Rector's Blog: Changing the Way You Live
How is this church changing the way you live in the world?
This is really the question.
Whenever you share about what you hope our church will become, whenever you consider our Vision of a Worshiping Community that Knows Jesus and Grows in Love, whenever you think about how you might want to get involved (or get more involved) with Redeemer, whenever you wake up on a Sunday morning and ask yourself, “Am I going today?” you are engaging with that question.
We engage with that question because we want to acknowledge that the Church exists for the purpose of participating with God in the reconciliation of the world. We ask this question because it reminds us that each of us have a part to play in that work. Our church, our faith community, is not meant to be innocuous. Our church exists as an agent of transformation and reconciliation in our lives – both individually and as a people.
This past Sunday I was reminded of one powerful way in which the church changes lives. If you were at one of the 10 am worship services, you saw it too. Parishioner Gretchen Carroll got up to speak about what her experience as a Stephen Minister has meant to her. You can read a transcript of her talk here. It is utterly inspiring. I won’t try to summarize it, but what struck me the most, both in terms of her description of our budding Stephen Ministry and in the way she described her experience of Redeemer throughout her years was something so simple and so powerful: The way we care for each other here changes the way we live in the world. And while we are trying to figure out how to cope and manage and survive every day, the way we are cared for by people here changes the way we live in the world.
Gretchen’s understanding of church was forever informed by the way the people in the church care for her. Stephen Ministry is founded and empowered by the reality that the way we care for each other changes everything.
Where do you experience real, practical, and unconditional love in your life? The church is a community born out of that abundant kind of love. Redeemer is meant to be a local expression of that Beloved Community – a place where you experience your belovedness and participate in the belovedness of others. My prayer is that you experience the miracle of being loved for who you are – and that you understand that love as holy.
Please don’t underestimate the power of this kind of love. When God changes the world, this is what it looks like. This is Jesus at work. This is the Holy Spirit breathing inspiration and power into our lives. Hearts turned toward each other. Hands outstretched to one another. We need places in our lives to experience love like that. We need places in our lives to practice loving like that. Communities of praxis – where we can practice taking care of each other and being taken care of – where we can practice honest authentic love in real time - have the power to change our lives.
Gretchen inspired me, and so many others on Sunday because she reminded us never to take for granted the way we are cared for in our shared life, and because she displayed how that care not only nurtures and heals us, but how it inspires us to reach outward to nurture and heal others. This is how our lives are changed. This is how we change lives.
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