Rector’s Weekly Letter to the Congregation for Sunday, February 9, 2020
Fr. Edward’s Reflections During His 2020 Vacation
I am so grateful to the vestry for granting me a break and letting me go for a month’s vacation. I must tell you that I enjoy very much what I do here, and I come to the office every single day with joy in my heart. Sunday is always the climax of my week. After church, I go home to ruminate on the goodness of God for giving me such wonderful people to work with. You members of St. Peter’s are terrific people. You are loving and generous, and when I speak God’s Word to you, I feel it in my soul that it is getting a good landing in your hearts. The vestry itself consists of men and women who love the Lord and desire to see this parish grow. There are no factions in the church and none in the vestry. And in the person of Amanda Smith, we have an extraordinary Church Office Assistant. This is the kind of parish any priest would long to serve in.
I went on vacation in early January. I did not travel out of state, but I did travel to Denver back and forth quite a few times. In Denver, I took care of some personal business. I saw my cardiologist, had another EKG, and had extensive dental work done. A few days, I took time to go to a Zumba class for exercise. The place I do it in Denver is run by people much younger than myself and the speed at which they run the exercises causes lots of sweating. But I like the feeling after all the jumping and turning and dancing with lots of twisting which I used to like in my teenage days.
The most important time of my vacation was five days that I spent at a place called The Downing House in Denver. This is a property that was donated to a Foundation that the donor of the property started. The couple gave everything they had to their Foundation. Now the administrators of the property run it as a charitable organization hosting Christian events of all kinds.
At Downing House, I had a room large enough to hold a single bed, a dining table, and a sofa, and also a small refrigerator and a microwave. The room had a bathroom and a sink, and in the back, it opened to a laundry room with washer and dryer. During the five days, much of my time was spent reading my Bible and other books, praying, meditating, eating, and sleeping. The days ran very fast. Before I knew it, they were over, and I had to vacate the place. It was a great personal time to ruminate on my life, my work, and my walk with the Lord. I will briefly relate here two truths that flooded my mind and are the fuel I am living on right now.
In the first place, the light came on in my heart that God is not my ATM. He does not exist to dispense to me what I desire, nor to do my bidding, answering my prayers, and giving me a comfortable life on earth. My service to him is not a bribe I give him so he can use his power to prevent bad things from happening to me. I worship and serve him because he is the sovereign of the universe. I have no choice actually but to serve and honor him. He owes me nothing. Whether he answers my prayers or not, it is my duty nevertheless to worship him with enthusiasm and true devotion. However much I suffer in life, however much I might be deprived of life’s comforts and desires of my heart, it is my duty to gladly worship God and declare his goodness and faithfulness forever. My ultimate good life is not on this planet. This is not my home. My home is in heaven with God who is my Savior and other worshipers of him. That’s the place where there are perfect conditions that my heart is longing for. The noble desires of my heart will be ultimately fulfilled there in more depth than I can imagine now. I must never become like a spoilt child who cries and throws tantrums demanding for every new toy that appears on the scene. Even if I have no toys, and other children that I know have tons of them, God is good all the time and all the time God is good. That was a lesson from heaven itself.
Secondly, it was impressed on my heart that our Master desires that his followers embrace his teachings and his ways to such depth that we get to be changed all round. He doesn’t call us to practice simple morality, but to be proactive in inculcating his ways into our own system so that wherever we are we reflect him. As we know, the rabbis of New Testament times sought to reproduce themselves in their disciples. In the same way, Jesus calls us to be his disciples to such level that we become reproductions of himself. With time, people observing us should be able to have a double-take: “Am I looking at Peter, the Peter I know, or at Jesus? Peter is behaving so much like Jesus.” That is the calling of every Christian person, and my deepest prayer is that every member of St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Loveland, and of all churches, aims at that. I’ve got a notion in my heart that sometimes we engage in religious activity, good activity, godly activity, and forget about many areas of our personality that need work in order for us to resemble Christ. It is not so much religiosity that Christ asks for, but a reorganization of our entire lives so that we come to reflect the ways of heaven in us.
In my manner of teaching and preaching, I don’t shoot so much for giving information. I think we already have enough information, if not too much, or if not, just enough to do harm to our souls. Rather I go for stirring and rousing my listeners to a closer walk with Jesus and to see that it is doable and not some esoteric idea reserved for a select few. Even you and I can be the disciple that Jesus loves and is proud of. And the best place to be in life is to reflect Jesus in our lives. Let us get to work to realize what God desired for us in sending Jesus Christ to us. Have a great week. I long for a hug or handshake from you all. It has been long. God bless you and all yours.