The Heart of God, it seems to me, lies in our passionate, patient, and creative will and efforts To Love. And the Bible calls us unambiguously To Love our Neighbor and To Love Ourselves.
Thankfully you, Emmanuel, live into your name. You know God is with you, and you have already built life-affirming, long-lasting relationships of mutual trust, mutual respect, and mutual affection. Hence, you have a good track record of loving yourselves and loving your neighbors. This faithfulness delights God. Sit with that truth for a second.
YOU DELIGHT GOD!
Emmanuel Episcopal Church, your overflowing love, is undoubtedly the primary quality that brought me to be your new rector. Your history of loving, your present love today, and your capacity to love into the future gives me great joy, and hope, and peace. Together with God we can be incredible witnesses to love.
As we all know, though, Love is messy and confusing and not always so obvious. This is also the reality of any parish life. Our greatest challenge for this coming year--and, frankly, for all of our lives--is to learn to strengthen our love and to free ourselves from whatever may limit this love.
Together in our parish community, we can listen to each other, learn from each other, laugh together, and eventually be freed by the compassion of our fellow parishioners to love ourselves with greater peace and joy.
And when you love yourself more generously, then the quality of your love for others increases exponentially. As we love ourselves with greater humility and forgiveness, then our capacity to share love with people, even those we could never have imagined, organically blossoms.
Christian love in a parish community does have some fundamental qualities that you Emmanuel already manifest and that we can always aspire towards enhancing. These qualities are: Mutual Trust, Mutual Respect, and Mutual Affection.
Strengthening and deepening trust, respect, and affection within Emmanuel Episcopal Church or within any parish is certainly not easy, and yet we believe that with God in our midst anything and everything good and glorious is possible.
Essential to trust, respect, and affection is Some Time and Some Knowledge.
I want to get to know you. And I want you to get to know me. I want us to share our hopes and joys and the challenges that we can transform into opportunities.
I believe with all my heart God is calling us to be a happy, fun, and faithful orchestra. Imagine “The Emmanuel Orchestra” as a metaphor for a diverse, dynamic (structured and flexible), life-sustaining and life-changing Communion of Saints.
You already are a faithful Emmanuel Orchestra. Together, we can continue and build on the blessings of your history. Together, we can be and become a beautiful and inspiring orchestra; a community of courageous, intelligent, and resilient Saints; a church, shaped by the dance of prayer and action.
With God in our midst, barriers can be overcome and transformed. With God in our midst, we can love each other and share that love with the world.
This is my deepest hope for you. This is my deepest hope for me. And this is my deepest hope for the Emmanuel Episcopal Church of the future.