Unity in Christ does not exclude diversity

God in His triune nature is not a mental construct, but is someone who can be experienced directly. Despite the diversity of the individual members, the church of Christ comprises a single entity. The power and authority of Jesus Christ extend into the beyond. These are the subjects of our divine services in June.

Celebrating the Trinity

The first Sunday service in June starts with the benediction. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13: 14 is the Bible text for the divine service. Trinity Sunday falls on the Sunday after Pentecost. The subject of this divine service will therefore be God’s self-revelation as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the New Testament—including the Great Commission and the benediction—it becomes clear: God is the Father, the Creator of heaven and earth; the Son, the Redeemer; and the Holy Spirit, the Maker of the new creation.

All three persons allow us to experience them. But some things can be experienced most directly in one of the divine persons.

  • The grace of Jesus: because God became man in Jesus Christ and cares for human beings directly. His sacrificial death makes forgiveness of sins possible.
  • The love of God: the love of God the Father is revealed especially in the sending of His own Son. He repeatedly described God as a loving heavenly Father.
  • The communion of the Holy Spirit: since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has been active in the church of Christ and through His gift He gives us fellowship with God.

Belief in the Trinity is fundamental to being a Christian. Along with the Holy Scriptures and baptism, this is the unifying link between the various different denominations.

The church of Christ: a single entity

The following two Sunday services focus on the nature and mission of the church of Christ.

“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptised into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” This Bible text from 1 Corinthians 12: 12–13 paints an image of the church as a body made up of all Christians.

Even though all are part of the same body, it does not mean that all have to be the same. On the contrary: within the church there is a diversity of members. What is important though is that we all have the same faith, the same love for Christ, and the same determination to help bring about the unity of the church. Christ expects His own to show solidarity and to support one another: to take an interest in the fate of others and to sympathise with them and then help them in whatever way we can. The calling of the church is to make salvation available to humankind. Each member of the church is called to contribute to God’s plan of salvation.

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples who the people thought He was. The disciples told Him what the people thought and then Jesus asked them what they thought. This is when Peter professed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16: 16). Following this Peter was given a special commission, which serves as the Bible text on the third Sunday in June: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16: 18). This responsibility is today exercised by the Chief Apostle ministry. Some special tasks and responsibilities can be found in the Catechism (CNAC 7.6.6 ), and these will be the subject of today’s divine service.

There is a comforting aspect to the Bible text: the church of Christ cannot be destroyed. And Jesus promised: “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 20).

A mandate that reaches into the beyond

The last Sunday service in June is in preparation for the divine service for the departed. The sermon will be based on Matthew 28: 18: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’” So the authority of Jesus applies in both the visible and the invisible world. And that means that both the living and the dead can obtain salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

On earth Jesus had received the authority from his Father to proclaim the will of God, forgive sins, and heal the sick. After His resurrection and ascension it became clear that Jesus’ authority is of an all-encompassing nature. It was on the basis of this authority that the Risen One gave His Apostles the commission to baptise and teach the gospel. This commission too is not limited. It applies equally to the living and the dead.

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Katrin Löwen
Divine service