Sunday, November 04, 2007

Father Scott's Last Newsletter Reflections

This is from the last newsletter reflection from the rector who preached at my diaconal ordination. Sadly, he is having to retire for medical reasons. I thought I would share his wisdom...


Fr. Scott’s last Rector’s Reflections
The following is a collection of my main sermon themes over the last thirteen years as your rector. You have heard these themes from a thousand different directions. They are for me the essence of our faith.
FR. SCOTT’S CRIB NOTES ON BEING A CHRISTIAN
(Episcopalianism for dummies like me)
ALL IT TAKES IS A MUSTARD SEED OF FAITH
So often I hear people say that they do not have enough faith to do the Christian life. Or, they do not have enough faith to do a difficult thing. Bull roar! All it takes is a mustard seed of faith to move mountains. Believe with the little faith you have. Just talking to God is huge. Going forward in an action while talking to god is even huger!
PRAY AT ALL TIMES IN ALL SITUATIONS
Talk to God at all times and in all circumstances in life. Share all your thoughts and feelings. Do you really think he doesn’t already know them? Share the ugly feelings as well as the sweet ones. God has seen it all! His grace and love will flow to and through you just in the act of talking and sharing with HIM !
YOU ARE A SAINT
Yes you are! You are a chosen one of Jesus Christ. You are baptized and grafted into His Eternal Being. You have already in your baptism died to sin and been raised to the life of Grace. Use that mustard seed of faith and believe you are a saint! Let’s be clear here. You are a sinner. You are not worthy to be called a saint. No human, but Jesus Christ, is worthy of the title of saint. He alone was fully human and perfect in God. You are a saint only and totally because you have been chosen by Jesus and are grafted into his being in baptism. It is that precious blood that Jesus shed for you and me that makes you a saint. It is that mustard seed of faith that makes you a saint.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
You are baptized, grafted into the heart of Jesus! His life giving, empowering Holy Spirit is in your heart! You are as close to God as your heart. WOW! Say the name of JESUS when you are afraid. He is your advocate, comforter, guide and friend.
You also are not alone as a saint. We Episcopalians believe in the communion of saints. You at all times are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses – past and present, are more powerfully present than you are to yourself! Use that mustard seed of faith! Call forth the living spirit of Jesus and all the saints whenever you are in need!
WHEN GOD IS DISTANT, WHO MOVED?
These words were on a banner in the nave of the first church I served, St. Alban’s in Manistique, Michigan. When I feel God is far from me in whatever circumstance of life I am in, I remember this banner.
YOU NEED A COMMUNITY OF FAITH
You cannot find your salvation without a body of faithful to journey in and with! Very few make it to salvation in solo flight. Why would anyone want to go it alone anyway? Jesus willed that a Christian be part of the community of believers. Salvation is not just a personal experience. He came to save mankind. You need others. Others need you. Their faith and questions will support, encourage and challenge you. Your faith and questions will support, encourage and challenge others. It is in the church that we act out our salvation with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
THE CHURCH IS A BROKEN VESSEL
The body of Christ on earth is broken, less than perfect, hurtful sometimes, even totally wrong and corrupt sometimes. But, if you and I are members, should we be surprised? The enfleshed Body of Christ on earth, the church, will always be broken. It has had serious problems in every generation. We are called to use our mustard seed of faith to “hang in there”! Only Jesus Christ was perfectly human and divine. Imperfect as it is, the church is as valid a vessel, as are you in faith in Christ Jesus!
IT IS OKAY TO THINK OUT OF THE BOX
We Episcopalians highly value Scripture, Tradition and Reason. We enjoy ritual. BUT, we were founded and thrive on thinking out of the box! The Elizabethan Compromise in our founding history set a precedent. We believe we are called to one central cause – to worship God Almighty – FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT – in the dignity and faith and beauty of our Book of Common Prayer. Each individual baptized member is given the resources to seek out his or her destiny and salvation within the community of faith. We do not dictate to members. We encourage members to ask questions! It has been accurately said that trying to lead Episcopalians is like trying to herd a bunch of cats! How true!
THE INCARNATION SAYS IT ALL
Jesus Christ was fully human and fully divine. He showed us in his life and death on earth that God Almighty can take human flesh and bone to do his will. There is not one person or thing that God Almighty can not take and use to his Holy Purposes! We Episcopalians are more open than most, to reconciling with other faiths, to seeking the dignity and presence of God Almighty in all peoples and situations in this broken hurting world. Wow! It is no coincidence that Episcopalian laity and clergy often head up interfaith efforts. We seek and serve God in all !
SYMBOLS AND RITUALS ARE OUR FRIENDS
Bells, incense, music, icons, making the sign of the cross, vestments, words and symbols are used as often as possible to help us see and experience the reality we live and proclaim in Christ Jesus! Whatever symbols work to help remind you of who you are in Christ – use them! Whatever symbols hold up the vision for the community of faith – use them. There are ancient symbols that stir the soul of Episcopalians- use them. There are new and evolving symbols that call us to action in faith in our time – use them!
IT IS OKAY TO LAUGH AND HAVE FUN IN LIFE AND FAITH
Jesus wept. Jesus laughed, Jesus enjoyed people. Jesus enjoyed good food. Jesus enjoyed and even made fantastic wine. Jesus lived to the fullest in each moment. Jesus loved life. Jesus embraced his death. Being Christian and certainly being an Episcopalian calls you to a rich, full, exciting, intense and fun life. Thanks be to God!

1 comment:

Stephen Newell said...

Wow. Wow. Wow. WOW.

What a wonderful "practical Christianity."

May his tribe increase!