The church: treasure in an earthen vessel

St. Paul gives us the image of a treasure in an earthen vessel.  The earthen vessel is the church — building, budgets, call committee, church council, etc. — Mt. Zion Lutheran Church.  The treasure is Jesus.  Without the treasure, the earthen vessel is just another ordinary clay pot.  Without Jesus, the church is just another social organization.

It’s the treasure that gives the vessel its worth; it’s Jesus that gives worth to the church.

Interim discussions

In the interim it will be tempting to put all of our time and energy into discussions about the vessel and, as a result, lose sight of the treasure, so let’s take a few minutes to remind ourselves again what Jesus was about. We are not just members of Mt. Zion; we are, first and foremost, disciples of Jesus.

The kingdom of God

Jesus was passionate about the Kingdom of God (Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be they name, thy kingdom come). The kingdom is not heaven.  The kingdom of God is for the earth (thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven).

The kingdom of God is what the world would look like if God were the ruler and not all the other rulers of the world (Trump, Obama, May, Merkle, and the like). The Kingdom of God is God’s dream for the earth:  the poor have good news brought to them, the bound (by addictions, e.g.) are set free, the estranged are reconciled, the sick are healed, the hungry are fed, the prisoners are visited, the strangers are welcomed.

Dream-keepers or dream-killers?

And we who are disciples of Jesus are the dream-keepers.  We keep the dream alive in our time and place. With dream-keepers come dream-killers.  In today’s gospel, note that the man with the unclean spirit

  1. knew Jesus and
  2. was part of the gathered community.

Dream-killers in the church know Jesus and are regular attenders of the gathered community.  Dream-killers value the vessel more than the treasure. They are more loyal to an ideology, a political party, or a particular leader than Jesus.

The interim involves embarking on a mission exploration process, developing a ministry site profile, and coming up with a profile of the kind of pastor you’re looking for.  There will be a lot of vessel talk and the process can be a long and tedious.   So it’s important not to lose sight of the question that drives the entire process:  how can we keep the God’s dream alive in our time and place?

~ Pastor Steven Wohlfeil, guest pastor

Gospel: Mark 1:21-28

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.


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