Looking up from the dome floor I was greeted by the sight of the bleachers filled with High School students already joining in the pre-service worship. My first thought was this is my church, this is my family. As the night progressed, we were reminded of the everlasting Joy we have being in Christ. We settled in for a week of being surrounded by Christ’s church and knowing we are safe in His arms and the arms of His Church.
That, in and of itself, would have been worth the time and money spent to attend, but we were also there to serve and be fed with the Words of Christ. We were there to be empowered for our journey in this world. We spent the week studying St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Our final day we focused on what it means to be the Body of Christ and the role forgiveness plays in our lives together.
Living in the forgiveness which Christ has bought us, we continue to echo Christ’s words and actions to each other. We put the past behind us and press on to what Christ has called us to. That doesn’t just mean putting my past behind me. It also means putting my neighbor’s past behind him and seeing him in Christ.
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. (Philippians 3:12-15 ESV)
This is not easy. We sin daily. I sin daily. God’s word convicts me of my sin and my guilt, and Satan jumps in to say, “See how bad you are. You have failed God and you have failed your brothers and sisters.”
We need each other to remind ourselves that these sins have been nailed to Christ’s Cross and they are gone. All too often when we go to each other and confess our sins, we shrug it off. We tell our brother it is ok. When we do so we don’t give them Christ’s forgiveness. We instead are in fact saying what you did was not wrong. They then walk away knowing the evil within them, but unfed by the Word of Christ’s forgiveness.
We make a big deal out of Christ’s real presences in Holy Communion, but we often ignore Christ’s True and Real presence in the word’s, “Jesus has paid for your sins. He forgives you and I forgive you.”
When we say, “I hear your confession and know you have sinned against me and God,” and then say, “But Christ has nailed that sin to the cross and you are forgiven,” we don’t simply speak words. We echo the Words of Christ himself. We feed each other the very Bread of Life, Jesus himself.
My friends, we are The Body of Christ may the Holy Spirit fill each of us with Christ word that we may feed each other with His Word and may we as a church surround each other with the loving arms of Christ.