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Thursday, November 9, 2017

November 2017

In the last Bridge I wrote about spiritual practices. Prayer, fasting, corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Following on those ideas, and long held recognizable traditions in Christianity, I would like to explore what it means to be the church in the world. Most would agree that we have been richly blessed as a parish community. St Luke’s is thriving and vibrant with amazing children’s ministries and music. We have an amazing and inspirational worship space which is well cared for. This is our home base.

Yet when we read the Gospel we find God’s mission in the world to be much more expansive than the walls of the church. Therefore to fulfill that mission, to engage and participate in it, we need to turn our attention outward. Now is a good time.

We can begin by talking to one another about how we do this. Acknowledging those practices that are already realized, and finding in them the inspiration to look further.

On St Luke’s Feast Day we hear the Gospel story of Jesus returning to his home town of Nazareth and going to the synagogue as was his custom. He got up to read and was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He turned to the place where it is written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. We may note here that Jesus does not say that his mission is to build a church, to have beautiful worship services, or even to build Christian community. All important things. He does point to a mission outside the walls of the synagogue. This may be one of the times when we ought to take and read the scriptures literally. We can ask: Where are captives in Tacoma? Who are the poor in Pierce County? Who are bruised? The brokenhearted? Who has had a bad year and needs a year of favor?

Many parishioners do this kind of Gospel work in their chosen vocation, teaching underprivileged children, helping people find work, or working in healing professions are a few examples. Others volunteer. Let’s find a way to talk about this, and hold up these Christian practices for inspiration; and together to discover further the expansiveness of living the Gospel and engaging God’s mission in the world about us.

All of the spiritual practices, even including prayer, are outward focused. In all of these practices we suspend our own desires in favor of a higher purpose and calling, By following Christ in this way, we engage God’s mission in the world.

(Refresher on works of mercy:)
Corporal Works of Mercy:
feed the hungry
shelter the homeless
clothe the naked
visit the sick and imprisoned
bury the dead
give alms to the poor

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are acts of com-passion by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs.
bear wrongs patiently
We hope you will make every effort to be a part of this important day and support our members who are being Confirmed in the church.