Wednesday, September 03, 2008

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him…might have eternal life. John 3:16

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Homecoming Sunday is right around the corner. We’re wistful about a fleeting, lovely summer. But we’re even more excited about a new program year heralded by Homecoming Sunday.

This summer I spent some time rediscovering the work of Henri Nouwen, a brilliant theologian whose genius lay in his ability to constantly reduce the most complex doctrine to its Christian essence. To a troubled friend he wrote:

All I can say to you is ‘You are the Beloved.’ And all I hope is that you can hear these words as spoken to you with all the tenderness and force that love can hold. My only desire is to make these words reverberate in every corner of your being – ‘You are the Beloved.’ Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved

How much each of us could benefit from hearing, accepting and living that message: The Father made me. Christ redeemed me. God loves me. I am his beloved. He made me exactly as he would have me. I am perfect in his eyes. I can do no wrong if I cleave to his purpose. That is what happiness is.

But how easy it is to lose focus. Our ego tells us: It’s all about me. My plans. My purpose. My perspective oscillating from the almighty I to the poor little me. And none of us lives in a vacuum. There are all the other egos flailing away to assert their relative ascendancy. Individually and collectively they tell us by inference or invective: I’m good. You’re bad. I’m right. You’re wrong. I’m clever. You’re not.

What a waste of this brief time God gives us on earth to love him, to love our neighbor and to joyfully journey home to him. The polar star of that journey is a realization that each of us is the Beloved of God. And that is our theme for this program year at St. Peter’s.

Each and every program, class, volunteer effort, outreach, meal, fellowship gathering, concert and worship service will be an opportunity to remind each of us that that we are lovable and loved to the core. This is God’s purpose for us and our ministry to him. We are his Beloved.

Jane and I eagerly look forward to seeing you for a joyful Homecoming Celebration on September 21. And this year we have more to celebrate. It is the 125th Anniversary of St. Peter’s and we’ll be marking the event with a gala at Southward Ho on November 23rd. More on this later, ‘til then…

Sincerely yours in Christ’s love,

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