Thursday, August 4

Almost Weekly Update

reconciler's altar
reconciler's altar,
originally uploaded by AngloBaptist.
I am speaking the truth in Christ--I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit-- I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. - Romans 9:1-5

This was the epistle reading from last Sunday’s lectionary. Paul struggles with his feelings for his community and his call to follow Christ. Sometimes, in the midst of our trouble, we can find ourselves wrestling with who we are, as Paul did, and what God might desire of us. This has certainly been my personal struggle lately. My ministry at the hospital is coming to an end on August 31st. I know that I am called to the work that is Reconciler, but the struggle to trust God and to allow for the vocation to lead me has been occupying much of my thinking. It is no easy task. I find myself resonating with the tale of Jacob and the “man” that he wrestles until dawn in our tale from Genesis.

Alone in the dark, I wrestle with God. But, as they say, hope comes with the dawn and our gospel reading for this coming Sunday offers a word of salvation.

But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid."
Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."
He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"
When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
- Matthew 14:27-33

I am often the one with “little faith.” I am not so sure that makes me all that unusual. It appears that I may be in very good company. Peter and the disciples struggle with their faith in Christ as he gently leads them into being his Church. Perhaps, for some of us, our work at Reconciler can feel this way. It is wrestling in the darkness. It can feel as plausible as walking on water. But this impossible task, we believe, is the work of the Spirit prompted by Christ’s pronouncement, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

It is with this in mind that I invite us to embark on the upcoming autumn. On August 16th, the Pastoral Team will be meeting with a group from Immanuel Lutheran Church on Elmdale to discuss the possibility of using their chapel for our liturgy. We will let you know what comes of that conversation. Also, St Gertrude Catholic Parish has expressed a willingness to explore hosting us. That conversation too is ongoing.

Pencil us in on Saturday, October 15 at noon at North Shore Baptist Church. All are invited to a discussion group that day. The Pastoral Team is organizing a gathering where pastors and theologians from the three representative traditions of Reconciler will help us further articulate the vision of our congregation. We are seeking clarity about how we will continue the formal affiliation processes and exploring ideas of how this congregation will grow.

Finally, as this is still the summer, vacations are taking their lovely toll upon us. Jane and I will be away this weekend on vacation…separately. Jane will be with her family driving westward to Montana. I will stay in Chicago with Trish. We are taking the week off to sit back and do little.

As August winds down, you will begin to see a more regular attendance from the Pastoral Team. The work on the constitution will come to a close and we will get a chance as a congregation to vote on it. Perhaps we will be worshiping at Immanuel or St. Gertrude’s by September and we will have an opportunity to meet with others to discuss our hopes and dreams for this church in October.

Make God grant us all peace and all good things!