As my year and a half interim draws to a close and we all look forward with eagerness to Colin’s arrival after Labor Day, I have been reflecting on our time together and what it means to truly be Church.
All too often we think of church in a hierarchical sense … Bishop, Priest, Vestry, People … and I guess in an organizational chart sort of way that is valid. But, what I have seen here at Saint Peter’s is far from that business structure arrangement. We function more like a living organism with a multitude of interacting organs (not the big one in the back of the Nave).
An organism has a variety of parts each working with an interactive independence that enables the whole entity to live and thrive. No part of this organism is more important than the others and all are needed to survive and to grow.
I look at all the ministries we have as a parish and realize how each contributes to the whole and how we depend on each other and interact with each other. Sunday morning services come together not because of the person behind the altar but rather with a host of interacting parts (some often unseen). The altar guild prepares for communion, the choir and organist carefully prepare music, the priest prepares a homily, the parish administrator crafts the bulletin, lay Eucharistic ministers and lectors present readings, acolytes assist at the altar, the sexton has cleaned and beautified the church, the flower committee has arraigned the flowers, parishioners have prepared for coffee hour, Sunday school happens because of careful preparations of the teachers … Clearly when we come together as a parish it is not one person who enables our worship.
The work of the church happens because it is a living entity (a synergistic organism) with a multiplicity of parts (people, organizations) working together. Each organ laying its work before God and feeding the life of the church.
There are several passages in the Bible that speak of this synergy … how eye, hands, etc are vital for the body so too each of us is vital to the life and health of our parish and our greater church. And the parish and greater church are parts of the way God’s presence is felt and made known in the world. No part of that body is insignificant or unimportant, each is vital to life.
Who we are as church goes well beyond Sunday worship, the true work of the church happens outside the walls of our buildings and is empowered by our worship. Our future effectiveness as the hands of God comes out of the multitude of ministries and our realization that each part makes a major contribution to the whole. Through creative ideas, new ways of feeling the Holy Spirit’s presence, each of us makes God’s hands come alive for ourselves but even more importantly for the communities are us.
We Episcopalians worship from “Common Prayer”, meaning prayer we offer in common as a collective body. The life, health, effectiveness of us as a church, comes from us gathering in common and making a synergistic whole for God. May that spirit of God glow in each of us and may we come together to make the reality of God active and visible outside the walls of our buildings and beyond our worship hours. Amen … and thank you for a wonderful 15 months together