The Gospel in Community

“Some say I am DNA. Some say I am a product of my society. Some say I am merely a smart animal, a mass of brainwaves, or a calculating will to power. The evolutionary biologist, the psychologist, the environmentalist, the biochemist, the sociologist, the economist, the Ivy League ethicist, they all call me something. But you in the church, who do you say that I am?”
– The Rev. Peter Speckard, quoted in Scott McKnight, Embracing Grace.

Dear BPC members and friends,

The quote above is part of a sermon delivered at the national meeting of the Lutheran Church a number of years ago. In his book Embracing Grace, Professor Scott McKnight answers the question: “Peter, you are an ‘Eikon’, you are the image of God.” McKnight goes on to say that C.S. Lewis’ words express this better than anything he has ever seen: “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” What he is saying is that your neighbor in the pew is an ‘eikon’, the image of God, and you yourself are an ‘eikon’ to your neighbor in the pew. McKnight uses the Greek word ‘eikon’, meaning image, and spelled e-i-k-o-n deliberately, so we don’t think of “computer icons” or think of “cultural icons” like we see on the cover of People magazine.

On Sunday our Gospel lesson is Mark 2: 1-12, the story of Jesus healing a paralyzed man who is carried into Jesus’ presence by the man’s friends, lowering him through the roof of the house in order to access Jesus. The friends clearly saw their friend as being made in the image of God, and they wanted healing and wholeness for him. I Corinthians 13 captures the motivation of the friends: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” The word Paul uses in Greek for love is agape, a selfless, unconditional love that wants the best for the other person, and is willing to make a sacrifice that will make the other person’s life better. It means seeing the other person as made in the image of God, an eikon, and so deserving of our best efforts to help that person live fully in God’s love.

The title of my sermon is “The Gospel in Community”, about how it is that we in the church are not just individuals pursuing our own faith journey; we are each one of us bound together in a community of faith that shows forth God’s unconditional love to the world.

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