E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 8, 2020

Spring Ahead, Compline During Lent, Spring Fling Returns in April and more in the E-Newsletter for March 8, 2020 – Available in full Haga clic aquí para ver el mensaje de esta semana en español de nuestro misionero latino, Luis Valencia. 

From the Rector
The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, SCP

Dear *|FNAME|*

This coming Tuesday is the opportunity for citizens in our state to participate in the Michigan Primary, selecting candidates to serve as nominees for the office of President of the United States. 

One of the fundamental tenets of our identity at St. John's, as articulated in our recently approved new Mission, Vision, and Plan for the Future, is that our church is not just a community for progressives or conservatives. Rather, as our Vision Statement says, "We envision a church where all people—no matter who they are, whom they love, whom they vote for, or what language they speak—can find grace and mercy in their relationships with God and one another." 

A significant reason that ideal is found in the Vision Statement (where we believe God is calling us) instead of in our Mission Statement (who we are today) is because we know we have not always been a congregation where all people, no matter whom they vote for, feel welcome. Over the past few years, we have had those on the right leave because they felt their own perspective was not respected by our congregation. We've also had those on the left leave because they felt like our congregation did not go far enough with regard to the issues of today.

But increasingly the Vestry and our membership has sought to chart a different course from the polarization which infects our country. This is founded in St. Paul's insistence that our fundamental identity must never be rooted in the humans we follow. This is the approach of this who are spiritually young, in Paul's words. Rather, the spiritually mature know that no matter the convictions they share with any spiritual leader, our fundamental identity must always remain rooted in Christ. 

And, as St. Paul says later in the same letter, we are the Body of Christ and each one of us is a different member. Rather than insist that every member must be the same, the spiritually mature Christian knows that it is our diversity that brings strength to the Body, "If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.'"

There have been times when every Christian has considered another Christian with different views and believed the Body would be better off without that Christian in it. But whenever we say to another Christian, no matter how strongly we disagree, that we have no need of them, we cut off members of the very Body of Christ—a Body each and every one of us is a member of, not because of our perfection in belief or action, but because of the grace of God which forgives us when we are wrong in our actions and belief. 

So, as you head into this primary vote, don't feel like you need to keep your views quiet and to yourself. Indeed, vigorous and respectful engagement with one another is how we hone our own views and thinking. "Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another" (Proverbs 27:17). But take the advice of the prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi to heart, "O Master, let me not seek as much… to be understood as to understand."

There are significant questions facing us as a country and as a church. But it is only through engaging with one another with respect, love, and a desire to understand, that we will find a path forward with more grace than the path that lies behind.

Through Grace,

PS~ Remember to spring ahead when you go to bed on Saturday night! Set your clocks forward one hour, or you'll be late to church!

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 8, 2020 online here

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