Epistle Reading Ephesians 4:1-6

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!

What a beautiful Epistle reading we hear this morning, especially considering that this is the day we’ll have our annual parish meeting. This annual meeting really has as its deepest purpose something very similar to a confession (to make account for our baptismal garment) – to review how the Church has been living Her calling, and to look into the next year (and even beyond) and see how we’re going to continue to live out what it means to be the Body of Christ in the world.

So in St. Paul’s Epistle, he tells us what the life of the Church is supposed to be like. These are good points for us to hear and hear again, and to remember. We’re to “walk worthy of the calling with which we are called.” We’re to always remember that we bear the name of Christ; we present Christ to the world around us. So St. Paul calls us to walk worthily in this calling. There are certain ways we should act, things we shouldn’t do, or say, or feel. So the first movement of the Church is to be a movement towards Christ, both individually (as her members) and corporately as the The Church. We have to live worthy of the name Christian, and the activity of the Church also has to be worthy of bearing the name Christian.

St. Paul then goes on to describe a few characteristics of the Church walking worthy of her calling, particularly the mentality and behavior of Her members.

-“Walking with all lowliness and gentleness.” We’re to carry ourselves with humility and gentleness, not thinking about ourselves. Elder Sophrony would say that the only way to love one another and properly interact with one another is if we always place ourselves below our brother. We always consider others to be above us, in every interaction. Then we can walk with lowliness and gentleness.

-“With longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.” We’re to be patient with one another, longsuffering (slow to anger) humble, gentle (as we just mentioned). Bearing with one another in love especially means bearing one another’s weaknesses We all have strengths, and areas of struggles – we’re not about criticizing the weaknesses of others and pulling them down when they fail. We bear with them, and build them up. We’re to always respond in love

-“Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” We’re to always be at peace with one another. To not hold grudges, or get upset with one another…doing this really demands that we fulfill the behavior we just mentioned – longsuffering and bearing one another in love. We shouldn’t allow anything to separate us from one another – a house divided against itself cannot stand. If we find ourselves upset with another member of our parish, we should have such a relationship that we can go to that person and seek resolution – most often that simply means asking forgiveness.

And finally, we have from St. Paul a living definition of the Church—“There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” One – that’s the key word in this passage. One God, one Spirit, one hope, one faith, One Church, one Body. Even though we’re many members, we form one Body, of which Christ is the Head. So as we’re striving to walk both personally and corporately worthy of the calling, we’re all walking towards one another as well. I heard this very nice image of life in the Church one time—Christ is the center, and we’re spread out all around Him trying to make our way to Christ, and the closer we draw to Christ, the closer we come to our brothers and sisters in the Lord as well.

We’re not just here [in the Church on a Sunday morning, or as a member of the Church in general] to feel good, to get our fix of religion for the week, our Communion; our goal is not external and it’s not of ourselves – we’re here to be one in Christ, for our salvation, for our brother’s salvation, and the sanctification of the world and the entire cosmos. “There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” This is what we’re aspiring to here, in this place, today.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!