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July 1, 2015, 12:00 AM

Living in Abundance: Joy and Beauty Abound!

“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body, and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”   Ephesians 4:1-6

               When I agreed to serve as Cheryl’s sabbatical replacement this summer, many of my colleagues in ministry said, “Summer is the best time to do this, summer is the quiet time at a church.”  While it’s true that attendance on Sunday mornings may be a bit lower while people are out of town and Sunday School and confirmation class have ended; my experience here would never allow me to describe this church as “quiet.”  Our church is brilliantly, vibrantly alive, reverberating in all corners with a joyful, joyful noise. 

               Preparations for the upcoming Green Fair are underway.  The children who continue to attend worship are enjoying the playfulness of “Summer Camp Sundays” and the amazing group of young adults we recently received into membership through their confirmation are excited to share their gifts with the church and are actively pursuing ways to further engage with the church and with their own faith journeys.  And they are looking for ways to do so now, not waiting until fall when “things start up again.” Our missions and community outreach continue without slowing down and everyone shares the desire to find new ways to widen our welcome to all.  It is an exciting time here, and to my great delight, anything but quiet.

               All around me I am witnessing the beauty of people participating in the life of the church in a way that truly reflects the grace we have each been given.  It is exactly what Paul intended when he implored his followers to “live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”  His instruction wasn’t to live in such a way that would make us worthy to be members of the body of Christ.  He is telling us that as we are members of the body of Christ, by grace, we are already preordained for salvation.  Every action we take, in every aspect of our lives should be informed by that truth and should contribute back into the world some of the grace we have already been given.

               Truly the human family is all one, bound together by one Spirit.  What happens to any one of us, happens to all of us.  This is why we all weep with our brothers and sisters at St. Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, and why we are all damaged by acts of hatred and terror wherever they occur.  More to the point, it is why it is so important that we do always live a life worthy of our call.  Not just within our life in the church, but in every aspect of our lives.  “Bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace” means maintaining the unity of the Spirit not just with our friends and neighbors whom we know and love already, but also with the stranger who just cut us off in traffic, the person with whom we are in disagreement, all those who seem so different from ourselves, and even those whom we suspect we hate.  They too are members of the one body.

               Our faith practices this summer are “Living Joyfully” and “Experiencing Beauty.”  Joy and beauty are abundant in this world, but even in their abundance can be so easy to overlook or ignore.  The joy and beauty present in the members and life of this church is remarkable and powerful, and the world needs it.  Let us gather it together, and carry it out into the world, project and follow all that gives joy and allow our beauty to shine in all that we do.  Live, as we are instructed, a life worthy of our calling and, in all humility and with all love, encourage others to do the same.

~ Ellen Willert, Sabbatical Replacement

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