Last Saturday, St Christopher's Vestry gathered on the Island for our Spring Vestry Day. Our theme was Finding Our Passion in Christ, and - with God's help - we began to. I offer a modified outline from our time together here for those in our parish family who wonder what we did on that day - where the leadership of the congregation is focused and moving - and also because I believe the exercises and the questions we engaged can be helpful to all of us as people, and that on some level all of us in the Church share the desire to locate the true selves God has given us in the presence and power of our Lord. I pray this can be a helpful place of engagement toward that end.
peace to you.
Daily Devotions for the Morning (BCP)
The theme for our Spring Vestry Day is Finding Our Passion in Christ. When Kirk Mason came down to visit with last year, he knew about our financial concerns, he told us that the diocese stood ready to help, and then he said the first and most important question that would help us and also help the diocese help us was this: Where are your potential pledging units? No, he didn’t ask that first. He said, What are you passionate about? What do you like to do?
Our theme for today is Finding Our Passion in Christ.
I don’t believe that passion is something we can delegate or assign to others. I don’t think it works if a group of leaders gathers together and assigns roles like, “Who is going to be passionate for young people this year?”
Passion is authentic, right? Passion can be learned, but it comes out of who you are. Passion is a lot like the oxygen mask that the flight attendant is always talking about: you can’t talk to others about their passion until you have taken the time to name - to know the source of - your own.
What are your passions? How can we learn to lead, to serve, to glorify God, out of that?
Video # 1: Juice, featuring Dewitt Jones
Video #1: Juice, Finding Passion
Small Group Questions:
What was your earliest passion? Do you have passion now? What are your passions?
Dewitt Jones shares elsewhere that he has a six-word mission that fixes him to his passion before his feet hit the ground in the morning. What would you like your six words each morning to be?
One of the biggest obstacles to passion is fear of not having enough. Passion can seem like a luxury in the face of an uncertain future. But holding on to what we have in the face of uncertainty is not just contrary to the Gospel - “whoever holds on to their life will lose it” - on a practical level, when we put passion on the back-burner, we make it difficult for others to join us in our pilgrim walk with Jesus. Most people can survive on their own; they are energized to join others in the project of thriving. Passion thrives because its strength does not depend on others - it is a fire that burns from within. Think of passionate people: Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bono, Bill Gates. All of them have that burning perseverance in common.
Even as passionate people, we plan to encounter the fear of not having enough. How will we respond to that fear?
Ask someone in your group to begin with prayer. Have another person read the lesson:
Jesus said, “And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
How have you seen the capacity of worry to distract from passion?
Have you ever known someone who was a picture for you of striving “first for the kingdom of God”?
What are the central worries in your life right now?
What do you know about God that speaks to your worries?
Worry distracts us from passion and also other people. For example, worry is what makes us think we are too busy to take extra time with someone in need. Or maybe worry is what makes us think, as people in need, that other people will certainly be too busy for us.
Part of what it means when Jesus tells his people not to worry is that we have been given all the time in the world to be God’s People to and for one another and the world.
How would practicing the belief that we have time to be passionate and be present to one another change the possibilities we see?
Exercise: Take 30 seconds to look out toward the water just now and write down everything that you see. Remember, you only have 30 seconds.
Now, look out the same window, but you have 3 minutes this time. The instructions are the same: write down everything you see.
How are your vision and your ability to be present connected?
Chic-Fil-A: Everyone Has a Story (a training video)
It's an obvious but needed reminder: everyone has a story, and everyone is carrying some form of burden. Give yourself permission to feel your own pain right now. Assume that it is represented ten times over just in this room. Take your own hopes, and do the same. They’re not the same hopes, but everyone has his/her own. And of course, God experiences pain and hopes, too.
Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche communities, has written, “Almost everyone finds their early days in a community ideal. It all seems perfect. They feel they are surrounded by saints, heroes, or at the least, most exceptional -people who are everything they want to be themselves. And then comes the let-down. The greater their idealization of the community at the start, the greater the disenchantment. If -people manage to get through this second period, they come to a third phase — that of realism and of true commitment. They no longer see other members of the community as saints or devils, but as -people — each with a mixture of good and bad, darkness and light, each growing and each with their own hope. The community is neither heaven nor hell, but planted firmly on earth, and they are ready to walk in it, and with it. They accept the community and the other members as they are; they are confident that together they can grow towards something more beautiful.”
What is your story?
Describe your last year with God.
Describe your hope for this next year with God.
(At the retreat, we did this visually, through art - give yourself a medium and at least 20 minutes.)
Video before break: Why Your Church Doesn’t Feel Like a Family, Mark Driscoll (for fun)
An Order of Service for Noonday (BCP)
After lunch video: Celebrating What's Right with the World, Dewitt Jones
Write down 2 questions you would like to ask the group about the video on possibilities and vision.
Jonathan’s questions: How do you understand the difference in “being best in the world” and “being best for the world”? What possibilities do you see for your church family in the next year? The next two years? The next five years?
What do you love about yourself and your church? How does these gifts begin to bridge the distance between where you are and the possibilities to which you believe God is calling you?
Daily Devotions for the Early Evening (BCP)