By the Very Rev. Daniel P. Richards
Three years ago our Vestry faced a decision. We had several people with the gifts and experiences to fill the normal positions on the Vestry, and quite well. But we also had this situation that had arisen a few times over the years that I wanted to address through them.
That situation was a “miss.” This would happen when a problem, decision, or opportunity would come up, and we would realize after we resolved it that we had not gone to prayer together, or that we had kept in mind a lot of things but not some essential thing that was close to our purpose.
These “misses” were not threatening, just disappointing. They never endangered the church, but they frustrated the leadership. They were subtle but important, so I proposed a new position on the Vestry: the Keep.
In medieval castles, the center structure, often the original tower or hold of the castle was called the “keep”. It was the safest place in the castle behind several layers of security, and it was often deep and central to the identity of the castle. The Tower of London could be called the keep of its structure, the oldest, central structure of the main castle of London.
The keeper of the keep, sometimes called the keeper of the keys in literature, was often a trusted counselor of the king or regent of the castle. I thought immediately of these couple of people serving on the Vestry as keepers of the keep, so we called this new position the Keep. Our first Keep on the Vestry was Greg Hagan, and currently Mary Merrill is our Keep with Eddie Grim as Assisting Keep.
I have been thinking of Grace this month as an elaborate castle of the Lord. Like a castle, the reach of its influence goes far outside the walls, but the inward workings are complex, multilayered, and frankly busy. Like those medieval castles, Grace plays a role in the larger community and involves whole markets and residences. Every member of these elaborate communities and organs is vital. From the guards to the maids, horsemen to regents, every person makes this place what it is.
Unlike those castle of lore, our community is made a family in Christ. Our keep is not some older, experienced warrior or sheriff, but rather the Holy Spirit, and this is the time to go deep into the center of who we are and to listen to what the Spirit has to say. The keep of the vestry kept us to our true identity, so that we did not miss our true calling and values and opportunities as we did the work of being community together.
Don’t miss this time to pray, to go down into the depth of this community, to God yourself to listen to the Holy Spirit’s call to steward this important landmark on the spiritual landscape, our home, Grace. Don’t let this opportunity to be Grace pass you by. The Keep is waiting with wisdom, insight, and experience for you.