Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Welcome to “Our Common Life!” As part of our effort to keep our church family more connected, we are pleased to offer you a somewhat more enhanced e-newsletter. In the new version of Our Joyful Noise! you’ll continue to find parish and community announcements, and once we are back to our more regular in-person worship, you’ll also find the ever popular rota of ministry volunteers. During this time of pandemic, however, in which we continue to isolate from one another and in which our in-person gatherings must be minimal, we have been looking for ways to stay connected and to help you stay connected to the ongoing mission and ministry of St. Mary’s. So, there’s something new in the e-newsletter: this weekly reflection from myself or another voice from St. Mary’s on our common life.
When someone is baptized in the Episcopal Church, all the people respond: “We receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 308). “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,” writes St. Paul, “whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). When we are baptized, we are not only made inheritors of God’s reign, but we are baptized into a common life, the household of God. Our baptism sets us apart as a people with a high calling from God to live a common life of faith, hope, and love.
Moreover, as the Gospel this coming Sunday (Matthew 22:34-40) reminds us, the greatest commandment is to love our God with all our heart, and soul, and mind. And the second greatest is to love our neighbor as ourselves. So, as Christians, we live a common life of distinction, devoted to our God, but we also live a common life of love toward our neighbors, those who are not (or not yet!) involved in the common life of the Church.
As the church, we are more than a family, we are a society of faith, hope, and love. We have a way of prayer in common, we have a way of life in common, and we seek to forge a good, just, and peaceful life in common with those who are our neighbors. In this reflection every week, you can look forward to hearing from voices around St. Mary’s, celebrating and considering faithfully the common life of our parish and our common life with our neighbors.
As we look forward to strengthening our bonds of affection and continuing our common life, let this prayer for the human family from the Book of Common Prayer (p. 815) be our prayer:
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord.