Every now and then I take some time to reflect upon my rule of life. What have I been faithful in doing, and where do I need a tune-up. The main components of my rule of life are the Daily Office and the mass, but it also includes a monthly appointment with a spiritual director, an expectation that I visit a confessor regularly, various health goals, and service work. Everyone can benefit from having a rule of life, and if you feel as if your life is managed by things beyond your control, some time crafting a rule of life is probably just what you need.
Communities, like individuals, may have rules of life too. For several years St. Mark's has been living into a rule of life that is growing out of our mission. If you have not read our mission statement lately, here it is:
St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Honolulu is a growing and inclusive church. We are dedicated to sharing the good news of God in Christ through our celebration of the Sacraments, Liturgy and Music, and by attending in Jesus' Name, to the needs of our members and the wider community. We are a welcoming ohana, cherishing our Anglo-Catholic and Hawaiian mission roots, and we rejoice in our diversity.
You can find this mission statement on the front page of the announcements every Sunday, and it is also on the home page of the parish website. This mission statement was crafted over ten years ago, and yet it is still relevant and good. It has kept us centered for the nine years of my rectorship with you.
Out of that mission a rule of life has grown. St. Mark's has always had weekday masses. Sometimes it was a few during the week, and at other times mass was offered every day, such as during the times of Fathers Turnbull and Goode. Currently we offer a minimum of eight masses each week over six days - on Mondays the mass is not celebrated currently.
But in addition to these masses, the Daily Office has been born at St. Mark's. This past month we achieved a goal we have been striving to reach for over seven years. Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer are offered every day of the week. Some of these Daily Offices are recited by clergy and some are recited by the laity. This is a major accomplishment for St. Mark's, and even more promising is the fact that more and more of our parishioners are discovering the beauty of this quintessential Anglican method of prayer and spirituality. We might say that we are living more fully into an Anglican rule of life as a church.
Yet we are more than liturgy at St. Mark's. Without a heart for outreach, we would be Anglo-Catholic posers. For many years we have been praying about how to create an outreach ministry that might be born from St. Mark's. We have helped Family Promise consistently, we have advocated for the LGBTQ community consistently, we have provided multiple volunteers for the interfaith work of Project Dana consistently, we have worked consistently to make our campus more green, and yet we have wanted to do more. The Sunday Supper Ministry has begun to fill this desire. Every Sunday volunteers prepare meals for the homeless in Kapahulu. For a variety of reasons, these homeless are not in the city's shelters, and they probably will not be going into shelters any time soon. Some of you will be able to read between these lines. Nevertheless, they are hungry, and they are God's beloved children too.
What I find fascinating about the worship and outreach at St. Mark's, is that as the worship is further nourished, the hearts for outreach have steadily increased. Once the community began to engage more scripture in worship, more people became available to help those in need. Prayer and liturgy have cultivated a stronger desire for outreach.
The reality is that you cannot sit still and do nothing if you read the Daily Office intentionally. Day after day, as one is formed by the prayers and the scripture readings, one begins to take action in the name of Jesus Christ. I still stand by a past comment of mine. If you want to create revolutionary Christians, sneak the Daily Office into their lives, and then sit back and watch the transformation.
A good rule of life will have moments for reflection as well as times for action, and this is true for individuals and for communities. Just this past week at the daily mass we heard how Jesus took some time to pray and reflect by himself, after which he chose his disciples, and then together they went into the world, doing the work of healing and wholeness. As we are bombarded with the constant news of natural disasters, potential deportations, the rolling back of civil rights progress, environmental destruction, and countless other worthwhile concerns, more than ever we need rules of life to center us on God and to teach us what to do. I am grateful for the church's tradition of prayer which has been handed down through the centuries for us, and I am grateful for the opportunities we now have in our neighborhood to serve. Amidst all of the noise, a rule of life can calm us down, and more importantly, a rule of life provides the necessary space for us to act in the Name of Jesus Christ.