this is meant to happen with others who also are also followers and disciples of Jesus.
This formation is not only supposed to happen to us individually but corporately and across space and time. In some sense we might say this is what Church is the site where this happens. If we are cut off from those who are disciples of Jesus either in space or time we then lack something in our discipleship and following of Jesus. This is the place of ecumenism in our lives of discipleship and following Jesus. So, our worship our actions, our vision as a congregation, our lives in the world with friends family and coworkers are also a piece, not because I can individually make it all fit together but because I with others am seeking after Christ and we together can be formed by our worship and fellowship together, which then allows us to go out into the world and witness to the presence and absence of the Kingdom of God in the world. But we are hindered in this ability to witness as long as we are separated from other disciples who can help us be formed together as the Body of Christ.
We are continuing to meet together as a congregation to share and reflect and plan as we take stock of various changes and seek to move into this coming year together. Our next gathering will be February 9 6:30 PM at Beth, Jorge and Hank's house 5419 North Glenwood Ave, Apt. 3. A light supper will be provided. If you would like to augment the soup and bread feel free to bring something to share. Please RSVP to Beth Wetmore by friday February 6th. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 773-275-1918.
Sunday February 15th Bishop Jeffrey Lee of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago will be visiting us for worship. There will be a time to meet him after the service.
Wednesday Evenings on the Immanuel Campus:
Community meal 6 pm. Following the meal at 7 pm there is a prayer service. For January and February it will be a service of Lectio Devina (prayerful reading and discussion of Scripture for the coming Sunday) During Lent there will be a sung Vespers service.