Monday, June 6, 2016

Dear Friends,
What makes a church a Church?  First, I would say, the presence of God and the Holy Spirit and the presence of an altar at which we break bread and share in the Eucharist with our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Next on my list would be the Beloved Community.  And that is all of you, and me!  A  community of disciples seeking to share in the love of God together and with each other; a community of disciples who spread the Good News that God loves all people and shares that love with those with whom they come into contact each day. Empowered by the Holy Spirit at  Pentecost, the church has grown since the day of its birth.
Other than the hospital, the church is the only place where we come into contact and community with others with whom we have nothing in common, except the fact that we are Christian.  It is a place where we do not choose our neighbors, but are called to love them nonetheless.  That is sometimes a tall order.  At the Last Supper, Jesus left his disciples with a new commandment:
                            “Let me give you a new command:  Love one another.                                                                                                                   In the same way I loved you, you love One another.                                                                                                                This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—                                                                                                             when they see the love you have for each other.”                                                                                                        John 13 v. 34-35 (The Message)
The world will know that we are followers of Jesus by the love we show each other.  Ironically, it is sometimes harder to show love and forgiveness to our fellow church member than it is to someone who lives down the street and we don’t really know.  It is true that being church is hard, and I think that Jesus knew that that would be the case! And so he left us with these words.  We can argue, and we do, we can disagree, and we do, we can get frustrated, for sure; but in the end we are called back by love and by these words of Jesus.  This type of loving forgiveness and compassion  is often in short supply in our world and is a gift we can give each other.
I love this church and I love each of you.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t get frustrated or  irritated; after all, I AM human!  But it does mean that I am called back from those moments by love and by community.  The up-building of the Beloved Community of the people of God is an important part of each of our callings as baptized persons.
I am so grateful to each of you for the part you play here at St. David’s and for the opportunity to minister beside you as we seek to share the love of God with each other and with our world.
God’s blessing,
Dear friends,
Our “new” bishop, William (Chip) Stokes, is all about Christian Formation.  It was his passion at St. Paul’s in Delray Beach, Florida, where he was rector before coming here, and it is his passion as our bishop. Hence he has planned a Bishop’s Spring  Conference each year that focuses on Christian Formation.  He emphasizes that this is    lifelong learning—not just Sunday School— and formation “happens whenever and   wherever the people of God live into their vocation”.  And so I was grateful to attend the 2nd Annual Bishop’s Spring Conference last weekend with others from St. David’s.  It was a great day.
One of the thinkers about Christian Formation that we heard about is Maria Harris.  She believes that the church itself is an educator, teaching to and through various forms to shape us into the people God has made and is making us to be.  Certainly, our corporate prayers shape us into the people we are.  The Book of Common Prayer is a great teacher and “praying shapes believing” as we live out our prayers in our lives and in our various vocations. 
Harris talks of five curricula that together comprise the vocation of the people of God.  First is Koinonia (community) and speaks of the community that gathers us together.  When we are together, we learn from each other and with each other.  Second is Leiturgia, the act of prayer.  When we pray together, and alone, we are formed and strengthened.  Third is Didache, teaching, which includes discussion, preaching, learning, any activity that engages us in conversation and thought about our lives as Christians and where God might be leading us.  Fourth is Kerygma, proclamation, the message of scripture and our sharing it with others. Finally, Diakonia, loving service, caring and gathering, empowering and   advocating, our service to others is grounded in our gratitude to God. 
When we think of formation in this all-encompassing way, we can see that it is indeed  life-long and includes all of our life together as a worshiping and serving community.  Whenever we meet to discuss and plan, we are learning from each other and putting our faith into action.  When we go out and serve others in God’s name, we are modeling God’s love and extending that love outside of our walls.  When we teach and are taught, we are sharing our stories of God’s presence in our lives and the lives of others.  When we speak of our faith to others, we are teaching about God’s love in a profound way.
Whether you are serving at the altar as an acolyte, ushering, singing in the choir, teaching  or serving at the food pantry, you are a part of the formation of God’s people.  We model this each time we get up on Sunday morning and show up at church, each time we extend our hand to help, each time we tell someone about the way God is working in our lives, each time we pray.  Christian formation doesn’t begin or end at the Church School door.  It is a life-long endeavor which enriches our lives and the lives of all whom we meet.  I am so grateful to be sharing this life-long journey with each of you!
Easter blessings, Karin+