"Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free..." 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
It may be a coincidence that this passage will be read in Church tomorrow morning, but maybe not. The Annual Parish Meeting is tomorrow - the meeting where we look back on the the accomplishments of the past year and define our goals for the coming one. That we have accomplished much and come far this past year is due to the dedication, commitment, and hard work of the members and friends of Grace Church. Without your participation and support, we would not have gotten to this point. Thank you.
Building on the accomplishments that Grace - through you and my predecessors - has achieved, the Vestry and I have been looking ahead to 2019 and beyond. Recognizing that Grace Church is not a static entity but one that is dynamic and constantly changing, the Vestry has authorized the development of a three year strategic plan to guide us toward our end-goals of financial sustainability, growth, maintaining our property, and continuing to be relevant in the lives of our Island and wider communities.
The plan's development will be an ongoing process that will involve developing a plan, assessing the effectiveness of its implementation, and improving it as we go - and I am writing to invite your participation in the process of identifying our goals and developing a plan for Grace's future.
The underlying model for the process is know as the OODA Loop. It was developed by Colonel John Boyd, USAF, who wanted to know why the United States' planes could outfly the technically superior Russian MIGs. The OODA acronym stands for: Observe a situation; Orient oneself within the situation; make a Decision; and Act upon that decision. Based on one's decision and action (and other's decisions and actions in response to yours), the situation will change and the OODA loop continues its cycle until the situation is resolved.
I find all this enormously exciting as it applies to Grace Church. I am looking forward to learning your goals and hopes for Grace Church's future and to working with you to develop a plan to achieve them.
God bless you,
T.S. Eliot and the Magi
Last Thursday I discovered that the Wise Men did not tidily take a week to arrive at the manger. It probably took about a year, or maybe two, for them to arrive. I am struck by the addition of time to their journey and can only marvel at their determination to follow what they knew to be true.
I realized their guide for their journey, the star, only appeared when it was dark, and I appreciate the metaphor for our own journeys.
I read T. S. Eliot's poem, "The Journey of the Magi" as part of today's sermon and am providing it below. You may also enjoy his "The Cultivation of Christmas Trees" and its sense of wonder.
Happy Epiphany, and God bless you.
Journey Of The Magi
T. S. Eliot
'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
The Reverend Stephen Harding
is the Rector