Time of Transition – by the Rev. Henry Penner
Let’s examine the prayer we are praying each week as we seek a new rector. What are we praying for, and what do we expect to change or not as we are guided by the Holy Spirit into new territory?
First we appeal to the God who knows our needs. Is this how we see God, individually? Does God know us so well that at every time and every place God will know what we need? I think for me that is where the faith comes in. My life shows that I very often do not know what is best for me, and so if I trust God to lead me, I make much better decisions than I do without that faith.
Next we pray for the “people of St. Martin’s.” Just who are those people? Are they sitting in the pews with you today? Are they in this neighborhood, playing soccer on our fields, or coming to our school? Are they visitors looking for a new church home? Do we include those we adopt through our mission and outreach activities? How wide do you want the circle to be; can it be as wide as your imagination? It is good to think about who the people of St. Martin’s are, and as we reflect on that, may we be better guided and more confident in our discernment, and have faith in God’s wisdom and timing for us.
We need to remember that our search committee is as near being “us” as can be. They are our representatives to the Holy Spirit, and we have chosen them for their spiritual and earthly dedication. We ask that they are guided as they labor to be faithful. We ask for faith in their discernment, that God will guide them by the Holy Spirit and that their recommendation for our new rector will be pleasing to God.
We offer prayers for the life of our parish, knowing that it will spread the joy and love that is a part of our parish life to others. Our mission is to be the heart, hands and feet of Jesus Christ to all people in every place we meet them. We ask for strength to carry out that mission in whatever way we individually feel called to do, but more importantly, how we carry out that mission as an entire parish of loving and caring Christians. We are many times more powerful as a group than we are as individuals. God knows this; it is why we are called to worship, to act, to be…together. It is a powerful togetherness because the Holy Spirit blesses us with inspiration and commitment.
We pray for mutual trust, respect, courage, and foresight. God will be our shepherd, our constant presence in times of happiness and of sorrow, in peace and in conflict, in joy and despair. He will especially be in our everyday lives giving meaning to the smallest of efforts, to the least of our moments of faith.
As God graces us with our purposeful direction we ask for help in being genuine in our self-reflection. I mean really genuine. Not what you think everyone else wants to hear. Remember this is just between you and God, and remember God loves one faithful servant as much as the other. Just be genuine in how you look at yourself.
I think next we can agree that we are excited about welcoming a new rector. I don’t just mean for the Eucharist we share at this table together each Sunday but for the “common union” we experience as we work together to expand the Kingdom, as we become the heart, hands and feet of Christ to all with whom we come in contact.
We are asking God to guide us without prejudice to new leadership and new ways of imagining ourselves. We may need to turn loose some older prejudices to do this in the right way, and that always means we need help to do it; God’s help. So remember that little phrase in the Baptismal presentation, “I will, with God’s help.”
We might well be asking for guidance in what our individual faith really means. We are blessed with so much from our parish family and our worship together; with a feeling of belonging, a feeling of being in a safe place, a comfort in the liturgy that we have come to know so well, a chance to talk to others who have their own version of faith, a respect for the opinions of others and of our own opinions, a chance to serve and be overwhelmed with the feeling of blessedness we get from that service. Jesus invites us all who have much faith and those who have little, and those who want more.
Do not be anxious. God is leading us, and therein lies the way. The way to this transition, because as we say here our God is a God of deep compassion, always present with us and of abounding love. How can we not trust that we are being led down the right path? We are being blessed in this endeavor, we cannot fail if we trust in God.
Lastly, we ask God to be with us as we walk in God’s ways; we know that God surely will be. If we rejoice in the power and the fruits of the Holy Spirit and support one another as Christ has taught us we cannot fail. We are empowered by God’s love, and we are upheld by the love we share with each other in this time of transition. We pray together, we laugh and cry together, we share our blessings with each other and the world, and that is what in the final analysis makes us followers of Christ and Episcopalians in the way we go about life reaffirming our faith in the God who brought us to this place. Amen
you know the needs of your Church in every place:
look graciously upon us, the people of
and grant us the guidance of your Holy Spirit
as we seek a new rector for this parish.
Give us discernment, wisdom and confidence in your timing.
Guide the members of our Search Committee,
as they labor to be faithful in seeking your will.
We pray for the life of our parish,
that we may continue to be strengthened in our mission
to be Jesus Christ’s heart, hands and feet to our neighbors
no matter where they are on their journey of faith.
Bless us with mutual trust and respect, courage and foresight
as you shepherd our community through its journey.
Grace us with continuous direction
and inspire us toward genuine self-reflection.
All this we ask as we walk in your ways to the glory of your name.