Message from the Rector: 2018 Spring Newsletter

by fr. ben maas

I have been struck recently by how small my world can become, and it troubles me. Why do the relatively insignificant disappointments and tribulations of my children preoccupy my waking hours and even interrupt my sleeping ones? Why can I not recall tossing and turning in my bed over the child who has known nothing but a refugee camp, war, hunger, illness, homelessness, drugs, or violence? Obviously, I know I have the capacity to ache, and not just ache, but to be willing to move mountains for someone. How can I harness that love, that relentless desire to fix, console, and remove obstacles, or better yet, equip to ascend?

I think much of the power of Bishop Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding is that it got outside of the smallness of the moment. Despite the billion who tuned in worldwide, the attention and careful choreography, the considerable pomp, it was simply a moment between two people and their families. Two people found each other, fell in love, and decided to commit themselves to one another. Most of us have known the specific power that love has had on us, the magnetic pull that drew us to our beloved, that made every other person in the room fade away, that seemed to limit our ability to focus on anything but that one person. Curry invited us to think about the nature of that love, its power, its source. He then opened our imagination to think about what could be possible if we could channel that love beyond the smallness of our world.

Our instinct is toward the small, self, family, neighborhood, and nation. If the very nature of our creator is love, how can love be a limited resource? The reality is that much like any energy source, we struggle to cultivate, harness, magnify, and channel it. I do, however, feel that channeling it is our core responsibility as Christians. I also feel that the instruments that God has given the Church must be employed to that end.

I firmly believe that the deeper we dig into our story, our traditions, our worship, the more we will discover how to collectively reinvent fire, as Curry described it. To that end, our worship committee and adult formation team are dedicating time this summer to lead us in digging more deeply into our worship experience. All are welcome to attend our adult formation classes, which will move through the service week-by-week, adding greater depth and understanding to the various elements. Preparing ourselves for, acknowledging, receiving, and being empowered by God’s love are the essence of the Eucharist.

Furthermore, as we discern the direction of our Sunday School program, the children’s formation committee is asking, “What do our children (and our adults) need to know about God, scripture, the church, and our responsibility as Christians?” Knowledge of particular facts and details are beneficial, but the real substance is in knowing, trusting, and connecting regularly and deeply with the source of unending, reconciling, healing, and empowering Love.

We are also investigating avenues for creating constructive and respectful forums for discussing how our faith informs our response to larger social and moral issues in the world. We are moving outside of ourselves in dialogue with our brothers and sisters at First Baptist Church and with our companion church and school, Saint Luc’s, Trou Du Nord, Haiti.

Finally, we are taking a hard look at how we spread God’s love through invitation, welcome, and building meaningful connections. If we believe God is at work at Saint James’ Episcopal Church and School and is igniting us to be light and love in the world, then how eagerly and effectively are we sharing that gift, that transforming power with others?

It is too easy for our world to become small, even at church as we focus on the considerable construction activity underfoot, but God created a much bigger universe and has more ambitious dreams for us. So I ask you to examine whether your world has gotten too small and engage one another, Fr. Randolph, and me in broadening it. Because however we answer that question, I am certain that God is calling on us to love beyond!