Dear Friends in Christ,
When I first arrived in Sacramento I learned that it was a city that prided itself on excellent Farm to Fork dining. But traveling around our whole region I see that it is a moveable feast of wine, cheese, olive oil, honey and nuts. I seem to have joined a “Foodie” Diocese - Hallelujah! We love to feast well.
We feasted very recently at the magnificent celebration of Ordination and Consecration. We had a repast of Word, music, preaching, prayer, vows, communion and sending out. Did you know that even the wine we used came from the hands of parish members who are vintners by trade? You could say that we got it straight from the source. This has been our pattern as Christians from the very start: feeding and sending. It is a key part of what a Jesus-shaped life looks like.
In the coming months we explore what it is to have a Jesus-shaped life here in Northern California. The idea of a life shaped by Jesus Christ is a very old one. You could call it by its formal name of a Rule of Life, or call it our habitus - the active practice of a believer. Or you can call it The Way of Love.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has offered us a wonderful tool for building up just such habits ourselves. In The Way of Love he has pointed us toward a very modern yet ancient movement where we: Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, and Rest.
As a Diocese that values both feeding the hungry and enjoying excellent local food, this is a natural for us - in this practice we are not only shaped, but fed.
Always, after feeding comes the sending. This is the rewarding challenge to congregations - of any size and location - to become deeply (or more deeply) engaged in our surrounding community. If God has pitched his tent among us in the Incarnation then we must do the same, becoming known as true neighbors to those around our places of worship. Each parish has a set of gifts that can uniquely meet community needs around them. Finding that overlap is the work of trust and the Holy Spirit and is a source of great missionary energy.
I do not know what shape all of this engagement will take. But one function of Diocesan structure is to bring up resources to the congregations where the flowering of mission takes place. In the coming year I hope to set up short term Resource Stations in several of our outermost areas. This means that not only the Bishop, but some of the team from the Office of the Bishop, will hit the road to bring resources and a listening ear to our areas that are not urban and are known for their resourcefulness and resilience.
I pray this will be a Holy Spirit led experiment in service and equipping, in feeding and sending. We are living in a time when a nimble willingness to try a new solution, analyze its effect, and try again, is key to our thriving.
I cannot wait to see how we discover and serve God in our years together. We have already set out, as the joined people of God, on the long walk of faith. We will certainly be well fed, and we will discover that it is, in fact, The Way of Love.