My Dear Siblings in Christ,
In the August Emmanuel Light I offered a reflection on the idea of ‘change.’ To balance the idea that change is nothing to fear, I’d like us to consider the importance of stability in the midst of change.
St. Benedict’s monks and nuns take a vow of stability. This means that monastics dedicate themselves to a single monastery for life. They do not move from place to place, their travel is limited, and vacations, including visits to families, are generally not allowed. This vow of stability frees the religious person to devote themselves entirely to God and prayer with limited worldly distraction. Though not all of us are called to be monastics, we can learn much from their practice of stability.
Devoting ourselves to family and friends can be a reflection of stability. Are we the type of people that others can count on in their times of need? Do we hesitate to make a commitment out of fear of missing a better opportunity that might come along later? Are we a person of our word? Do we keep confidences? These questions point towards a virtue of stability as others experience us as people upon whom they can depend. When we flit about from one thing to the other, are afraid to make a commitment, renege on our promises, or fail to keep entrusted information to ourselves, we do not practice the vow of stability.
Emmanuel Episcopal Church has had its doors open in Rapid City since 1888. We are a church that models stability by our mere presence here 127 years later! But the Church is NOT a building. The Church is its people. Some people come and some people go and some people come back again. It is your presence each week which gives our church stability.
The stability we practice isn’t found with us, however. The stability comes with our Church’s foundation upon Jesus Christ. Even as the world changes around us, we are still here practicing, preaching and teaching the love of Jesus. We are not the first Christians to encounter an ever-changing world that rejects the message we’ve inherited. Even before the time of Christ, the Psalmist writes: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22). Jesus himself quotes this passage in Matthew 21:42 when addressing the Chief Priests and Pharisees who were rejecting our Lord.
As Emmanuel implements its Strategic Plan for the future, there is no change that will compromise our stability which rests upon Jesus. Any change we undertake will be done so that our stability can be solidified for the future.
Your prayers, pledges and participation will provide our stability for the future. May we pray together the following prayer for our parish (BCP, p. 817):
Almighty and ever living God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers for this parish family. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We may not all be called to be monks and nuns, but we are all called to live lives of stability, especially in a world wrought with constant change.
In Christ’s Stable and Unchanging Love,