Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
We spend this marvellous Easter season learning with the disciples how to live into the new reality of the Resurrection. This Easter season brings St Andrew’s to our first full year of living into our renewed structure. Discerning 3 new mission priorities during COVID necessitated the integration of 11 standing committees into 3 Circles of Ministry and moved our leadership paradigm from single committee chairs to pairs of Team-Leads with set leadership terms. There has been so much change and so much learning! We’d love to share what we are learning as we walk this road.
- Structural change is a tool and not an end unto itself. One of my favourite musicians has a great line that goes: “I’m a new man, I wear a new cologne, and you wouldn’t know me if your eyes were closed.” Structural change for change’s sake is like wearing a new cologne and hoping it will change you on the inside. Only those refusing to open their eyes will think you’re any different. The significant changes we made to our community life are working this year, because they were born from the greater vision of who we discerned God calling us to be, in this season of our life. Structural change is born of a greater vision, and it is a tool for the deep spiritual and cultural change that is being asked of us as a parish and indeed of the church as a whole.
- Formation is the work. The church is first about forming people in Christ’s likeness, growing disciples, worshipping, and witnessing to the gospel. Being formed as disciples in community is the work, and it can feel like a fantastic impediment to getting things done! It is frustrating, humbling and amazing, and it is the work and heart of the church. Learning this has reoriented us and lead us to integrate spiritual practices; such as the examen and lectio divina, wherever possible in our community life. We are learning to trust one another with our faith, sharing openly during Sunday sermons, evening prayer and bible study. We created a parish-wide confirmation program so that all generations learned alongside our confirmands. We will offer a parish retreat to grow together through the sharing of our faith stories at the end of April.
- Trusting God: releasing and receiving. We honoured and released so much this year: our Women’s Guild drew to a close after 96 years of ministry; two of our 10+ year old outreach programs concluded; all of our committees ended. This took honesty, courage and great trust. We are learning that an ending is not a failure, but rather “for everything there really is a season.” We are learning that we have to stop, assess and leave space for the Spirit: good soil is 25% air. We are now seeing things grow in our community soil: partnerships with other parishes; we collected essential items and took them to the tent city in Kelowna; we now even have a choir! None of these new ideas/ministries are coming from or depend on the clergy.
- Responsibility ‘for’ not ‘ownership of’ is what matters in the work of the Kingdom. This year we took St Andrew’s name off the “The Gift” Farm-Garden as it became a regional ministry. The Farm is now tended by St Michael’s, St George’s, St Mary’s, St Andrew’s, members of the Mormon church, a Buddhist, and neighbours with no faith affiliation. Food goes to St. Michael’s Cupboard, and someone from St. Michael’s even comes to our monthly ministry circle meetings! We are the body of Christ together, and we take responsibility for kingdom-seeking together.
In the days after Christ’s death and Resurrection, the disciples didn’t initially recognize Christ, as He walked with them on the road to Emmaus. There are plenty of theological answers for why, in terms of what Christ’s risen body may or may not have looked like. It also strikes me that the disciples were carrying the story of death, grief, and deep disillusionment in their hearts, and they had to walk it out. They had to walk it out and talk it through, they had to keep going on the road, and tell their story to whoever would listen until they realized that the person they were telling it to was none other than the Risen Christ himself. He broke bread for them, and with them, changing their stories and their lives to those of new and risen life. The Risen Christ is listening. The Risen Christ is our companion on this road. So let’s keep walking, looking together, for where Christ is breaking bread for us and with us, so that we may become bread for the world.