This being human is a guest-house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Say I Am You: Poetry Interspersed with Stories of Rumi and Shams,
Translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks, Maypop, 1994.

Beloved Friends,

Current research and resources focused on church growth and development offer insight to communities who want to move forward in this 21st century context. While there are as many opinions on the subject as there are authors there are some common themes and criteria.

At this time in our life together I think it may be helpful to hear what many well-versed in this field agree are some of those elements:
-a community that worships intentionally and often;
-knows itself and moves forward based on vision;
-invites and incorporates new members;
-creates disciples;
-lives as stewards of time, spiritual gifts, talents, and money;
-empowers individuals to live better lives;
-cares for its own;
-reaches beyond its doors;
-fosters a learning culture for adults, youth, and children;
-communicates increasingly better;
-manages conflict to create fairness and peace;
and understands the need to be connected to the greater church.

I believe these are not only accurate and good reminders, but descriptive of much of what our vestry, guilds, committees and staff will be focusing on this year. We will also be called toward deeper expressions of these essential criteria as we head into the season of Lent a week from today- an intentional time of deep reflection encouraging us to be mindful of the interior nature of our journey leading us towards wholeness. This Lent we will have 2 additional opportunities to stretch ourselves; all are invited to pick up a copy of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book, Between the World and Me and then join in an extended conversation throughout Lent on Wednesday mornings and evenings as well as participate in the conversations after each service using Brene Brown’s new book, Braving the Wilderness. All of this- “this being human”, messy though it may be, is indeed a gift if we can for a moment let down our guard and be grateful for whatever and whoever appears on the threshold of our one wild and precious life.

Come home this Sunday and every Sunday- bringing all of who you are, broken and blessed, trusting that you will find what you need and leave changed for good and for God.

May you never forget you are loved.