What is the church? This is a question that I’ve asked several times and in several different places since I’ve been here. It’s not that I’m asking because I don’t have an idea, but rather, I’m asking to bring up the conversation—a conversation that began before me, to be sure, I don’t pretend that I somehow am the first to ask this question, but a conversation that needs to happen.
It’s a conversation that needs to happen not because I have a lot of ideas about how to change things, but rather, it is a conversation that needs to happen because our community is changing, and so how do we best minister to and with the community that is? And, it is a necessary conversation as people find more demand on their time, more draw of focus, a shift in priorities. Who are we as a community of faith? What do we value? What do we want? And how do we live because of these realities?
This is something for which there are no easy answers or quick inventories to tell us. This is one of those instances where the journey may be more important than the destination. And hopefully, in the questioning, the discussing, and the wrestling, we can grow closer to one another and grow closer to God, learning more and more what it means to love God and love others.
This summer we are going to spend about 10 weeks in the Letter to the Ephesians, gleaning what this text might teach us about the church. Ephesians has a rather expansive view of the church and of the work of Christ, and what it means to follow Christ. Ephesians is, at the same time, sophisticated and devotional, approachable, and theologically rich. It is rich in spiritual insight, and, at the same time, a product of its context. How could it be otherwise? It originated from a geographic place, a point in time, and a cultural context.
We will begin our exploration through Ephesians on Sunday, June 16 and will continue into autumn (there will be a couple of short breaks when I am away). I hope that you will all come this summer, busy and hot though it may be, as we spend some extended time in this section of the sacred Scriptures.
Finally, a short note about something completely different. The General Synod, the annual meeting of the entire Reformed Church in America is happening June 6-11 at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. While I’m not a delegate this year, the Synod of Albany (the body of Reformed Church in upstate New York) will be sending me for a couple of days to speak to something on their behalf. I’ll be back in time for Sunday worship on the 9th. But please pray for the General Synod and its meeting. They will be talking about some fairly heavy things, so pray for guidance, for openness, and generosity of spirit.
See you around the community and in church!
With deep and abiding love,
The Rev. Matthew J. van Maastricht
Pastor and Teacher