As Christians, we are always challenged to be on the move. The stories of our tradition testify to a life of faith spurred to action, called out of comfort, inspired to cross borders, and compelled to press forward.
We recall the voice of God to Abraham, inviting him to move faithfully to a strange land; or to Sarah, promising that she would bear a child in old age. We think of the prophet Isaiah, who challenged Israel to “enlarge the place of your tent” to facilitate the enormity of God’s blessing that was promised to come; and Jonah, commanded to travel to the land of his enemies and call for repentance (with the terrifying prospect that they might be saved!). And, of course, we always lift up the witness of Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, who “did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited but emptied himself...being born in human likeness...and became obedient to the point of death,” as St. Paul proclaims to the Philippians.
To walk this life of faith, and especially to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is to walk a path fraught with change and transition and difference, through a landscape dotted with promise and hope and renewal. We walk this path for a purpose – that we may, more and more, accept God’s dream for our lives and enact God’s dream for this world.
The year 2018 was one full of promise and new life. You called a new Vicar, appointed by Bishop Doyle to lead this community. We worried about falling attendance and low school enrollment, and we prayerfully strategized to reverse those trends. We said goodbye to beloved staff and called several new individuals to support us in our ministry and life together. We experimented with new worship forms, with outreach programming, with new community groups and classes, with new liturgies, language, and music. We explored new ways of inhabiting interior and exterior spaces on our campus to facilitate connection, outreach and worship. We worked to strengthen the church’s bonds with our school as a ministry and outreach of Grace.
All of this only scratches the surface. Our journey in 2018 was fun and exhausting, joyful and frustrating, hopeful and irritating, invigorating and challenging, inspiring and stretching and exciting. And there is more to come!
Welcome to the life of faith in Christian community. And, welcome to Grace.
As I reflect joyfully on our Annual Meeting last Sunday, my prayer is that we will wholeheartedly celebrate the joys and accomplishments of 2018, honor the legacy of this congregation on which today’s good work is founded, and be inspired by God’s vision for this community in 2019 and beyond.
With you in ministry,
The Rev. Scott Painter
I serve as the Vicar of Grace. A word from our English heritage in the Episcopal Church, "Vicar" means that I serve as the priest and pastor of this congregation.