Archive for March, 2018

One of my favorite hymns to teach young choristers in years past has been Hymn 140 in The Hymnal 1982, and I urge you to take a few minutes to listen to this gorgeous recording. With its plaintive 17th century tune and text by John Donne it was seemingly far beyond their years, and yet somehow […]

via Undone by Donne — Notes for a New Day

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Originally printed in the March-April 2018 Evangelist.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Of all the liturgies the Episcopal Church has to offer, I am grateful that the Prayerbook includes Compline. It holds a cadence and rhythm of grace and rest that is so needed at the end of a long day. One of the Compline prayers within I have come to cherish most is this:

Be present, O merciful God,
and protect us through the hours of this night,
so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life
may rest in your eternal changelessness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I often find myself ruminating on this prayer at the end of a particularly difficult day. Change and chance are indeed wearying, but they are ever-present companions on the road of life.

We certainly experienced change and chance at St. John’s last year: staff transitions, the loss of some longtime members, and the joining of many newcomers. And in the coming year we will attempting further changes for the betterment of ourselves and our communities.

Because we can grow so “wearied” by change, I wanted to tell you about how we are addressing some of our upcoming transitions at St. John’s with planning and care:

The Associate Rector application deadline was February 5, and many well-qualified, gifted, and passionate priests applied. I will pull together a small advisory team to interview finalists, and together we will discern who our next associate rector will be, hopefully no later than Easter.

The Music Director search team has been assembled. They are finalizing a job description that will be posted by the time you read this letter. We are hopeful that there will be a wonderful slate of candidates to interview, so a finalist can be selected before I depart on sabbatical.

Presently we are blessed to have the Reverend Julie Luna with us as transitional deacon and seminarian intern. She has been faithfully tending our liturgy team, and she has been serving and learning in a variety of contexts under the guidance of a lay committee and her colleagues on staff. Julie’s time with us will end in May as she prepares to graduate. In June, God willing and the Bishop consenting, she’ll be ordained to the sacred order of priests. We are planning for that transition, and looking forward to celebrating the work she has done in our midst.

New vestry members and wardens were elected; now plans are coming together for our annual vestry retreat, where we’ll focus on vision and mission. This includes the work you heard about at Annual Meeting: begun by our Building Committee in collaboration with an architectural firm, and now discerning with the congregation where we want to go with our 1950’s parish house (the part of our physical plant that contains offices, classrooms, the gym, and adjacent rooms). They’ll be exploring whether a major renovation is in store, and whether other projects in our building are needed to better enable us to meet God’s mission in the decades to come.

And, as I said at our Annual Meeting, we are a growing faith community. Growth is by nature challenging. It requires adaptability and flexibility. It requires us to move over, create space, and welcome others with new ideas and new personalities.

To meet change faithfully requires us to work at our own transformation, and that can be wearying. As people of faith, we have to trust that the changeless One is always and ever in our midst. It is that Spirit that empowers us to work and serve in the midst of change. It is that same God in whose changeless presence we are given rest. And our essential selves share in that changelessness. For, if we are made in the image and likeness of God, then there is some unchangeable part of us that is colored by the Divine.

I’d like you to join me in the work of transformation at St. John’s in three concrete ways in the next several months:

  1. Pray for our search processes and for the people leading them and those discerning their call to come be our next Director of Music and Associate Rector.
  2. Spend time inviting the Holy Spirit to stir and inspire you to imagine what St. John’s could be. Share your imaginings and inspirations with your vestry and staff and one another.
  3. Welcome a visitor. Get to know them. Listen to their story. Tell them about St. John’s and about yourself. Invite someone you don’t yet know out for coffee or lunch.

I continue to be amazed by St. John’s ability to adapt, grow, reach out, rise to challenges, show up, and give for the transformation of the world. I am grateful for this place and its heart that is always seeking to be faithful. I am grateful for the ways in which you all help create community that nurtures, feeds, serves, and loves. That is something I hope never changes.



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