One of the many ministries through which I have been blessed is working with children. In my former parish, I worked not only with our own children and their parents, but also served as the chaplain to our parish day school. As chaplain, I would try to meet at least once a week with the children during their daily chapel service. The service was very much a liturgical service with an opening litany, the confession and then some words about God’s love for them from “Father Bill” as they knew me, followed by song and prayers. It seemed rather easy at first to share with them the more obvious ways that we know God’s love for us, but then after a few months came the challenge when the obvious ways appeared to be exhausted. Rather than repeat what has already been said, how would I first discover for myself new ways that God loves us and then how would I share that with these very young people? It was a growth experience for me, and perhaps also for them. In the end, I may have received more spiritually from this experience than they did, and I would not be surprised if that is what God intended when he led me to serve as chaplain to a day school so far from my southern home. He opened my eyes and stretched me to see his love for me and others and gave me words and the opportunity to share that with his littlest lambs. What a blessing!
Our ministry as the parish of the Good Shepherd is not different. As individuals and as one body ‐ a parish, a diocese, a church ‐ we are called to share the good news of the Gospel with the whole world. That good news is God’s love for all people and all creation. To that end, we will work to discover daily the love that God has for us in ways that are known and ways that surprise, challenge, and shape us to be more than we imagine we could ever be. We will seek out and experience God’s love in times of joy and times of great sadness. We will seek out and experience God’s love in fellowship with those who are very much like us and with those who are very different. We will continue to be a welcoming church with faith in a God bigger than our theological and socially constructed differences. We will continue to gather for worship and fellowship, sharing the good news of what God is doing and being fed by word and sacrament, so that we may be sent out as servants to a world that is hurting and in need of the good news. Let us commit ourselves to constant prayer, that the eyes of our hearts be open to seeing in both ways old and new the love of God and ways that we can share that love with others. May God continue to bless you, Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, and our Episcopal Church as we seek to be a blessing to others.