Visioning

Posted on Nov 22, 2017

Over this year the Vestry and I have been meeting to engage in Visioning, that is we are trying to catch a glimpse of our calling here at this corner of School and Pleasant Streets. One of the central pieces of Visioning is first understanding what the mission is, and here is where we, like many of our brothers and sisters in Christ, get caught up.

We often ask ourselves, what is our mission, which makes a certain amount of sense, except the Church is not another non-profit among so many good organizations.

The Church is the Body of Christ on earth, and we are called not to our own mission but to enter into God’s mission. God’s mission is described in the Book of Common Prayer as: “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”(BCP p.855).

For most of us it is an uncomfortable way to begin our self-understanding collectively or individually, and yet this intention is the building block of what we are to be about.

It is unsettling perhaps because first we begin to consider God’s restoration of us, of me to unity with God. It is humbling to consider my own unity with God… realizing that the spiritual life is one of utter
dependence on God and that often times I usurp God’s presence and action in me; often rely on my own powers, my own awareness, my own loving, my own agendas, and that in the end these are not ultimately unveiling God’s mission even in my own soul.

The Christian life is not fundamentally about what we do, be it our time, our talents, or our money. It is about our surrender to God, and what God is doing in us and through us and around us as Christ body.

Scripture and our most venerable Anglican Eucharistic prayer give us a glimpse of what we are to “do” so to speak, we “offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a
reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee.” (BCP p.336, Romans 12:1) Our response to God is one of surrender not simply service, one of faith not simply belief.

Needless to say, as a Vestry and rector we struggled and continue to struggle in our endeavor to surrender ourselves to God and to catch a glimpse of how God is restoring this unity in Christ, and in this particular parish.

We struggle with our own agendas and concerns and struggle so deeply with that entering and viewing from within Christ, from within God’s life and activity. Sometimes I feel as though we are more often caught up in our own activity and “works righteousness” as Martin Luther put it, than we are swept up in God’s restoration. The fact that Luther struggled himself, and that the Church 500 years ago struggled with this very issue points to the deep patterns of the human condition.

The fact that St. Paul writes to the Romans and many of the communities of his time that this pattern so deep in us is at it roots destroyed by Christ on the Cross. And that as humans we are required continually to deny the self, take up our Cross, and to follow Christ. (Luke 9:23).

Please continue to pray for the Vestry and for me. We are not simply trying to put together a balanced budget, or run a more efficient institution, we are trying to be swept up in God’s mission to “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ” rather than being caught up in our own reactions, anxieties, and works righteous.

If you would please help us in this endeavor with that prayer described in our ancient scriptures, that surrender to God of our very being, the first fruits of our substance. (Proverbs 3:9) The more of us swept up in God’s mission the more vital and clear our vision will become.
peace, fr.justin