The Rev. John Taliaferro Thomas
A reasonable facsimile of what was preached on Sunday: always a reflection on the Word, but never the final word.
The Rev. John Taliaferro Thomas
The following is a reflection from ME Via, our longtime Diocesan Convention representative on our experience this past week.
It was my pleasure to represent Emmanuel at the 225th Annual Convention this weekend with Anne Dagner (Convention alternate), John Savage (the Chair of the Committee on Budget) and our Reverend JT Thomas. The theme of this year’s convention was “Wonder in All”. As in years past, there were many shared “Stories of the Diocese”. We have a lot of wonderful things happening here and all around us. For that I am thankful and grateful. There were also many reports and opportunities to learn about things that have happened in the diocese in the past year, as well as things that are still in progress. I am offering here an abridged version of the highlights. All the information will be posted on the Diocesan website – www.thediocese.net.
Continuing with the “Wonder in All” theme, Bishop Goff’s pastoral address highlighted the wonder in light, life and joy. It also included a special video message from Presiding Bishop Curry.
Wonder in Light
Bishop Goff reminded us that Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” He lights up our way. In the light of Jesus, we are loved and his light shines on us - and on our wounds. This helps with reconciliation. There is a lot of reconciliation that is indeed happening, and there is more that is needed. Jesus also said “You are the light of the world.” Bishop Curry reminds us that we are light. How are you using your light in the world?
Wonder in Life
Highlighting the wonder in life, John 10:10 says “I have come in the name of life so that you may have it abundantly”. We are privileged to live in an area that has a lot of abundance – the beauty of God’s creation is everywhere. Our church family is all around us. Jesus shows us the wonder of life in seeds, water, and laborers who make things grow. Things we are privileged to watch in the agricultural regions around us. We must remain good stewards to make sure all resources are used wisely. This was also highlighted in Resolution 1 that requests discontinuing the use of single use plastics and foam as well as single use bottled water at diocesan churches and facilities. We have been given true abundance. Bishop Curry says that we know life and challenges us with the question “How do you share life abundant?”
Wonder in Joy
John 15:11 says “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Our wonder in joy comes from things like meals with friends. Coffee hours. Shrine Mont family retreats. Helping at Bread Fund. Simple things in life. Our gorgeous earth and all its wonders. As we discover joy, we can face obstacles, disappointments and whatever happens in life. The church is the living, breathing body of Christ. He gives us joy to face changes - making joy the antidote to fear. As Bishop Curry says, we share joy. How do you know joy in Christ?
Wonder in All
There were many workshops that discussed a wide variety of topics and many helped highlight the Wonder in All: Planned giving. Communicating clearly. Engaging Parish property. Roles and responsibilities in a Changing World. Leading from Within. A commitment to follow Jesus thru The Way of Love. Rural Ministry and Language Diversity. We also had an opportunity to hear from Brian Sellers-Petersen and a discussion of his book Harvesting Abundance: Local Initiatives of Food and Faith.
John 15:2 says “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” Jesus wants us to love others as he loves us – abundantly. Be the light, have joy so the world can see Jesus’s love and joy in you.
Also during Bishop Goff’s address, she announced that she will call for the election of the 14th Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia in November 2020, with an election happening in spring of 2022, followed by the Consecration later that summer. This will overlap with Bishop Goff for a while until her retirement in 2023.
Bishop Jennifer Brooke-Davidson was also introduced and welcomed into our Diocese. The bishops that have been helping to serve our diocese were all thanked for their hard work and dedication. Bishop Goff will work to appoint a third part time bishop to live in Northern Virginia.
The three other resolutions this year included the following.
There were three amended Canons:
I respectfully ask that you show your love. Share your light; share your abundant life; and, share your joy. Amen
The Rev. John Thomas is Rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Greenwood