“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:3-5
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27
“[S]o we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Romans 12:5
There is a consistent pattern to St. Paul’s epistles. After the initial greetings, he usually has a doctrinal section that could be summarized as “Who is God or Jesus?” Then, he continues with a section that could be summed up with “Who are you?” Helping the people of God to understand their identity and then connect their identity with their daily lives is not just the substance of St. Paul’s letters, but also two thousand years of Christian preaching and teaching.
Who are you? It is a question that cannot be fully understood by the definitions and terminology of the world. Your identity is far more significant than a few descriptive words in a social media profile. You have been fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator and Designer of all things. You have been bought back from sin and death by the precious blood of Jesus. You have been named and claimed by the Holy Spirit in the waters of Holy Baptism.
What often follows his discussion of who you are has to do with how you live. St. Paul distinguishes between the new life in Christ and the former way of life apart from Him. As we begin a new calendar year and as the district leadership and staff continue planning for our support for congregations, schools and church workers, my hope and prayer is that we would remember who we are — both individually (saints) and corporately (the body of Christ). Each week, my purpose in this brief communication is to remind you of who you are as God’s child, but also of who we are together as the Body of Christ. It is overwhelming to consider what God does through the most humble of means throughout history, but especially to think about the possibilities of what He might accomplish in and amongst us as we walk in newness of life together. My prayer is for 291 congregations to remember who you are as God’s children and work together as one body. This means that caring for one another within our congregations, but also partnering together with other congregations because that is who we are in Christ and that is how we live as His individual children and as His body.
Our shared identity in Christ leads to such a spirit of collaboration as the many parts of the body work together and carry out their respective purposes. May we model this newness of life in this new year as we live and serve together as Christ’s holy people.
Prayer – O God through the grace of Your Holy Spirit You pour the gifts of love into the hearts of Your faithful people. Grant to us Your servants a spirit of unity that we may love You above all things and fervently love one another that we might do those things which are well pleasing to You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan