One of my very favourite things about our church’s address is that we have bald eagles for neighbours, plus a whole bunch of turkey vultures. The way the vultures hang in the air on hot summer days is impressive, but (and I know this is a cliché) but nothing compares to watching an eagle soar. It makes me want to soar. Like a lot of people, maybe most, watching an eagle fly makes me want to fly. It’s only recently though that I believe I’ve come to understand why that is.
Seeing an eagle fly, the way they fly over the marsh behind our church, is to see one of God’s creatures at its best; doing what it was created to do. Given how marred this world is by brokenness and disease, among other things, it’s hard not to be inspired when we see something or someone do what they were created to do. And maybe what’s happening is that we are encouraged to do the same, to do what we’ve been created to do.
Way back in January we asked the members of our parish to fill out a questionnaire in which they shared what it is they valued most about St. Paul’s Anglican Church. By far the vast majority of their answers came down to two things: 1) They valued the personal spiritual growth that they experienced by being part of St. Paul’s, and 2) they valued the sense of community and mutual support that came with being part of St. Paul’s. Reflecting on those answers now it would seem to me that spiritual growth and community is our flying. They are what people see and what inspires people when our church is doing what it was created to do. But how do we make sure our church is doing what it was created to do? What steps do we need to take to get airborne and then make sure we continue to soar?
I believe the answer is Discipleship, Worship and Service. These are the things we must continue to do in order to soar.
We are a Christian community that exists as a direct result of the life, ministry, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and flowing from all this Jesus’ explicit commandment to his followers to make disciples, that is to engage and to form more and more people in the lifelong process of learning from and learning about Jesus. That’s Discipleship.
We are a worshipping community. Time spent together in worship is absolutely central to who we are and what we do. It’s also when and were many of us have been given our most poignant experiences of the reality and goodness of God. We were made to worship God.
And finally we have been made to Serve. One cannot be a disciple of Jesus without learning how to serve. Jesus said “Love one another as I have loved you.” And he said “love your neighbours as yourself”. Christian love is service. It’s one of the things the Church was created to do and when we serve, and worship and continue to learn from Jesus we soar.