My dear sisters and brothers of Grace,
I started my sojourn among you almost one year ago. This time has been challenging and joyful. I came here not knowing quite what to expect and found a congregation full of God’s love and a willingness to trust that love into the unknown future. Your lives, both collectively and individually, have been a powerful witness to the reality of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
You have endured wounds that had the potential to kill you, but have seen those wounds transformed into life in the love of Jesus. You have faced the knowledge of the past, recognized that it had no control over you, and taken the steps necessary to redeem it. You have been a strong and hopeful witness to the whole church as we have confronted the evils of misogyny, sexism, and sexual abuse. While your work in this area is not complete, you have made a worthy beginning that has laid a strong foundation for future growth.
Yet the work you have admirably done is not simply the correcting of past injustices, as important as that is. Your work has been and is walking the way of the Cross. Your work has been claiming those portions of this community that have died and raising them, by the gracious will of God, to resurrection in Jesus Christ.
As our love for one another and the world grows more mature, more Christ-like, it inevitably becomes less defensive and fearful and more willing to take risks for God’s kingdom informed by the great tradition of the Church…that God’s will might be done on earth as in heaven. The treasures of our tradition that feed us are not simply things we have done in the past, but are activities that are formed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Our love becomes more Christ like as we are willing to accept more disciplines of holy living not simply for personal enrichment, but for the building up of Christ’s Body, the Church. I have no doubt that with your next rector Grace Church will continue to blossom into its fullest potential of Christ’s love.
The future is always fraught with uncertainties and it is best that we can never know our future until it happens. However, in the kingdom of God, the future is always one that brings us to a fuller knowledge of the love of God. In God’s love we are given the will to serve God, one another, and the world no matter what crosses the future may bring.
And so, we continue to say and to believe: Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.
The Rev. Carlton Kelley