Greetings, Friends –
On Sunday, we celebrated the Baptism of Our Lord, one of the four Sundays of the church year that is appropriate for baptisms and during which we reaffirm the words of our own Baptismal Covenant. I love these celebrations – even when we aren’t sharing the Sacrament of Baptism with new members of God’s family – because I know I need the reminder that my ministry is grounded in the waters of Baptism and the promises I’ve made to God.
These special days are also important in my congregation (St Michael’s and All Angels, Cambridge Junction) since we embrace the theology and model of Total Ministry believing that all are given gifts for ministry through our Baptisms. I had the privilege of presiding at Holy Eucharist on Sunday while the Rev. Diana Walworth preached a great sermon for us. Diana reminded us that, from the story of creation to the very end of the book of Revelation, God’s Spirit moves through the waters and moves in us as we respond:
God… water… Baptism… Total Ministry… these are all things we should be really excited about! We shouldn’t be complacent about using our gifts for ministry. There should always be a sense of urgency to answering God’s call! And yet… sometimes the troubles of the world and our day-to-day lives are so overwhelming, they fill us with anxiety, bring us down, and take our focus away from this exciting work. What we need is a reminder of how good it feels to play in the water.
As she reminisced about the story of Total Ministry at St Michael’s, she remembered the prayer she prayed daily as they worked through the process which began thirteen years ago:
“Lord, I don’t know how I might be able to serve you, how I might be able to help your people, but I love you and I love this congregation, and I will say “Yes” to whatever that ministry might be.”
Maybe you’re wondering what this all has to do with resolutions. We are all called to say “yes” to God’s call. Maybe it will be a “yes” to something local or something we’ve been doing all along. Maybe our “yes” will take us into new situations and present new challenges. Maybe our “yes” will be life-changing for one of God’s children whose needs are well-beyond what we can imagine meeting on our own. When we take our Baptismal Covenant seriously, we are empowered for ministry that responds to the resolutions through which our Church tries to meet the needs of the world and her people.
We have an impressive example of “yes” from the Rt. Rev. Rafael Morales, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Puerto Rico, who had only been in his job for two months before Hurricane Maria struck the Island. Despite the overwhelming destruction, Morales says that he saw a cross still standing outside the diocesan offices and realized that “…the Lord was indeed in the middle of the storm and he was here after the storm.” Last week, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry visited the island on a pastoral visit and had the opportunity to view results of the church’s response to the people. You can find an inspiring article about Bishop Curry’s visit to Puerto Rico at this link from Episcopal News Service (ENS).
Right in our diocese we have an opportunity to say “yes” to reach out to the marginalized that come together at the Church at Crossroads. This new church plant needs our help. Rev. Teresa Wakeen shared this information on the EDOMI website:
We are following God into the lives of the people who live in and around the neighborhood where we are housed, inside the social service agency of Crossroads of Michigan at 2424 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit, right down from Henry Ford Hospital and the Motown Museum. At Crossroads, we have the opportunity to meet and pray with the 800+ people of this urban neighborhood who come through the doors of Crossroads each week and experience marginalization in race, economics, and other unjust structures of the wider society. As we and they respond to God’s calling, we are together building The Church at Crossroads – Episcopal, a healing, worshiping community which calls and forms leaders from the neighborhood for the church, the city and the world. The Crossroads’ children and families who exist at the poverty level are of special concern to us.
Here’s some things that we are doing and becoming:
- We hold three weekday prayer services and a Sunday service of Holy Eucharist.
- The chapel is open before the weekly Crossroads’ parent classes start where about 50+ parents come. We are available to meet families, pray with them, read and sing with the children, or just hang out together, building relationships.
- We held a Vacation Bible School over eight weeks during summer 2017, that met for two hours each week participating with over forty of the children who attended Crossroads’ free summer lunch program.
- Art and the Spirit workshops are beginning for parents and children to have dedicated time together, creating art that helps stir the soul for beauty, solace and community.
- A monthly late Sunday afternoon “Messy Church” service will start up in the new year, 2018.
Volunteers from existing churches in the diocese are helping us in all these various efforts to minister and grow, including Grace Episcopal, Detroit and Cathedral Church of St. Paul.
What can you do?
1) Inquire, Visit, Volunteer! Contact: The Rev. Teresa Wakeen, Priest Missioner. firstname.lastname@example.org, 248-800-6480.
2) Your generous financial support is a great way to share the gifts you have to help support this ministry. All funds are managed and accounted for by our diocesan finance office. You may donate on-line here or make checks payable to “The Episcopal Diocese of Michigan”, 4800 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI. Please indicate “The Church at Crossroads” on the notation line.
3) Spread the word! Who else can you or we talk with who might be interested in the healing and life giving ministry of The Church at Crossroads?
Finally, thank you for spending some time with us here! It would be a blessing and joy to get to visit with you in person. Come see what God is up to in sharing new life with us all, and especially among those who are most vulnerable among us.
Peace in our Lord Jesus,
Diana’s sermon on Sunday challenged us with words I think we all need to consider:
It’s been almost seven years since our congregation officially became a Total Ministry parish with a fully ordained and commissioned Ministry Support Team. I wonder if maybe I’m not the only one who has become overwhelmed and distracted by the world around me? Maybe we all need to remember the excitement of being baptized… of hearing God’s call to his Beloved… of being called in love by our community to share our gifts for ministry in a more intentional way. Maybe we all need a reminder of how fun it is to play in the water.
If you haven’t made your New Year’s resolutions yet, perhaps a “yes” to God’s call is just what you need for 2018. Let’s make a difference in our communities, our diocese, and our world together. Diana concluded her message with words I’d like to leave with you:
“Remember your baptism, beloved! Come, play in the water!”
Let us pray –
Lord, I don’t know how I might be able to serve you, how I might be able to help your people, but I love you and I love your family, and I will say “Yes” to whatever that ministry might be. Amen.
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council