THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF THE ASCENSION
NORTHWOODS, MISSOURI 63121
June 30, 2014
Dear Friends in Christ,
The Season of Pentecost, which begins 50 days after Easter and continues until Advent commences in late-November, is the time each year that we explore the summons to Christian discipleship and the ministry of the Church. The lessons from Scripture, prayers and hymns we’ll share in the months ahead will focus our attention on discipleship and, hopefully, offer new insights, challenges and opportunities as we seek to be Christ’s presence in our community.
The work of being a Christian – being a disciple – is no easy task. Although Jesus himself provides us with the model, there’s no playbook – no step-by-step guide – that gives us an answer to every specific situation we encounter. To be sure, Scripture grounds our understanding of the “Good News” of Jesus Christ. The tradition of the Church, developed over 21 centuries, provides a context for the ways in which all who have come before us have responded to the challenges of their times. And, the God-given gift of human reason allows each of us to critically engage with the issues of our time. But, the fact remains that there is no “formula” for Christian discipleship. Each of us, each community of faith and each generation will have to discover its own path.
I think Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite nun and mystic who lived in the 16th century, understood our dilemma particularly well. As she struggled with her own call to discipleship, she finally concluded that,
“Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which to lookout
Christ’s compassion for the world;
Yours are the feet with which he is going about doing
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men
Perhaps, there’s no better way to begin this Season of Pentecost and preparation for discipleship than the simple and profound recognition that you and I are charged with nothing less than “being the presence of Christ for all whom we might serve” – the very Vision of our Ascension community. By God’s grace, may it be so.
An important part of our discipleship is the stewardship of the building with which we’ve been blessed. We’re in the midst of “re-imagining” our sanctuary for the way we worship today and our hopes for the future. We’ve had meetings with the consultants recommended by our bishop, toured our facility with them and received their initial recommendations for the renovation of this space. This week, we’ll be interviewing three architectural firms to assist with developing alternatives for our consideration.
In the meantime, the renovation of our parish hall continues. I’m very pleased to report that the diocese has awarded us a grant of $3,800 to assist with the completion of this project. While significant, we’re still $1,500 short of the funds required. Later this summer, we’re planning a “yard sale” to dispose of our old tables and chairs, as well as other unused or dated items – the proceeds from which will help close this deficit. I hope you’ll consider donating items for this sale, including: furniture; tools; small appliances; toys; and dishes. Recognizing that we’ll need to pay to have the unsold items hauled away, please make sure that your donated items are in reasonable repair and working order. Once the sale has been scheduled, I’ll forward additional details.
After a particularly busy spring, July will provide us with an opportunity to “catch our breath” and finalize our 2015 strategic plan and budget.
- The Bishop’s Committee will meet in the sanctuary immediately following worship on Sunday, July 13 to discuss these issues in preparation for our submission to the diocese.
Finally, on behalf of the entire congregation, I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Donnetta Jones, Tarell Grey, Sondra Harrell, Betty Brown, Cee Cee Sarber and Machelle West for their incredible efforts to make this year’s Vacation Bible School and Summer Meals Program a resounding success!
May God bless you with a gentle spirit, generous heart and servant’s hands.