The body of Christ is the fullness of God (Ephesians 1:23). In our brokenness and suffering we speak eloquently of God’s mercy. In our willingness to serve and witness we proclaim God’s goodness. In our varied ministries and expressions we testify to God’s abundance.
This issue of Let’s Talk is organized around Philip Hefner’s 1996 Hein Fry Lectures which sought to answer the question, “How is the church necessary for salvation?” Dr. Hefner’s response: by being a community available to God’s possibilities for the future. Pr. Kwang-Ja Yu shares where the church is alive and vital for her: in proclamation, service, and community. Bishop Kenneth Olsen argues that the relationship of all the expressions of the church—congregation, synod and churchwide—is valuable if not precisely necessary for salvation. Pr. Ruben Duran shares his understanding of how mission in our synod is shaped by word and sacrament. And Pr. Cheryl Stewart Pero urges us to pay close attention to the questions that arise from the African American and lay perspectives on church life.
A pastor stands at the altar, gestures toward the loaf and says, “This is the body of Christ.” She looks out to the gathered community and continues, “We are the body of Christ.” After a pause, she concludes, “Be the body of Christ.” In baptism and faith God gifts us with the Holy Spirit, through which we are the body of Christ. At the same time we are the fullness of God in mercy and mission, brokenness and courage, vitality and community.