Corpus Christi is an independent Evangelical-Lutheran association which work for “churchly and biblical renewal among young adults in Europe.” The aim is for “young adults to be led into an Evangelical-Lutheran church life.” Primarily, Corpus Christi arranges since 2009 annual conferences, aimed to give young adults the confidence and joy to, on the firm ground of the Word and in forms that unite Christians of all times and all places, draw from the wells of salvation which the Holy Spirit opens for us in the Church’s worship, in biblical teaching and in common prayer and song.
Our name Corpus Christi means the Body of Christ. There are at least three meanings of this expression which also gives a vision for our work among young adults in Europe. The three points follow naturally after each other.
We confess Christ
The Son of God was made man by the Holy Spirit and was born by the Holy Virgin Mary. He was given the name Jesus and is Christ, the Lord. In His body, God condemned the sin of the world as He suffered under Pontius Pilate and was crucified. His dead body was buried, but on the third He rose again from dead and ascended later into heaven and sits at the right of the Father, eternally true man and true God. He will come again and judge the living and the dead.
We promote Christ
According to His great commission, Corpus Christi is called to teach baptized disciples to observe all that Christ has commanded so that they may for ever believe in the Triune God that has made them His own. We confess (and promote) the Holy Scriptures to be God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions to be the true exposition of God’s Word.
- The proper preaching of Law and Gospel is a gem of the Lutheran tradition given to the Church. The very aim of our confession and our teaching is to call people to repentance and faith in Christ, which is accomplished by the Holy Spirit through God’s law and His gospel. We look for clarity and purity in our preaching.
- The Small Catechism is the summary of God’s Word to be taught in all its richness, through inspiring and varying lectures, seminars, our prayer-book, books and articles. Every new generation (of youth) must explore this gem of the Church anew as an ever-fresh exposition of the Bible and what it means to be a Christian.
- The confession we make will also promote unity in the Church, as we are catechized and formed together (otherwise separated by different languages, national boundaries, and churches). This is also an essential task for the Lutheran church of today. As we meet from various countries and spiritual traditions, the catholicity of the Lutheran church and confession will be promoted.
- Throughout the history of the Church, the truth of Scriptures is always expounded together with other Christians. We learn from each other as we study together, and the richness of each tradition blesses the whole.
We confess the Sacraments of Christ
“The bread we break, is it not participation in the body of Christ?” asks Paul (1 Cor 10:16). What could be a greater blessing than participation (Greek: koinonia) in that blessed body that was crucified as a sacrifice for our sin and that life-giving body that rose again from the dead and lives for ever in heavenly glory? And we were all baptized into Christ, united with his death and his resurrection through Holy Baptism. (Rom 6:3) “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:5) and “one body (though we are many), for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor 10:17) The Sacraments delivers Christ’s body (and blood).
We promote the Sacraments of Christ
The sacraments are not merely pure doctrines, but real participation in the body of Christ, communion with His body that also creates a body, namely the body of Christ which is the Church. We become what we share. Holy Baptism creates the body and Holy Communion sustains it. Since the Word of Christ and the Sacraments of Christ are so essential in the life of the Church and in the life of every Christian, and for communion with the body of Christ, all genuine spirituality (worship, hymns, prayers, etc) will promote, enrich, deepen, lead to, preserve in Word and Sacrament. The way we worship and pray will affect our belief and our Christian identity, thus our worship and prayers must, in their content and form, shape this Lutheran identity.
Worship divides… and unites! Corpus Christi looks for content and form for worship, prayers and hymns that unite Lutherans (youngsters and elders, Norwegians and Americans, Christians of the twenty-first centuries and of the first). We do this in the firm conviction that these things promote the essence of Lutheran worship, namely the Word and Sacraments. Separate traditions within the Lutheran churches, whether they are designed for youth gatherings, for prayer meetings, mission festivals, etc, must stand back for the main tradition, the fullness, of Lutheran worship of Word and Sacrament. Corpus Christi does not condemn separate traditions, but simply want to promote the spirituality of Word and Sacraments in its fullness.
