As I sit in an airport in Florida waiting to come home to you I am thinking about in-between times- endings and beginnings.
Earlier this morning I preached at the closing worship service at this week’s CREDO conference- a time for Episcopal clergy to come together for education, reflection, rest and renewal. Today the faculty and participants thanked each other for a generative, tender, fierce, fun and restorative week and said goodbye. I have served as a faculty member of this program for the past 5 years and always leave feeling I have received as much if not more than the participants themselves. Each time I am also reminded of the breadth and depth of our tradition and how many wonderful expressions there are of what Presiding Bishop Michael Curry calls, the “Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement.”
As that conference now ends I turn my attention to the final details and planning for our Celebration of Ministry and Welcoming of a “new” Rector on Wednesday, October 10th at 7:00pm. And while I am not in one sense “new” anymore, now that we have been together a year, this liturgy does in fact mark an important shift for us together; a new beginning indeed. It is for me a significant demarcation in which we will hear through a Letter of Institution from the Bishop’s office that I am his chosen representative to nurture, care, love and lead this community as an extension of his ministry. We will renew our baptismal vows and be reminded of the work we have been given and gifted to do together through the grace of God.
Most of our lives are lived in the time we could describe as “in-between.” Today I give thanks that as things end and others begin we have a chance to be mindful of what both bring. Time to say thank you for what has been, as well as time to look forward with hope and excitement of what is not yet, and just around the corner.
Come home this Sunday and be reminded of both- the love Jesus so embodied that he had to say goodbye and go to the very end for us, as well as the promise of new life and new beginnings always available for the asking.
May you never forget that you are loved.
Help Us to Believe in Beginnings (-Ted Loder, Guerillas of Grace, Prayers for the Battle)
God of history and of my heart, so much has happened to us during this whirlwind year:
We’ve known death and birth;
We’ve been brave and scared;
We’ve hurt, we’ve helped;
We’ve been honest, we’ve lied;
We’ve destroyed, we’ve created;
We’ve been with people, we’ve been lonely;
We’ve been loyal, we’ve betrayed;
We’ve decided, we’ve waffled;
We’ve laughed and we’ve cried.
You know our frail hearts and our frayed history – and now another day begins.
O God, help us to believe in beginnings and in our beginning again,
no matter how often we’ve failed before.
Help us to make beginnings: to begin going out of our weary minds into fresh dreams,
daring to make our own bold tracks in the land of now;
to begin forgiving that we may experience mercy;
to begin questioning the unquestionable that we may know truth
to begin disciplining that we may create beauty;
to begin sacrificing that we may accomplish justice;
to begin risking that we may make peace;
to begin loving that we may realize joy.
Help us to be a beginning to others,
to be singers to the songless, storytellers to the aimless,
befrienders of the friendless;
to become a beginning of hope for the despairing, of assurance for the doubting,
of reconciliation for the divided;
to become a beginning of freedom for the oppressed, of comfort for the sorrowing,
of friendship for the forgotten;
to become a beginning of beauty for the forlorn, of sweetness for the soured,
of gentleness for the angry, of wholeness for the broken, of peace for the frightened and violent of the earth.
Help us to believe in beginnings, to make a beginning, to be a beginning, so that we may not just grow old, but grow new each day of this wild, amazing life you call us to live with the passion of Jesus Christ.