By Father Casey Shobe
I want to share with you some good news. The Table, our redeveloped Saturday evening service, is thriving. In its first six weekends, we’ve welcomed an average of over 100 people each time. The church feels full and vital, parishioners are responding with gratitude to the musical leadership of our ensemble, Mother Rebecca and I hear positive feedback about the sermon style, and the refreshments afterward foster fellowship with old and new friends. We’ve already welcomed a number of guests to this service, and they are experiencing the very best of what we offer at Transfiguration. Thank you to all who’ve volunteered to attend on occasion or help out, and I hope you’ll keep it up!
Speaking of keep it up, this weekend is the third of our four-week stewardship campaign. A large, stately Cedar Elm now stands in the Gathering Space, replacing the small, elegant Japanese Maple that stood there last week. The trees in this little “nursery” are symbols of our belief that the things we plant today by our giving and living have the potential to grow into things that will bless people in the future. Like saplings that will one day grow into huge, shady trees, what we do today has the power to grow into the future for which we hope.
I hope you will use this short little stewardship season as a time to reflect on the future for which you hope at Transfiguration. I hope you’re praying for everyone who calls this church home, and those who haven’t even found us yet. Who we are – our mission and values and witness – are more important than ever in our society. I know it seems like the fastest growing religious group in our city is the megachurch, and I hear from people all the time wondering how we hope to compete with churches that operate like rock arenas. But the fastest growing religious group in our society is the same today as it’s been for years: people who claim no religion at all. The “nones” are growing because Americans are increasingly cynical and disillusioned about religion, and Christianity in particular. Christians are hypocritical, moralistic, and disinterested in the issues that really matter.
My hope for the future is that we can help change that toxic narrative. We need to proclaim to the world our belief in a merciful and loving Lord, and then show how that belief shapes how we live, move, and have our being. We must hold fast to the compassionate way of Christ, and patiently bear that witness to others. It may seem small, but God does amazing things with what seems small. Just like a tiny sapling, what we offer by our living and giving, God knows how to transform into more than we can ask or imagine.
So, pray for our church, and for God’s grace to grow our future. And then, I hope, you’ll choose to give in a way that helps us get there.
About Father Casey
Casey became the fourth rector of Transfiguration in October 2014 after having served churches in Rhode Island and Houston. He is married to Melody Shobe, also an Episcopal priest, and they have two daughters, Isabelle and Adelaide. Casey grew up in Temple, Texas, and holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin. His Master of Divinity was earned at Virginia Theological Seminary and his Doctor of Ministry at the School of Theology at the University of the South (Sewanee). He loves playing golf, road cycling, hiking, brewing beer, and working in his yard. You can contact Father Casey by email.