- Through a prayer book that follows the liturgy of hours (Prayer with Corpus Christi) and its use at our conferences, we want to promote a Christ- and Word-centered spirituality shared by Lutherans globally (primarily through the use of biblical texts, prayers and hymns such as the Psalms and the canticles, as well as Lutheran hymnody).
- Through the use of the historic liturgy of the Lutheran church, we want to promote a Christ-centered spirituality that sets Christ’s Word and Sacraments at the centre.
- Every new generation (of youth) must explore and experience Lutheran Worship anew as an ever fresh expression of participation in the body of Christ.
- A common language for worship and prayer (primarily English) will facilitate the fulfillment of this vision, but other languages (Swedish, Finnish, German, etc) may also accomplish this goal as long as the order of worship follows a Lutheran pattern.
We confess the Church of Christ
Wherever Christ is proclaimed and the Sacraments administered according to His command, people are joined to Him in communion with Him and all baptized believers in His body, the Church. This is a real unity (though hidden under the cross) which is meant to be a blessing to every member of the body just as the individual member is a blessing to the body. Since we are members of His body, we come together as Corpus Christi, and manifest the Church.
We promote the Church of Christ
Historically, many Lutherans have been divided by differing doctrines, but sometimes by linguistic barriers, by separate traditions, or at worst by human weaknesses. As Corpus Christi works for biblical and churchly renewal among youth in Northern Europe (and beyond), we promote a unity that breaks down linguistic barriers, a unity of Lutheran worship and confession beyond local traditions, and an international unity beyond local groups stuck in schisms and human divisions. Corpus Christi becomes, for many, a place of “fresh air” and an up-living and fruitful communion with other Lutherans. It becomes a larger fellowship characterized by positive identity (we have this in common) rather than negative (we are against). In the longer run, Corpus Christi promotes a Church less divided by national borders, local traditions, and human divisions but stronger in confessional unity – a unity our Lord prays for.
- Networking with youth/students from all of Northern Europe is important as well as being catechized and formed together in common worship, preaching and teaching.
- A network for theology students and young pastors is essential for the establishment of future leadership in Corpus Christi and in the Lutheran church at large (thus less “national”).
- A prayer book shared (and prayed) by all keeps us united in Spirit.
- “When we play, we play.” Corpus Christi has a positive attitude to the joy offered by God through the creation and through fellowship with others. At our conferences, we look for best possible ways of promoting networking and joyful common leisure activities.
On a human level Corpus Christi wants to promote a holistic view of man. That means care for one another, in both body and soul. Young people face severe challenges in today’s world (confusion about personal and sexual identity, pressures and sufferings from anxiety, eating disorders, depressions, cutting, corrupt self-understanding, lack of self-confidence, disrespect for the own body, to name a few). Lectures, seminars and other things at our conferences serve the purpose of helping youth with these kinds of questions.
Some of the leaders of Corpus Christi were – prior to its establishment – sponsored by Lutheran Heritage Foundation to attend several Higher Things conferences in the U.S., and were encouraged to establish an equivalent movement in Northern Europe. Corpus Christi was, consequently, established in 2009 and arranged its first conference in the summer of 2009. The conferences gather some 200 adolescents, leaders, and pastors from Scandinavia, Latvia, Germany, and England as well as some speakers (Rev. Peter Bender, Rev. Daniel Preus, Rev. Kurt Reinhardt to name a few) and guests from Northern America.
In the invitation to the first conference, Rev. Fredrik Sidenvall wrote: “The first thing we confess about the Holy Ghost is that he builds a holy catholic church. That means we are called to not just be individual disciples of Jesus, but together as living stones be built into the spiritual building called the Church of Christ. When we see churchlike structures around us that seem to leave out the Holy Ghost, and when we see spiritual movements that are ignored towards the Church’s life centered in the Word and the Sacraments, we want to say yes to the vocation we received in Baptism: to live with Jesus Christ in his Church, led by his Spirit and his Word. Our prayer is that when we come together from different parts of Sweden and the Nordic countries and from different Lutheran denominations and directions, the prophetic words of David may be fulfilled: Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. (Psalms 110:3)”