“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” (Romans 12:1-13)
This passage of Scripture from St. Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome has much to say to us today: it reminds us that true worship entails offering up our whole lives to God, living each day devoted to God’s good will, and not simply falling in step with what is happening all around us, or inside of us. It reminds us that as members of the one body of Christ, we all have unique roles to play, and different ways God has empowered us to all to take part. And finally, it reminds us what living God’s way looks like: genuine and mutual love; lifting one another up; rejecting evil; embracing good; serving the Lord eagerly. It looks like joyful hope. Patience in the midst of suffering. Faithfulness in prayer. Caring for and welcoming each other, as well as those who are unknown or different.
This vision of the Christian life stands in such contrast to how much of our world is operating today. But as we look back on this past year, and look ahead at what is to come, let us take heart in the knowledge that our Heavenly Father does not neglect or waste what we offer to Him through faith in Jesus Christ.
We have much to rejoice and give thanks for as a Parish in this past year:
For several months we were able to worship together in person, including our Christmas Services. We also continued to have the capacity for holding online services, or making use of At-Home worship resources for when we could not gather together. Our Building Restoration Project work is very near to completion (and a word of thanks is due to Terry Sleep for all of his work in this project). We have put on several Take-Out Fundraising Meals, not only to benefit ourselves, but last June we also held one where all the profits were donated to a local school for their Breakfast Program. In October we were privileged to have Archbishop David Edwards and the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Linda Nicholls, join us in person to celebrate the Feast of St. Luke.
In all of these activities, initiatives, and occasions, and in countless other acts of kindness and service that are perhaps easier to overlook, we as members of our Parish Family have been involves in various ways, putting our gifts to good use for the glory of God, and to build up one another in love.
Looking ahead to the coming year, there are some challenges and tasks before us:
The COVID-19 pandemic remains with us, and many of us and our neighbours are continuing to feel its effects: burdened, experiencing loss, isolated, frustrated… afraid.
We recognized the need for renewal of our Parish community: building up our connection to one another as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. We continued to face pressures meeting the basic financial needs for the Parish, while also having to continue the fundraising efforts for our Building Restoration Project. And following to the call from Archbishop David and our Diocesan Synod, we are to create and implement our own Mission Action Plan, and to engage in the worldwide Anglican Communion’s season of Intentional Discipleship (“to equip and grow disciples who in turn go out to equip and disciple others.”).
To help us as a Parish face some of these tasks and challenges, Vestry and I have put forward a Proposal to create a new mission-focused body serving alongside of Vestry. This Proposal is intended to be a one year trial, helping us as a Parish to develop and share in a common understanding of how St. Luke’s can best participate in the Mission of God in our community.
As this Proposal involves some changes to the structure of our Parish Vestry, I ask that it be decided upon before our Vestry elections take place. This Proposal has been shared with Parishioners in advance of our Annual Meeting, with opportunities and invitations for discussion, questions, and clarifications having been offered as well.
However we prayerfully decide to proceed, it is clear that the Lord has much for His people to do in this community in the days to come. May the Holy Spirit of God continue to guide us and bind us together in the faith, hope, and love that God has given to us all in Jesus Christ.
Respectfully submitted, in the love of Christ,
Rev. Rob Montgomery
To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:1b-8 NRSV).
In this passage St. Peter reminds us of some very important truths which we can easily lose sight of: the abundant grace and provision of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ; the precious hope we have received through His promises; our calling to turn from our old ways of life that we may share in God’s own nature; and that we must make every effort to support and strengthen our faith with goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, mutual-affection, and love. Travelling this pathway, St. Peter tells us, can keep us from being ineffective and unfruitful as we seek to follow our Lord together as a parish.
Since beginning to my time as Priest-in-Charge here at St. Luke’s in late August, I have been so grateful for this community which I have been called to serve. In many ways, these past six months have been a time of learning for me: learning the basics of pastoral ministry and leadership on the ground, but also of learning the rhythms and character of our particular community. I have sought to be respectful and supportive of what has gone on before me, to lead by also being quick to listen to the wisdom and experience all around, and to begin learning about the wonderful and dedicated people who make up our parish.
This past fall at Diocesan Synod, every parish was called to participate in two significant initiatives. The first is a five-year worldwide Anglican movement referred to as the Season of Intentional Discipleship, in which we as the people of God are to revisit and turn our attention to one of the primary tasks of the Church: “to equip and grow disciples who in turn go out to equip and disciple others.” This asks us not only to take seriously our own calling to continually mature in the Christian faith, but also to invest in the nurturing of a living faith in others as well.
The second initiative is for all parishes in the Diocese to develop and implement a Mission Action Plan in 2020, which is to be a 2-5 year plan to help us focus our efforts and engage with God’s mission in our wider community. The Bishop said this involves taking “a step beyond where we are now… even if that means dropping something internal to take up something external.” Resources will be available in 2020 from the Diocese to assist us in this process.
Together, these two initiatives pull us in two directions at once: calling for us to turn our attention inward and clarify our own calling as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, and also to follow our Lord beyond our own walls and areas of concern to be led by the Spirit to take our part in the Living God’s redeeming work in our community.
In addition to these two tasks for us starting in 2020, we also have our ongoing Building Renovation Project, through which we have been tasked with raising significant funds in the near future to enact some much-needed repairs on our beloved church building.
All together, this seems like a whole lot to ask of any parish all at once. How are we to go about accomplishing all of this? I would again call our attention to St. Peter’s words to us, reminding us to trust in the abundant grace and provision of our God, whose “divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life”, who calls us as His people to lean on His divine promises, and to make every effort to strengthen our faith through how we live each day. This is, we know, not a guarantee that all our plans will succeed, or that we will not have to face challenging situations and choices. But if most of all we seek to be effective and fruitful followers of Jesus Christ, then this is the adventurous, blessed, and hopeful path that lies before us.
Exciting days are ahead of us here at St. Luke’s. May the Holy Spirit give us the grace of clear vision and willing hearts to take our part in God’s Mission, here in Gondola Point and beyond.
Respectfully submitted, in the love of Christ,
Rev. Rob Montgomery
Rev. Rob serves as the Priest-in-Charge at St. Luke's Gondola Point, and as the School Chaplain at Rothesay Netherwood School