I begin a month’s reflection upon life in sacred community specifically as it pertains to life here in this parish at St. Andrew .
In his letter to his young disciple, St. Paul encourages Timothy to remember the faith of his grandmother and that of his mother. He writes,
1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.
1:6 For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands;
When I think of the uncertainty in the world today, the way both culture and climate is changing all around us, and how long held traditions and ways of thinking are being challenged and discarded, I am left with the questions, “What is being passed down from grandparent to parent to children to grandchildren?” If so much of the old is not being received, what is filling the void? What compels persons to engage in sacred community? I am asking this question at a time when young families are few in our parish.
I think of what we share here, in this parish. I think of the faith that has passed down the Eucharist for two thousand years: the holy remembering and sharing the divine act of unconditional love, solidarity, and redemption with life upon this earth. How we as a community of people gather at the table that was instituted by the person who for us has become for us, the Christ, God incarnate in this world.
I think of the prayers that are offered every Sunday on behalf of the world, the nation, our city, and individuals. I think of prayer itself, and how we are invited into community to share the work of prayer.
I think of the love and welcome I have experienced here and how so many others speak of the welcome they have received.
I love the way we walk every year the life of Jesus from conception to resurrection. How we are called in from the season following Pentecost to contemplate the mysteries of life, death, and resurrection. Every year we begin again. Every year we are born again with Christ. Every year we submit ourselves to the dying and the death of Jesus so we might be raised to new life with him. I love the fact that every Sunday we gather on the Lord’s day to offer the liturgy we have received from our parents, our grandparents, who received it from their grandparents from whom they received it from their ancestors, and we offer it not for ourselves but for the light and life of the world in our day, just as our ancestors offered it for the light and life of their day. And we see the impact of our work together. We see broken become whole, the sick become well, the stranger become family, the restless find rest.
I love the way we allow faith to exist here. How the dots do not need to connect, or the mystery be solved, or the questions be answered, or evidence be tangible… The power of faith is exercised here as we wait upon the Lord to bring forth what only God can do. I love how I have witnessed God’s provision again and again and again… because we allow the space for God to do so.
And yet… here we are… asking the question, “what is being passed down to our children and our grandchildren? What is the faith that is sincere in us that will be evident in the generations that follow us? What will be passed along to them when it appears that so much is not being received? What will echo and resound through this sanctuary?
I think we have come to a similar place the disciples arrived when they asked Jesus, “Increase our faith.” Increase our ability to see what we cannot right now. May we suspend our worry, our fixed perspective, our anxiety, and our fears… may we stir up again our wonder, our trust, our love, and our memory and remember… when we have trusted in the Lord, waited upon the Lord…God has done, God has moved and provided. We have become so daunted by all the changes and uncertainty of our times, and now we are anxious for the future of this church, this tradition.
Jesus told his disciples, You don’t need a lot, just a mustard seed. And then he told a story about how a servant should expect reward for serving. As if to say, You will always need faith, your own perspective, strength, and understanding will never be sufficient…
As we contemplate why this community of faith has become home for us, we leave space for God to make it home for our children and their children and their children’s children.