A wonderful celebration of the Karen culture at Messiah Episcopal Church in St. Paul
There are moments, as the Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, that I feel like the most blessed guy in the world.
On Saturday evening I was able to attend the Karen Cultural Celebration at Messiah Episcopal Church. It was an evening of music, dance, and story telling that was incredibly inspiring. The Karen people are some of the most generous and caring people I have ever met. And through Messiah’s amazing spirt of generous hospitality, both those who had history in the community and the large number of Karen who have come to the community, transformation has taken place for all.
On Sunday morning I was invited to come to St. Andrew’s, Minneapolis to be a part of the International Heritage Festival. From the parade of flags from the nations represented in the faith community (Antigua and Barbuda, Cameroon, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States) to the brightly colored attire from countries of origin; from the festive African music to the cuisine from folks’ homelands…it was an amazing festival.
Dashing from St. Andrew’s, I made my way to St. Luke’s Minneapolis for their Centennial Celebration and Service of New Ministry. As I walked into the church, I was greeted by a sizable choir filled with a familiar cast of characters who were practicing a very dynamic jazz piece. This set the tone for a truly Spirit-filled celebration which honored St. Luke’s history and their clear commitment to use their gifts to engage God’s mission in the world around them. And the kicker was that this is the faith community that, at a previous visit, made a cake in the shape of a Bishop’s miter; this day did not disappoint with cake of a blooming flower and an emerging sparkler.
ECMN is growing in diversity each and every day. This diversity continues to expand our experience of the fullness of the Body of Christ. As our relationships grow with our sisters and brothers from a wide array of cultures and contexts, we will continue to grow into the people God is calling us to be – what a blessing!
With the beautiful yellow, orange, and red colors bursting all around us it was abundantly clear we were transitioning to the long season of dormancy. And yet, on this day, we were all about new life…about resurrection!
It began with a very imaginative conversation. Others were then invited to share their visions. This can often be the most challenging part of the process. Once there was clarity from this imaginative phase, the next step was engaged: implementation. And now that ‘it’ has come to fruition, any and all are being asked to reimagine all the possibilities.
Two weeks ago we held our first gathering at the new ECMN Retreat Center, located on the beautiful campus of Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault. It was a historical moment for countless reasons as we once again occupied the space that was the birthplace of Seabury Seminary. It was, at its core, a time for truly reclaiming our deep, missional roots.
It was also incredibly iconic of a Missional Innovative Partnership between ECMN and Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Missional, as in engaging and sending; Innovative, as in imagining – implementing – re-imagining; and Partnership, as in building capacity.
What I now invite all of us in ECMN to do is to begin to imagine all the possibilities of how you could utilize your new retreat center…especially as you and your faith community explore possible Missional Innovative Partnerships.
Standing there feeling incredibly uncomfortable, as if a bright light was being shined in my eyes, a moment of grace happened, and my focus turned to the front pew where my beloved and others were sitting. The occasion was the Church Divinity School of the Pacific Alumni Convocation to celebrate the honorary degree recipients, and I was humbled to be one of them.
Honestly, being complimented is, and has been for a long time, a growing edge for me. Thus, standing there in the chapel while a litany of accolades were being read was very challenging. That was until I changed my focus to the aforementioned pew.
The epiphany in the moment was that all of the cited accolades where shared. Family, friends, and colleagues are all full participants or teammates in whatever has been accomplished. I have accomplished nothing on my own; it has always been a team effort.
The consistent message I shared with those I was fortunate enough to coach, was that we stand on the shoulders of those around us, and those who have gone before us. That is, for me, the foundational understanding of what it means to be the body of Christ.
So with that said, thanks for being a part of the team…a part of the body of Christ!