St. George’s Annual Meeting Interim Rector’s Report
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” read Jesus from Isaiah in his home town Synagogue in Nazareth, and then sat down and proclaimed: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”. Is this Mary and the carpenter Joseph’s son? Where did Jesus get either the arrogance or the authentic experience to say such a thing? It was at his baptism by John that he experienced the power of these words to be true for him: “You are my son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” And that same power and experience of the spirit is true for us as well: “You are my son, my daughter; with you I am well pleased.”
Brene Brown, a sociologist, describes herself as a collector of stories and most of her stories were about the messiness of life. She started researching on how do we make connections, form relationships, because, she says we are wired to do this; it gives us meaning and purpose. But what she found, instead of hearing stories
of connection, she heard stories of being disconnected, of being isolated and lonely which contributed to the fear of making connection, of making new relationships. This fear, she found, was based in a deep sense of shame, which Brene says is a universal experience for all people; the shame of not being good enough, or smart enough, or pretty enough. It is the fear of exposing our selves, the fear of being excruciatingly vulnerable. In her research, she found that people divided into two different groups: one group had a sense of belonging and love, and in the other group, people had spent their lives struggling for this belonging and love. What separated these two groups was this:BELIEVING THAT YOU ARE WORTHWHILE !! So, Brene looked at these people and found that they were WHOLEHEARTED people, people who had the courage to say who they are; the courage to be imperfect, the compassion to being kind
to themselves and then to others, and the authenticity to let go of who they thought they should be for who they really are; which is what you need to make an authentic connection your real self. And finally the people had the willingness to invest in a relationship that may not work out and may expose them to hurt, pain and rejection to being vulnerable; because she found that being vulnerable was also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love.
So why aren’t more people doing this?; because, she says we live in a vulnerable world: where people get fired and with people who do the firing; people asking for help and people offering help, and both experiencing the pain of rejection, whichever side of the relationship you are on. So we naturally numb ourselves to vulnerability: to avoid the pain, we have become the most addicted, medicated, obese, and indebted people ever in U.S. history. But we can not be selective about what we numb ourselves too. When we numb ourselves to bad stuff of disappointment, fear, and even death, we also numb ourselves to the good stuff: of joy, gratitude, and compassion. As Brene Brown discovered for herself there is another way: to let ourselves be deeply seen for who we are ; to love with our whole hearts even when there are no guarantees, to practice gratitude , joy, and compassion, and to know that I am enough, I am worthwhile.
“You are my son, my daughter, with you I am well pleased” says the God of Jesus to each and every one of us. And when we believe this, believe in our worthiness before God, we can whole-heartedly be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be the hands and feet of Jesus out in the world.
Hear these stories of people discovering their worthiness and whole heartedness for this past year:
A few Sunday’s ago, a visitor said to me after our worship service: “I came in wounded and now feel healed. Thank you.” Another person remarked to me when I was still in the pew; “The sermon this morning from Calvin moved me to start thinking to do something
about poverty in Maine.” During Advent, a person took my hand in theirs and said: “I was lonely when I came in and now feel connected to a caring community.
Several of our parishioners have unexpectedly been laid low by illness, but, because of the phone calls, visits and cards by many of you, said this to me: “I never knew before what a remarkably caring community St. George’s is.”
This past year, because of the leadership of Alice Kerr Laird, Jim Gambrill, Barbara Diamond, Calvin Sanborn; people have made comments like: “I have been challenged by this class to give up my childhood understanding of my faith, which hasn’t been easy because it has given me comfort. But I realize now that my faith isn’t just for comfort but for courage and strength.
Because of your whole hearted commitment to Time of Wonder preschool, some of you heard about a mother, whose old car died, and she didn’t have the money to buy another wreck, so, you and others donated enough money for her to buy a reliable car to get her child to Time of Wonder and herself to her job.
Several of you have expressed your sadness at Calvin needing to leave as your Rector, while understanding his heartfelt necessity to be a Dad for his young children. I too am sad and miss his passion and presence as a spiritual leader. But it is our job now to remember what was the best part of Calvin’s ministry and bring that forward to the search committee for our new Rector.
Here at St. George’s, it is our job to have each of us experience this deep, profound truth: that whatever fears, whatever insecurities, and whatever other barriers you have, we are here to help each other to believe and trust that you are a child of God who is loved to the depths of your soul, so you can trust God with your fragile vulnerability and know that on the other side of hurt and pain is joy and love. And when you know this, nothing is impossible.
Several years ago when you started to talk about renovating the sanctuary, and refurbishing the downstairs for the Time of Wonder day care, there were murmurs of “are we crazy? Can we really raise that much money” my self being one of the murmurers. And look around you at this glorious worship space, and explore the safe and secure day care center. Nothing is impossible with God!
So what is it that is stirring within your heart and soul? What is the Holy Spirit empowering you to do? What dream is filling your imagination of what could be to “bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free? Is it to stop the ever increasing opioid crisis in York Harbor? Is it some new vision about education for children? Is it embodying and teaching the power of forgiveness?
Why come to a church? Why invite a friend or neighbor to come to St. George’s? This is why: to love and be loved by God and go out to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world.