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Being the Church

Okay, I have a confession to make.

This Sunday – our Annual Ministry Fair Sunday – is my favorite Sunday of the year.

I find myself looking forward to this Sunday more than any other in the year. I sense God’s power and presence moving among us more on this Sunday than any other of the year.

“Even more than on major feast days?” you might wonder. Am I really saying I look forward to, and feel God more powerfully present on Ministry Fair Sunday than I do on even Easter and Christmas?

Well, the answer is, yes.

Part of me that thinks something is wrong with that picture: that I’m not supposed to feel that way…that Easter and Christmas, or baptism Sundays, or All Saints Day or St. James’ Day or Confirmation Sunday is “supposed” to be my favorite day in the church year. Maybe that’s why I said this feels like a confession, the lifting of some secret weight I’m carrying. But I’ll say it again: I find myself looking forward to, and I sense God’s power and presence more, on this Sunday than on any other of the year.

And here’s the reason: the Church – not just St. James’ Church, not just the Episcopal Church, but THE Church anywhere of any denomination is the Body of Christ.

“St. James’ Episcopal Church” happens to worship AT (or in) a stone structure located at 14 Cornwall Street NW, but that sanctuary (beautiful as it is) is NOT the church.

YOU, dear person reading these words, are the church.

YOU are the Body of Christ.

You are an individual member of that body.

You are a hand, an arm, an eye.

You are a valuable member – part – of the Body, no matter who you are, or where you are in your spiritual journey.

I’ve long believed that worship and prayer are not “ends” in themselves, but means to an end: otherwise what did Jesus mean when he said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I say?”

As our mission statement says, we are nourished by Word and Sacrament and sent out into the world to do the work God has given us to do, to love and serve God as faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ our Lord.

This Sunday, the emphasis is clearly on ministry, the things we DO as the Body of Christ.

This Sunday is a reminder that “St. James’ Episcopal Church” is not primarily a place, but a people…a community…a movement.

THAT’s why I love this Sunday more than any other.

It’s a reminder that “being the church” is the whole point of “going to church.”

It’s a reminder that the Body of Christ is not only truly present in the bread and wine at the communion table, but at the Ministry Fair tables, or wherever two or three are gathered together in his name.

So this Sunday, I hope you enjoy coming to…being…and celebrating, Church -- during both parts of church: our worship, and the Ministry Fair!

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