Thoughts & Homilies from our Rector
Rev. Eric L. Miller
April 20, 2022
In Sara’s reflection on this Sunday’s worship experience she writes, “Through spoken word, repetitive chant and silence, this immersive style of worship should allow you to make new connections with the experience. All you need to do to make that happen is come on Sunday with an open mind and willingness to experience something new.”
All we need to do to make new connections with the Risen Christ is to come on Sunday with an open mind and willingness to experience something new. I appreciate and agree with Sara’s perspective. Part of following Jesus is to have an open mind and the willingness to experience something new.
Jesus’ disciples were told again and again to expect Jesus’ death and resurrection, and yet, they were taken aback and shocked with each post-resurrection experience. Why would that be? When we bury our loved ones most of us don’t expect to see them walking with us again or eating a meal together, having conversations. We expect that they are in the afterlife. And yet, I know that each time I wear my grandfather’s watch I am reminded of him and our relationship. When the wind blows just right I can see Grace, our beloved Labrador of nine years before her passing, laying under the ancient burr oak tree in the backyard. I can see her lifting her big Labrador face and sniffing whatever scents the wind blows. When I’m having a rough day and feel as though I let someone down I can hear my grandmother’s raspy voice reminding me, “You can’t please everyone, Eric Lee.”
Who’s missing from your life? When do you experience them through a resurrection memory or feeling? These experiences are sacred, and part of what makes the resurrection encounters available is our open mind, our willingness to experience their presence in a new or different way. As the late Donald Vinson, my rector while I served as his curate used to say, “Well, isn’t that something!”
Ascension & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church is changing. I cannot clearly articulate the change just yet. A shift has taken place in me to work for a greater sense of our tagline, “All are welcome because all belong.” I recognize that some might not connect exactly with this phrase. I also understand Brene Brown’s shared experience of being able to have a sense of belonging wherever we go. That is to say, I am comfortable in my own skin and with who I am as a beloved child of God, and I feel like I “belong” anywhere. This sense of belonging doesn’t mean I completely agree with groups of people, but it does recognize that I have value and you have value. My growing awareness of the need for people to know they belong today is stronger than ever. My intention is to look at our ministries through the lens of our tagline. I think that this work toward a greater sense of belonging in our faith community is effective and authentic to who we are as God’s beloved.
I know that we are attracting new families. I know that Vestry is planning and seeking to implement our Invite-Welcome-Connect initiatives. I know that Sara works toward a growing sense of belonging for folks with our music ministries, Ernaisja does a superb job communicating our ministries with inclusive language, and Amy is clear on our move to greater belonging through how she administers. We just experienced a beautiful, celebratory Easter Sunday experience with a sweet Spirit about the space and many in attendance, in-person and online. My prayer is that those gathered to celebrate the gift of Christ’s resurrection experienced a greater sense of belonging in God’s holy family through participating in our liturgy. My hope for Ascension & Holy Trinity parishioners is that we are willing to continue exploring with open minds and a willingness to experience new things and new ways of being. And, that we are encouraged and ignited with a new hope of what Jesus can do with our faith community through the power of the resurrection and through a greater sense of becoming more and more a people of belonging to God and to each other.
In God’s Grace,
Eric L. Miller+