Sunday, February 05, 2006

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19

With the Christmas season still a warm memory, January is both a time for looking back and looking forward. The ancient Roman god, Janus, for whom the month was named, had two faces – one focused on the future, one learning from the past. What an interesting metaphor for our dynamic Episcopal tradition. What an apt prospectus for all of us in 2006.

The rich scripture and tradition of Christmas reminds us of God’s promise to redeem His people. The Word was made flesh and the risen Lord still dwells among us – in our daily witness to His love, in our profession of faith, in our hope for the Resurrection. Divinely inspired Anglican scholars and theologians captured the authenticity and language of the evangelists and the prophets. They lovingly passed them on to us in the awesome power of our Bible. This scriptural message is adorned by our magnificent liturgical tradition, as was so gloriously proclaimed by in coutless parishes this Christmas .

But ours is a living tradition of both faith and practice. We stand on the authority of scripture, yet believe that God is active in our world and still has truth for us to discern right here in the midst of our journey together. In our living tradition the scholarship is rigorous. The dialog is candid. Our faith and practice are not dispensed by burning bush or dropped from ivory towers.

Ours is a faith that is constantly revived by a community of faithful men and women as we gather around the altar of God. We are part of a living tradition of faith whose certainties are shaped and become real to us as we gather as the Body of Christ around His altar.

In a floundering world, never was a Christian community more needed to be a welcoming family of faith, a refuge for the world’s emotionally wounded, a beacon of hope. In a world drowning in confusion, never were people rooted in Christ, more needed to stand confidently as breakwaters, turning back the corrosive waves of indifference and cynicism that roll around us everyday.

The Good News of the Gospel is that God loves each of us. He knows us. He listens to us. He forgives us. Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the future surely is ours. Here at St. John’s in 2006, you and I will put that belief to the test. Learning from the past will be useful. Dwelling on the past will be destructive. Seizing the future will mean letting go of past mistakes – yours, mine and others. With humility and reconciliation we will move forward together to the good that will soon be literally sprouting beneath our feet.

Next steps? Reflection. Renewal. Recommitment. Worship. Outreach. Instruction. Initiatives. Stewardship. All joyfully refreshing and renewing. But to paraphrase Mother Teresa of Calcutta, We will not do great things. We will do small things with great love. So working together in mid-winter 2006, let us each lovingly begin the germination and growth of good work to the glory of God.

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