From the Rector

Ingathering 2018

For the last several weeks, we’ve been reflecting on how God is asking us to build a longer table. For many years, Transfiguration has been known as a community of compassion and inclusion, a church where all are truly welcome and all are invited to live into the loving way of Jesus. That is to say, the table we’ve created by our life and fellowship is long, wide, and open. As I said in my sermon on kickoff Sunday, this is one of the things many of us are most proud of about our beloved church, because it echoes the life of the one we call Lord.
But God hopes it will grow even longer. There are people in our community who have never experienced a church where they felt fully and completely welcome. There are people cannot now imagine that this ancient faith has anything to say to this modern world, or that mercy or intellect have anything to do with Christianity. And there are too many who have no idea there are Christians who believe that how we live is every bit as important as the words we profess. Yes, we need to build a longer table, because who we are and what we offer is more important than ever. There are hungry people out there – literally and spiritually – and we need to show them to the place at our table where the living God can feed them with the Bread of Life.
We’ve had fun with this metaphor, as we often do with our stewardship themes around here, but this past week, I read an editorial by Jonathan Merritt that reminded me of just how important it is that we turn the symbol into reality.
He writes about how even though the percentage of people who self-identify as Christian remains relatively high in our country (70%), Christians are increasingly unlikely to talk about matters of faith or spirituality. In a survey of 1,000 adults, he found that 6/10 had spiritual conversations at most a few times a year, and even among genuinely practicing Christians, only 13% had such conversations once a week.
The reason this is more than just an interesting statistic is that the evaporation of spiritual or religious conversation is leading to the disappearance of enormously important language from our vocabulary. And I’m not just talking about the lamentable diminishment of words like “sin,” “salvation,” or “grace.” I’m referring to words like “kindness,” “compassion,” “modesty,” and even “thankfulness.” These are core Christian virtues, expressions of St. Paul’s fruits of the Spirit, and their disappearance from our common speech has inevitably led to their fading influence in our common life.
The truth is that our society isn’t just forgetting to speak these words. We are forgetting what it looks like to live them.
Friends, this is why it is so important that we build a longer table, because we are witnesses to a holy way that our world is actively forgetting. This campaign is about more than just growing our budget next year. It’s about our commitment to ensuring that things we believe are timeless and true continue to be spoken and pursued. Who we are and what we are about is more important than ever.
I hope you’ll come on Sunday for our 10:00 Ingathering Eucharist, and I hope you’ll stick around for Fig Fest, our annual congregational celebration (rain or shine!). I hope you’ll spend some time thinking about what this church’s long table has meant to you, and how gathering here has brought you closer to God. And I hope that reflection will lead you to support Transfiguration next year with time, talent, and treasure, because God needs us to build a longer table.
See you this weekend.