Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Godly Discernment, not Program Development

Last Sunday was the Annual Meeting of St. Edward's and we had what I thought was a good meeting. I extended myself slightly, technologically speaking, and put together a PowerPoint presentation to summarize the Annual Report which was well received and we had some good discussions. This week I'm doing preparations for the annual Vestry Retreat which begins with a dinner on Friday evening at the Gooding house and continues with a 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. visioning and planning session at the Balcunas cabin in the Santa Cruz mountains. Not a bad way to spend an evening and a day!

In my sermon on Sunday I talked a bit about discernment--specifically, discerning God's will for us as individuals and as a community. That's really what we were doing as a congregation at the Annual Meeting and what we will be doing as a Vestry at our retreat. We aren't burdened with the task of coming up with some whiz-bang, foolproof way of doubling the size of our congregation in a year's time or otherwise coming up with some 'resurrection plan.' We are merely to enter into God's presence, to quiet our hearts and minds, and--in the silence of our hearts and in the discussions between us--to discern God's will for St. Edward's and to begin to put people, plans, and policies in place to carry out what God wills in partnership with God. No human agency could have planned the resurrection, the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, nor any of the myriad of large and little miracles that are sprinkled throughout the Gospel accounts of Jesus' earthly ministry. Similarly, I look forward not to planning for God, but planning in partnership with what we know God is doing and will continue to do through us.

Before we even get to the people, plans, and programs, we will also ask God and one another: What is the new St. Edward's? Who are we as a congregation? What are our values? What are our strengths and weaknesses? What is unique about us? Such questions of identity and character necessarily precede planning. This, too, will be an ongoing process.

More to come!

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