In recent memory, every time a new synodical president is elected, he presents a theme which is held forth for the congregations, people, and institutions of the synod to rally around. President Harrison’s three-fold emphasis – “Witness, Mercy, Life Together” – was unveiled last month. You can see the logo for the emphasis at the left (if you are reading this in the print version of the newsletter, the colors are red at the top, purple at the bottom left, and green at the bottom right). Based on three biblical words, it describes the focus of what the Church of Jesus Christ is all about. Here’s how Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations, explains it on his blog:
Witness, Mercy, and Life Together is the English phrase chosen for the Greek words Martyría, Diakonía, and Koinōnía. These activities describe the work of the church and are centered on the cross of Jesus. Martyría describes the witness, proclamation work (missions) of the church. Diakonía describes the church's work as a servant of mercy to those in need (human care). Koinōnía describes the church's life together with all its accompanying activities such as worship, schools, seminaries, church relations, et al. There are over 200 passages in the New Testament that use these words to describe the church's work, not including synonyms and other words … Just as a start you might want to look up 1 John 5:7-8 (Witness), Mark 10:45 (Mercy), and 1 Corinthians 1:9 (Life Together).
Here are those Bible verses and my explanations of why I think they were chosen. 1 John 5:7-8 says, “For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” The Holy Spirit works through the Word, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, and all “agree” as they point us to Christ. We use those same means to “testify” or “witness” to Christ and reach out to draw others to the Savior.
In Mark 10:45, our Lord Jesus says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The Son of God became a servant when he humbled himself by becoming Man and by giving his life on the cross for our sins. Christ’s work of mercy towards us sinners enables us to act with mercy towards our neighbors who are near (through the work of our congregation) and those who are far (through our offerings sent to the synod).
Finally, 1 Corinthians 1:9 says, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Through the Good News of the forgiveness of sins in Christ, we are called and gathered into the Holy Christian Church. In this Christian Church, we are intimately united with Jesus and with one another as members of the Body of Christ. In this “fellowship” we live, pray, and work together for the good of each other and the world.
This is a wonderful, succinct theme for all of us to remember as we go about our work as a congregation and as individuals who through Holy Baptism are members of the Body of Christ. There will be more information coming from the president’s office about this three-fold theme, and you can be sure we will make use of it to continue our “Witness,” to act in “Mercy,” and to learn more about what “Life Together” in Christ means for our fellowship at Messiah.
In Christ’s service and yours,