Last Wednesday we began our Lenten Study program. This year the “5 Marks of Love” is the theme we are using. It was developed by the Episcopal Monks the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) and is based on the “Five Marks of Mission” developed by the Anglican Consultative Council. The 5 marks of love are the manner in which we are to engage in our ministry of mission. They are a checklist for parishes about the peoples’ need to reach out beyond the church to engage the stranger. The five marks of mission are:
Why even refer to ministry of mission as a “need” we all have? Some of us may not recognize this need as his/her own, some may want to dispense with it, some readily engage in it. This “need” to reach out beyond the church community is not something new – it is a command from Christ repeated by him time and again in the Gospels.
In this morning’s podcast, Brother (Br.) Robert L’Esperance explains how the gospel concept of repentance – which literally means having a change of mind – is the essence of the kingdom, because it means that the world does not have to be the way it is. We have the power to change it. He writes,
What Jesus’ message is about is that we can choose to change how we perceive ourselves, and how we perceive one another. And the message is that we don’t have to see ourselves or one another through the lens of alienation or through the lens of being set in opposition against one another. So much of how human beings act, both toward themselves, and toward one another, is a mode of alienation, rejection, caution, suspicion, and Jesus says that there is a different way of being in the world. There is a different way for us to be in the world, with ourselves first to begin with, and once that is effected, then how we interact with one another. It doesn’t have to be—what Jesus is saying is that the world does not have to be the way it is, and we can change it. Human beings have been given the power to change it. So when we see evil in the world, when we see the problems of the world, what's the good news of the message of the kingdom is that you can change that. You have the power to change that.
I have a question for you: How can you make a difference in your life and in the lives of others? by Br. Robert L’Esperance
You know, if you look at this Gospel message from the perspective of its end goal, it appears impossible. If you look at it from inside yourself and then to the next person then there are two people trying to change the way we perceive others and act toward them. Eventually it does multiply. The entire world may not be reached in my lifetime or yours, but oh, what a change we can make in our lifetime. It’s never too late to start.
Please take the effort and time to be part of our Lenten Study on Wednesdays from 7 -8 (8:30) p.m.
Fr. Al Jewson
On Ash Wednesday the Church invited all of us to the observance of a holy Lent. The first directive we are given is self-examination. Self-examination provides us with an opportunity to deeply look at ourselves, that is, our mind-set about self and others and how we act toward other people.
When you and I examine the Bible as a whole and do not select a word or verse to defend our position about self and other persons, we are left with two directives: to love God with all your heart and soul and fellow human beings as yourself. Wow, what a tall order! The Scriptures offer many other examples of what it means to examine ourselves and our action; however, I would like to quote the late Fred Rogers, “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like ‘struggle’. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and how.”
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus started his ministry by quoting the Prophet Isaiah’s description of the work of the Servant of God: to bring good news to those who are oppressed, to heal the broken-hearted, and to restore all persons and things to the status for which God created them. Wow, another tall order! In other words, Jesus’ ministry, and now our ministry, is not to invite the “so-called good” in a special club and shut the door on those persons whom society in its distorted attitude considers “unworthy”, but rather seek them out and invite them in.
What this means for the mission of St. Paul’s is to reach out to those who live near and around our church and invite them in not only to join us for worship, but also, for fellowship. It means to be open to all persons including the homeless and poor (actually, especially the homeless and poor). If all of us take on this charge at church and try really hard to accomplish this directive of Jesus, it might just help each of us to become more open and accepting at home, work, school, wherever we find ourselves at the moment. Oh, that’s what Jesus meant!
I’ll end today’s message with a quote from an unknown author, “Diversity is the one thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.”
Fr. Al Jewson
Rector's Corner posts written by Pastor Rebecca.