For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. – 2 Corinthians 4:5-12
(Bishop Michael Rhyne giving his report at the Allegheny Synod assembly this morning.)
Synod assembly, at the bare minimum, is the legislative body of our synod (synod, in this case, meaning the Lutheran congregations in the region of Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Huntingdon, Somerset counties). But it is more than just the legislative body. The synod assembly is church, and we, as part of St Paul in Pine Grove Mills, are part of it.
With the annual gathering that is synod assembly, we get to notice some aspects of the Church that we do not always notice in our regular congregational gatherings. There is a buzz as people connect and reconnect with each other. Worship is Spirit-filled and energizing. Fellowship over meals flies by as memorable stories are retold and newly experienced. I find it to be an event when we witness the extraordinary power of God.
Now, all of these aspects are what we get to experience in our weekly gathering and worship as a congregation! We might not notice these aspects every week because we get to experience the Church every week. Similar to how we stop noticing that which we use to decorate our walls, we sometimes stop seeing the energy that flows whenever God’s children gather.
Synod assembly, like a congregation, is but a clay jar. It is just a gathering of people who are forgiven sinners who are ordinary human beings. However, held within and among these individuals is extraordinary power. Because we can see that this power is obviously not from the individuals, we know that it is from God. Whenever we have large gatherings from many local congregations, such gatherings allow us to see how God makes the ordinary holy.
May God continue to be with you,
Yours in Christ, Pastor Paul