Gathering God's People
Over the last 2000 years, the first small band of Jesus' disciples have become a worldwide movement. This movement now includes about one billion people, in all parts of the world. All Christians believe that a single God is experienced in three different ways - as the Creator of the universe, as Jesus Christ, and as the Holy Spirit.
Since the first small band of Jesus' disciples argued over whether or not to continue to keep kosher (ancient Jewish rules about how and what to eat), Christians have disagreed about how to worship, how to interpret the Bible, and who to include in their communities of faith. This is an unfortunate reality, but it is also an ever-present feature of human behavior in all parts of the world and in all organizations, even the Church. Remember, Christians promise to strive to follow Christ, knowing that we will fail, get up, and try again.
The word church comes from "ekklesia," a Greek word that means "the gathering of God's people." All Christians are part of one Church because the Church IS the Body of Jesus Christ - God's people living and acting in the world. Every Christian and every Christian community (church) in the world is a part of the Body of Christ. There is only one Jesus Christ, so ultimately all Christians are part of one Church (whether we like it or not.)
Today there are many different kinds of churches in the world - with formal structures, institutions, schools, professionals, formalized beliefs about morals and ethics, and formalized beliefs about God. If you walk around the Tower Grove Heights neighborhood, you will see about a dozen different kinds of churches.
St. John's Episcopal Church is one of these churches. At St. John's, we worship, pray, sing and celebrate the sacraments together in a particular way that we believe in and that we cherish, but ours is not the only way to be a Christian community. Hopefully, all Christians and all churches believe and practice their faith with humility - with an understanding that we could be wrong about some of our particular beliefs and that our knowledge is more limited than God's. We are called to believe; we are not called to know everything with certainty. To quote Jon Acuff, "The church should be the first place you feel safe enough to express doubts, ask questions & be a mess, not the last."
We are called to have faith. The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.