I hope that you have your own good memories of
Bishop Tom's visit on Sunday, but my personal favorite was when Tom walked into
the Small Hall for a visit with parents, children and teenagers, and promptly
sat down on the floor, cross-legged, with his Shepherd's crook balanced across
his knees. He then invited children to try on his miter - which always
reminds me of the title of Bishop Barbara's autobiography, "The Miter Fits
Just Fine!" Tom gently engaged both children and parents in dialogue,
asking them what was important to them about church. I think what Tom
heard, and what I heard over and over was the word "community".
I heard that many busy parents would like the chance of more adult education,
someday, but first, they simply need the community that being a part of Grace
provides them, and hopefully that they provide to others.
As you know, the mantra of realtors in location, location location. In
the diocesan Christian ed group I belong to, we joke that our equivalent is
relationship, relationship, relationship. Yes, a good curriculum is
important. Yes, organization, teacher's rotas, registration, all the
little things that make a program run better, are important, but ultimately
what matters is that children know that being a member of a church is an
extension of being a member of a family. You are loved and accepted
unconditionally, by people of all ages.
As children grow older, they begin to realize that this is just one big living
metaphor for the love that God has for us, a love that is even greater than the
human love we try our best to model in our church community. And they
also learn that the church's community isn't just our individual church of
Grace, but that we are a part of a wider Church, Deanery and Diocese and whole
country and around the world.
When Tom spoke about the death of Jorge Fuentes in Grace Discussion Group on
Sunday, he said that one lesson had been that the suburban churches that had
become connected with the city churches through B-Safe recognized that this was
a loss that touched them too, that we are all one in Christ, and the senseless
murder of a young man who had grown up safe so far in the protection of the
church, who had become a leader himself, who planned to go and join the
Marines, was a brutal reminder that all of us need to see this as a
threat to our own communities, and to see it as a problem we must all work to
resolve. This is what matters about being Church; the interconnectedness,
which begins with a parish, continues with a global view of the Church in the
world, and ends with an awareness that we are all created and loved by God.