But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said,
‘When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.’
(When it says, ‘He ascended’, what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
Ephesians 4:7-13 is basic to what our Basis of Union (our constitution written at the formation of the URC in 1972) says about the ministry of the whole people of God, and about particular ministries to equip us all for this service.
You may find it helpful to look at that again now, while seeking to understand more of what God expects of us when walking the way: living the life of Jesus today.
19. The Lord Jesus Christ continues his ministry in and through the Church, the whole people of God called and committed to his service and equipped by him for it. This service is given by worship, prayer, proclamation of the Gospel, and Christian witness; by mutual and outgoing care and responsibility; and by obedient discipleship in the whole of daily life, according to the gifts and opportunities given to each one. The preparation and strengthening of its members for such ministry and discipleship shall always be a major concern of the United Reformed Church. 20. For the equipment of his people for this total ministry the Lord Jesus Christ gives particular gifts for particular ministries and calls some of his servants to exercise them in offices duly recognised within his Church.
Here are some suggestions for meditating on those paragraphs from the Basis of Union together with today’s verses from Ephesians:
a) Visualise and think about the components of ministerial service listed. b) What are the gifts and opportunities given to each person in your situation? c) How are you all opening yourselves to being further equipped? d) Who is being called to new areas of service? e) What is the aim or purpose of all this, in relation to Christ?
Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for your gifts of grace, in and through the Church, for the world. Help us to fulfil our parts in your ministry together. And to you be the glory, to all generations, for ever. Amen.
The Rev’d Bernie Collins is a member of Avenue St Andrew’s URC, Southampton, Convenor of the Mission Committee and a retired minister.