(This post was originally distributed as an electronic letter on Jan. 1, 2014.)
Warm greetings in Christ on this first day of a new year!
I have mixed feelings about the practice of New Year’s resolutions: they’re so easy to make – so hard to keep. This year I am resolved to do some sharing about who we are as Disciples of Christ. If fact, let’s make it a church-wide conversation. Here’s what I have in mind:
Several years ago the 21st Century Vision Team summed up the essence of our identity with a brief statement. You may have heard it before –
“We are Disciples of Christ,
a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.
As part of the one body of Christ,
we welcome all to the Lord’s Table as God has welcomed us.”
Four key words in the statement stand out for understanding and owning this identity as Disciples of Christ:
Table – where we celebrate at least weekly the saving presence of the living Christ.
“Do this in remembrance of me.” I Corinthians 11: 23-26
Welcome – humbly offering to each other and to our neighbors the hospitality of Christ
“Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves.” Genesis 18: 1-8
Wholeness – God’s vision of shalom – unity with justice and peace – for which we pray and work.
“For the kingdom of God is….righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14: 17
Movement – Individually and with others “extending the neighborhood” of God’s love and care from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
“Who is my neighbor?”… “The one who shows mercy.” Luke 10:29, 37 and Matthew 28: 16-20 (Great Commission)
Over the next several months, I invite you to engage with other Disciples and friends around the meaning of this identity statement. The Council on Christian Unity has created a series of videos capturing a rich diversity of Disciples laypeople and pastors sharing what these four words mean to them. The videos are accompanied by both group and individual study guides downloadable from the “teaching” tab on the identity page at www.disciples.org. Your study may take the form of gathering a group to watch the videos together. It may be preparing a series of articles or sermons based upon these ideas. I’ll do my part by blogging about offering welcome, gathering at the table, participating in a movement, and embodying wholeness.
You’ll also find links to new blog articles on the Christian Church Facebook page and in the Disciples News Service at different times in January and February, so you might want to follow or subscribe now to make sure you are notified.
I look forward to journeying together as we share our experiences and grow in our mutual understanding of what it is to be Disciples together.