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Melanie Ahrens

The world can be a challenging place to live in if we do not have a relationship with God. With God as our focal point He helps us cope when we are faced with difficulties.  Before I became a member of this congregation I was a victim of abuse; I was a victim, I remembered each anniversary like it was a birthday, I was lost and confused. Soon I learned that God will also place people in our lives who have strong influences on us. One person He placed is in my life is Pastor Helen, she has been influential in my spiritual walk and it all began with a simple phrase, I needed to stop being a victim of my past and become a survivor.

Sure, those words didn’t set well however over time this statement changed my life. Where was I going to begin learning how to become a survivor.   I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and stop becoming emotionally draining to those around me so, by developing a relationship with Jesus I was able to turn my past over to HIM.  I then learned the meaning of true forgiveness so I would be free; by forgiving those who have caused harm to me in my life allowed me to find my true happiness in God and understand the healing grace of Jesus.

God wants each one of us to find true happiness and have a relationship with him.  As a result of Jesus’ death we have salvation; God used this (Jesus’ death) act of love to bridge the gap of sin and death which at one time separated us from God, and us from other people. God has called on ALL of us to become servants; we need to show others how to make the grace of Christ real in their lives but, first let’s start with our own lives.

There is a biblical concept of priesthood of all believers, it is important to understand the church and everyone’s role who serve in the church. All believers, laity and clergy alike are called and given the authority to be priests to one another. We have all been baptized in Christ and we are one in Christ. We all have a role to play by being a member in the body of Christ; in God’s eyes no role is more important than the other. Often times there is a misconception that pastoring/ministering is left to the clergy; when in reality it is left to ALL of us to be pastoring/ministering to each other.

Each one of us play a role in being a priest in our community. What is a priest?

  1. A priest functions as God’s representative in the world, communicating God’s word and shedding light on God’s will in people’s lives. A priest pronounces God’s word of forgiveness and healing grace.  As believers we give words of forgiveness by stating, “I forgive you” this demonstrates the healing of a relationship through forgiveness and grace.
  2. A priest also acts as the people’s representative to God. A priest intercedes for the people, going to God for the sake of the people, and offering sacrifices of love on their behalf. Each time we lift someone in prayer or we are giving of ourselves selflessly we are being the representative for them.
  3. A priest is not only the ordained clergy but anyone who has experienced the love, acceptance and forgiveness of God, and who helps others experience this grace as well. At one point or another we have experience the love God has for us and accepted Christ as our savior.  There have been several members of this congregation who have surrounded me with unconditional love when I have reached out to them. I refer to them as God’s vessels and I am reminded their words of encouragement are words from God.

There is one great high priest and that is Jesus, He is the supreme mediator between God and people. In Christ, the separation between God and humanity is overcome.

  1. There is only one representative to God and that is Jesus. He is the Word made flesh, mediating God’s grace and truth to us. The only way to the Lord is through the son and the son is Jesus. He is the one we develop a relationship with; which draws us closer to God.
  2. Jesus is our representative to God. He shared our humanity and loving sacrificed his life for our salvation. John 1: 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

All believers share this priesthood-in partnership with Christ. The members of the Christian community are a royal priesthood. As described in 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-10

1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-10: As you come to him, the living stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-5) you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

9)But you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10)Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

  1. We are part of the priesthood of all believers, each of us is called to represent Christ and share his grace with others. We need to stand with Christ in the gap to help those who have lost their way with God or we have a friend on the outside looking in; God wants us to extend a hand by using our relationship with Christ we bring them closer to God.
  2. We also participate in Christ’s ministry when we perform loving, sacrificial acts and share the good news of God’s grace and forgiveness. Live by example, how are we demonstrating the love God has shown us; we also must be able to have grace and forgive as God did.

The phrase “priesthood of all believers” doesn’t mean every person should act as their own priest. What it means is we are given the authority to love to be priests to one another.  Christ laid down his life for others to make the grace of God real; we are also called to do this. Demonstrate the grace, love and forgiveness of God to each other and those in need of a relationship with Christ.

The church is the body of Christ a place where people come to experience the love, acceptance and forgiveness of God. The Church is also the place where we have also committed our lives to Christ and also to the ministry of sharing God’s grace with others.

