Saturday 7th August
Statement of Faith 6
We believe in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, united in heaven and on earth: on earth, the Body of Christ, empowered by the Spirit to glorify God and to serve humanity; in heaven, eternally one with the power, the wisdom and the love of God in Trinity.
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
In the United Reformed Church we are generally stronger on the local than the universal church. We value and we understand a sense of belonging to one local church community that we come to know well, with its rootedness in a particular context, with people we know and a history we can tell. For many of us if you ask us to say which church we belong to we answer with a name, a street and a postcode. And when it says in the notices one Sunday that the service will be at another local church next week, even another local URC church, we know that some people won’t go there. When it happens that a particular local church closes its building we notice that some people just stop belonging to any church at all. Our celebration of the local church is both our treasure and our tragedy. We know how to do committed and contextual belonging, but we sometimes lose a sense that we part of the church catholic (through time and across the world), that the church we are part of is the same church as the community of those first apostles and of Christians in centuries to come, and that we belong to an earthly community that is also in communion with heaven.
Our statement of faith declares that we believe in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, united in heaven and on earth. If we could make that declaration part of our daily and weekly reality, it might transform so much: the way we experience belonging to the church and serving within it, our approach to ecumenism, our sense of our place in the world and in history, and our hopefulness about the story of the great church. The church is entirely present and real in each of our local churches, but it is also more than any of us can imagine. Thank God.
Thank you, Jesus,
for calling us to be part of your Church,
your body in the world,
one with the community of heaven.
Give me grace to see and live
the blessing of my local church
and also the blessing of the whole Church,
so that I may find my own place in the body
and take part in your mission of love to the world. Amen.