A Shared Belief

Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
As we were getting ready to leave for church on Easter morning, a thought popped into my head and passed by as quickly as it came. But it didn’t leave for good. It came back in the church parking lot, and then again during the service, and again on the way home. We let the dogs out and jumped back in the car to head to my parents; there it was again. I turned to Tanya and said it out loud: “Out of all of our old church friends, we might be the only ones who attended an Easter service this morning.”

The last eight years have done a number on us as the family of Christ. Folks fell out of touch and out of habit during the pandemic, and it was too easy to just stay home once it was safe to go back in person. Perhaps more so, many people left their church because they disagreed with leadership on social or political issues, and rather than find a new place to attend that more closely aligned with their worldview they simply chose not to go anywhere. So many friends we’ve done church with for so long have simply decided that finding a church they want to attend isn’t worth it.

One thing I love about the Collects is that we all say them together… and not just at Redeemer. The same prayer we pray weekly is being prayed by our brothers and sisters across Atlanta, across Georgia, across the country and across the world. This week we are praying for God to grant us the knowledge that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. We worship and fellowship together so that we may believe and know together.

No matter your political or social or theological beliefs and how they differ from mine, we can definitely agree on Jesus. My great-grandfather was an itinerant preacher and farmer, and when asked about theological debates along the margins he would always answer, “Well, it don’t count for nothing as far as salvation goes.” John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard Church, put it a different way, instructing pastors in his denomination to always stay on the “main and the plain.” 

As our family seems to be getting smaller and our differences bigger, maybe it’s time we start focusing on what we agree on rather than points of contention. And if you’re a part of the family, then we agree on the Mystery of our Faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. This shared belief in Jesus allows us as a community to follow in his steps in loving God with all our hearts and loving our neighbors more than we do ourselves. And we might as well do it together, as a family, as practice for eternal glory. I, for one, sure hope Eternity is crowded.

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