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The Preacher's Post: God's love made visible
This is a rough translation of St. Augustine’s definition of
sacrament, and your $5 seminary word for the day. Basically, it’s fancy talk for describing some of our rites and rituals as church and why they’re important. Baptism is a sacrament, because the act of being immersed in the presence of a congregation is a visible sign of God’s invisible grace at work in the newly baptized Christian. Communion, the other sacrament that we Disciples celebrate, is also a visible act of remembering that invisible grace we experience at Christ’s table. Now I’ll be the first to admit, I wasn’t crazy about the word sacrament when I first got to seminary, but I’ve really come to love what it represents: the invisible being made visible.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately – the change from something being unseen or unknown to becoming seen and recognized or remembered. As one of the relative newcomers here, our year-long 100th anniversary celebration has made me aware of parts of our history that even as pastor were still unknown to me. And the act of learning more of our past has been a profoundly holy experience. Now, I wouldn’t get away with passing our storytelling off as a sacrament in a seminary paper, but that doesn’t mean our storytelling isn’t sacramental in the ways it reveals God’s invisible grace for us and others. Ranging from
worship and fellowship to mission and ministry, these stories remind us of how we’ve made God’s love visible and known in the world, and that act of revealing God’s love is the whole point of the sacraments in the first place!
As important as these sacramental acts have been in shaping our first century, I think our witness will become even more important in the century to come. Our calling as church is to be a living sacrament, which means discerning new ways to be the Gospel in a new age of ministry. But before we become concerned about what we might not yet know, let’s think about what we do know – that we’re already finding new ways to bear witness to Christ’s love. We learned more about one of these ways that we share in witness with the wider church when we heard from Michael Joseph about his time as a Global Ministries mission co-worker in Colombia. He didn’t preach, evangelize, or do church in any of the traditional ways we think about, but as our representative in a
coalition of multiple Christian traditions working for peace, he helped us bear witness to a new way of following the Prince of Peace!
Now, if we can take inspiration from these new ways of being sacramental church that we see in far off places like Colombia, imagine the ways we might be able to make God’s love visible right here in the Union Hill neighborhood of Bremerton or in Kitsap County. Imagine what we could do with our many gifts, our available time, and our commitment to discipleship if we set ourselves to prayerfully discerning the needs of our neighbors and ways God is leading us to respond in faith. No, it may not look like the church we’ve always known, but it will be a church living out it’s call to Gospel visible and known. Who knows? We might just discover that God is revealing our unseen future right before our eyes!
Yours on the journey,
Christian Church of Bremerton is a diverse group of people seeking to
respond to the vision of God's purpose revealed through Jesus the
We believe this vision calls us to be an intentional community, which engages persons in Christian practices. These practices include the Lord's Supper, joyful worship, Bible Study, prayer, service, and inclusive hospitality. We anticipate being open to all people, discerning how we can respond to needs within and beyond our congregation. As a community we will listen to and bear one another's burdens, and work on behalf of justice for all God's people.
To embrace and manifest Christ-like relationships in our community, we desire to communicate Jesus' death on the cross and bear witness to His resurrection as a sign of hope in this world. We seek to realize this hope by finding ways to overcome the forces that degrade, enslave and oppress God's creation.
In this vision we seek to know, to discern, and to act on the Holy Spirit's guidance to become an expression of God's new creation through our personal gifts and resources. In our actions we strive "to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [our] God." (Micah 6:8c)