Sunday, July 31, 2011

August newsletter article: Remembering our Christian Duty

By: The Rev. Dr. Valori Mulvey Sherer, Rector

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. (Ro 12:9)

It’s amazing how succinctly St. Paul sums up the code of conduct for the body of Christ in this verse from his letter to the Romans (Paul is rarely succinct!). Meditating on this makes it clear that we are called to be the presence of Love (God) in the world, doing the work of Love, in the name of that Love. That is our Christian duty, both as individuals and as a church, part of the body of Christ.

I have been looking at some research lately (a throwback to my first career in marketing) and was startled by the results of a study about the racial and ethnic composition of members of mainline Protestant churches. The image below (which didn't copy in this format) speaks volumes about how successful we’ve really been (or not been) at extending hospitality to strangers:

White (non-Hispanic) 91%
Black (non-Hispanic) 2%
Asian (non-Hispanic) 1%
Other/Mixed (non-Hispanic) 3%
Hispanic 3%

To be clear, mainline Protestant churches, as defined in this study, do not include Evangelical, Roman Catholic, Jewish, non-Christian, or pseudo-Christian churches (e.g. Mormon). Their pictures look pretty much the same though. The exception is the Roman Catholic Church in which Latinos comprise almost 30% of their church in the US.

What does this mean for us at Redeemer, especially given that our congregation’s demographics fit the diagram above pretty well? Who are the “strangers” in our area who are excluded from worship at local churches? How will we answer the call to show them hospitality? How would we go about doing that?

The Catechism in our Prayer Book answers that question simply in its discussion of Christian duty: “The duty of all Christians is to follow Christ; to come together week by week for corporate worship; and to work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God.” (BCP, 856)

All we have to do is remember our Christian duty. Be at church on Sundays (or for some of you, on Wednesdays) to worship and pray together. Do something – mission/ministry – that has as its goal building the kingdom of God. Establish and practice a discipline of personal prayer. Contribute to the church so that it can do the work of being the presence of Love (God) in the world, doing the work of Love, in the name of that Love.
Mother Valori+

P.S. I hold you all in loving prayer during the two weeks I’m away on vacation: Aug 1-14. Deacon Pam is available for pastoral emergencies during my absence. Peace, friends!

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