Happy first week of the year! I hope 2011 is shaping up to be a brilliant year for all of you! Well with four days in, you should be all set right?
As you probably already know this Sunday is "Participation Sunday," and we are asking that you bring to worship those little participation cards you received in the mail to be used during the offertory (if you can’t be with us this Sunday you also can mail them in or drop them off). Hopefully you have taken some time to think and pray about the ways you are being led to join in the life the community in the coming year. God uses our many, varying gifts, to do the work of the kingdom in the world and we appreciate how each of you bring all of what you have to our church. Isn’t it great to be a part of such a great (kingdom) work?! Sunday we want to reflect on this and celebrate it.
Participation is a big word for me so I will see just how many times I can say it in the next week before you get totally sick of it! 😉
But seriously, I think it is the backbone to the entire Quaker tradition (to make a really hefty claim), which formed around the conviction that we are co-laborers with Christ who is present with us. If this is so, our meetings are meant to be made up of fully engaged and authentic followers of Jesus rather than people who take someone else’s words for things. Quakers are a church powered by the work of the people.
And then, if we get this far in our thinking about what it means to be a Christian — those who participate in the ongoing life and struggle to live out God’s reign in the world — we can also see how this would necessarily connect to our theme of peace. To be co-laborers with God is to be heralds of peace!
I think you get the idea. And if I keep going, I might as well just send you the message now!
Here’s a passage from Luke that ties this together well:
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ (Luke 10:1–9 NRSV)
So our questions for reflection is how are we being lead, individually and as a church, to participate in God’s work in the world? How are we being co-laborers? How might we open ourselves up to new ways of expressing this? And how might we support one another better as we participate in the life of the Spirit in our own lives?
Supplemental passages: Luke 4:16–22; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 4-7; Galatians 5:22-26