You did not choose me but I chose you. I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last…

-John 15:16

I chose to become a member of Little League. I chose to make myself available to become the President of a Little League Baseball operation (Glad I did it, emphasis on the past tense.). I chose to become a member of the Optimist Club at one time. I chose to become a member of the “Buy Nothing New Paltz” group on facebook. So, it would seem that when I come to church, I choose to come here.

What distinguishes church membership from membership in just any other organization?

The difference is that usually we are invited to come to church by someone in ways that make no sense. Originally, I was asked to come sing as an extra voice in the choir for Advent for a church in my home town. Little did I know that Jesus would be waiting for me to claim my life. Clearly, I chose to go help out, but really, why me? Why did the choir director of my high school ask me? There were other and better singers than me. Yet, I was the one he asked.

The truth of the matter is that my choir director was moved by the Holy Spirit, by God himself, to ask me. When I was asked to help out it was Jesus who was asking through my choir director. Jesus chose me, really.

When we consider what it means to be a member of the Church, there is something higher and more profound. The Church is where heaven and earth meet. Surely, I know that the Devil is always trying to cause as much chaos and mayhem to discredit God’s church, but in the end, the Spirit of the Lord calls people to meet him where he guarantees that he will be there: where heaven and earth meet.

To be a member of the Church is to be a member of the Body of Christ, incorporated by our Baptism physically and spiritually into Jesus Christ. We intimately receive him into our bodies to remain connected to the Vine. We agree to keep his commandments because we acknowledge that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father but through Him.

Discipleship membership means that we make decisions for our lives based upon this faith. Church membership means our lives are part of the mission of God to renew the Heavens and Earth.

In short, Church membership means discipleship. It is more than agreeing to a set of terms. It means, we bow to the Lordship of God, who then builds us up. He takes our ordinary gifts we never thought twice about and uses them to make a difference in the lives of others.

Discipleship means we leave behind our notions and our prejudices (and predilections) so that God can shine through us. It sounds deceptively simple, but it can cause us to convulse if we are stubborn or sure of ourselves. It is not easy, as Jesus showed in the Garden of Gethsemani when he sweat blood upon giving up his will for the will of God.

So, have mercy on yourself and on others if you or they struggle with doing what you know you should. Keep offering your resistance to God so that he can walk you through the struggle to give up yourself to him. It may even take a lifetime to get there, but it is worth it. The new you will be even better day by day.

So, membership means discipleship. That is different all the way around. He chose you, you did not choose him.

Blessings,

Fr. Mark

Personal Notice: I will be on vacation from Monday, July 12 through 26th. I am delighted to announce that Father David Dumont from Trinity Communion Parish in Rochester has agreed to preside at the daily Masses the 12-15. If you should have an emergency, please call the office and leave a message. We are notified by email when you leave a message and will get your voice mail sent directly to our cell phones and can make sure your need is met.

Fr. Mark Kurowski

Fr. Mark Kurowski

Dean