A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. J.C. AUSTIN: FOUNDATIONAL ACTIONS
Over the past few weeks in worship, as part of our emphasis on stewardship, our sermons have been exploring some of the most foundational and important actions in the ministry and life of Christian congregations and individual disciples.
The first week, we considered the importance of “going,” using the story of God telling Abram to go from his family’s house and lands to a land that God would show him. Everything else in the Bible depends on Abram going when he was told to go in Genesis 12, and everything else in Christian faith depends on us going when Jesus invites us not to simply believe in him, but to actually follow him.
The second week, which was Reformation Sunday, we reflected on what “reforming” really means, given that we as Presbyterians are not only Protestants, but part of the Reformed theological tradition! Through the story of Jesus telling the disciples to fish on the other side of the boat when they had caught nothing all night, we considered how being reformed is not a one-and-done act, but we are always being reformed according to the Word of God, which means according to Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, above all else.
Last week, on All Saints’ Sunday, we addressed “savoring” as an act of faith as we engaged Isaiah’s vision of the ultimate redemption of the world and its peoples on the slopes of Mount Zion as they are invited to a sumptuous feast of rich food and drink. The point is that God delights in us and invites us to delight in our relationship with God and one another, leading up to God’s final plan to restore this world to its originally intended beauty and wholeness, symbolized by this feast to which everyone is invited, including all the saints who have preceded us in faith.
This week, the action that we will be taking up for consideration is “belonging.” That is something we often experience as a passive state of being rather than an action (i.e., we either belong or we don’t), but we are going to explore what it means for belonging to be an act of Christian faith.
Given that, I want to invite you to do something simple in preparation for Sunday. The invitation is to take a few minutes to remember one or more times in your life that you particularly felt like you did or did not belong, whatever that means to you. It could be a particular event or a season of time in your life; the point is to remember and hopefully to re-experience a bit of what that felt like, so that it may help us in unlocking the question of what it means to belong in Christian faith and Christian community. I look forward to exploring this with you on Sunday!
Grace and Peace,