Our Vestry and Parish just completed a Mutual Ministry Review – a time to reflect on the health of our congregation and to strategize about how to move toward greater health and wholeness. There was a lot of positive feedback in the survey indicating the ways in which we have grown and changed for the better in the last three years of ministry together. And of course, there was plenty of constructive criticism about what we can do to make our ministry together better. Some of the feedback included things we could do quite easily, and some of the feedback will take longer to address. But the Vestry was energized to make those changes and move toward wholeness.
Like with any feedback though, we quickly lost sight of all that is going well. We lingered only for a moment on the good and positive work God is fostering among us, and we immediately dug in with the work we needed to do to improve. Although I am super proud of our Vestry’s desire to dig in and do some of the dirty work of improvement, I want to take a moment to remind our whole parish of the need to prayerfully lift up the goodness in our midst. Without being rooted in gratitude for all the goodness God has brought us, my fear is that we will be overwhelmed by the burden of improvement and not steadied by the encouragement of the Holy Spirit.
I was reminded of that lesson this Sunday. This Sunday the Vestry started working on prioritizing our improvement work and making goals and deadlines for ourselves. The work is important and necessary, but I must admit our spirits were a bit heavy. But just thirty minutes before our meeting, in the context of worship, we honored all of our children and teachers who had participated in Sunday School, Rite 13, and Adult Formation this program year. The transept was overflowing with people. Because we use a rotation model for Sunday School, we had over 10 teachers and shepherds this year. We had three teachers for Rite 13, and five teachers for adult formation. For a parish with a relatively small average Sunday attendance, those numbers are tremendous. And that does not include all the children who were present! It was a glorious sight and a testimony to the good work we are doing to form us into a community that is seeking Christ. Well done, good and faithful servants!!
My encouragement to all of us this week is to hold on to that moment. Hold on to that image of a full transept of people who have spent the last year deepening their relationship with Christ, and marvel at the good work that the Spirit is doing at St. Margaret’s. And give yourselves a pat on the back for the ways in which you have committed yourselves to being faithful builders of the Kingdom of God. There will always be work to do, but my hope is that we can see the joy behind the work we do. Because there is a lot to be joyful about!