We all have a journey we are on and are becoming more aware of our role in being part of the priesthood of believers. God has a plan; a mission for each one of us.  While I was on the walk to Emmaus (Which is a 72 hour retreat; to help you individually to develop a relationship with Christ. At the beginning of the walk we are assigned a table group. This group was our family for the next 72 hours, my table was the table of Rebecca.) By the time Pastor Helen told me to become the survivor my faith journey was just in it’s infancy by the time I participated in the walk to Emmaus. Well, I experience a brief argument with Jesus, he was urging me to share my story within my group. I resisted very hard and I even remember walking down the hallway and verbally stating “Why? I am no longer a victim, I’m becoming a survivor.” Little did I know at the time; if Jesus wanted my story shared it was going to be shared. So by the discussion got to me; the words were just flowing from my mouth. In that moment I was ministering to someone else and giving them the strength they needed to share a part of their past they had never shared with anyone in their lives not even their spouse. They were also a victim of abuse.  In that moment I realized, the Lord DOES have bigger plans for me and I may not always understand at the time but, how can I question his plan. I share this experience with you because:

  1. We need to make Christ real for people; we need to embody Christ in all things we do in life; personal, family, work and leisure. The building we come to worship in is not the Church, the Church is a ministry of love; we are a community of believers in ministry, the royal priesthood whoever are the body of Christ in the World. Not only do we belong to the Church; we are the church, wherever we are.
  2. We need to be a gateway of God’s grace, share love, acceptance and forgiveness with other people. God has put in our had the keys of the kingdom, we have the power to bind or unbind a person by the way we share or withhold the grace God has given us. Words from God can be expressed in many ways; when a person is in pain we can tell them “God Loves you,” “You are forgiven,” or a simple prayer. For someone who is overwhelmed with life, a simple touch of a hand on the shoulder, the company of a friend, or an offer to help also represents God. There are so many different ways to represent God in different situations.
  3. In the world today there is so much darkness that surrounds such as narcissism, cynicism, and hopelessness; so, we want to be the light in the darkness and also become a promise in the midst of problems to help others overcome these things.

Our journey/mission is personal. The only person who can guide you on your mission is yourself and the relationship you have developed with Christ. Just as Jesus struggled in the wilderness with his own temptations we are going to have our struggles as well. We need to be true to ourselves, look at ourselves in the mirror and remember our relationship with God is personal and avoid religious language and stereotypes. We want to be a Witness for Christ in a way that is natural to us.

Our journey is spiritual; spiritual doesn’t mean after we have passed on it is about how we live today to the fullest in this time according to God’s will. Just as Jesus worked for God’s deepest desire for people in this world; live in the fullness of God’s grace and truth. This is our mission from God once we have accepted being a part of the royal priesthood this will help us interpret God’s will for people’s lives.

Our journey is service oriented we are reminded we do not act on our own authority but we are a representative and our journey should be one that demonstrates serving as Jesus served.

We share our journey, we work together as a team we are one body of Christ in this community and we must remember; we cannot accomplish Christ’s ministries alone, Jesus called along 12 others to share his life and his journey with. (Just as I mentioned earlier) I have had several members of this congregation I have called on to help steer me in the right direction or just in a moment of needing a little reassurance.

Our journey calls for our best, each day when I wake I have the free will to decide what type of day is it going to be. Each day is a journey in strengthening my relationship with God by becoming closer to Jesus and in doing this I want to ensure I put my best foot forward in attitude, ability and action. After all, Christ did give his best for us in turn we should do the same for him.

I was saved on November 11, 2006; my mother passed away on July 17, 2007 I believe with all my heart; me being saved at this time was part of God’s plan. Hindsight is 20/20 after all; then my younger sister was asked, “How is Melanie handling your mother’s death?” her response was, “Not too badly, she has a strong relationship with Christ.”  At that moment when I heard her retell me the conversation I realized I was being used as a vessel of God’s to show how coping with difficulties of this world which cause heartache we still find comfort of the Lord’s arms.

God wants Christians like you and me to become active partners in our journeys/missions; he calls on us to be the church. We are blessed with an opportunity to write our own modern day version of the Gospels, telling our story and how being active participants in the body of Christ we grew in our relationship not only with Christ but with others within the body of Christ; we became messengers for God to those of little faith. We each have a responsibility, a mission, a journey and that is to continue each day to make Christ real in our lives; share his grace so that others may know what God’s salvation is really about. We have the ultimate responsibility to be the church right where we are; it is about our personal relationship with Christ and being the example to others who strive to have the same relationship with Christ. Be a vessel/or messenger of God in someone life today. We are all called to be priests.

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