“‘One of the scribes came near and heard the Sadducees disputing with one another, and seeing that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’”
Most of us if pressed would easily recite this paragraph from the upcoming gospel lesson this week. Our prayer book calls it the summary of the law, and we understand at a deep level our calling to love God and to love neighbor as ourselves. Where it gets difficult is in the way in which we live this out in the day to day. How do we prioritize the need of neighbor with our own real need for self-care? How do we make sure our spiritual practices are keeping us grounded enough that we are experiencing the transcendent love of God in a regular enough way that we have the energy to be engaged in community?
I’d love to tell you I think I’ve cracked the secret code that allows me to remain in a perpetual state of balance in these areas. If I did, I trust you know me well enough at this point to laugh out loud at any such suggestion. I have found having a rule of life, trusted friends, spiritual directors, and the ability to reflect allow me to intentionally ask the right questions. This means hopefully when I’m out of balance, I catch myself more quickly. I’ve yet to see much evidence that it means I’ll never have to keep adjusting.
Certainly in the midst of all the stressors on our community this past year, this has meant more than the average amount of pivoting. But despite all the upheaval we have kept our core vocation, Feeding San Antonio with the Bread of Life, as a plumb line for our ministries. This has given us particular ways to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves at St. Mark’s. This Sunday we have the opportunity to pause and look back on all the ways we have done this in the past year at our parish meeting. We will gather at 10:10am in the church and hear from our leadership about what the state of our community is and our hopes for the coming year. We will thank those who have served during these times and welcome a new slate of leadership into our vestry for the coming year. We will hear an update on our construction efforts and learn about some important opportunities for renewal we will have in the coming months.
Whether you join us in person, or watch online, please take the time to gather with us and hear about the state of our community. The good news is that we continue to be faithful and there is much to give thanks for!