New Year Discipleship

I was recently asked, “So, Pastor Rod, how does discipleship happen at a place like St James?” This is a great question as we come into 2014—How will we be transformed in this year? Our dialogue led us to think about the meaning of the command Jesus gave his followers “to make disciples (learners) of all nations (ethnic groups), baptizing and teaching them to observe all things I have instructed you to follow” (Matthew 28:18-20).
St James has been a “Christian community were tradition meets today and love and grace abound” and I would say this is the goal of most churches, e.g., to carry on their traditions in such a way as to foster a caring and forgiving community. Our updated missional purpose from the Vestry retreat this summer is that “St James exists to be the heart and hands of Christ in community”. This can seem like a tall order to fill . . . yet, with grace, God’s spirit and the whole community, it can be a journey of participatory learning, discovery, growth, transformation. I believe, in Christ, we determine what we will do with our lives; God calls us, loves us, gives us the substance and we choose what to make of it. Isn’t this the message of many parables, “he gave them talents” or, “he constructed a productive orchard and left it to his workers to care for . . .” and so forth. So what do we, the body of Christ at St James, do with what has been called the Great Commission? And, how do we link it to “The Great Commandment” (to love others as God has loved us) in such a way as to be faithful to our calling by God the Father, through Christ our Lord and Savior, in the power of Holy Spirit?
Let me suggest what I see to be basic nutritionally facts of participating in God’s activity in us of learning, discovery, growth and transformation:
We are what we eat. Each day we choose to take words, ideas, yesterday’s regrets, tomorrows problems or God’s daily food into our souls. What if the first thing we did each morning and the last thing before sleeping was to listen to God’s word in a worshipful and prayerful manner? I encourage us all to take part in the Daily Office Lectionary (Year One) on page 934 of the Book of Common Prayer or listen online at or Google Jesus said, It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life (John 6:62-64).
Eating together is more enjoyable than eating alone. We are individuals made to be in community. A farmer recently remarked how important it is to have two or three animals together, be they chickens, sheep or cattle, “the just aren’t as healthy and don’t grow well if they remain alone”, he said. How much more our renewed image of God as “members of the body of Christ,” created for community. I encourage all of us to be committed to weekly worship at our Sunday morning liturgy and stay for time together afterward. Participate is some form of Christian ministry, education or mission with others. Learning occurs as we personally internalize truth and then respond in appropriate action. Come join us on Tuesday evenings from 6-8 PM, or Sunday morning Bible Study at 9 AM or become part of some other ministry or service at St James.
Local and Home-Cooked is best! My father-in-law, a good friend of Roger Dell and a successful food concessionaire said, “Word of mouth is the best advertising you can have.” We have an amazing opportunity right now at St James to live into our Anglican tradition today as we invite others to feast on what God has provided for us of learning, growth and mission in the heart of Fergus Falls, living out “the heart and hands of Christ in community” at St James!
As we reflect on 2014, one year from now, we will never regret what we do in God’s love during this year at St James. Do not hesitate between many opinions, if Jesus is LORD, serve Him today with others of like mind! His Word is really the stuff of life and to do his will, a feast we can celebrate together!
Pr. Rod Spidahl

About rspidahl

Pastor/Learner/Faith/Public Speaker/Writer/Futurist/Strategist/Activator
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