As you may know, the community of Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral has entered into a five-week period of intentional prayer and discernment, looking for the signs of God's presence and activity in us, around us, and through us as glimpsed through the framework of the Five Marks of Mission.
In yesterday's homily, I invited the Cathedral community to reflect on the particular culture and practice we wish to encourage here at Saint Mark's. Recognizing that 'teach, baptize, and nurture' is community-building language, yesterday's Gospel story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector at prayer (Luke 18:9-14) invites us to build a community in the Spirit of Jesus, who, so the story tells us, is far more interested in God's mercy than in our own merit, or lack thereof—more interested what we have than what we lack—more interested in what we are than what we aren't.
I shared a story of community-building from my early years at Camp Cross-a formation experience in which I learned that no one has everything, and no one has nothing, but everyone has something with which they're uniquely gifted to contributed to God's mission. We simply need each other in order to most faithfully manifest, as 'the Body,' the faith that is in us-put another way, we can't practice our religion in isolation, but only ever in community. So what kind of community do we want to be?
By learning together, committing to one another, and sharing a life together, we come to better understand not only ourselves, but each other, as well-each of us good, beloved, and blessed-and, each of us, uniquely gifted and commissioned to serve God's loving purposes in the world.
That's the kind of community we're building here at Saint Mark's: a community that is serious about learning what God is up to in the world, a community that is solid in our belief that it is baptism (not ordination!) that equips us for ministry on God's behalf, and a community that is unwavering in our commitment to discern and nurture the spiritual gifts and passions of each member.
We are, indeed, knee-deep in the work of community-building-sharing a life of teaching, baptizing, and nurturing the faith of each pilgrim with whom we share the journey. Are you in? Are you committed? Consider making your pledge today!
Now, ask yourself, HOW will I participate in teaching, baptizing, and nurturing today?
Idea: Reflect on this question: What part of the Christian story do you resonate with most?
Idea: Reflect on you own unique gifts and interests: How are you offering them back to God?
Idea: Discuss with someone else their unique gifts and interests: How are they being offered back to God?
Idea: Reflect on your 'rule of life': In the areas of 'prayer, study, & action,' where are you strongest? Where are you weakest? Where would you like to focus more energy this year?
Idea: Find someone whose faith you admire and ask them about their 'rule of life': In the areas of 'prayer, study, & action,' where are they strongest? Weakest? What advice might they have for you in the year ahead?