Our Quest for Faithful Presence

Dear St Luke’s,

There’s no denying it, it’s summer!  The calendar says its summer, it’s getting warm, we grilled last Sunday, our VBA kids went to the moon and back, school is out, and I finally finished grading my last papers of the 2022-23 academic year.

Let me tell you, my students’ papers were so good! They had me laughing, and crying, and thinking differently. Their papers introduced me to fresh perspectives, and books I had never heard of and made connections I would never have imagined making.  They were tasked with trying to articulate their theological anthropology.  Not THE theological anthropology, nor an orthodox theological anthropology, but theirs’.  Which is to say the students were trying to describe how their imagination of “who God is” informs their perspective on what it means to flourish as a human being in community. 

I think this is such an important question!  We all have an answer to it, even if we’ve never thought about it.  We live our answer every day.  Our actions, relationships, values, stewardship of time, and resources, our dreams, drives, and desires all expose our personal answer(s) to this question.  What is a good life?  What is important?  What matters?  What is a person fully alive?

As one might expect there was no single answer, yet there were some recurring themes.  Like: love of God, neighbor, self and creation; or opening to encounter the image of God in everyone.  Many explored flourishing not in a utopian way but by delving into what flourishing might look like when a person lives with chronic illness or disability, or by attending to the possibility of flourishing even while being oppressed or suffering or navigating mental illness.  Such profound and beautiful questions being asked and leaned into… Friends these are our future pastors, community organizations, artists and counsellors.  Gives me such hope.

Obviously, it’s a huge question.  I’ve been working with these students since September. For me in my teaching role, few things are more delightful than walking along people and helping them find words to express what’s been growing inside them. 

In this round of papers, I especially appreciated those students welcomed in the complexity of different seasons of life, holding something of the dynamic that nothing ever stays the same, thus flourishing as they sought to describe it had an irreducible evolutionary and contextual component, opening to curiosity and wonder, while guarding against judgment and shame.

Wendel Berry once published a collection of essays titled, “What are people for?”  Maybe that’s a question we can ask ourselves…  Or as Mary Oliver, closed one of her most beloved poems, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Friends, a long-time beloved member of our St Luke’s community died this week. Pete Haigh passed away on Monday night.  She was 100 years old.  Her family wanted our community to know how grateful they’ve been for the care and prayers that Pete received over the years. 

Irenaeus, who was a 2nd century church leader from France stated that “the glory of God is [people] fully alive.”  I pray that for you and for us, may we open to the kind of fullness of life we see in Jesus.  God delights in you!  Thanks for all you are and your role in making St Luke’s who we are and who we’re becoming.  You are not alone

Peace, dwight