Weekly Encouragement: “Continue the Encouragement”

“That we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
Romans 1:12
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As you have read these blog posts from week to week, have you noticed the series title and Bible verse, above, that have been guiding my reflections and my ministry during my six months at St. Paul’s? They were very intentionally chosen.
They come from the part of Paul’s letter to the Romans, where he says that he longs to be with the believers in Rome “so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” I’ve understood that “each other’s” as it applies to us, to mean both between you—or more specifically, “all y’all,” parishioners and the wider readership of this blog—and me, and also between each of you.
This is how I look at shared ministry. Anything we attempt can best be accomplished by being undertaken together, by praying together, by thinking together, by working together, as we are mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
We opened our Vestry meeting on Sunday with a prayer that included this line from Avery Brooke’s Plain Prayers in a Complicated World: “We are grateful for the witness that each of us has been to the other …” and I asked Vestry members to reflect on the different kinds of witness they had experienced during our time together. You might ask this of yourself and of those who share in ministry with you some time.
My own experiences with staff, Vestry, other lay leaders, and the congregation of St. Paul’s has been that this group of folks combines intelligence and passion in their approach to ministry. That they are willing to learn and grow. That they are forward-looking and open to new things.
That openness is an attitude God expects of all of us. The Psalmist, Isaiah, and the author of Revelation all say, repeatedly, “sing to God a new song.” Paul, in both 2nd Corinthians and Galatians, talks about the “new creation” that Jesus has brought about. And Jesus tells parables about “new wineskins” and treasuring both “what is new and what is old.”
My prayer is that you will all remain open to the new things God is asking of you, as individuals and as the church. My prayer is that you will all continue to encourage each other in faith, be witnesses of that faith to each other, and be witnesses of that faith to the larger Richmond community.
God’s Peace,
The Rev. Bill Queen