Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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October 27, 2023

Sisters and brothers,

Often, Christians have an erroneous idea of what the Bible is. Often, we think that the Bible is a chapter book. One starts at page one and proceeds. For the most part, everything falls in chronological order. The Psalms and Proverbs and the Wisdom Literature are just weird interludes. AND EVERYTHING points to Jesus, and the salvation we enjoy in His death, resurrection, and ascension.

 The (and I mean ‘the’) problem with this set of largely modern, protestant, American hermeneutics is that it is utter hogwash. The Bible, as we have received, it is a library written, edited, redacted, translated, conflated, and passed down over millennia through multiple languages, cultures, nationalities, and evolving religious conceptions and convictions.

 That complicated and complex library does hold forth A Story told through different story cycles and genre. That Grand Story has at different times and in different places imparted different values and morals. The communities that have received that Story and the smaller stories that convey it have prioritized different aspects and interpretations to serve their purposes for ever. And yet at its core, that Grand Story is one of a love affair between God and God’s whole creation. We’ve understood God differently over time. There has never been a pristine past of universal agreement. And yet with God’s love at its core, the Grand Story has asked for faith from us – those who have received and are now stewards of the Grand Story.

 In this regard, Faith can mean many things: obedience, prudence, loyalty, steadfastness, belief… All of which can best be held together in the concept of trust. Our first response to God’s love conveyed in Scripture’s Grand Story of creation, fall promise, following, famine, slavery, deliverance, wandering, prosperity, disobedience, faithlessness, exile, return, gift, self-sacrifice, resurrection, redemption, inspiration, provision… is to be trust. We will trust that God is the lover on whom we can rely even when God’s purposes and call seem to be a mystery.

 This is a roundabout way for me to ask for your support and prayers for the work of the Vestry and the newly appointed Stewardship and Development Committee. We are closing in on two full years together and serious discernment must be done, and decisions made to shape our life together for years to come. Those decisions include what my fate with St. Bart’s may be, what Capital projects must be prioritized, what Operational priorities are truest to our community’s Christian vocation, and how we will continue to resource our life together through the gifts of money, time, creativity, talent, and prayer. I enjoin you to trust God, to trust that God will make clear the path to our future together. I ask you to pray for and trust that the Holy Spirit will move our hearts and stir our imaginations. I ask you to pray for those who are yet to make their way to our little refuge in the woods, and to trust that God will bring to us those that need us the most. I ask you to trust the words of our prayer, “let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and that things which had grown old are being made new.” (From a Collect found in multiple liturgies in The Book of Common Prayer)

 There is so much to be done, and so much that we can do together when we place our trust in God and Scripture’s Grand Story of love, promise, and new life. Thank you for your resilience, joy, hope, and faith. It remains a pleasure and privilege to serve with and among you.

Yours in Christ,