Thursday, January 2, 2014

We are a Movement for Wholeness in a Fragmented World

Rev. Sharon Watkins
Warm greetings in Christ on this first day of a new year!
from Rev. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada

I have mixed feelings about the practice of New Year's resolutions: they're so easy to make - so hard to keep. This year my resolution is 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 Disciples 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 help us understand and own this identity as Disciples of Christ:
  • 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, Matthew 28: 16-20 (Great Commission)
    • "Who is my neighbor?"... "The one who shows mercy."   Luke 10:29, 37
  • Wholeness - God's gift of shalom - unity with justice and peace - which we work and pray to receive more fully.
    • "For the kingdom of God is....righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14: 17
  • 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
    • "They need not go away; you give them something to eat." Matthew 14:16
  • 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
Over the next several months, I invite you to engage with other Disciples and friends around themeaning 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 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. (There are even a few examples on the "preaching" tab of the identity page.) I'll do my part by blogging about gathering at the table, offering welcome, 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 orsubscribe 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.

Your companion on the journey -