34. In our world,
where many journey alone,
nameless in the bustling crowd,
Satan and his evil forces
seek whom they may scatter and isolate;
but God, by his gracious choosing in Christ,
gathers a new community—
those who by God’s gift
put their trust in Christ.
In the new community
all are welcome:
the homeless come home,
the broken find healing,
the sinner makes a new start,
the despised are esteemed,
the least are honored,
and the last are first.
Here the Spirit guides
and grace abounds.
For the new community, see 1 Peter 2:4-7; for the attacks of Satan, 1 Peter 5:8-11; for the gracious welcome, Matthew 11:28-30 and 1 Peter 5:5-7.
35. The church is the fellowship of those
who confess Jesus as Lord.
She is the bride of Christ,
his chosen partner,
loved by Jesus and loving him:
delighting in his presence,
seeking him in prayer—
silent before the mystery of his love.
For the confession, see Matthew 10:32-33; for the church as the bride of Christ, see Ephesians 2:6; 5:21-33; 1 John 3:11-17; 4:13-21; and Revelation 21:9.
36. Our new life in Christ
is celebrated and nourished
in the fellowship of congregations,
where we praise God's name,
hear the Word proclaimed,
learn God’s ways,
confess our sins,
offer our prayers and gifts,
and celebrate the sacraments.
For the church’s worship, see Matthew 6:5-15; 28:18-20; Acts 2:41-47; Romans 10; and 1 Corinthians 11:17-34.
37. God meets us in the sacraments,
communicating grace to us
by means of water, bread, and wine.
whether of the newly born
or newly converted,
God reminds and assures us
of our union with Christ in covenant love,
the washing away of our sin,
and the gift of the Holy Spirit—
expecting our love and trust in return.
Matthew 3:13-17, with Matthew 28:19, establishes baptism as a gospel sacrament. That baptism is for children as well as adults and is accompanied by the gift of the Spirit is indicated in Acts 2:38-39. Titus 3:5 calls baptism a washing away of sins. Romans 6:1-11 and Galatians 3:27 show how it forms us as members of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:1-10 indicates that baptism in itself is not a guarantee of salvation.
38. In the Lord’s Supper, Christ offers
his own crucified body and shed blood
to his people,
assuring them a share
in his death and resurrection.
By the Holy Spirit, he feeds us
with his resurrection life
and binds us to each other
as we share one loaf and cup.
We receive this food gladly,
believing, as we eat,
that Jesus is our life-giving food and drink
and that he will come again
to call us to the wedding feast of the Lamb.
Matthew 26:17-29 and parallels establish the Lord’s Supper as a gospel sacrament. On the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, see 1 Corinthians 5:7-8; 8:1-13; 10:14-21; and 11:23-26. See also Jesus’ strong words on his presence in the Lord’s Supper in John 6:48-58.
39. The church is a gathering
of forgiven sinners called to be holy.
Saved by the patient grace of God,
we deal patiently with others
and together confess our need
for grace and forgiveness.
Restored in Christ’s presence,
shaped by his life,
this new community lives out
the ongoing story of God’s reconciling love,
announces the new creation,
and works for a world of justice and peace.
On the church as a forgiven community called to be holy, see Ephesians 1:3-7; on dealing with one another patiently, Galatians 6:1-5 and Colossians 3:12-14; on the need for confession and restoration, 1 John 1:8-2:6; and on living out God’s reconciling love as part of a new creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 and 1 John 3:16-17.
40. We grieve that the church,
which shares one Spirit, one faith, one hope,
and spans all time, place, race, and language,
has become a broken communion in a broken world.
When we struggle
for the truth of the gospel
and for the righteousness God demands,
we pray for wisdom and courage.
When our pride or blindness
hinders the unity of God's household,
we seek forgiveness.
We marvel that the Lord gathers the broken pieces
to do his work
and that he blesses us still
with joy, new members,
and surprising evidences of unity.
We commit ourselves to seeking and expressing
the oneness of all who follow Jesus,
and we pray for brothers and sisters
who suffer for the faith.
On the unity of the church, see John 17:20-23 and Ephesians 2:11-22; 4:1-16.