From the Dean’s Desk: Our Story, God’s Story
The Very Reverend Paul Lebens-Englund
I had the good fortune of spending this past Friday night and Saturday morning accompanying this year's Confirmation group on the early hours of their annual retreat. In the midst of Camp Lebanon's beautiful surroundings, and in the midst of such fabulous company, I was reminded, again, why we do what we do: it's all about connecting our story with God's Story—situating our lives in the larger Life of God in whom, we're reminded, we already live and move and have our very being.

The retreat, beginning in literal darkness as it did, was simply a ‘beginning again’ of the life-long process of ‘turning the lights on’—remembering and recommitting our lives to the One Life from whom all life flows—and, in doing so, re-orienting ourselves to the true meaning and purpose with which God created us and (re)creates us still, if we're willing and open to it!

This fall’s Campaign of Generosity might best be understood as a five-week retreat for the whole faith community of Saint Mark's. It is an intentional time set aside each year for personal reflection and restoration—for remembering, re-orienting, and recommitting ourselves to the One Life from whom our many lives flow. It is an opportunity, framed and facilitated by your Stewardship Committee, to take an inventory of the myriad reasons for us to be grateful. And, finding ourselves grateful for God's presence and activity in us and among us, to share that gratitude in a concrete expression of financial commitment to the loving, liberating, life-giving Movement for which God created us and to which God has called us.

Our story here at Saint Mark’s is shaped by our participation in the larger story of God, which has been captured in the Five Marks of Mission:

  • Because God proclaims Good News in word and deed, so do we!
  • Because God nurtures the spiritual lives of those who seek God out, so do we!
  • Because God tends to the cares and concerns, the hurts and the hungers of the world, so do we!
  • Because God goes right to the source of those cares and concerns, hurts and hungers, so do we!
  • And because God makes provision for the earth's capacity to support life, so do we!

Over the course of the next five weeks, beginning Sunday, October 16th and culminating with Christ the King Sunday on November 20th, we, as a community of prayer, learning, and action, will endeavor to hear again the story of our place and purpose within God’s saving love for the world. And each of us will be invited to re-commit, again, our whole selves to joining in that mission—and, as an outward sign (yes, ‘sacrament’) of that re-commitment, we will be asked to dedicate a meaningful portion of our treasure to underwrite our collective participation in God's good work to reconcile and restore the world and each life within it.

It’s no small task, for sure. But, together, and with God working in us and through us, we can do infinitely more than we could ever ask or imagine!