Pastoral Letter – Worshipping Together
August 27 2017
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. The commandment we have from him (Jesus) is this, those who love God must love their brothers and sisters. 1 John 4:16b, 21
This fall, we set out on a journey into unchartered territory. To borrow Brian McLaren’s term, we make the road by walking together with God. As we walk, we will be hearing the story of the Exodus, when the Israelites travel with God and Moses from Egypt, though the wilderness, and on to the land of promise.
Egypt has been their home for over 400 years. The people went there in the time of Joseph to survive a famine. They have prospered in the Land of Goshen but now things have changed so much it’s time to leave. By the grace of God, the people journey through the wilderness, with a stop at Sinai to get their set of rules for life with God, and then on to the land of promise.
St. Paul’s has been the Anglican church in Almonte for more than 150 years, and it has served folks well. But now thing have changed in the world around us and, if we want to continue to be an affective presence in this town, we need to become a church of the 21st century. So, we are on the move. The good news is that we don’t have to change our address to make this journey and we have the luxury of time to consider what we need to carry with us as we continue our walk into this new way of being.
The Israelites had Moses and the Sinai commandments. We have the guidance and teachings of Jesus. Brian McLaren refers to our journey as The Great Spiritual Migration. Our focus will be on living the way of Jesus, which is the way of love. To be clear, this is not just some warm and fuzzy feeling of niceness. Agapeic love is hard work. It is an unconditional concern for the well being of all creation. It’s hard work and it holds us accountable for our words and actions.
Agapeic love is at the heart and soul of the Hebrew Scriptures and it is the prime directive of Jesus to his disciples – which is why we will be adding the Shema (Hear O Israel) to our 10:30 am services (it’s never left the BCP service).
Most people seeking a spiritual home today are looking for safe, welcoming, affirming, nurturing, loving communities. We have so much to offer here at St. Paul’s: a rich diversity of music and worship, opportunities to learn and grow and put our faith into action, and a beautiful setting to inspire us all.
Henry Ward Beecher, a 19th century social activist and protestant clergyman, said that, every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith. It is my prayer that we can take hold of our tomorrow with the trinitarian handle of faith, hope and love, then work together for the common good.
As we journey together with God to this new land of promise, may our minds be open to the teachings of Jesus and his call to love be written on our hearts. May we lovingly support one another as we walk along, and may we never lose sight of ‘God’s lamplighting spirit that is dancing the way, through dark into dawning, from night into day’ (Paraphrase of a Bangalore Litany copyright © 1992, 2002, WGRG, c/o Iona Community, Glasgow, Scotland)