Saturday, January 5, 2013

Letter to St. Luke's, Baton Rouge

Blogging has been slow these days while the Owen family continues to settle in to a new home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Starting next week, I will begin work as the sixth rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church.  Even during this time of transition, while I have technically been "under the radar" (I haven't worn a clerical collar in weeks), the generous welcome and hospitality of folks here has been extraordinary.  I feel incredibly blessed by God to be called to this new ministry!

Below is my first newsletter article for St. Luke's.  It's basically a letter to the parish expressing my joy and excitement about the call to serve among them.

Dear Friends,

Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

By the time you read this it will be Epiphany season and a New Year. But as I write, it's in the midst of Advent and the chaos of moving as the Owen family prepares to travel to our new home with you all in Baton Rouge. I can hardly begin to describe how excited I am to be called as rector of St. Luke's! And that excitement is shared by Julie, Mary Emerson, and Hobson. We are so very eager to get to know all of you and to walk with you as disciples of Jesus.

From my first contact with the St. Luke's search committee to this day, my heart has been filled with joy. That joy comes from the love and grace of God. It's the joy of hope and expectation finding fulfillment in the coming of Jesus at Christmas and his manifestation as Son of God and Savior of the world during Epiphany. And it's the joy of beginning a new chapter of ministry at St. Luke's church and St. Luke's Day School.

One of the most powerful ways this joy finds expression is in our worship: as we say the words of the Prayer Book's liturgies, as we celebrate the sacraments, and as we sing beautiful hymns of praise and thanksgiving. Our patron saint understood this very well. As theologian Don Saliers puts it in his book Music and Theology:

Luke can barely make it through two chapters of his gospel without breaking into song four times: the great canticles of Mary, of Zechariah, and of old Simeon commingle with the angels' spontaneous Gloria in excelsis.

According to St. Luke, when confronted by the overwhelming goodness, love, and grace of God revealed to us in Jesus, we worship. We give thanks. And we sing!

I am looking forward to doing that with you all on January 13, my first official Sunday. And almost before we've had time to catch our breath, we're going to turn around and do it again with Bishop Thompson, and with friends from near and far, as we celebrate the start of this new ministry on Wednesday, January 16, at 6:30 p.m.

I believe that great things are in store for St. Luke's church and for St. Luke's Day School. And I am reminded of the following words from the apostle Paul: "Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20).

It's really true: God can and will do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine in the coming months and years. What a blessing to be a part of that journey with you!

Yours in Christ,


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