The Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah to the gentile world. In the season following the feast, we are reminded of various ways he manifested his messianic role – miracles, healing, preaching, teaching, and calling people to follow him.
He spent time with those who responded to his call, forming them into a community and equipping them to continue his messianic work in the world. Each follower of Jesus was given gifts for this work. Some were placed in positions of leadership to provide the formative experiences for others in the generations that followed. In this way, the community of followers of Jesus, the Church, was strategically ordered to advance his mission from generation to generation.
Writing to the followers of Jesus in the city of Ephesus in the first few years after Jesus ascended into heaven, St. Paul wrote of this way of ensuring the future of Christian mission:
But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:7, 11-13).
Notice that the “work of ministry” is entrusted to “the saints.” Who are the saints? The saints are the members of Christ’s Church, the followers of Jesus. Our Episcopal catechism expresses it this way, “The Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members” (BCP, p. 855).
Larger congregations, like ours, have several members of the clergy and a number of staff members. It is easy to see the clergy and staff as the ones who carry out the Church’s mission. Sometimes even the clergy and staff begin to see it that way. However, when that happens, the saints are deprived of their missional opportunities. It is not the job of the clergy and staff to do the work of ministry for the saints. Our vocation and our ministry is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” Under the leadership of our Bishop, clergy and staff strategically order the life of the community of faith, recruit, teach, train, equip, empower, and nurture the members in their ministries. It is our responsibility to help each member discover his or her gifts and discern ways in which Christ wants those gifts to be used his ongoing mission.
Some of the members are called to serve primarily within the life of the Church. Others are called to ministries out in the world at our doorstep. Many are called to do both! Christ calls each of us to be engaged in his mission. Every member has a ministry! Vibrant, fruitful churches are filled with people who believe that and exercise their ministries to the glory of God, thereby building up the Church in pursuit of Christ’s mission.
So, during this season when we recall those whom Christ called to follow him during his earthly ministry, we reclaim and reaffirm our own vocations. Where are you called to serve Christ in his Church? If you know, your clergy and staff are here to assist you and support you. And, if you are not sure, we are here to help you find a ministry that is right for you.
There is a long list of possibilities in a brochure we have placed in various locations around the campus. It is also HERE on our website. I invite you, in the name of Jesus Christ, to take some time to review the opportunities and respond to the call to serve in one or more ways. There are places of service every week and places of service that may last for months. Some service requires little preparation and some requires more. A number of roles are for leading others and many are for following. All are important to our life together and to Christ’s mission in the world.
By responding to your vocation, you give us the privilege of fulfilling ours! Please let us hear from you.
I’ll see you in Church!