From the Rector....

I was reading another church’s newsletter last week and was a bit dismayed by the woes of a clergy person regarding “’cultural” Christians” and his fear that they are un-saved. I know being “saved” is a big part of the Christian dialogue in the South—particularly in more evangelical or fundamental traditions—but I worry what that kind of language and the stigma of a judgmental God does for religion. 
 
I believe there are at least two blaringly obvious inconsistencies with this whole idea of “being saved”. A. Only Jesus saves and I don’t remember him asking how many people present had already been saved when he got nailed to the cross. (“Oh you, you’ve been saved? Ok, go ahead and hammer one of those nails in. Now if we can only find two more people, we can get the other hand and the feet nailed down too.”) Second, I’m pretty sure when God judges, it is out of a place of love not condemnation. God doesn’t punish us. He might offer a gentle correction to bring us back into the fold, but he never abandons us because we are his children and even more than simply children, we are his creation.
 
As Episcopalians, our starting point with God is as his beloved children. For many, especially more fundamental Protestants, that starting point is as sinners in need of redemption. Neither is wrong but both lead to different ways of understanding our relationship to God. Being beloved fosters a relationship of trust, respect, and compassion between God and his people—one in which each is a partner to the other, working together, and growing in greater love for one another like a good marriage. The other sets up a hierarchical relationship in which one is a demanding master and the other can never do or be enough to win favor. No wonder the Christian church in America is taking a hit—who wants to be in the kind of relationship where you can never measure up?
 
The Bible is pretty clear that we are saved by God. But I think we need to be careful about who we claim to be “in” and who we think might be “out”. There are three active religions that ground themselves in the compassion and creative nature of the God of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. All three are centered on God and focus on faith and good works as the path toward God. It begs the question what does it meant to “be saved” when we consider these other religious cultures. Will Abraham not be in heaven or Moses or the prophet Isaiah or King David? None of them were Christians. Did Noah get saved from a flood only to be cast into the eternal flames of Hell? What about the Muslims I know who run food kitchens and shelter the homeless? They say their prayers at least three times a day even if they are in line at Disney World and demonstrate greater spiritual discipline than most Christians I know—will they end up in the other place too? 
 
I am a Christian not because I believe everyone else is wrong, but because for me, this is the way. I choose to believe in a God who loved me so much that he was willing to shed his divinity and become just like me—born a baby in a smelly old barn and living a life in which people called him names, he felt pain and suffering, and he knew the joy of friendship and the beauty of the earth. I am an Episcopalian because the liturgy and worship of God resonates with me in the keeping of theological time through the seasons of the church year; the fellowship of the Table drawing us together regardless of what our particular beliefs might be (spiritually, politically, personally); and the sacramental life that has claimed a hold on the way in which I interact with God and others. I know my belovedness even when I doubt my worthiness because God made me and calls me his child. That is the way for me.
 
I choose this path but I have no doubt that there are other paths as well and it is not my time to judge or sow seeds of doubt as to whether or not someone else is “saved.” My job as a priest in God’s one holy, catholic, and apostolic church is to stand as a faithful witness to the love of God and shine that light of salvation and Good News for all to see. Its not that I don’t care about your salvation—I do. But I don’t think you have to do anything to earn that salvation because it has already been granted to you. All you have to do is not resist it and return the embrace of God’s love encircling each of us.
 
Light and Life,
Candice+

WORSHIP HOURS


Due to COVID-19, our worship hours will change. 

Sunday service at 7:30am

We will stream on our website and Facebook page. The video will be available to watch any time after 7:30 AM through the links below:

The website stream is available HERE

The Facebook stream can be found HERE.

YouTube can be found HERE.

The service bulletin can be found HERE and you can print this for your convenience.

Sunday outdoor service at 9:00am

We will have an outdoor service on the front lawn. You must follow COVID guidelines to attend. Everyone MUST wear a face mask and maintain social distancing.

 

Stay tuned to the website and Facebook page for further updates as we work through this together.

 

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