The Church is the people united with God
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The Church is the people of God united with each other and united with God. St Paul wrote, "Together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body." (1 Corinthains 12:27).
The Church came into being at Pentecost. This is when the Holy Spirit came to the remaining apostles and they were filled the Holy Spirit and began to preach, heal and perform miracles. The people who heard and believed the Good News of Jesus from the apostles were baptised. Through baptism they entered the church and shared in the Holy Spirit.
The church is the community of believers. Although the building where they worship is called a church, this building is not the church - the church is the community.
We all have a responsibility in the Church
To be a Christian means being part of church. The community of believers is the church, in communion with each other and with God. Every member of the church has a part to play. The Church is the body of Christ and St Paul says:
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"God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable. He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly with each part caring about the others. If one part of our body hurts, we hurt all over. If one part of our body is honoured the whole body will be happy." (1 Corinthians 12: 24-26).
The parts lay people can play in the church are: participation, prayer, reading at church, altar serving, brining the offertory, music, and welcoming. We can also play a part in the church by taking part in the mission of the church to spread the Good News of Jesus by showing it in our actions and our words. St Francis said, "Preach the Gospel, use words if necessary." We can be part of the church and spread the Good News through what we do to help others and to make the world a better place.
There are formal responsibilities in the Church
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The formal roles are: deacon, priest, bishop, pope, and brothers and sisters in religious orders.
The mission of the Church is to bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth.
We pray for this in the Our Father:
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"Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
God's will being done on earth would look something like the early Christian communities described in the Acts of the Apostles:
"All the Lord's followers often met together, and they shared everything they had. They would sell their property and possessions and give the money to whoever needed it.....They broke bread together in different homes and shared their food happily and freely, while praising God. Everyone liked them, and each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved." (Acts 2: 43-47).