In the Prayer Book catechism, we read “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” This is our Episcopal way of repeating what St. Paul said to the church at Corinth when he wrote, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” As I reflect on our life together, I am hopeful that this parish will continue to practice reconciliation and will seek out new ways to make reconciliation happen so that this faith community will grow into its full potential as an instrument and sign of God’s kingdom already present, and that more and more folks in our community will know the love of God for all people. Thankfully, that unity does not mean a conformity of thought or action that would impoverish rather than enrich our life together. Like the beauty of our healing garden and fountain, the beauty of our community comes from the many different varieties of people and their voices that work together in Christ. It is through baptism that we all become “in Christ” and it is through acts of reconciliation that we seek to remain “in Christ” and with each other. So whether we eat meat on Friday, raise our hands in worship, speaketh Rite I, spend our weekends feeding the poor, drink wine and eat shrimp, or not, we neither pass judgment on another nor boast in ourselves. Rather, we find our common ground in being “in Christ” and we cherish and honor the diversity of life that is a gift of God to this parish family.
This month marks one year since I arrived at Good Shepherd. Thanks be to God. For the opening hymn of my first Sunday service we sang “All are Welcome.” It’s a beauty hymn and happens to use in its title the words that are something of a motto for the Episcopal Church. Let us continue to work together toward the mission of the church, keeping in mind our common grounding “in Christ.” Let us celebrate our differences and continue to make this a place where all are welcome.
In Christ’s service,