Friday, July 29, 2016

Major Ideas inspired by the B Minor Mass

I was listening to the B Minor Mass (JS Bach) yesterday morning in the car on my way to work.  I just couldn’t take one more report from the Democratic National Convention (or any convention, for that matter) and the relentless traffic-weather-traffic-weather-traffic-weather reports were irritating and, not especially helpful.  The traffic was heavy and the weather was hot.  There.

So I turned to Bach to soothe my savage beast.

Bach, of course, is The Master.  And, in his masterpiece of choral works, there are a few themes that repeat over and over again.  Magen Solomon, Director of the San Francisco Bach Choir has done an amazing job describing the tight structure of Bach’s master work and how its intricate parts relate to each other in interlocked sections built on harmonic signatures, multiples of 3 and themes developed in other parts of the composer’s works through the years.  Fascinating.  Read it here:
It’s more than one can digest in one reading but my point is this:  Bach’s many  moving pieces had some pretty major brush strokes.

Now, I’m no baroque master composer.
And I’m still learning how to be a bishop.

But I’ve got some major themes and brushstrokes.  And today, in a conversation with some people who are very close to me and my work, it occurred to me that one cannot lay it out enough: the Big Picture.  The Major Movements.  The people in my meeting today seemed to appreciate my simple reiteration of what I think we’re aiming for.
And so, at the risk of some clicking away for the sake of redundancy and some eye-rolls, here it is-  this month’s dose of what I think we’re doing:

1.    We are working to fulfill the Mission of God.
2.    We are moving forward in a Three Year On-Ramp Plan, about to begin Year Two
3.    We are Seeing Some Immediate Priorities Emerge for our Common Life in Christ

Here’s some short annotation.

1.    We are working to fulfill the Mission of God.

I am convinced that God is calling us to follow where God is leading us to a time and place that is brand new. We are living in a Post-Christian Era, but that does not mean that God’s mission is complete or less important than it ever has been.  It means that we need to pay closer attention to where God is leading and to use new, bold and creative measures to follow God’s call to be healers and lovers and good neighbors.  That’s the first order of business:  to follow the Way of Jesus to fulfill God’s Mission.  Presiding Bishop Curry calls this the Jesus Movement. It is exciting and central and vital.

2.     We are moving forward in a Three Year On-Ramp Plan, about to begin Year Two. 

Year One was all about getting to know my new diocesan home and all of you. This work of making your acquaintance, laying the groundwork for long and lasting anam cara- soul friend- relationships is not over, but just starting.  The Listening Year has been great… and the practice of spending time and learning about who you- we- are, will continue.
Year Two will be about coming to name and claim and articulate our own stories as disciples of Jesus.  We will be telling stories all year that point to how we are living as Christ’s hands and hearts in this world.  How have we been transformed by Jesus?  How have we experienced healing?  Exile and Return? Belonging? New Life and resurrection?  It’s all part of understanding how Jesus is moving in us today- by sharing the stories that have formed… and continue to form us.  Stories.  Discipleship.  Year Two.

Year Three will be about using our understanding of who we are and shaping a Collective Vision for our Future Together.  This process will be interactive and engaging and allow us each to weigh in on the work that is ahead of us in our diocese in the years ahead.

3.    We are Seeing Some Priorities Emerge for our Common Life in Christ

In the next year, some administrative shaping will help us live a more focused life in our diocese as we stress Communication, Formation, New Engagement and Continued Clarity.

Communication is essential for our common life.  We will be introducing a new website with enhanced tools and capacity to keep us all aware of our common life together.

Formation is a key focus as we grow from the foundation of the decades-old, successful School of Christian Studies into the fully developed Stevenson School for Ministry with its lifelong formation emphasis and deepened commitment for  training ordained ministers (deacons and priests) locally.

New Engagement will be the work of the Canon for Congregational Life and Mission as we seek to explore ways to strengthen our congregations, find new ways to connect in our local contexts and be bold about dissolving boundaries between Church and Community.

Continued Clarity speaks to an ongoing emphasis on refining reporting and accounting structures and being the best stewards of our common resources.  We’ve made some great headway in this area in the recent past, and a new administrative structure will allow for continued success.

It takes a minimum of 7 exposures to new material to begin to absorb and retain new learning.
For most of you faithful readers, this is not your first exposure to these ideas. And, I can promise you, it won’t be your last.

Weigh in.
Offer some feedback.
Let’s hear what you think.

Until next time…

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