“GO!” has been one of the guiding principles of Outreach at St. John’s over the last several years. The Episcopal Church has a beautiful way to describe the Way of Love practice “GO:”
To GO is to “cross boundaries, listen deeply and live like Jesus. He sends us beyond our circles of comfort to witness the love, justice and truth of God with our lips and with our lives. We GO to become Beloved Community.”
The pandemic has forced us to reimagine “going” when it comes to our outreach in the community. I think one of our most powerful examples of this reimagined outreach is our small but mighty AV Team. Each week for almost two years Taylor Miller, Kevin O’Donnell, Al Sauer, Nicholas Kerr, Ken Marsh, Dave Roberts, Heather Roberts, Peter Thibodeau, and Troy Thomas help our Church cross boundaries beyond our circles of comfort to tell the truth of God with our words by casting and hosting the 9:30 service on YouTube and Zoom. When I was in the mountains with family and friends over the July 4th weekend, I was able to listen to Father Philip proclaim that “abundant life is available to us through Christ alone” and to be wary, as Paul was, when we hear the Gospel becoming “algebraic” because nothing needs to be added to Christ to live an abundant life. This is a message that our world needs to hear right now, and thanks to our AV/outreach team, this is possible. That July 3 morning when I was looking at the mountains of NC and the St. John’s YouTube channel I started to think about the Gospel messages of the previous few weeks that our AV team shared with people beyond our circles that could be transformative for those seeking a loving life-giving God.
I felt hope when I contemplated who might have tuned in on our Feast Day celebration to hear Bishop Sam Rodman preaching just two days after the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe. He encouraged us to do the hard thing of holding two truths the way Jesus and St. John did so many times in their lives. Bishop Sam said, “John the Baptist would decry the inequality that will result from the overturning of Roe v. Wade…and Jesus models for us how to hold these two truths together- the sacredness of life and the sacredness of choice.” Bishop Sam went on to say that the “journey of faith is not always easy, but love will carry us through the confusion, outrage and fear.” If hearing these prophetic words during a deeply difficult time did not give the world a bit of hope, surely hearing the children play Ukulele right after the sermon brought light into the world! I also reflected back to Mother Sarah’s message that beautifully weaved To Kill a Mockingbird’s character Boo Radley with the Gospel story of the feared outsider. I prayed that her words “the Church has too often made common cause with the forces that oppress…weaponizing scripture to keep people othered and at the margins” reached the ears of people who have been wounded by the church. Sharing God’s word beyond our church walls comes in many different forms at St. John’s. We often hear and see how our congregation is feeding the food insecure, visiting refugees, building/rehabbing homes or engaging in creation care work, but behind the scenes, one story up, tucked back in the organ loft there is a mighty outreach force doing God’s work each week. Thank you, AV Team! Contact Al Sauer or Barb in the office if you want to join this awesome ministry.