Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Fruit that lasts

Note: On Sunday, January 14, 2018 I join with the people of St. David's Episcopal Church in Cullowhee, NC as interim rector. Each week St. David's puts out a newsletter called "The Coracle." This is my first offering - not including my introductory article last week which can be found HERE.

I remember the first time I heard my daughter play Bach’s Air on the g string on her flute. She was nine years old, playing at a wedding (her first professional gig), but the sound she made with that flute was like angels singing and I was overwhelmed by joy. I could feel it rushing through my whole body. I realized that day that an important gift had been given into my care and I committed to doing whatever was needed to nurture it and bring it to fruition.

I believed that my daughter’s gift was from God, would glorify God, and would never cease to bring me joy. I was right on all counts. That day was for me, an Epiphany, and I was forever changed by it.

I remember also my first visit to St. David’s as a supply priest just a few months ago. I was told that the children would come forward to have their rice and beans blessed, but I wasn’t sure what that meant. I figured I’d just go with the flow and find out. When the children brought their gifts to be blessed, I asked one of them what this was for. She replied, “For the people who are hungry.” Others affirmed her statement. I realized that this was their ministry and it meant a lot to them to be able to offer these gifts. Their hearts were wide open and generosity shone forth from each face like a light from heaven. My heart melted with gratitude and my eyes filled with tears of joy. In discussions afterwards, I heard the adults in the congregation voice their commitment to nurturing the gifts of their children in ministry.

This is just one instance of the fruit Jesus was talking when he said: “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last…” (Jn 15:16).

Next week we begin a new chapter together in the story of St. David’s Episcopal Church. Our prayerful discernment has affirmed for us that God is calling us to serve together to discover and nurture the gifts God has graciously given and is waiting to give, that we might bear fruit that lasts.

We will begin our time together with a memorial service for a beloved member. While this is a very sad event, it offers us a gift - as does everything in the realm of God. Gathering to celebrate the life of a beloved friend, we remember the promises Jesus made: that he abides in us and we in him; that death is not the end of life, but a gateway into new life, resurrection life; that we are sanctified by Word and sacrament and, at the last day, we will be with God and all the saints in heaven in the joy of God’s eternal kingdom; and that we are bearers of this Good News to all peoples, nations, and languages who are created by and beloved of God.

What a lovely first fruit to bear together: to proclaim the hope of eternal life in the love of Jesus Christ.

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