A Weekly Rector’s Notes Article, October 7, 2019
When Presiding Bishop Michael Curry announced the Way of Love at General Convention in 2018, he launched a movement in the Episcopal Church to examine where we have been and where we are going, through the lens of what it truly means to follow Jesus Christ. Through formation, study, media, and more, the Way of Love has come to illustrate the embodiment of what it means to be an Episcopalian in the 21st Century. At the local level, we have run with this theme for our Annual Meeting, our Lent Programming, interwoven it throughout sermons, and now it is influencing and informing our stewardship campaign. And, it makes a lot of sense really. For what do we ask in our stewardship campaign, but to support the work of the church, and how should we go about defining that?
When we turn to God, seeking repentance for wandering, seeking repentance for our sins, we also turn back into the love of God that envelops us, that surrounds us, that welcomes us back into the fold. The Church stands as the physical beacon for our turning, through worship, through the sacraments, we find God ready to fill us once more.
Our learning of faith, our exploration and journeying, our deepening in understanding, comes through our interactions as a Christian community. Whether 2 or 92, formation is a crucial piece of how we as a people come to know God and what it means to be people of the way.
Our prayer finds its home here in this place as we offer corporate worship, and goes with us out into the world. We learn to pray through the work of those who have come before, through the words we learn in our weekly offerings, through the education we receive in our formation programming.
We worship together in this physical place. We worship together through our robust and talented music program. We worship together in the sacraments of Eucharist and Baptism. We worship together with bulletins that have been provided for our use. We worship together to mark those Holy days that we hold as especially meaningful in our tradition. We offer space to worship together with all in our community when the need arises. Our worship takes work. Liturgy is literally the work of the people, and together we make St. Stephen’s our home for worship.
We receive blessing and we bless our community through the work that we do in this place and the fuel we receive to continue in that work in our worship. We bless and are blessed through the work of Radical Love, Winter’s Night, Family Promise, FISH, Music, Pastoral Care Ministries, Property Maintenance, Children & Youth Ministries, and those who serve at our worship services, to name just a few. It is our responsibility to offer out of the blessings we have received in order to insure that this place can continue to offer its many blessings with our church community and the larger community around us.
We are challenged with all of this knowledge and power to GO out into the world and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. St. Stephen’s is the place from which we go out into this world sharing this Good News, and it is in this place that we both come to know that we have the ability to GO and that we can always return here to be reminded of that reality.
Finally, we are called to rest, just as God rested and made holy the Sabbath day following the creation of our world. Again, St. Stephen’s is here to be a place of rest. To welcome you in on a Sunday morning to come and simply be. To enjoy our worship, our music, the formation and programming, to encourage our fellowship with one another with coffee hour. It is in this space for rest that we are able to recenter ourselves and once again connect with why we are here, in this place, and how we are called to grow and strengthen this place through our work and the stewardship of our time and money.
Over the next few weeks we will explore together how the way of love calls us into a specific understanding of how we are called to embody the teachings of Christ, and how that embodiment is expressed through the work of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. I hope you will join us this Sunday, October 13 for the official launch of our Stewardship Campaign, and consider seriously your pledge for the 2020 calendar year, with our official ingathering coming on All Saints Sunday, November 3. I look forward to continuing to walk in the way of love with you all.