God knows we need help to become the people we want to be. The Holy Spirit gathers the church as a community of friends to help, cooperate, and support one another in becoming more like our Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus was about the least “churchy” person imaginable. But he was a great friend, companion, help, who challenged his friends to love God and love one another and their neighbors, and to show that love in down to earth human ways - by feeding the hungry, healing the sick, binding up the brokenhearted, and enjoying all manner of good things together. At heart enjoying this down to earth, loving, life-long walk with God and one another is what church and spiritual life and growth is all about.
While exploring ways to use this Sabbatical year to help us enjoy our relationship with God and one another, the Vestry discovered Renewal Works. Forward Movement developed Renewal Works for the Episcopal Church to help congregations grow spiritually. Renewal Works is not a “churchy” program, study group, or worship service. Renewal Works is an exploration of spiritual life and growth to help congregations identify next steps for enjoying our life long effort to experience and live the love of God together.
The closer we looked at Renewal Works the more intrigued and excited we became until we decided to take the plunge. So here we go!
Beginning Sunday, January 29 and closing Sunday, February 19 each of us will have an opportunity to complete a private 20-30 minute Spiritual Inventory. This is quite different from the demographic survey many of us took last year. First of all, this spiritual inventory has been developed by the Episciopal Church and used by over 2,000 congregations and 500,000 individuals. It has proven very successful at helping congregations identify core beliefs, practices, and virtues such as joy, kindness, love, gentleness and peace. But most importantly, this Spiritual Inventory is designed for us to enjoy exploring our life together. Highly Recommended: When taking the SI, dedicate 20-30 minutes, get a glass of wine or other beverage of choice, close the door, log on to your computer (not your phone or tablet) and spend half an hour uninterrupted completing the SI. Be honest: no one else will ever know your responses so you may be as honest as possible. Trust that something really good will come out of this for you and for people you care about.
After February 19 no more responses will be accepted. Renewal Works will first analyze all the data from all the inventories completed by St. Luke’s members and produce a report. Then a team of 18 St. Lukers who have agreed to spend several weeks focusing on their own spiritual growth will focus on where St. Luke’s members are in terms of prayer, belief, discipline, and those virtues such as joy, kindness, love, gentleness and peace. Sometime shortly after Easter (April 16) our St. Luke’s Renewal Works Team will produce some proposals for next steps that we might be willing and ready to explore together during the rest of the Sabbatical year.
I believe we are all going to thoroughly enjoy this process. I know it will be successful if every adult (16 years and older) participates. I am so grateful to the members of the Vestry and the Renewal Works Team who have made spiritual growth a priority for the Sabbatical year and who have committed time and talent to reflecting on how to help us grow in our enjoyment of life with God and each other.
Remember St. Luke’s in your estate planning