THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF THE ASCENSION
NORTHWOODS, MISSOURI 63121
October 27, 2014
Dear Friends in Christ,
Throughout this Season of Pentecost, Sunday’s lessons and sermons have focused on various dimensions of Christian discipleship – what it means “to be the presence of Christ for all whose lives we might touch.” In one sense, this is a profound theological question that has been dissected, analyzed and debated for more than 2,000 years. On the other hand, it’s the most basic and practical question each of us must answer in the way we live our faith and lives.
Jesus’ ministry (recounted in Matthew’s Gospel this past year) offers us more than a few examples of a faithful life. The care of the “least among us,” the resolution of disputes within the Christian community and the leadership required of disciples are only three of the many themes we’ve explored together. But now, as we approach the end of the Church Year, you might have noticed the repeated refrain in the Gospel lessons: “The kingdom of God is like …”
Three characteristics distinguish these parables. First, they remind us that God’s rule in our world has already begun with the life, death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. Furthermore, they’re also clear that this reign will not be perfected until the end of times – when Jesus returns. But, perhaps most important is the action that’s expected of us in the meantime – the choices we’re required to make as disciples living in a broken world, working toward healing its pains and looking forward with hope and certainty to a future time when all will truly be well.
The past year has been remarkable in our life together, as we:
- celebrated 125 years of Christian mission in the St. Louis community;
- expanded our food pantry, parish nurse and clothing ministries by almost 50%;
- sponsored an Episcopal Service Corps member, Chris Potter, and continued our youth engagement with Deaconess Anne House, the Trinity Hot Lunch Program and Episcopal City Mission’s Summer Fundraiser;
- responded pastorally to the crisis in Ferguson, were active in our work for racial, social and economic justice and joined in securing funding from our national church to address pressing needs in North St. Louis County and City; and
- renovated our Parish Hall to make it more inviting and comfortable for guests and parishioners alike.
- What priority will you give to sharing in the life of common worship and prayer at Ascension on Sunday morning and Wednesday noon?
- What commitment are you prepared to make to the ministries of our congregation, including: the food pantry; Saturday tutoring for K-12 youth; Deaconess Anne House; Vacation Bible School; Altar Guild; Eucharistic visitation; acolyte; lector; usher; offering counter; Sunday school and adult education and formation; and the Gospel Jubilee?
- How will you use your skills and gifts to assist with the operation and leadership of our congregation?
- And, how will you financially support our mission and ministries?
Christian discipleship is not a part-time job. It’s not something we do when we don’t have a better option. And, it’s not something we address after we’ve taken care of everything else in our lives. In Christ Jesus, God asks us to make a choice, to set our priorities and to make a commitment. To help you consider these choices, I’ve enclosed a brief form which I hope you’ll complete and return to the parish office by November 30 either in the enclosed envelope or by placing it in the Sunday offering plate. The ongoing ministry and witness of our Ascension community depends on each of us, and I pray with great optimism and hope that together we will continue to be a vital presence for all who need Christ’s comfort, grace and forgiveness.
- The Bishop’s Committee will meet in the computer room on Sunday, November 2 from 12:30 – 1:30 P.M.
- On Sunday, November 16, our youth are invited to join middle and high school students from throughout the diocese for a “Conversation on Racism” and the church’s response to it at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Ferguson. We’ll depart immediately following our worship service and return by late afternoon. Transportation and lunch will be provided.
Finally, I do want to ask for your help. Members and visitors have commented recently that in the past several months we’ve “gotten a bit sloppy” with starting our Sunday worship on time. Essential to our hospitality and generous welcome to all is establishing a schedule and keeping it. Please make every effort to arrive at least a few minutes early to prepare yourself for worship and welcome those who are visiting. And, especially if you are serving as an acolyte, lector or usher, please be in the sanctuary by 10:50 A.M. so that we can review any last minute changes before the service.
May God bless you with joy, hope and grace.