Sunday, August 26, 2012

Giving Thanks for Our Affiliate Clergy

From this morning's service celebrating the ministry of our affiliate clergy:

Toward the end of his Gospel, St. John the Evangelist recounts the following exchange between Jesus and Peter:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep."
For many years and especially the last three years, Father Tom Honderich, Father Dan Billman, and Father Michael Stichweh have embodied the Christian service Jesus lays upon Peter. As Christian people, we require spiritual sustenance in the form of regular worship and receiving Holy Communion. these three men, tirelessly and without complaint, have served at mass on Sundays and Wednesday, have faithfully preached the Gospel, and have been with many of us individually during our time of need. Truly they have fed Jesus' flock, and they are an example to us of our own calling to selfless service to God.

Now seems an appropriate time to recognize the gifts Tom, Dan and Michael have given us. We now eagerly anticipate the arrival of our new rector in a few short weeks. Tom, Dan, and Michael will then take a well-deserved break for a few months. This is not a goodbye, just an acknowledgment for a hard job well done. Let's stand up and show Tom, Dan and Michael how much we appreciate them with a round of applause.

Tom, Dan, and Michael, you have generously given this congregation great gifts of time, love, and service. We hope in some small way to repay your generosity with our gift to you. We celebrate the holy days of this church by using a special wine, Six Grapes Port. From this congregation, I present to each of you a bottle of this port. Whenever you drink it, remember the love the congregation of All Saints has for each of you.

- Brendan O'Sullivan-Hale, August 26, 2012

Prayer: Almighty God, we praise and bless you for the ministry of Father Dan, Father Tom, and Father Michael, whom you have sent in the power of the Spirit to lead our worship and to preach the Gospel in this place. We thank you that a community of love has been gathered together by their prayers and labors, and we ask your blessing on them today and always; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all glory and honor, world without end. Amen.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Letter from Mother Suzanne Wille

The letter below from Mother Suzanne Wille, who will soon be joining us as our rector, was sent to the all people on the All Saints mailing list today.

The Feast of the Transfiguration 2012

Dear Friends,

Today we celebrate the moment when Jesus revealed his divine nature to Peter, John, and James; his face shining like the sun, his clothes dazzling white, Jesus was joined by Moses and Elijah on the mountaintop, as the voice of God the Father declared, “This is my Beloved Son; listen to him.” In that moment, the earthly veil was drawn aside, allowing the disciples a glimpse of the divine. Peter declares they ought to build tents so that Jesus, Moses, and Elijah can stay put; when the Father speaks, they are terrified. 

The disciples’ reactions are understandable. It is tempting to try to domesticate our wild, surprising God, and it is understandable to feel terror when standing on holy ground, but, friends, I believe God is on the move in our lives and that we are about to enter some holy territory together. 

What All Saints has been up to and continues to live inspires me; from the moment my spouse Tracey found your profile online and told me I “had” to take a look, I knew that God was calling me to join you so that, together, we could worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and further grow your amazing tradition of radical welcome. Not only am I eager to join you, but I am also eager to share with you my love of Anglo-Catholic liturgy, experience in developing programs of Gospel-based outreach and radical welcome, and passion and skills in church growth—in numbers, in spiritual depth, and as disciples of Christ. 

In many ways this is a return for me. When I left IU Bloomington with a master’s degree in 1996, I never imagined that I would return to Indiana, at least not until your search committee and vestry bowled me over with their warmth, faithfulness, and honesty. All that you have done and are doing made me believe that All Saints is a parish where I would “fit” as a priest; my sense was confirmed in the last half hour of our two-day interview. As the last dinner was ending, one of the search committee members looked at me earnestly and said, “I have one more question.” I held my breath because I could tell it was important, and I hoped to have enough brain power left to answer well. He then asked, “Do you think you could love us?” Tears filled my eyes, the molecules in the room shifted, the faces around the table shone like the sun, and I was standing on holy ground. I took a deep breath and answered: “Yes.”

We are entering holy ground, friends, as we get to know one another while we worship and pray, serve and play together. I dream that we will grow in many ways together—that more people will join us, we will deepen in our relationship with God, and we will engage with the neighborhood and the city as a holy place of hope and welcome. But before any of that, during all of it, my greatest hope is that we allow ourselves to be transformed by our wild God, that we allow ourselves to shine like the sun, and that we love God and one another. 

I can hardly wait until we get started together in September!

Faithfully, Mother Suzanne+