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Chicago, Illinois 60630-2431

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A Word From Pastor Joyce

One of the statements that has been discussed during the current series of Holy Conversations is:
“As a member of Trinity, I know what is expected of me.”

Several participants over the last several weeks have disagreed with this statement. They also seemed unclear as to how to clarify this. A few suggested one should assume that worship is an expectation of all members.

I think the first step in clarifying the statement is to re-read the responsibilities entrusted to parents upon bringing their children for the sacrament of Holy Baptism. Parents are to live with their children among God’s faithful people and bring them to the word of God and the holy supper. This says to me that faithful worship is definitely an expectation. Worship is the time and place when we are among God’s faithful people. Worship is the time and place when we hear the word of God read and interpreted. Worship is the time and place when we gather together to participate in God’s holy supper, the holy communion, the eucharistic feast.
Parents are to nurture the faith begun in baptism so that children learn to trust God. Learning more about God and growing spiritually is a continuous, never ending process intended to occur from birth to the grave. Parents should demonstrate and teach care for others and the world God made, as well as work for justice and peace. Children learn what they live.

The second step in clarifying the statement is to re-read the promise each of you made as you affirmed your baptism in confirmation. Young people are asked if they intend to continue in the covenant made in Holy Baptism. They are asked to assume responsibility for their continued spiritual journey. People who join the congregation as adults are asked the same questions. Belonging is more than a name on the rolls. Intentionality in the area of spiritual growth and relationship with God and the Church are expected.

Another important source to help clarify expectations of membership is found in the Bible. Let’s look at 1 Peter 2:9.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” The New Revised Standard Version, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1989.

In the past, the prevailing viewpoint was that the church is a building, a pastor and enough laity to pay the bills. This viewpoint must be put aside. The church is more than a building. The church is the people. All Christians make up the “priesthood of believers.” All Christians are responsible for the “priestly functions.” That is, people and pastor SHARE the “priestly functions,” namely: prayer, proclamation and sacrifice. Each and everyone is expected to pray - to intercede with God on behalf of others. Each and everyone is expected to proclaim - speak the gospel sharing it with the neighbor. Each and everyone is expected to sacrifice - live a cross-centered and servant-oriented life.

We should also check the constitution of our congregation:
“It shall be the privilege and duty of members of this congregation to support the work of this congregation, synod, and churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America through contributions of their time, abilities, and financial support as biblical stewards.”

How do YOU measure up? Are you faithful in worship? Are you involved in Bible study? Are you talking about your faith with others? Are you encouraging others in their faith journey? Are you giving your time and ability to developing, nurturing, and supporting ministry? Are you providing financial support to the ministry at a sacrificial level? As a Christian, a baptized child of God, are you making a difference in the lives of others?

Embrace and live your mission:
“We are dedicated to bringing Christ’s message to all.”

07/30/2007