So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
We at Grace recently enjoyed the annual blessing of a pastoral visit by one of our Bishops. On Sunday, April 22, the Right Reverend Hector Monterroso, Bishop Assistant in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, was with us to lead our worship as Preacher, Celebrant, and especially as Bishop to confirm and receive four people in their faith and membership in The Episcopal Church. It was a great day, capped off with Bishop Monterroso leading us in joyful dedication of the altar stone near our Tree of Life Labyrinth. (I am including a few pictures below, courtesy of Charlie Spruell, so that all can share more fully in the wonder of that day.)
In the weeks leading up to the Bishop’s visit, I had the privilege, along with Vyonne Carter-Johnson, of walking with those seeking to be confirmed (known as “confirmands”) through two Sunday afternoon sessions of storytelling, instruction, and worship, meant to prepare our hearts for Confirmation. It was a blessing to share the stories of our faith journeys together, to recall the rich heritage of our Anglican and Episcopal Church tradition, and to gather for prayer and Eucharist.
A highlight of my time with the confirmands was a discussion about the ministry of the church and “orders” of ministry within the church. The Catechism responds to the question, “What is the ministry of the church?” in this way: “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” In other words, the church exists as an agent of reconciliation in the world. It is our core mission to bring people to God and together. Everything we do—in prayer and worship and proclamation, in working for justice in the world, and in administrating the business of this congregation—is in the service of our call to be reconcilers in the world.
As we went on to read about orders of ministry – laity, bishops, deacons, and priests, we found that as Church, we are not just to call people to be reconciled from afar; rather, we are to grow as an actual example of God’s love and the community that it brings! “The ministry of the laity is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ's work of reconciliation in the world...” The ministries of Bishops, Deacons, and Priests can be understood as vocations of upholding all the church, in various ways, in its core mission of reconciliation.
As your Vicar, I understand my calling as a priest is vitally connected to my ministry among you. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I must do whatever I can to support, equip, and encourage us as we seek to be reconcilers with God and others in this world. No matter what the task at hand – whether sweeping floors, hanging drywall, planting flowers, making music, brewing coffee, walking the labyrinth, picking up trash, or anything else--whatever we do, is to be in the service of this privilege of ministry that is ours in the world. We are in it together! And, God is with us to give grace to accomplish what we have been called to do.
In the coming weeks, we will continue to pray, to share and to learn in ways that will expand our capacity as a congregation to be reconcilers. We are in it together—for the sake of our friends, neighbors, and the whole world! And I am so honored to be with you on the journey.