As we shared last Sunday, Jesus said “and I tell you Peter on this rock, I will build my Church (ekklesia) and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” Matthew 16:18. I do hope that today we can take a moment to set aside time and understand that we are the church with a great responsibility upon us using the scriptures and images below.
Out of Ecclesia we get Ecclesiology which is the discussion of what the church is called to do and to be. This refers to the nature, purpose, hopes, structures, practices and rituals of the church. Ecclesiology is the study of the Church.
Tim Chester and Steve Timmis define Church as an identity that is ours in Christ. An identity that shapes the whole life so that life and mission becomes the whole Church. True Church must be Gospel and community centered. The truth of the word is upheld and the mission of the gospel is carried out through sharing of lives, reaching out and fellowshipping together.
Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:20-34 reminded the Christians about their character and how they ought to behave when they gathered together for the Lord’s supper lest they eat and drink judgment. The same language of gathering together is used in Hebrews 10:25 which refers to a synagogue where people gathered together to worship. In the early church, the book of Acts talks about house churches oikos- 1:12-15, 2:46, 4:11, 5:42, 12:10-17 because the disciples needed a place of fellowship and intimate sharing.
The Church are People of God, the Body of Christ 1 Cor. 12:12-27,
Rom 12:4-5, Temple of the Holy spirit 1 Cor. 6:19, the Bride of Christ
Ephesians 5:21ff, Ezek 16.8-14, Rev. 21:2, the Flock, John 10, the Vine and branches John 15. These images describe who we are and our relationship to Christ as the head of the Church.
The purpose of the Church is to be an agent of God in evangelizing the world Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16: 15-16. The Church is a Worshipping community and a channel for the growth of believers Eph. 4:11f; 1 Cor. 12:28; 14:12.
The best understanding of ministry of the Church can be seen in the example of Jesus’ servant-hood in Mark 10:42-45. He taught and exemplified this by washing of the feet in John 13. The picture of the early Church is also one of service Paul refers to himself as a slave or servant Rom. 1:1, Giving to those in need Rom.15:27, diakonia: describes the service of a table waiter which is selfless, loving service.
Let us serve Christ by serving one another to the glory of God the
Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Very Rev. Canon Dr. Rebecca Nyegenye,