This brief exchange stayed with me long after the other details faded away. When I’m asked, “What is the greatest challenge facing the United Church of Christ?” I always reply, “the greatest challenge facing the United Church of Christ is how do we live Gospel of Jesus Christ.” This has been a springboard for many interesting conversations over the years. It is the issue that the church faces in every generation and that we face today.
Last fall, the National Leadership published new purpose, vision, and mission statements for the whole United Church of Christ. They are:
- Purpose: To love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves.
- Mission: United in Spirit and inspired by God's grace, we welcome all, love all, and seek justice for all.
- And the vision: United in Christ's love, a just world for all.
What if, instead of trying to fix the church, we focused our energy on living the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What if “how do we live the Gospel?” became the lens through which we viewed every activity the church undertook? What if, instead of asking, “how can we fill the pews or the offering plate?”, we asked, “how can we get better at loving God and our neighbors?” “How can we welcome all? “How can establish a more just world?”
Epiphany commemorates the ways that Christ is made known to the world. We can make Christ known to the world and to ourselves by committing ourselves to live as God calls us to live, loving God and neighbor ever more fully, welcoming all to God’s beloved community, and seeking to establish a just world for all.
May the light of Christ shine in your life and in the life of your church during this season of Epiphany.
Michael Ciba is Southwest Regional Minister of the Southern New England Conference. He works with CT churches in the Fairfield East, Fairfield West, and Litchfield South Associations to provide resources, interpret the work of the United Church of ...