For the past month or so (since January 20th, the Second Sunday after the Epiphany) our lectionary has included readings about gifts and calling. At our Annual Meeting on February 3rd, we focused on using our gifts to build the Body of Christ as a reflection of God's love for us and our gratitude to God. Th
e theme of this year's diocesan convention was "Gifted, Called, Sent." I don't think it is any coincidence that this theme is part of the two post-Communion prayers in
The Book of Common Prayer.
In the first prayer, found on page 365, we pray:
"Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord."
In the prayer found on page 366 we pray:
"And now, Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord."
This is stuff of which vibrant parishes and dioceses are made.
Our conversation these past three months - Today marks the beginning of our fourth month in shared ministry!!! - has centered around how together we will witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ in this little corner of God's kingdom and beyond. We will be building on a strong and vibrant past, with a beautiful energy and spirit, as we continue our shared ministry.
We already do quite a bit in the community, so much that I am not going to try to list all the ministries in this message. We have reason to be glad of heart about this response to God's call on us, one-be-each and as a community. At the same time, it is important that we don't rest on our laurels, that we actively remember that we worship a Living God. Our ministries cannot be stagnant or static responses because, if they are, we are not so much responding to God's call as we are curating a museum of earlier callings.
This work of discerning our gifts, understanding how God is calling us to use them, and moving that out into God's world is ongoing. And that, for me, is one of the most exciting gifts we have been given. I look forward to the next months and years in ministry with you. I have no doubt that we will continue to live faithfully, grounded in our faith, nourished and sustained by our worship, in ways that help "change the world from the nightmare it is for so many, into the dream God has for it" (in the words of our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry).
Peace & Blessings,