“We indeed have neither a new church nor any new laws. We only want to remain in simplicity and true faith in the original church which Jesus founded… If we remain in the teaching of the New Testament, we expect this outcome, namely, that the fulfillment of our faith will be eternal life… We cannot testify for our descendants—as their faith is, so shall be their outcome.”
~ Alexander Mack (founder of the Church of the Brethren) from “Basic Questions”
The Church of the Brethren began back in the 1700’s because a small group of people were becoming increasingly concerned by the way Christianity was being practiced. Being a Christian had become something that was inherited and expected of all rather than something that was taken seriously and lived out. In order to discern what might be a more faithful understanding of living as Christians, the early Brethren turned to scripture; specifically, scripture related to the early Church. While the early church was far from perfect, the church in Acts was growing and was on fire for Christ.
Right at the beginning of Acts, we find Jesus preparing to be taken into heaven. As Jesus ascends, his followers stand looking up in the clouds. Acts 1:10-11 says, “While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’” From there Christ’s followers stopped looking up into heaven and became the Church, being Christ’s body in the world.
It is easy to become so steeped in tradition that we forget what it means to be the
Church. It is easy to forget why we do what we do as we continue to do it. So, during
the months of September and October, while we are thinking about what it means to
“Come back to Church” we are going to use Acts as a foundation for learning what it
means for us to be the Church. Our sermon series is called “Being the Church 101,”
and each Sunday we will talk about a different aspect of the early Church in Acts from
which we can glean some insight into how we might want to be the Church.
Some of the topics we will explore include how to discern God's will, how to live in community, how to pray, how to witness, how to grow disciples, and more. Questions to consider throughout are what might we learn and what might it look like now?
We do not walk on this journey of faith alone; this has been an important teaching of the Church of the Brethren from the beginning. Whether we are fellowshipping together, gathering around the scripture to discern God’s will, or simply encouraging others through difficult times; these are all important aspects of being the Church that we learn from the early Church in Acts.
So let’s explore together what we learn and what all this might look like for the Hagerstown Church of the Brethren, discerning together
-- Pastor Audrey