Notes from the Vicar of Grace

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Bill Harper

Hey All--     

We often say that there is a difference between who we are and what we do.  I accept some truth in that.  My "being" is not the same as my "doing."  One could say that in God's eyes "I am" good enough even if I don't "do" enough.


But for church life I think the overlap between what we do and who we are is much closer to one and the same.  We are what we do-as a church.  I'm thinking about this as I try to piece together a homily for this Sunday.  Every Easter season I am drawn to the readings from the Book of Acts-where the community life of those early followers of Jesus is laid out in vivid detail.  Just consider this brief vignette:


All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.  There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.


What they believed and what they did seemed one and the same.  And it was powerful.  Lives were changed.  And of course this just begs the question: Can the same be said for us?


Today I'll say Yes.  And here's why:


First of all, we can bless those who are dying.  This is heart and soul what we believe and what we do.  We believe that life is eternal and every life is sacred, and we act accordingly.  On Monday of this week Chet Bennett, who has become a lovely  friend over many years, told me quietly and confidently that he was "ready to be with God."  We prayed together for that very union to come soon.  Today, Chet  died peacefully, lovingly, surrounded by so many of his family.  And so many of those family members are also a part of life at Grace.  Ken, Susan, Eli, Claudia, Lyn-all of them blessed because of Chet's connection to Grace.  We believe in blessing life, and we do it. 


And then there  are the 100's of ways we celebrate each other-cheer, encourage, affirm, stand by one another.  We believe it and we do it.  This Sunday will be just one more example of that when we celebrate with Gary Lagerloef as he fulfills a long-held dream-launching a satellite into space so he can help us live better on the planet.  If you know Gary you know how much he loves the earth, and so sending a satellite into orbit to track the health and chemistry of our oceans is just part of who he is.  Affirming Gary, jumping up and down with him, waiting in hope with him-we believe in it and we do it.  (Want to know more about our beloved Rocket Scientist?  Click here!)


And then next week, on Wednesday night, we will do something I know we believe in.  Greg Rickel, our Bishop, will be here to help us confirm and affirm the faith and spirit of 21 young people who are part of the family of Grace.  For people-kids-to stand up, bravely and honestly, and affirm what is believed, while staying beautifully open to what is yet to be discovered . . .  well, from my heart I only want to say: this is who we are and what we do.  Ann Strickland, Kathie McCarthy and I have spent many hours and Sunday evenings this year opening up faith and spirit in these lives.  It will be a touching and unique evening (the service starts at 7 p.m.), and I hope many and many of us will be here to witness this essence of ourselves.  Come and see-and bring younger children who will be inspired by this moment of faith in action.


So we are almost all that we do.  And we do much of what we believe.  I suppose we will always strive to be and do more.  And I do hope that we get those two circles of being and doing  to share the very same center, and to overlap completely.  That's what I hope . . . and the hope itself gives me something to do.




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