I have blogged infrequently lately as I have taken on a number of other things this term. First, I am happy to say, a book I have collaborated on with many of the young adults from here at Christ Church and a couple of friends who work with young adults in other places is now nearing completion. Making it seem much more official is its appearance on Amazon for pre-order.
The book was a real joy to work on – especially to receive the many essays that young adults from Saint Hilda’s and Christ Church contributed. Reading their articulation of their faith, hearing how living in community was changing them, and reading how they see their faith and service intersecting and feeding one another has been a true gift. In the book, we have my own essays on different aspects of young adult ministry throughout the book. These are relatively informal reflections and this is intended as a starter for conversations not as a definitive primer on young adult ministry. In addition to my own essays, there are reflections from around 20 young adults from around Christ Church as well as from a few folks outside of our immediate orbit who are engaged in young adult ministry themselves (Steve Rice, Bob Griffith, and Erika Takacs).
I have not seen many works out there that feature so prominently the voices of young adults themselves reflecting on faith, the church, mission, prayer, community, and more. The foreword of the book is written by David Cobb, the rector of Christ Church, and summarizes quite eloquently the beauty that emerges when a group of faithful people come together in a particular time and place to serve God together.
As I was writing the book and having the many conversations that go into such a work, was also engaged in another set of conversations. I began exploring a new call to ministry elsewhere. I had the rare privilege and joy to be serving in a place that I love and to work with colleagues of deep faith and good humor and there was no pressure for me to head out the door. Thus, I was able to pursue a call with a real sense that I was free from the pressure of just needing to quickly find a new job to avoid the bread line as it were.
When I started at Christ Church, I easily imagined myself being buried in the churchyard next to other venerable clergy. It is a place that is easy to fall in love with and to while away one’s time doing worthwhile ministry and worshiping God in a way that is full of beauty and grace.
I have now accepted a position as Sub-Dean of Saint John’s Cathedral in Denver and begin there in June. In many ways, the cathedral offers many of the things that attracted me to Christ Church. It is a catholic place that prays the daily office, offers daily mass, and more. It is also a place with a large and active young population and is looking to expand its mission both within the city and far beyond. Perhaps what swayed me that this was a real call was the absolute joy that many of its parishioners expressed when describing worship at the cathedral – I had a conversation with a fellow who was overjoyed that they offer Benediction every Wednesday night after compline. This is a place that seems to love to work, pray, and give together for the building up of the Kingdom.
Between finishing the book and accepting the call to Denver, Karrie and I managed to get away back to China for a couple of weeks with my parents. I love getting back there whenever I can. A side project of mine that I am working on is creating the infrastructure there for small groups to do short and medium term mission trips around China. I hope to have more details to put out in the coming months.
In my final sermon here at Christ Church, I wrote the following:
In this place, through these gates, we learn more of what it means to truly go into the city, to serve in the city, to find in it the presence of Christ made perfectly present at the Altar. This place is not the destination – it is the gate between the Christ made known at the altar and the Christ we come to know in the streets all around us as we go in peace to love and serve.
It is beauty beheld here that gives us not only a glimpse of the glory of the ever after and the beyond but helps us see more clearly the beauty of lives well lived – of faith made manifest in more perfect offering – that reveals just how the church should be.
Not only is Christ Church a place that lovingly offers a worship that is steeped in beauty and tradition – it is a place where 22 young adults will live in intentional community next year, that hosts an incredible daily soup kitchen, that has worked to establish a new church community in a neighborhood abandoned by nearly every other church, that is engaging questions of sustainability and creativity through the work of generous and passionate interns, and much more.
I will always be thankful to this place, to the rector, and to the people of Christ Church and will carry so many of the lessons learned here into ministry wherever I go – they have given me a glimpse, in so many ways, of just what the Church is called to be – faithful in prayer, dedicated in service, and both evangelical and catholic in all the ways that are true to both.
PS: Of course, this move begs the question of the blog title – I think that I am now leaning toward keeping the current title – unless someone persuades me otherwise!