Thursday, October 05, 2006

Communion of the Saints


Lately, I've been wondering about the Communion of the Saints. I've been saying "I believe in the Communion of the Saints" as a part of the Apostles Creed since I was a child, but this is the first time I've ever been curious about the meaning of these words. (This is a two-fold shame. First, that I never wondered and second, that I was never told.)

What I found was an overwhelmingly pleasant surprise. I haven't been lying all these years. I really do believe in the Communion of Saints.

Communion of the Saints doesn't mean, as the Catholic Church says, that the Glorified Saints (those who are already dead) are able to pray for us and interceed to Christ on our behalf. No, the Communion of the Saints means something better. It means that Christians are bound together by love and have full participation in each other's gifts and graces. It means that we're in it together. It means we recognize our obligation to be a family to each other. It means we work together for our common good.

My soul is tied to yours. My gifts are there for you to use. My grace is shared with you and it's my responsibility to care for you and bring good to your life. And it's your responsibility to do the same for me.

I believe that the members of Red Mountain Church could benefit from a second-- or first-- look at the Communion of the Saints. I think it's one of our underpinning values. In fact, the Communion of the Saints and the belief that the Gospel changes everything might be the values we hold most dear. I desire to move toward a greater understanding of the Communion of the Saints and allow Jesus to weave that understanding in to the fabric of my life. It's beautiful. It's noble. It's true. I shall think about it.




All saints, that are united to Jesus Christ their Head, by His Spirit, and by faith, have fellowship with Him in His grace, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other's gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.

Saints by profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offers opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.

This communion which the saints have with Christ, does not make them in any wise partakers of the substance of His Godhead; or to be equal with Christ in any respect: either of which to affirm is impious and blasphemous. Nor does their communion one with another, as saints, take away, or infringe the title or propriety which each man has in his goods and possessions.

13 comments:

Rebekka said...

Sweet. That's really cool that you followed up on your last post about it with this one...becuase it really got me thinking about it too.

susan said...

Oh good! I'm glad you read it. I really didn't have any idea what that meant. Not at all.

Su

JP said...

I love you, and I'm glad you're my friend.

susan said...

Me too. :-)

Su

Robert said...

You need to teach an apostles creed sunday school at RMC. The "descended into hell" part is cool (PCUSA doesn't say hell).

I was having a conversation with our youth pastor Linc Ashby sunday. (He's a Mo Leverette guy) He would like to do this. In place of the "do you submit yourselves to the authority..." question for membership, offer the new living translation, which reads: "do you promise to do what the church authority tells you to so long as you can't demonstrate that the bible teaches differently". Ouch...

susan said...

Yeah, but Robert those are two totally different statements. I DID agree to one, but I sure as shootin didn't agree to the other. The same is true in my marriage. I DID promise to submit, but I DID NOT promise to "do everything David tells me so long as I can't demonstrate that the Bible teaches differently."

I think changing that is a BAD idea. BIG CAPITAL BAD.

Yeah, no kidding, Ouch!

We DO need to talk about the Apostles Creed and we need to talk about the meaning of submission, too, because Lord knows we don't have a clear view of that!

Su

JD Wilson said...

the idea of the communion of saints really is a great illustration, i think, of the body--with all its ligaments, joints, and parts--working together, growing in love. i guess we get to experience the communion of saints when we are functioning like a body.

susan said...

Josh,

I TOTALLY agree. It's a good metaphor, yeah?

Su

Robert said...

Su. you misread the quote. It never said "everything" just "what". That's a huge responsibilty on the authorities.

John in Birmingham said...

Robert -- "what" sounds a lot like "whatever", I think. Maybe if it said "what the church authorities require of you in the proper exercise of their function". I think that's what "submit" is getting at in this context. But that wouldn't sound very living, would it? Maybe that's in the Technical Writing Bible.

susan said...

Robert, I don't get the difference. (?)

Until we DO get the Technical Writing Bible, (which, incidentally, would answer the question about what you're actually allowed to do before you're married) I think we should probably stick to "submit."

New members can stand before the church and take their vows and then the officers could say "respect our AUTHORITAH!" and whack them on the head with their bats.

Now, I'm just being silly.

Su

JP said...

They do have bats, you know. Steve gave one to each of them. Maybe you've finally figured out what they're for.

susan said...

Actually, I kind of had that image in my head when I wrote that. I mean, I know what the bat we have at home gets used for. :-)

Su