Letter from John
I am of the right age and was born in the right part of the country to have gone to Walt Disney World the year it opened in Orlando. While I don’t remember anything from that visit, I am sure my favorite ride was
“It’s A Small World”
. Now that catchy tune is in your ear, it really is a small world…
Sunday in church someone stopped me to remind me that Jim Holderness, who I wrote about last week was her pastor at another church. She said “knowing Jim, I knew exactly what you were saying! It really is a small world. That’s what I love about our Presbyterian Church. We are a connectional church – we don’t do things alone or in isolation. I remember when I was in college and when I attended church at a Presbyterian church and there was a baptism, when it came time for the congregation to make their vows, I would not say anything because I thought I wouldn’t be there to help nurture that child. I just did not understand how we are all connected to each other.
John 15: 5 says, “
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything.” In a manner reminiscent of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus calls his disciples “salt” and “the light of the world,” Jesus tells his disciples in John’s Gospel quite simply who they are. Jesus does not say, “You ought to be branches! You ought to get connected to me!” But, “You are the branches.” Our life together flows from God for the sake of others.
C.S. Lewis once observed in a letter to a friend that the whole idea of a “church” gathering together around shared interests and values misses the point of the Biblical understanding of church. He explains that the church is that body “in which all members however different … must share the common life, complementing and helping one another precisely by their differences.”
Church connectionalism is shorthand for saying that we are one body—not because we find one another agreeable or each other’s views congenial, but because God in grace and mercy has called us together. Our unity does not lie in us. Our unity is Jesus Christ.
See you in church on Sunday!