A Message From Our Pastor...
Pastor Chris

September/October 2017

A Message from our Pastor

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. - I Corinthians 12:14-27

What is the church? This is one of those questions that if asked it of a dozen people, perfectly reasonable people, from the same denomination, would result in a dozen different answers. And all of them would be at least a little bit correct - while still not really answering the question. Add in multiple Christian denominations and differences that you find from individual congregation to congregation and the whole question just gets more complicated. So when someone says, “Christians believe…” or “The church says…” or some variation of the above you should know first that no one really speaks for the whole church all the time. I’m not going to start now either.

Most of the time, the best answer I have for this question is, “The church is the body of Christ in the world.” Most folks don’t necessarily like that answer because most of the time we are only answering that question for our individual congregations within the church and we want something that feels more practical, a little more concrete. But here’s the thing, the answer stays the same for me. Holy Counselor is the body of Christ in the world here in Vernon at this point in time. Every other answer should come from that starting place - and there are lots of places to go from there. Watching the world over the last month has left most of us shaking our heads, screaming in frustration or crying in despair. What I know about Christ in the world tells me that we, the church, should be there, in all those places. We, the church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Holy Counselor Lutheran Church are part of the body of Christ in the world. We worship and praise, we pray, we teach, we gather together and we are sent out. We stand against racism, bigotry and oppression, we gather in sorrow for those in Texas who are suffering the effects of Hurricane Harvey, we worry and pray alongside those who are undergoing surgery or other medical interventions, we cry with those who are burying loved ones after the tragedy of overdose has claimed them and we stand alongside all our brothers and sisters in whatever stage of life or situation they find themselves in life and death.

Big and small, near and far - we are the church - the body of Christ in the world. It's not an easy answer, but then again I don’t think easy answers are necessarily the best ones and like I tell people time and time again, Lutherans tend to be complicated people.

Check out some of our ELCA resources on what the church, at least the ELCA, believes and does as the body of Christ in the world:

-Pastor Chris

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