Updated: May 21, 2020
At this time last year, the Cathedral Family was at the beginning of two important undertakings in our life together. The most obvious of these was the beginning of work on Phase II of our capital restoration and construction project, which is now moving toward completion and about which I will have more to say at the conclusion of this message. The other and more deeply significant was the beginning of our participation in Baptized for Life. As we were preparing for a period of life together in a construction zone, we were also turning our attention to the heart of our life together in God as we engaged in a “spiritual inventory” to help us discern
where we are in our spiritual journey together and where we are being called to go. Since then, the Baptized for Life (BFL) team has been meeting regularly to listen prayerfully to what they have heard from the congregation in this inventory and to discern where God seems to be calling us in our shared life of baptism. The good news emerging from the data received is that Cathedral parishioners are not at all complacent about their faith and church but are seeking to go deeper in their spiritual journey. We are interested in spiritual growth and open to more focus on spiritual movement. We are prepared to acquire the tools we need for this work and to accept the challenge to grow in this area. This does not mean that we are looking for new programs or courses or initiatives. What we are seeking is a shift in culture, a change of heart and intention in the way we live our lives together. Based on this discernment and on their work at the BFL residency program in May, the BFL team is currently putting together a grant proposal for congregational spiritual growth that is grounded in Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s "Way of Love.
The first step in this journey was their invitation to Jerusalem Greer, the Presiding Bishop’s staff officer for evangelism, to come and introduce the Way of Love at Christ Church Cathedral. She will be joining us this Rally Day weekend to work with our lay leaders in service and formation on Friday night and to preach and teach with the congregation during Sunday morning worship. Jerusalem is a gifted lay minister, an energetic presence, and a dynamic speaker. I hope as many of you as are able will attend.
Of course, we will be doing all our usual Rally Day things in preparation for the restart of Christian formation, music programs, and other groups and services. Information and sign-up sheets will be in the Chapter House. In worship, we will pray for God’s blessing on our children as they begin another year of school, and we will commission our Sunday School teachers. These are all important parts of the “how” of our life together. Our true focus in the year ahead will be on the “why” of our shared life that supports this “how”—the Love of God that dwells within us and moves among and around us and draws us into deeper and richer lives of prayer and service.
Because what is often called the “Heart of the Leader” is crucial to the overall spiritual health of the congregation, I would like to share with you some of the work in which I am engaged for the deepening of my own spiritual life and for leading the Cathedral Family in spiritual growth. You may recall that this past summer I began an 18-month clergy spiritual life and leadership program through the Shalem Institute designed to help clergy live more deeply into the rich Christian tradition of contemplative spirituality. This work involves intentional deepening in prayer, reading and study, and meeting regularly with an ongoing clergy peer group as well as a lay listening group within the parish. Here, too, the focus is on prayer and listening, not on developing any new programs. By “going deeper” in my own spiritual journey, I hope to help foster the spiritual growth of the congregation as a whole.
As we look forward to moving into our new kitchen and renovated spaces this fall, we will continue to live more fully into our shared life in Christ and to grow in sharing Christ’s love with the world. While we will continue also to live with some messiness and disruption with our construction, I would encourage you to consider “construction as a blessing.” As the Dean of Virginia Theological Seminary recently told his community in the midst of their construction, “Struggling and weak institutions cannot do construction: typically and sadly, they just leave their deferred maintenance and are unable to update, rebuild, and expand. So as we live with the challenge of construction, we should all thank God daily. It is our strength…that makes this construction possible. To God be the Glory.”
I am thankful for the health of this community, for the renewed health in my family, for the possibilities for growth in the spiritual journey that lies ahead, and for the opportunity to serve our Lord together with you all.