Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I want to first say how absolutely excited I am to be made the Rector of Christ Church Anglican. Its hard to believe that more than 10 years ago Melissa, Clara, Noah, and I walked through the doors of St Teresa Episcopal for the first time and then a few short years later joined many of you as we went out into the unknown and embarked on the grand adventure that became Christ Church Anglican. I am humbled to have been formed and supported from within this community as I prepared for ordination and now the Lord has blessed me with the honor of serving as your Rector.
As I embark in this new role, I want to first recognize Father John and the many years of service he has given both to the Lord and to this parish. He shepherded us as we left all we knew within the Episcopal church and began from scratch at the “Bait and Tackle Shop” along Crawfordville Highway. I can’t begin to count all of the ways he has influenced this parish and my own life. I pray he enjoys a well deserved retirement and I am sure we will see him one day again in the future.
As we reflect on our past, we inevitably must turn to the future. Over the past few months, as I have begun thinking about my vision for Christ Church Anglican, I keep coming back to our mission statement, “To Proclaim, Embody, and Extend Christ’s reign in the world…”. Jesus spent a great deal of his ministry talking about the Kingdom of God, but he wasn’t talking about a far off spiritual realm where we would go when we die. Instead, he was talking about the very reign of God on Earth made manifest in himself. To repent and believe in the Gospel was to believe the Good News that Jesus really was King of Kings and Lord of Lords, turn back from our destructive ways, and give our allegiance to him. So, what does this have to do with our church? It may be helpful to think of our church as an embassy. Though we live in a foreign land, we retain our true citizenship. Though we may be far from our true home, we have a piece of it here with us. The church, like an embassy, is a refuge in a foreign land because, make no mistake, we need a refuge. When we proclaim Jesus is Lord, we are saying Caesar or his modern equivalent are not. Its no wonder Christians over the years have found themselves constantly in trouble with the powers that be. We embody Christ’s reign by being a community that loves others as Christ loved us, through acts of sacrificial love and compassion. We extend Christ’s reign by moving out into the world and making disciples both in Wakulla County and beyond.
This Kingdom we are called to proclaim, embody, and extend is a shock to the world or at least it should be. It should be a shock because it is a kingdom where the poor, the weak, the merciful, and the meek are blessed and the rich and powerful find themselves last in line. It is a shock because it is a kingdom where power is shown through sacrifice and leadership is shown through servanthood. It is a shock because it is a Kingdom where enemies are loved and not hated.
So, let’s go shock the world together by Proclaiming, embodying, and extending the reign of Jesus Christ, the crucified lamb and true Lord of this world!
I know many of you probably have questions for me and for the church. Going from a full time priest to a part time deacon as rector will inevitably involve changes for how we “do business” at Christ Church Anglican. Although I will also have Deacon Preston around to help, it is just a fact that some of Christ Church’s day to day practices may change. As we begin a new phase in the life of Christ Church, I know we will face the challenges and changes together, as a family.
I would like to bring two things to your attention for this week. First, I invite everyone to come this Wednesday, September 11th, to come to the Church at 6pm. Father Mark Eldredge, Canon for Church Revitalization, will be visiting to discuss the leadership transition and the life cycle of the church. It should be a fruitful time to contemplate where we are in the life cycle and, more importantly, where we go from here. I also invite you all to come to service this Sunday, September 15th. I hope to expound a bit on my vision for Christ Church in the coming years. After service I will be having an informal forum for discussion and questions. I hope to see all of you!
The Reverend David Alford