Saint Mark’s Cathedral, Mpls
TVR Paul J. Lebens-Englund
Friday, 10.23.20
 
O God, by your grace you have called us in this Diocese to a goodly fellowship of faith.
Bless Bishop Loya, our people and our clergy.
Grant that your Word may be truly preached and truly heard,
your Sacraments faithfully administered and faithfully received.
By your Spirit, fashion our lives according to the example of your Son,
and grant that we may show the power of your love to all among whom we live;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Book of Common Prayer, ‘For the Diocese,’ p.817
 
Dear Saint Markans,
 
Grace and peace to you! I pray this note finds you and yours safe and well.
 
I continue to give thanks for the many creative ways you’re all continuing to connect and to support one another as we persist in our shared commitment to the practices of prayer and learning and service. Though our buildings remain closed, as a faith community, we remain wide open to the movement of God’s Holy Spirit in, among, and around us – and our primary work remains that of discerning and deciding how best to join God in God’s mission wherever we find ourselves in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
 
The good news is that the Church has been trending this direction for a good while, as any wonk can demonstrate by the number of book titles on their bookshelf that include the word ‘missional.’ To be ‘missional’ is to be purposefully and practically swept up in the unpredictable, uncontrollable movement of the Holy Spirit, whose sustaining breath shapes and sends the Church into the world as Christ’s ‘Risen Body,’ to share good news, to nurture believers, to heal wounds, to turn tables, and to renew the life of the earth. No small task, but we don’t do it alone. We practice our ‘discipleship’ (‘follower-ship’) among a community of ‘disciples,’ each of us discerning and dedicating the gifts we’ve been given to make our own unique contribution to this holy work.
 
While we’ve tended, in the Church, to see the systems and structures within which we live and serve as ‘given,’ it’s our focus on getting back to the basics of Christian ‘discipleship’ (specifically, ‘those who follow Jesus as Lord’) that remind us the only ‘given’ is God and that every human response to God (anthropological, phenomenological) is always secondary and temporary – including big gothic cathedrals that are intended to point to God’s eternity, not to claim it for themselves. We are, this side of eternity, always a work in progress – always a living response to the God who sends us to proclaim, to nurture, to heal, to turn, and to renew in our own time and place, in light of our own challenges and opportunities. Today is no different.
 
At this year’s annual ECMN Convention, just weeks ago, Bishop Loya outlined for us what he sees as the four guiding priorities for his episcopacy among us: discipleship, innovation, justice-making, and vitality.
 
He summarizes them this way:
·        Discipleship: Practicing the Way of Jesus
·        Innovation: Boldly Embracing a Changing Church
·        Justice-Making: Becoming the Beloved Community
·        Vitality: Growing Where We Are Planted
 
I hope you’ll give some time over the next few weeks to really dive into the Convention summaries and workshops archived on the ECMN website. They will help you better understand not only what we’re up to here at Saint Mark’s, but also what Episcopalians are up to all across Minnesota.
 
Again, none of us knows where the Life of the Spirit will take us, but we do know that if we love God and walk humbly with God, we will find that every time and every place is just the right time and the right place to be – and may we always be found there – no matter the building, no matter the liturgy, no matter the budget, no matter the org chart – may we ALWAYS be found there sharing good news, nurturing believers, healing hurts, advocating for justice, and renewing the life of the earth.
 
This is what ‘discipleship’ looks like for all those who are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.
 
Wishing you all well in the days and weeks ahead – praying that you’re finding meaningful ways to remain connected to God, to each other, and to those among whom you live and serve and play.
 
Bless you, each & always,
Paul+
 
 
Saint Mark’s Resource Links
 
Upcoming Sunday Worship (10:30am & 5pm)
Upcoming Sunday Coffee Hour (Zoom, 2nd Sunday of each month: 11:45am)
Upcoming Monday Gospel Based Discipleship (Zoom: 12:15-12:45pm)
Upcoming Tuesday/Thursday Compline (Zoom: 8-8:15pm)
Upcoming Wednesday Formation (Zoom: 6pm fellowship; 6:30-7:30pm program)

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.’
Matthew 5:14-16