There's an old saying that "Church ministries can be a bit like football: 22 people on the field who are badly in need of rest, and 22,000 people in the stands who are badly in need of exercise.”


That saying makes, with humor, a serious point.


For better and for worse, The Falls Church Episcopal is becoming a more "typical" church, with a more typical involved:spectating ratio.


What I mean by that is when I started here in 2012, there were about 100 members, almost all of whom attended church almost every Sunday. And almost all of them were actively connected to their church -- regularly volunteering in a ministry and/or actively engaged in discipleship/growing in the faith/learning to be an apprentice of Jesus.


Because almost all of the "continuing congregation" folks had either been exiled from their property for six years or had joined the church during that exile, they knew, better than most, that the word "church" refers primarily to a people, and not a place. (One thing we have in common* with The Falls Church Anglican -- the faith community that separated itself from the wider Episcopal Church but which attempted to hold onto Episcopal Church property as its own -- is that after finally leaving the property in 2012 but before they moved into their new church building(s) on Route 50 earlier this month, they, too, experienced a season of exile, and for roughly the same length of time.) So one of the charisms of The Falls Church Episcopal is a strong sense that "The Falls Church Episcopal" is a more of a people -- a faith community -- than a place.


I'll take it a bit further. An even better charism -- but one we, like most churches throughout history are in constant danger of losing -- is a strong sense that The Falls Church Episcopal is more of a cause or movement than a place or institution.


As (watch video below) our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry never grows tired of reminding us, we are simply the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, seeking every day to love God with our whole heart, mind and soul, and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40).


So...


Let's retain that charism.


How? Please fill out a Commitment Card.


If you're one of the "22" in need of rest, we want to thank you and ask how we can support you.


And if you're one of the "22,000" in need of exercising your faith, we want you to step up...to be part of the cause...to join the movement.


See you Sunday,

John



*please don't read too much into the expression "...one thing we have in common..." -- while the two faith communities have deadly/lively serious differences of opinion on numerous theological, sociological, and political matters, what we have in common -- what unifies us rather than divides us -- is the Truth that "there is one Body and one Spirit; one hope in God's call to us; one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; one God and Father of all." (BCP p.299/Ephesians 4).

September 13, 2019


Scripture teaches us that “ God is love .” (1 John 4:8).


Think about that for a minute: God IS love. 


Most of us, when we hear that statement, think, “God loves ” as in, “yeah, sure, one of the things that God does -- one of the activities that God engages in -- is love.” 


While that is true, it falls far short of what the Bible teaches us. 


Here’s what I mean: it’s not just that “God loves


God really is love. 


Love is not just “one of the things that God does.”


Love is God’s very identity; love is who God is. 


This Sunday’s lessons are all about God’s relentless love for humanity: God’s grace-filled insistence on loving us even when (especially when!) we don’t “deserve” it. 


Here’s the thing: this Sunday’s passages are not outliers. Throughout the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation, the Bible teaches us that because God is love, God seeks out lost humanity.  The story the Bible tells is God saying "have I told you lately that I love you?"


God does not passively sit in Heaven observing us drift (or run!) away. No, God actively (proactively!) pursues us when we have lost our way. God continuously reminds us of our truest identity ( God’s beloved sinners ) when we have forgotten it. 


God sees a lost humanity, and in the person of Jesus, God models what “found” looks like. 


That’s because God never gives up until the lost are found. 


What’s more, much to the chagrin of the Religious Elite, in the person of Jesus, God sought out – didn’t just welcome, but proactively sought out -- those on the periphery and made them part of God’s inner circle. 


Or more accurately, in the person of Jesus, God destroyed the whole notion of an inner circle by stretching out God’s arms of love so wide that all of us are -- and all of us is * -- included in God’s saving and loving embrace. 


See you Sunday, 


John


*When we hear “God saves all of us,” we should think of that in both senses: 1) God saves “ each and every one of us /all of humanity;” and 2) God saves “ all aspects of our individual personality .” Dwell on that thought a while. Or on this . It'll do you good!

September 6, 2019


Summer's over, and new Fall routines are in swing. With the resumption of the program year this Sunday, we jump back into our 9:00* and 11:15 service schedule, and Christian formation classes for all ages resume between services (10:20 to 11:00). If there's one constant in life, it's change, and with the start of a new program year, keen observers will notice a few changes beginning this Sunday. Most of those changes have to do with "simplifying, and focus," from the new format this e-news is coming to you in, to the way we welcome worshippers, to a renewed commitment to beginning services on time,* to providing hospitality (and easing traffic flow) before, during, and after both services' coffee hours, to the way we've renovated, refreshed, repainted, and repurposed our physical space (check out the way-finding signs for classrooms, and the old library). In addition, not so much a change, but a return, this Sunday it'll be our joy to welcome back Music Director Julie Tucker from her summer leave, as well as re-introduce Casie Disantis as our Ministry Coordinator. And next Sunday, Jason Norris, who joined us this summer as our new facilities manager, will be able to join us at both services and be introduced to those of you who haven't met him. Finally, a change in the way we are doing our "giving campaign." Rest assured, later in the Fall we'll still ask you to give generously of your finances to support your church. But this year we're starting our giving campaign by asking you to give your time and passion (or to indicate the ways you already are, so we can thank you!) Now is the time. HERE is a copy of the snail-mail letter sent this week, and HERE is an online (Google Form) version of that commitment card (it's super-simple! Fill it out!) Amidst all these changes and more, it's good to remember that, as the classic hymn goes, "the Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord." That -- the Living Son of the Living God -- is the one and only solid foundation upon which we stand and build. Or to put that another way: God meets us exactly where we are. AND God challenges us to grow and change. See you Sunday, John