Call Us Back
A liturgy for reaffirming baptismal promises for individuals who have been estranged from the Church says “We rejoice in your return to the household of God to claim again the promises of God which are yours through baptism. Hear these words from Holy Scripture: By grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of your own doing, it is the gift of God.”
One of the prayers in that service continues the attitude of restoration when it says, “Faithful God…you call us back to yourself when we follow on a different path. We thank you for restoring to the fellowship of your people, your servants _____. Renew in them the covenant you made in their baptism.” (Excerpted from Holy Baptism and Services for the Renewal of Baptism, Supplemental Liturgical Resource 2. Copyright ©1985 The Westminster Press. Used by permission of Westminster/John Knox Press.”
The joy and concern in these texts is a feeling toward people who restore their relationship with Christ and the Church that Paul commends to the Galatians.
While these welcoming, affirming attitudes are not in every church member, they should be descriptive of the manner in which people are invited to return to the Church after estrangement.
Countless numbers of people live outside the faith community because they have been hurt or disappointed by the Church and/or its people. Perhaps if more church members adopted this attitude of which Paul speaks, more outsiders would want to be insiders again.
- Paraphrase Galatians 6:4. Compare your paraphrase to other versions of the Bible.
- What hopes do you have for the ministry of your own congregation in the near future? How are these hopes informed by God’s eternal promises?
- Of what is your congregation most proud? Does this pride help or hinder your ministry?
- Most people who have been in the Church for any length of time bear battle scars. What are your scars? How can you use them to God’s glory instead of nursing the hurt feelings they must surely represent?
How Do I Act?
- Obtain a list of inactive church members. Identify some who might be restored to a relationship with the congregation. What can you do to help?
- Contact persons responsible for outreach or service in your church and identify needs you can meet.
- Look at your list of responsibilities. Are you carrying it with grace or drudgery? Ask for help if you need it.
- What projects or tasks have you started and not finished? Pick an uncompleted task and renew your commitment to it.