The clergy of the diocese gathered this past Tuesday. 28 clergy had RSVP’d; 40 showed up. It was basically all of us together in one room. The Bishop called us together to talk about what the Church in the 21st Century in San Diego should look like and how should it act. It was the beginning of an on-going conversation. It’s also the beginning of a new time where the Bishop (any bishop) doesn’t direct what the Church should do; rather we sit and pray together and mutually discern the call of the Holy Spirit.
If you are wondering what the clergy decided, that remains to be seen. There was some healing and we decided to meet at least three times a year to continue our prayerful journey. It was a very good start.
Yet, something very large happened at our clergy gathering and I hope it continues to infect us. I’ll sum it up in two words: God’s peace. I had a palpable sense of God’s peace with us. It was noted from many different priests that we are living in anxious times. These times seemingly will only get more anxious. This coincides with a story on NPR that said Americans seem to be growing more “red” and more “blue.” How does the Church, and specifically the Episcopal Church in San Diego, respond to anxious times? Perhaps by becoming a non-anxious place.
The word anxious doesn’t seem to have a good antonym; carefree and unconcerned are the most popular. A non-anxious church isn’t necessarily carefree or unconcerned. A non-anxious church is one that decides to be walking intentionally into God’s peace. It doesn’t mean we let things slide or are unconcerned with the problems and anxieties of our church, community, nation or world. Rather, we should do what the psalmist tells us in Psalm 46 – be still and know that I am God. In the midst of our anxious world, the non-anxious church will be intentionally “still” and “know” that God is in our hearts, our families and in our house of worship.
Many tell me that when they walk into Saint John’s, they feel the presence of God in the warmth and hospitality of our members. They have a sixth sense of knowing that God is present. I enjoy seeing people sitting in the pews before or after the service, being still and knowing they are in God’s presence.
I want to share with you one of my new favorite prayers about peace. You can use it in church at home.
Quiet me, O Lord.
Calm my mind.
Still my hands.
Remove any worries from my heart.
I want to give you my full attention.
Slow me down so that I can hear your voice
and see you at work in my life today.