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Grace's Vision - Love God

Grace

Grace's Vision

It doesn’t seem like much of one in our rush to get everything done before Christmas day, but Advent is a time of waiting.  One thing is for sure, no matter how much we get done, the celebration of the birth of Christ will be here next week.  Advent, I believe, is a good metaphor for what it means to be a disciple of Christ.  There’s a lot of activity, but in the final analysis it’s up to and all about God.

On December 7, at our Annual meeting, I talked about Grace’s mission to love God, to love neighbor and to change the world.  All three are interrelated.  Loving God means loving our neighbor and changing the world.  Although I am going to look at them as different parts in successive posts, it is important to remember that they are inextricably interconnected.

Love God

Everything begins with loving God.  The principle, although not the only, expression of our love for God is our worship.  Some today, even clergy, take it for granted, but that is an error.  The Roman Catholic Church says that the central act of the Christian life is the Eucharist.  While the Episcopal Church does not say this explicitly, the Outline of Faith in the Book of Common Prayer calls us to “set aside regular times for worship” (847).

Years ago, someone said in a class that I was that there was nothing to distinguish her from a non-Christian.  In a sense, she was right.  Atheists help those in need.  They even study the Bible.  All you have to do to realize that is drive over to Saunders Hall, where I studied religion as an undergraduate at UNC-Chapel Hill.  People of all kinds of faith pray, too.  So, what makes us Christians unique?  The short answer is Jesus.

The Trinity

The advent of the Son of God and then the Holy Spirit forced a reassessment of the meaning of monotheism.  Until that moment, monotheism was defined as a singularity of the divine being.  In other words, it was impossible in any way differentiate God.  Jews and Muslims still define God in this way.  Christians though believed that they saw God in Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  They discussed and debated for three centuries finally concluding that indeed there was only one God who constituted a unity of being and plurality of persons, in other words, the Trinity, one God and three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

You might be thinking that all of this sounds hopelessly irrelevant, but this vision of God tells us that at the center of all reality, indeed all reality itself, is a unity and diversity.  In terms of our lives, this means that we are all interconnected while still being unique individuals; our relationships with others are an essential part of who we are as individuals.   Simply put, we all need community, and we all need to be respected as individuals.

A Radical Act

Although the South is still predominantly Christian, ours is an increasingly secular and pluralistic society.  The percentage of Americans who identified themselves as Christians declined from 86% in 1990 to 73% in 2012.  Many of these are nominal Christians, too.  The fast growing segment of our society is those with no faith.  Approximately, 20% now define themselves this way.  Today, simply walking in the double glass doors at Grace to worship the living God is a radical statement about the nature of the world and a counter cultural act of love for our creator.  In the next post, I will talk about how this relates to loving our neighbor.

Website

In the meantime, I encourage you to look around our new website.   This site provides more visibility, flexibility and functionality for our congregation. Although it is still under construction, I hope you will feel excited, as I am, when you explore it.  If you are reading this after receiving my email, you already see how it opens up new possibilities for us.  This state-of-the-art website will be the center of our communication to our members and to our community.  I would like to thank Norman Smit for designing it.  God brought Norman, who designs websites for a living, to us in May.  Our new site is one sign of the amazing ways God is working in our congregation.  

 

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Saturday, 11 July 2020
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