By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor
The Christian church is now some 1,987 years on this side of the first Easter which remembered and celebrated the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. We and generations of Christians before us have labored for centuries to carry the Easter message of the transforming love of Jesus Christ to the world. You and I are part of the first generation of North Americans to live in a society that no longer appreciates the presence of Christianity. Many are hostile toward the church. The early church shared the gospel of Jesus in a religiously plural, but hostile world. The 21st century has brought Christianity full circle.
Early Christians came together to celebrate their life together with God through prayer, table fellowship, and teaching about the Way. They also went out from the great Temple into the streets to be witnesses to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Their message asked persons to embrace the Way of life and the rule of God in their hearts. They established small groups that met in homes for nurture and fellowship. It was through these small groups that a larger sense of community developed. Finally, they experienced persecution and arrest from religious authorities and non-religious people because the Way they chose affected the economic practices of society and challenged established religious traditions.
Based on these essential concerns of the early church and what is becoming obvious to us by now of the emerging world we can conclude a few ideas about the church in the 21st century. 1. Our primary mission will be to establish Christian communities in the midst of a hostile and violent world. 2. The mission of these communities will be to proclaim the rule of God to all people. 3. Our mission’s dominant theme will be the Way of life prefigured in the life and ministry of Jesus.
4. The life of prayer will be necessary to keep our Christian communities focused on our mission as witnesses to the Way. 5. All church and community leadership will be based on faithful service to the Way of Christ. 6. And finally, I believe that all Christian communities in the 21st century will need to be able to stand on our own … to self-sustain.
Our excellent leadership of Trinity Church believes that, based on the life of the early church, the only way to survive and move forward in our time is for our congregation to turn outward to the world. All our ministries must proclaim to the world that Jesus is the Way without being judgmental on the worth of others with regard to their religious beliefs, or their nationality.
To embrace the possibilities and opportunities of life and move forward as followers of the Way of Christ all our missions and ministries must be willing to exist for the sole purpose of bringing this new life to others who are not yet experiencing it. You and I must become good stewards of our allotted time on this earth, of our financial resources, and discover and use our own unique spiritual gift. Let’s discover the courage needed for embracing and offering this new life in Jesus as the true Way to life. We are fellow pilgrims along the Way that leads us more fully and deeply into the wonder of God’s love, presence in the world, and mission. This is the healthiest Way to live as Easter people in the world.