passion and purpose




A story from the desert fathers: Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said: Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and, according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: Why not become fire?
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What do you care about?
What do you care about?
Quick-  before reading on, take a moment or two to reflect on this question:
What need/dilemma/ache/question
is worth betting your life on
 and
how are you engaged in it right now?
Jot down a few ideas or phrases.  Notice what comes to mind, first. If you don’t want to jot, then reflect.
When I stopped and reflected, here’s what came to mind for me:
My Question: How do we achieve Peace of Mind, Health and Wholeness: for ourselves- our souls and bodies- and for our faith communities as places of spiritual nourishment, nurture and transformation? That’s my bottom line, my first thing, my passion and priority right now:  Health and Wholeness for those whom I love, for our society, for myself, and for the Institution that I serve, the Church.
 How am I engaged in working for Peace of Mind and Health & Wholeness right now?

In my own body and soul, I am trying to care for myself physically and spiritually by paying attention to how I nourish myself with good food, exercise, getting enough rest and making time for meditation, prayer and study.  It is an ongoing effort to achieve the optimal mix of these things.  Mostly, I stumble, but I continue to strive towards the right mix to achieve peace of mind and wholeness. For our faith communities, I am working with congregations to focus on their matter of first importance:  the worship of God and participation in God’s mission.  When this is seen as the matter of first importance, when Jesus is put at the center of the effort, when Word and Sacrament drive the conversation, then, I believe, there is an opportunity for Health and Wholeness.  When other questions and concerns take first priority and drown out the voice of Jesus, then it is harder to achieve wholeness, health, and its gracious yield-  peace of mind.
We worked out this exercise- What do you care about?- at our Convention last weekend.
We asked delegates to consider and reflect on their driving passion, their urgent need, their need/ache/dilemma/question and to share their responses with their table-mates.  We asked two other questions, too:  What do you wish your parish were doing to live more fully into God’s mission?  And, what can our parishes/convocations do together to answer the sense of need expressed tonight among us? (How can we work together?)
We did this in an effort to begin mining the missional priorities of the diocese and to find ways to collaborate and, as a result,  strengthen what we are already doing.
I believe that our participation in God’s mission is most joyful, most productive, most transformative when the work that we do to its end resonates deep in our bones, when we use our gifts, and when it matters to us.  Maybe that’s a little self-serving, but it makes sense to me.  If God has created us with diversity and differing abilities, and if we are called to build God’s Kingdom as God’s faithful people, then doesn’t it make sense to use our gifts and to work in the corner of the vineyard for which we have particular passion?
The Diocese of Central Pennsylvania is equipped to serve God in so many ways. We have no shortage of talent and resources among those who claim the Episcopal Church in Central Pennsylvania as their spiritual home.  Our local region has plenty of needs. The world is broken in many places.  How are we going to direct our energy and resources in these next years to participate in the work of reconciliation and restoration?  What corner(s) of the vineyard are ours in which to labor? And how, in the doing, will be find ourselves to be transformed?
Think on these things.
What matters to you?  What is the focus of your passion? 
It’s the place to begin.

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