United – Following Jesus into God’s Mission

It opened with a hymn which was central  in the litany and the lessons. And lest there be any doubt, the preacher, Bishop  Lee of Chicago, made very clear that this day was about following Jesus to join in God’s mission.

Now if you have been hanging out in the Episcopal Church of Minnesota (ECMN) for any time, the above description would seem quite normative. However, at the Ordination of a Bishop in Fort Wayne, Indiana on a beautiful June day, this may not be what you would expect. That is, unless the person being ordained is long time Rector, Doug Sparks.

Doug was very clear from the beginning that this day was not about him. Rather, this was an opportunity for the Episcopal Church in Northern Indiana to affirm their gifts and commitment to follow in the Way of Jesus and to join in God’s mission. Absent were the old vestiges of “holy coronation” or “princely bishop”. This festive gathering was about encouraging everyone to use the gifts that God had given them to bring love and reconciliation to a very hurting world.

A truly Spirit-filled gathering, made even more so by standing next to a Lutheran Bishop in a Lutheran faith community where the ordination was taking place, as we sang out together  our common call to God’s mission:

We all are one in mission; we all are one in call,
our varied gifts united by Christ, the Lord of all.
A single, great commission compels us from above
To plan and work together that all may know Christ’s love.

We all are called for service to witness in God’s name.
Our ministries are different our purpose is the same:
To touch the lives of others by God’s surprising grace,
So people of all nations may feel God’s warm embrace.

Now let us be united and let our song be heard.
Now let us be a vessel for God’s redeeming Word.
We all are one in mission, we all are one in call,
Our varied gifts united by Christ, the Lord of all.
(Text by Rusty Edwards, b. 1955)

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