GREETINGS FROM FATHER JOSEPH – June

Dear St. Matthew’s Family.
How will we be different as we emerge from this pandemic?
How will we be the same?
What needs to change?
What needs to stay the same?
How do we need to be the church for each other?
How do we need to be the church for our community?
And, always, What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in a world crying out for justice and hope?
These questions greet me every day as a follower of Jesus Christ and a priest. These questions (I am sure you have some of your own) are necessary as we continue to grow into the church that we were becoming before the pandemic changed our lives.
This summer is a good time for each of us to pray, think, and love into these questions, not only for St. Matthew’s but for the world. These days have magnified our greatest weaknesses and our greatest strengths as human beings, and when you add the power of the faith in which we stand to the conversation, God shows up and calls us to be disciples. We are the Body of Christ in the world (the Church), and it is imperative that we take the time to discover our way of being Christian and how our gifts can be a blessing.
I share with an excerpt of an article from the website, Vital Practices for Leading Congregations):
“It is these encounters with Jesus that we need to focus on. It is impossible to become a disciple of Jesus if you have never had an encounter with him. In essence, discipleship is responding to an encounter with Jesus by modeling your life after Jesus. Like all things in life, the details make all the difference. What does an encounter with Jesus look like, feel like, sound like? you may ask. It’s difficult to nail down. There are as many descriptions of an encounter with Jesus as there are people who have encountered Jesus. What is the best way to model my life after him? Well…if I had an answer that would satisfy everyone’s theology, lifestyle, culture and background, I would be living a very different life.
Proximity to Jesus does matter though. The charge is, “May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi, Jesus.” That the dust that falls off your teacher would wind up on your feet, your clothes, in your hair and that you might breathe it in. We not only have to have some sort of encounter moment, where we acknowledge Jesus in our life, we then have to find a way keep up with the movement that follows the moment! Too often, we think of a life devoted to Jesus where he is some sort of frozen leader that lived and died, and we know everything there is to know about him. This is a heresy. Jesus is risen. The Holy Spirit is with us as our guide. Being a disciple means movement. It means keeping up.
And good luck keeping up. It’s my experience that Jesus moves fast. The Holy Spirit pushes and pulls at the same time. God is still in the creation business and is doing a new thing and wants you to get the work done!” (“What Is Discipleship?” by Bill Campbell, March 2019 https://www.ecfvp.org/vestry-papers/article/745/what-is-discipleship)
Let us begin to explore what being a disciple means to each of us and collectively as St. Matthew’s Episcopal Community. These times call for a Church that is strongly rooted and reaching out in new ways. Join me in living the questions for the sake of the Gospel.
In Christ,
Father Joseph

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