It is a joy and a privilege to welcome new members into our congregation. In the last 10 months we have welcomed seven new members – two this past week! I hope you all are taking the time to get to know them better and welcome them into our fellowship.
Some church life experts believe that ‘church membership’ is a dated concept that is no longer important. But I believe that making a commitment to join a congregation says something about a person’s commitment to following Christ and ushering in the Beloved Community envisioned by God. The constitution of our denomination (the Book of Order) states:
God calls people to faith and to membership in the Church, the body of Christ. Baptism is the visible sign of that call and claim on a human life. Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ is a joy and a privilege. It is also a commitment to participate in Christ’s mission. A faithful member bears witness to God’s love and grace and promises to be involved responsibly in the ministry of Christ’s Church.
When we join a congregation, when we step forward, we are saying publicly, “This is my Faith Community; this is where I will work and worship and study and grow and advocate for God’s justice.” It is what Jesus called his first disciples to do – participate in a community of faith and justice – and it is what the church is called to do and be.
This is the prayer I offer each time we receive a new member. I offer it now for all of us:
Holy God, thank you for calling us to be your people and for joining us to Christ’s body, the church. We praise you for leading us to this congregation. Remind us of our baptism and empower us by your Spirit at work in our lives, so that we might love one another as Christ loved us, honoring Christ in all that we say and do, giving our lives in service to others. Amen.