The apostle Paul describes the church as Christ’s body, writing that each part has its function and purpose. Jesus is the head, providing direction and guidance. We are the arms, legs, hands, mouth, eyes and feet that carry out Christ’s purpose and ministry.
St. Teresa of Avila wrote these words, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which to look out at Christ’s compassion to the world; Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; Yours are the hands with which he is to bless people now.”
When you think of the church, what comes to your mind? Do you think of the people, a building, St. John’s UCC, the Penn Northeast Conference of the UCC, our national denomination, or the church universal or all Christians? All of these answers are correct. The church encompasses all these definitions.
I serve on the Lehigh Conference of Churches Ecumenism committee and work with representatives from a variety of churches: United Methodist, Society of Friends (Quaker), Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Episcopalian. Together we can accomplish more for Christ than we can independently. We are partners in Christ’s service.
Closer to home, we partner with St. John’s Lutheran Church and Zion Reformed UCC and the other churches in PNEC. Through our community benevolence grants we partner with other churches and agencies. These partnerships are crucial. No one church has the resources to meet all the needs of our community and the world.
Our Futuring task force has proposed that we, St. John’s UCC, look to partnerships to increase our effectiveness as a church and our stewardship of resources.
We and Zion have begun getting to know each other as potential partners. We hosted a block party last summer and had pulpit exchanges and meals together. We provided a space for Zion to store salt for the winter. The Liberty Bell Shrine has offered to exhibit memorabilia for our one hundred fiftieth anniversary and assist with publicity for our events. By the time you read this, the leaders of both congregations will have met for a get-acquainted time and brainstorming about areas where we can work together.
There are two opportunities this fall for all of us to get together for worship and fellowship. Zion will be here at St. John’s on Rally Day, September 13, for breakfast, worship and fellowship. They will not have a service that day at Zion. A sign will be posted on their doors informing people where they are worshipping. We are looking forward to a combined choir.
Our next opportunity to worship with Zion will be October 11 at Zion Church. Worship begins at 10:30am.
There will be a lunch following the service. We will have Chapel, Sunday School and Adult Forum, dismissing at 10:15 so we can worship with Zion’s congregation. Again there will be a combined choir.
These combined experiences help us to see how we are similar and how we are different. It gives us opportunities to discover ways to partner with one another.
You are encouraged to be present for both of these events.