Tuesday, May 3, 2016

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 worshipping 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+