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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Readying for mission

The disciples weren’t left without resources. With Pentecost the Spirit of the Risen Christ descended upon them, granting them gifts to begin the work of God’s mission. They let go of their old habits and prepared to take on new ones. They began practicing resurrection. Pentecost made the disciples marked men and women.

The Spirit marked them as the body of Christ in the world: They bore the marks that were on his resurrected body. Think of the body of Christ as a human body and remember the wounds it bore. There were marks where the nails went into Jesus’ hands and feet; there were marks where a spear had pierced his side. Thomas wouldn’t believe he was in the presence of the Risen Christ until he could touch the marks that had been on his body. Where do we find the body of Christ today? Martin Luther answered boldly: Wherever Christians practiced resurrection, there was the body of Christ. He understood the marks that were on that body as a series of gifts given by God for the sake of ministry.

Luther’s resurrection practices are familiar to us: the preaching and hearing of the word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, prayer, praise, catechesis, calling out leaders, discipleship and forgiveness. Luther refused to restrict the church to a building, place or papal structure. Rather, wherever Christians practiced resurrection, there was the church. The last two practices are particularly appropriate for the season of Pentecost. Having received the gift of the Spirit, the disciples dug into the work of ministry. Disciple-ship shaped them as a community, and forgiveness provided the glue that held that community together. If we catch the rhyme of their story, it will shape our own.


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