It almost always begins the same. There is great anticipation, great excitement, an almost euphoric high from the endless possibilities. There is an initial burst, a thrust actually, that launches you ahead.
It’s that way at the beginning of the bike ride, the run, the swim, the road trip or anything else – you just can’t wait to get moving. And thus were the first two years of my episcopate amongst you.
As such, let us take a moment – a water break if you will – as we begin the third lap together and have a look over the landscape we have covered.
Under the sign marked MISSION there is an ever-expanding group of Commissioners for Mission trained and poised to walk with our faith communities to greater growth and engagement of God’s mission. These are faith communities which encompass congregations as well as Breck, Shattuck- St. Mary’s, Episcopal Homes, Episcopal House of Prayer, ECS, Sheltering Arms and our Episcopal Campus Ministries. Next to them is a cadre of deacons and others holding a banner marked ‘Mission Project 2012′ partnering with ECS and others to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and provide for folks’ basic needs. On the other side are a host of groups meeting together as Mission Areas to share resources, collaborate on such things such as Episcobuilders, Youth Blast or a community garden. Dispersed throughout all the groups are a number of flat screen TV’s connecting faith communities to each other, to the Episcopal Story Project, to all the Internet has to offer.
Just down the road is a sign that reads MINISTRY where there is a flurry of activity. There are numerous small groups made up of laity, priests, deacons, and spiritual directors huddled together in deep conversation helping to discern the gifts God has given us for ministry. Directly next to them is a neon sign that flashes ‘School For Formation Now Open’, providing for individuals and faith communities to come together online and in person to learn about everything from ‘Theology Where We Live’ to ‘The Church’s Bible’. And just to the right there are countless faith communities of all sizes and shapes and ministry models – total, shared, mutual, Indigenous, multi-cultural, conventional. They are discerning, equipping empowering all the baptized to use their gifts for ministry.
A little further down the road there is one last sign that reads MANAGEMENT. Bustling around underneath the sign is a group of people organizing and planning gatherings from Convention to Meetings of Elected Bodies. Still others answer a bank of phones assisting faith communities with a variety of questions. Near them are a group of folks with measuring tapes and architectural drawings and maps of communities all working on property related matters. And just to their left is another group with calculators, slide rulers, stock reports and bank statements feverishly monitoring and managing resources entrusted to good stewardship for the engagement of God’s mission.
A sense of amazement and humility fills me for the blessing of the journey thus far. For things accomplished by so many, but even more so for the opportunity to share the journey with such incredible people in the incredible faith communities that make up the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.
But alas, I’m burning daylight. And that which lies ahead calls us forth with a strong sense of graced confidence, with Jesus as companion, the Holy Spirit empowering, and God ever-present as we engage mission across all that is the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.