Unity, Division and A Balanced Budget!
It’s hard to believe that we stand at the last day of the first month of 2019, but here we are. If the first month of the year is any indication of the rest of the year, we’re in for a power-packed 2019!
I want to send a word of encouragement and rejoicing to you regarding the balancing of our 2018 Budget! As many of you know, when I arrived here in September 2016, we had been chipping away at our financial reserves for many years by ‘borrowing’ from ourselves to make up for shortfalls at the end of each year. Over the last two years, we have been operating with a clear and intentional Strategic Plan for our Parish, which made two of its goals the balancing of our budget and the prioritization of our long-term financial health. I rejoice with you this year because in only two and a half years we have not only transformed our financial standing with a realistic and operational budget, but we have finished 2018 in the black!This is cause to celebrate. It also spurs us on to continue this holy work, expanding ministry and planning for the future.
In other news, I was blessed to spend three days at Serra Retreat House in Malibu this week on retreat with about twenty-five clergy colleagues including bishops, priests and deacons, from all over the country to reflect on the theme of “Unity and Division in the Missionary Church.” (That ‘missionary’ part doesn’t refer to the Church’s traditional interpretation of that word in terms of its efforts to export ‘over there’ what doesn’t work here; rather, it is written in the spirit that we are all of us missionaries for Christ in a world which seems hell-bound to reject him). We wrestled with questions like, What does “unity in Christ” really mean, and how do we lead people of faith in the midst of a divided and demonizing culture? and How can we call on the teachings of Jesus to model risky, compelling, and deep conversations that do not end in division? Indeed, it was what one would call ‘deep waters’.
We did not come up with any clear or easy solutions, nothing that could easily be ‘unleashed’ on our communities at home. However, we did find encouragement and hope in our dialogue and in stories shared. One thing did emerge: the unity of the Church as the Body of Christ was called into being by Jesus, and as such, its unity cannot be compromised. That being said, it is our job as the Body of Christ to do the work to reveal and magnify the unity of the Holy Trinity here on earth. Jesus prayed in John’s Gospel for his disciples (and for us) that they (and we) might all be one, as Jesus and the Father are one. And, I think we can all agree that Jesus gets what Jesus wants, especially when he asks in prayer. Our job is to reveal and recognize this holy unity whenever we see it or hear it or experience it. And if we don’t experience it, it’s our job, with God’s help, to sharpen our spiritual senses. This is hard work, but together with God, we can do hard things.
God bless you, and see you Sunday!
(The Rev.) George Daisa