Over the years I have counseled people who have waited an entire lifetime before anyone told them “I’m proud of you.” They had heard an occasional “Luv ya” (which I think is the new short positive comment without commitment) and they had heard, “I like you.” But what they were waiting for was for someone, in effect, to say: “What you have done has not gone unnoticed. People know and see what you are doing to make life better for others, where the emphasis you place is more on others than on yourself. I am proud of you.”
Well—Christ Church—I am proud of you. I am proud of the people in the Narthex, the Nave, and in the Loft. I am proud of the people in the Transept/Musician Chancel, in the Liturgical Chancel, and in the Sanctuary. I am proud of the Clergy, the Laity, the people elected and appointed to various offices and committees, and volunteers who want to give of themselves. I just have to say it again: I am proud of you.
Usually at this point people say, “Ahh shucks, I’m just doing what God wants me to do, and besides I love Christ Church.” I can’t let anyone get away with that. The fact of the matter is that each one of us associated in any way with Christ Church believes that what we are doing is what God wants us to do, and we are doing that to glorify God, and we are continuing our commitment because we think that Christ Church is a special place. BUT WE HAVE A CHOICE.
On a daily basis we are in the position of exercising the gift of Free Will, and we constantly pray that we do God’s Will, not our own. Sadly, as we know, we often make the wrong choice. When I see the faces of each one of you, I realize that you could be in another church, serve in another way, or even simply walk away… for whatever reason. Perhaps now you can see why I am so very proud of you. I have heard your joys and sorrows, your fears and your frustrations, your disappointments and your uncertainties, and yet… there you are.
You have heard me say that I believe that one of the main negative shifts I have seen in my lifetime is when people stopped referring to the Church as “She” and “Her” and began to call the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ an “it.” I do not find it terribly difficult to be angry with an “it” or to resign from an “it” or to quit an “it.” But when the “it” is really The Body of Christ, that is a different matter. You continue to feed each other and also be fed. You have decided that what takes place on Sunday mornings “fuels” you for the rest of the week and then you return to the Altar for your very existence. I get to see your faces as I say, “The Body of Christ….” Now do you see why I am proud of you? As I said last Sunday, there are heroes in our midst… doing ministries that not all of us can do, but supporting those who can.
While I hope that it matters to you that a Bishop whom you now know is proud of you, everything I read in Holy Scriptures leads me to conclude that God is proud of you, too.
The Rt. Rev'd Keith L. Ackerman, SSC, DD