On Sunday, Aug. 10, Plain City will again celebrate its annual Be The Church Sunday. Of course we are called to be the church every day. This outward sign is a witness and an opportunity. The many service projects will witness to the compassion of the church for all her brothers and sisters.
There will also be an opportunity to share across denominational lines. We serve one Lord. Plain City United Methodist Church Pastor Blaine Keane frequently mentions how edifying it is that the churches in Plain City share in the joy of the Lord. Be The Church is only part of what the Plain City Church Fellowship does to build up the Kingdom of God.
The Protestant Reformation placed emphasis on being “saved by faith alone.” Catholics were criticized because of their emphasis on the importance of “works.” Martin Luther did not like the Letter of James, so he would not have noticed where chapter 2, verses 14-18 speak of the two going hand in hand: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone may say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.’”
Today we would find the argument to be meaningless. All Christians recognize faith is certainly the foundation and works reflect that faith. Be The Church is the integration of faith and works, a practical application. In the Catholic tradition we identify the Corporal Works of Mercy with Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew, “I was hungry and you fed me….” Be The Church addresses the corporal needs of families in the Plain City area through a generous giving of clothing, school supplies, baby items, etc.
The Plain City Church Fellowship sponsors a joint worship service in the morning before we set out to serve our community. Many of the service projects help Plain City by improving the Plain City area. It is about putting Christian hands together in prayer and works, not about providing free labor. Be The Church reflects another quote from the Letter of James, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only.”
Father Patrick Toner is pastor at Saint Joseph Catholic Church, 140 West Ave., Plain City. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (614) 873-8850.