By Pastor Stacey Littlefield
During worship on Sunday, we began a 10-week exploration of three Touchstones that will shape the future of our mission and vision at ECC. A touchstone was a piece of flint-like, black stone used to determine the quality of gold and other precious metals by examining the color of the mark left when the metal was scratched against it. Since then, its meaning has evolved to refer to a test or criterion by which we measure the genuineness of something, and, probably most helpful for our purposes at ECC, a touchstone is “a fundamental or quintessential part or feature” of something.
The Ministry Planning Team, the next phase of the Vitality Pathway we’ve been on since 2017, the pastoral staff, with the support of our church Council, proposes three touchstones to represent where we sense God is leading us. Over the next few weeks we will explore the touchstones of Welcome, Transformation, and Presence. We began this week with our first look at Presence.
Our mission at ECC is, “To know God, follow Jesus, and pursue God’s purposes in the world.” Presence fits within the last of the three clauses of our mission statement. That is, we “pursue God’s purposes in the world” when we empower and equip one another to practice faithful presence in our community and world, by loving God, loving others, and making disciples. We believe there is strong biblical energy behind our calling to be present in the world for the sake of others.
For starters, God demonstrated his own heart for creation in the Incarnation – when he took on flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1.14). And he calls us to be like yeast working through a batch of dough (Matthew 13.33), transforming our world simply by being in it and being faithful to who God calls us to be.
Likewise, the Apostle Paul reminds us by his example that wherever we go, we go as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5.20). We who have been reconciled to God live out and proclaim the message of reconciliation; we carry with us the ministry of reconciliation. As we are transformed by the Spirit of God, we become agents of transformation in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, and places of work.
Finally, when Jesus had risen from the dead, he appeared to his disciples, saying, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” (John 20.21). We, like Jesus, are sent into the world to pursue God’s purposes.
Because God is a sending God, and because he has empowered us with the gift of his Holy Spirit, we seek to engage our relationships and world by being and bringing the good news of Christ Jesus wherever we are.
The ministries we serve, the initiatives we launch, and the lives we live outside of ECC environments and contexts, are all places in which God is present in us and through us.
Our corporate worship, our classes, our retreats, as well as our own personal spiritual practices transform us so that, through us, God might transform the world. In how we live our lives and in where we serve the greater mission of ECC, we know we have been sent to be agents of change and redemption.