Focused on Discipleship

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“See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.”
Song of Songs 2:11-12 

A famous statement of St. Augustine is: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” We will miss the meaning of his statement if we conclude it to mean human beings are a restless lot and never content. In fact, according to St. Augustine, God made us restless. We are made to yearn and to seek our ultimate belonging and resting place. We cannot be fully satisfied with anything less than a real and genuine and absolute homecoming. We were made by God for God, and until we reach the source and ground of our being, we will, by necessity, be restless and searching and seeking. This life is a journey to God and we will be forever drawn until we reach the destination. 

Such restlessness can get us in trouble. We may think that place of bliss and rest can be found in money, or power, or status. We may be deceived into thinking it can be found in things like drugs, alcohol, and sex. Our restlessness is meant for a greater purpose. We yearn for something much more than fleeting things, no matter how pleasant they may be for a time. 

We have been born into existence for a reason. Before we were formed in the womb, God knew us. No one is a mistake. We are made by God for God. It is a high calling. Claim it. Own it. Live it. 

This is the Good News of God in Jesus Christ. This is the mission of the Church. A light has come into the world and lights up the path to our ultimate destiny. 

Here in the Diocese of Western Newfoundland Labrador Straits, we are focused on discipleship. Why? Because discipleship is following Christ, who will lead us to communion and union with God, the destiny of our hearts. 

We could use a different word for God. We could use the word “Love.” Our hearts are made for love and they are restless until they rest in love. It was St. Paul who said that no matter how many religious or spiritual gifts we have, love is the greatest of all. (1 Corinthians 13) Indeed, he said that without love it is all pointless. God is love, said St. John. (1 John 4:8) 

So, our hearts are designed in such a way that it has us on a journey. There is even a built-in restlessness to ensure we are moving forward. Be careful and awake though. Do not be deceived by shiny things along the way. There is fool’s gold and real gold. Be sure to keep your eyes open for the true destiny you were made for. 

The safest and clearest way for us is Jesus and the way of Jesus. Look closely and you will see that Christ is the Way of Love. Not sentimental, selfish love. But a love that gives all and gains all. Nothing and no one is lost in this love. It is a love that lets us lay our lives down and also pick them back up. 

St. Paul said, ‘some demand signs and others seek wisdom but we preach Christ crucified.’ (1 Corinthians 1:22-23) Our discipleship campaign is about Jesus. We appreciate miracles and intellectual insights, but first and foremost, and plainly, we want to ‘see Jesus.’ (John 12:21) 

We are in our fourth year of a process that included conducting a commission, developing a strategic plan, and now rolling out the discipleship campaign. We are currently in our discipleship training year. Clergy and laity are meeting to better understand and grow in discipleship. It is exciting! Through prayer, study, worship, and service, we are drawing closer and closer to Christ and Christ’s Way of Love. 

In recent months, five individuals have come forward expressing they want to answer Christ’s call to follow him. They have discerned that ordained ministry is the best way for them to do that. The Anglican Committee on Postulants for Ordination confirmed their calling. They have committed themselves to ongoing theological studies through Queen’s College and to leadership in parishes. Others have discerned that they too are called to follow Jesus more closely and will do so as lay members. All speak of the yearning in their hearts for that place of greater rest in God through Christ. 

As Anglicans we are 21.5% of the population of Newfoundland and Labrador. There are more that 100,000 of us! Our Lord started his ministry with just 12! What strength and potential we have! And especially if we can follow Christ daily and abide in him as branches abide in the vine. With Christ, we can be and do more that we could ever imagine! In Christ, we can do great good! At home and in the wider world we can be a spiritual tour de force! 

One thing is required. We must allow the restlessness of our hearts to bring us home to God, where we rightfully belong. It doesn’t mean being religious extremists or fundamentalists. It means being shaped and transformed by Jesus, the Way of Love! It means being like Jesus who gave all for the least of us. It means committing to Christ and his Church. It will make us fully alive! The season of singing has come! It is here even in winter!

+John, Western Newfoundland

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