This past Monday, the Spiritual Life Commission (SLC) gathered to consider the 2020 theme for our beloved parish. Each year, the SLC gathers at the beginning of the summer and undertakes this unique, but humbling, process of prayerfully deliberating on important aspects of our spiritual life as a community of faith. It feels really good, and most uplifting, to experience such positive vibes and energy from among our parishioners - all of whom are dedicated to providing us with multiple avenues by which we can deep our spiritual life.
One of the important ministries that has touched me ever so deeply, and for which I am eternally thankful, is that of the SLC members' writing of prayers for our worship. These prayers have become part of our liturgical character, and they speak to the real needs of our Christ Church community and our common life. For me, hearing those prayers on Sunday mornings lifts my spirits up for, to the extent possible, those prayers are an authentic reflection of the collective thoughts of our community.
Beyond Sunday mornings, the SLC organizes many other events throughout the year. One such gathering is the Christ Church Annual Parish Retreat, held in beautiful Rehoboth Beach each October. This year’s retreat is scheduled for October 4-6, 2019. One of our favorite people, the Reverend Kirk Kubicek, is on board to lead the retreat. All of you are invited to join in for a great weekend. In addition to that event, the SLC also organizes Advent Quiet Day, Lenten Reflection Day, the Wednesday Evenings in Lent Supper Series, and the annual Daily Lenten Meditations Booklet. On July 17th and August 28th of this year, the SLC Summer Book Discussion group will meet to reflect on the book Who Needs God by Harold Kushner.
"Why are all these important?" one may ask.
Well, the point of enumerating all that the SLC does to deepen our spiritual lives is to bring home the point undergirding our theme for the year. The text supporting our theme is from the prophet Ezra. I was lost when the quote came up, because I don’t remember the last time I read the prophet Ezra. He is one of the minor exilic prophets, and introduced the Torah to Jerusalem upon his return from exile. Although the historical context of the text maybe haunting, our main focus is to glorify the potential in each of us to rise up to the task that has been given to us.
And that task - our task - is one of bringing people together. Our task is missional. Our task is one of changing lives. Our task is one of exhorting and bringing out the best in each one of us. Our task is one of reconciliation, and of hope. Our task is one of changing the narrative of those who are on the margins of our society. Our task is one of blessing each other with the gifts God has blessed us with. Our task is one of telling the salvation story to the lost. Our task is one of bringing healing and comfort to the brokenhearted, the wounded, the fainthearted, the sick, and the possessed. Our task is one of providing everyone with a reason to sing again - to sing of God’s goodness. Our task is one of holding each other in prayer, supporting each other, and walking hand-in-hand into a blessed future. Our task is one of mending God’s creation. Our task is one of forgiving each other.
Our tasks are many, and varied.
Nothing fills me with an unimaginable sense of pride than knowing that the task God has given us is so wide, so broad, so herculean and demanding - and yet, so fulfilling. Perhaps one other task is to always remember that the strength to accomplish what God has given us to do doesn’t come from us, but from God Himself. That is why He encourages us with these words: Rise up. Accept the challenge. Take Courage. Go ahead and do it. Let nothing hold you back. Let nothing stop you, because you know what? Anything worth doing at all is worth doing well. That is why we wouldn’t stumble upon the task that God has given to our care, but we will, while counting on His benevolent grace, execute that task to His infinite glory.
Hear what Paul says to the Church in Phillipi: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” To me, our task encapsulates all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. We will not stop at merely thinking about them, we will do them - because that is what God requires of us.
Arise to accept the challenge. It may take a lot from us and require us to give our very best. The good news is that we can do it because the courage, strength, and capital to execute God’s task comes from the giver of the task - God.
Rise, take courage, and do it.