At the close of the day, I often say a prayer attributed to Pope John XXIII: "Lord, this is your church, not mine. I am tired. Good night."
With these words he would turn off the light.
What a clear yet powerful reminder that this is Christ's church, not ours.
We care deeply about the church, we serve it faithfully and generously, we are troubled when we believe it has erred, and we delight when the light of Christ shines bright. Therefore, it is understandable that almost unknowingly we begin to think and act as if the church is ours.
We are a church that belongs to Christ, and we believe God calls each of us by name. Those clear affirmations were themes sounded at the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, and they resound throughout Scripture and history.
The letter to the Ephesians is clear that this is Christ's church. "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:19-20).
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