24 April 2018
Dear St. Mark’s Community,
This is written on the eve of the Feast of St. Mark, our patron saint. I am a firm believer that the patronage of congregations is not coincidental or inconsequential. The lives and witness of the early saints, especially those who thought enough to write the Gospels, is an important touchstone that keeps us connected with Jesus’ life, death, ministry and resurrection.
Mark’s Gospel is generally accepted as the first of the accounts of Jesus to be put in writing. Mark begins his gospel with a simple declarative statement, “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” There is no ambiguity of what Mark believes about Jesus and what he is setting out to accomplish by telling the world about the truth of Jesus as he understands it.
Another important and interesting aspect of Mark’s witness to Jesus is the sense of urgency that Jesus and his followers have in their movements and actions. Repeatedly throughout Mark the word ‘immediately’ marks Jesus’ transitions from one action to another, the effects of his action and ministry and, perhaps as importantly, his shifts between active ministry and contemplative prayer, quiet time and retreat with his core group of disciples.
In our current terminology we would say the Jesus was a ‘difference-maker’, a shaker and a mover. He got things done. This aspect of Mark’s Jesus can easily overshadow the rhythm of these sudden movements.
During this time of transition, discernment and seeking after the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we prayerfully ponder the future of the mission and ministry of St. Mark’s we would do well to pay attention to Jesus’ alternating pattern of engaged ministry which, in Mark’s Gospel, is almost always followed by ‘going away to a deserted place to pray’ (Mark 1, 6 and 14) or taking time away with his core group of chosen disciples for times of teaching and prayer.
Mark’s Jesus models a life in the Spirit that alternates between action and contemplation. Each of these supporting, informing and creating space and need for the other.
As we move into this season of discernment at St .Mark’s I want to issue a call to a recommitment to prayer and silence as part of our individual and communal spiritual practice. There is tremendous spiritual benefit that can come from sitting in silence before the Holy One and then sharing the insights of that prayer in gentle, respectful and gracious listening and bold sharing. This kind of work can only be done when we can be assured that the places of prayer and sharing are safe and that we respect and listen as deeply to one another as we do to the Living God.
As we move into this season of imagining and seeking the dreams that God has for this community, I want to encourage us to take advantage of the mid-week services we have to do this important and foundational spiritual work.
These will not be the only opportunities to sit together and listen to God in silence and in the words of one another how the Spirit might be moving in our midst, but they will be the regular opportunities to do that with out the active and purposeful work that will be offered in the form of Congregational Listening and Conversation Meetings which we will be offering in the coming months.
The first of these events is scheduled for the Feast of the Ascension Thursday May 10th beginning with a contemplative Eucharist at 6 pm and with a light soup and salad supper and conversation to follow. I believe this to be an appropriate time to begin these conversations as it is the time in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels that Jesus gives his final instructions to his disciples before returning to God nearer presence.
We will be announcing further opportunities to do the brainstorming that we will begin at this event before we begin the conversations and times of prayer and study that the vestry and I believe will help us discern the movement of the Holy Spirit in how, where, when, why, and upon whom we will focus our energies and the Power of the Spirit as we seek to be faithful in the living out of our Baptismal Covenant.
These are uncertain times, but we serve a God who has issues a promise in the midst of the Great Commission given us through Matthew’s Gospel;
“16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
God will not leave us without the gift of God’s presence, nor will God leave us comfortless as we prayerfully, faithfully and humbly dare to put our trust in the One Is and Was and Is to Come.
Padre Warren +
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mk 1:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 28:16–20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.