Rector's Blog: Arm in Arm with the Holy Spirit
We have a vision of a worshiping community that knows Jesus and grows in love:
United in relationships of holy connection and communion;
Growing with people of every age, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic situation, and political persuasion;
Inspired by our understanding of why we are Christian, why we are Episcopalian, why Redeemer matters to us;
Sent into the world rooted and grounded in love to serve all people with compassion, humility, and faithfulness.
It’s natural when reading this vision to recognize that we are not yet the community we envision. Likewise, it’s natural to then wonder what things we need to do to get us there: How can we achieve this vision? The first answer, the Christian answer, is “With God’s help,” because we’ve always got to keep in the forefront of our minds that if we’re ever going to progress as a Christian community it’s going to be something we do in partnership with the God who is working with us in this world – not something we do on our own steam in order to prove to that God Above that we’re the right kind of people. If our vision is to become a reality, it will be side by side, arm in arm with the Holy Spirit.
So how do we partner with God in the work of living into this Vision?
I think a lot about the story of Jesus calling the disciples: Especially the fishermen. “Follow me,” He says, and they drop their nets and follow Him. There’s something terribly attractive about the idea of God telling us to drop whatever we’re doing so that we can finally start living right. Not because change is fun – it isn’t. Change is difficult and scary. It’s attractive because it’s fantastical, abstract, and out there. You know who you need to be?” We hear Jesus saying, “Someone completely different.”
But when we look at the story, Jesus doesn’t really do that. He tells the fishermen they’re still going to fish – they’re just switching to catching people. And he doesn’t tell them to abandon everything: James and John are brothers and they stay together; same for Peter and Andrew. Heck, after Jesus assembles the crew, they spend time hanging out with Peter’s in-laws and working around the local neighborhood. Jesus calls them into new work, new ways of being – but He also affirms who they are, the skills they’ve already developed, and some of the relationships they’ve already built. Which is to say, when Jesus recruits them to live into His vision of church, He takes them as they are and acknowledges their gifts and strengths, even as He pushes and challenges them to work with Him.
How will you participate in living into this vision? Start with what you’re already doing. Seriously. You’re already involved in beautiful work at this church. Before you think about dropping everything and starting something new, write down the ministry or ministries with which you’re already involved. Now that you’ve done that, go back and read our Vision Statement.
Now, how do you see the work you’re already doing as contributing to the realization of that Vision? Write that down too: “In my ministry of_____ I live into Redeemer’s Vision by__________.” It’s a powerful exercise.
Now that you’ve done that, look again at the Vision. This time, think about what kinds of things your current ministry might be able to shift. Think about how those changes within your existing work could help you and your ministry participate with God more fully in taking us to the next chapter. Imagine Jesus saying, “Follow me, and bring your gifts, skills, and relationships with you!” Then write, “If my current ministry would_____ we’d help facilitate our church’s Vision by_______.”
Email your sentences to me if you like, or to your Ministry Head or Board Chair! Share with someone who loves you this new way of thinking about the work you’re already doing. Share with one of your siblings in Christ some of the ways you want to see your work shift. It’s not everything, but it’s an important start. You are doing the work of locating the Vision Statement in your life as it is right now – not as you think it might become someday. And don’t undersell yourself: As you are right now, you are essential to the life, love, and vitality of this community. God is already partnering with you, already taking your hand.