When church comes up, and the differing traditions that still exist in America, I try to answer that "I am a Pilgrim. I am of the Puritan tradition that saw temptations of a number of European traditions to gain influence and authority in society through linking their life with that of the government, until they became official, "State Churches." So today the state church of England is the Episcopal Church. Scotland's official church became those of Presbyterial order.
One group in England protested against state authority by declaring themselves "Independent," separate from the state church. They soon were persecuted and so held their gatherings as congregations in secret, in defiance of the state with its sheriffs and bishops.
In the early 1600s, they fled first to Holland and finally to America. Their "Puritan" branch stayed behind, hoping to purify the English church from within. The younger more radical group decided to separate themselves and follow their dream by heading in 1620 to the new world, there to work out, in freedom, their vision of a church ready to follow Christ alone, and become an example of people claiming freedom from state authority in order to obey "Christ alone." They believed if they met together asking Jesus to lead them that He would do that, and be their guide in all things.
They settled in Plimoth and built their first plantation there. Their compatriots found their lives untenable in England and so followed the separatists to "New" England and founded the Puritan Colony of Boston.
The Pilgrims of Plimoth decided to write a Covenant by which they would live together by faith, in freedom. Each of their churches fashioned their own covenant, stating, "We covenant with the Lord, and one with another, declaring to live together as two or three gathered together in Jesus' name according as He is pleased to reveal Himself unto us in His blessed word of truth."
Our church in Edina committed back in 1946 to live together in the way, following Jesus, and gathering themselves together periodically in "Church Meeting," trusting Jesus to keep His promise to be with them and guide them.
The sign of Jesus' presence and leadership, was the degree to which they were able to achieve or come almost to unanimity. That enabled the earlier generations to report of their church meeting, "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us."
There are wonderful joys in living together, following Jesus, and finding His presence near, and His guidance alone, and right, and good.
But, in these fast moving days it is easy to grow impatient with the Church Meeting, and to want to take shortcuts in decision making, and to dispense with a process that involves all the people together, and say "let's have a few wise and faithful people make the decisions - let's not have boards and committees. Let's have staff and our council do the deciding."
It may seem more efficient, but actually many people who want to work for the church, who want to undertake projects, and meet needs, and witness to the wonders of life with Jesus, can feel cut off, left out of the joy of serving that really calls them.
People want to be sent out, want to be under orders to serve, want to be workers for the Kingdom. Let them out with their visions rising, and their call consistent. Open the doors and "go into all the world, and preach the Gospel, and heal the sick, and announce the Kingdom." It's time.
Love you all.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
|Arthur Rouner Ministries||
ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES