18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 
Dear St. Mark’s Community,
It seems only last week that we shared our first Sunday together at St. Mark’s. In fact we have shared mission, ministry and worship for a bit over nine months Though it may be a stretch, our circumstances have roughly paralleled the gestation of a human child. If the analogy holds true, we are on the verge of the birth pangs of bringing something new into the world. It is true that all analogies break down in the end. However, I believe there are some similarities between pregnancy, birthing and nurture that might be useful to us as we set out to do a new thing as a congregation.
Allow me to be clear. I believe this ‘new thing’ could very well happen in the same place in which St. Mark’s has lived its history to date. The question, it seems to me is not so much, “Where we continue to be a community of faith in a new and challenging time for the church?”, but rather “how will we continue to be a community of faith in this new and challenging age?”
The passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans which precedes this reflection seems particularly applicable for us as we move forward together in seeking God’s preferred and promised future for St. Mark’s. These are certainly challenging times for us at St. Mark’s. We are living in a time of diminishing material resources, that much is certain. What, I believe, is also certain is that St. Mark’s spiritual resources are significant and growing.
As a congregation we are anxious, which is understandable. What I do not detect is a spirit of fear. Our community is bound by the good news that God’s love is unconditional and available in plenteous measure to anyone who seeks to come to Christ. We are also in a position to bear witness to the faithfulness of God. The way of discipleship has always been to dare to follow where God leads. That lead is nearly always out of our comfort zone and toward the margins of the growing Kingdom of God which the church has been called to help build as a result of the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20, “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.”
Beginning on the evening of August 14th, we will be joined on this journey by Ms. Cindy Barnes, a consultant and layperson from the Richmond area who has experience and expertise in helping to guide congregations through seasons of transition. Ms. Barnes is excited to share our journey with us as we seek to do this new thing. She is an example of what Paul is talking about in the passage from Romans, which leads off this reflection. Our sister congregations in the Episcopal churches of Hampton are aware and prayerfully supporting our journey. When the clergy of our convocation gather we check in where we are and where we are going and pray for one another. Folks around us are “waiting with eager longing” to see what will be revealed as we move forward together in faith.
In the weeks and months following this August 14th meeting we will be meeting regularly as a congregation to pray, worship, struggle with God’s will and purpose for the story we are living and to watch how we seek for and live out that call.
Our goal is not so much to do the “right” thing as it is to make good choices as we travel on this pilgrim journey. Remember the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta, “we are not called to do great things, but to do small things with great love.” And also, “we are not called to success, but to faithfulness.”
I have no doubt we will answer that call faithfully.