Jeff Kemmerer wrote the following reflection on the 2017 diocesan convention theme, Jesus said, ‘Iam the Way.'” Kemmerer is a chemical engineer by training and was baptized at the church he still attends, Grace Episcopal Church, Allentown, more than 60 years ago.
Our 2017 diocesan convention is rapidly approaching. It promises to be an important milestone in our church life. We are transitioning from the reflection and evaluation of our pilgrimage time into a time of action. The theme of the convention is “Jesus said, ‘I am the Way.'”
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life…” was Christ’s answer to Thomas when he expressed concern about knowing how to follow Christ to the place he would prepare for us. While the original nuances may be lost in translation, I suspect Thomas was interested in highway directions – turn right after the 3rd olive tree – rather than Jesus’ profound reply. Our diocese is also facing a “Thomas” quandary. What is our way forward from here?
For the past several years, the flow of the Diocese of Bethlehem has been restricted by a dam of our own making. The purpose of the dam was to give us the chance to slow down, mix and meet in the backwaters, and build energy for the work ahead. It is nearly time to restore our flow as we call a bishop to exercise faithful and visionary leadership of the diocese and help us be on our way. As the spillway is opened and the flow builds, we can experience turbulent times as we energetically traverse rough and rocky terrain. We can split into separate smaller channels as congregations and regions respond to local needs. Fortunately, we will also enjoy times of calm and restorative flow as we rejoin at convention or elsewhere to meet, share and recharge.
As we go forward, how can we be sure we are following Christ’s way? What can we use for our roadmap? The scriptures provide us with a detailed foundation for our faith. While both informative and comprehensive, they form the basis of our trip planning. Still, a roadmap would be nice; a quick reference to determine if we are following “the way.”
Fortunately, Jesus has provided one for us. He has provided us with a concise roadmap, a divine GPS to help us stay on track:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
With these two guideposts and the loving support of our diocesan colleagues, the Diocese of Bethlehem will be able to stay on track as our flow resumes and be well positioned to meet the challenges of the future.