A message from our rector… (from February Keystone)

Posted on Feb 28, 2013

Reflections from Fr. Justin…


We are fast approaching Lent – the season of the desert wilderness with its themes of practice and toil in the arid garden of the soul. We have also just come from the Bishop’s visitation and institution and induction of the 27th Rector of St. Peter’s – that’s me. I would like to offer a brief look at the induction part of our Evensong for the Confession of St. Peter and offer a few reflections in thanksgiving for our life and ministry together.

The induction was the part in our celebration where folks from St. Peter’s presented me with great symbols and aspirations for our serving together.

The first to present was Dick Bower, our former Senior Warden. He brought up our old Bible – it dates back to the 1800’s and weighs more than you might think. It is a huge book and Dick presented it with these words, “Accept this Bible, and be among us as one who proclaims the Word.” “The Word” is not simply the words of the Bible, but the Word, the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity. Christ is the Word made flesh, the Word present in the scriptures, present in the community of the Baptized, the word darkly indwelling in the ground of our souls. To truly proclaim the word is to have the Word made flesh overflow from that ground, into all that we do. And so my practice, my toiling in this garden is to keep this ground clear of weeds, clear of obsessions, vices, sins and addictions. I realize very well that I am addict to my own self, yet as we toil away, God breaks through from time to time releasing us from our addiction and overflowing out through the growth of virtues and fruits of the spirit and true peace surpasses all understanding.

Deacon Penny Hawkins brought the pitcher we use at Baptisms, with some water inside, and handed it over to Bishop Ely who then presented it with these words, “Take this water, and help me baptize in obedience to our Lord.” We baptize people into the death and burial, the resurrection and ascension of Christ into the very heart of the Trinity. We are all destined for this unfathomable life that is heaven. By baptism we are committed to this journey; we get infinite chances and we may take every one of those chances as we are eternally reborn in the Spirit.

Next came Debby Dutcher and Vickie Cutler who presented me with the Paten and Chalice we use to celebrate the Eucharist. “Take this paten and chalice, and be among us to break the Bread and bless the Cup.” The Eucharistic dynamic is at the center of our life of worship and our spiritual transformation. We offer God all we are in the gifts of bread and wine during the offertory. When you see the bread and the wine, you see us, you see yourself, your soul and body, “our selves, our souls and bodies” as the Prayer from Rite I says. And God takes us, this bread and wine, and makes us Christ’s body, makes the bread and wine Christ. Then God gives us back, transformed as Holy Food for Holy People. This is the dynamic of the Eucharist; it is the dynamic of our spiritual life.

Next Colleen Gates brought up our Lenten Crucifix with this aspiration, “Receive this crucifix, and be among us as a man of prayer.” Our prayer life is that of giving up ourselves for God and for others. We are called to let God untie our souls, to die the only true death there is, the death of the self. And yet, Jesus is still Jesus after his resurrection, he still likes fish for breakfast on the beach, still knows and loves his disciples and his mother. Prayer is looking into the Divine Abyss of Love, letting God be all, in all, in us and in all the world.

The last to be presented were the 5 lbs. of keys. Our former Junior Warden, Wes Baker, handed over these keys with the words, “Receive these keys, and let the doors of this place be open to all people.” This place, this community must be opened to all people. The Christian practice of transformation must be opened to all people. We have a particular practice in the Anglican tradition, but it is never an exclusive practice, even if we tend to act as if we are an exclusive club in our more anxious moments. The beauty of our practice lies in the love that is born in us, in God made manifest in the Body of Christ, in each of our souls. May God make haste to help us. Amen.

Fr. Justin