Every year at Advent, the start of the Church New Year, the Annual Meeting of the Parish is held to gather as many adults and youth who are able to attend. While this year’s December 10 gathering will undertake business matters, including the election of new Vestry members and sharing of key reports, it will also be a vital time simply to celebrate the awesomeness of St. Peter’s. Indeed, we are blessed by who we are, what we have, and who are called to become through our parish vision.
This awesomeness I know from having had the privilege to experience my first-ever sabbatical, earlier this year. Between worship and engagement opportunities in Charlotte, Cape Town, the United Kingdom, Manhattan, Atlanta, Memphis, and the Society of St. John the Evangelist Monastery in Cambridge, Mass., my enthusiastic perspective about our common life, and just how good we have it, was reaffirmed.
North Carolina composer, Dan Locklair crafted the commissioned-anthem, St. Peter’s Rock (1999), whose text includes, “How awesome is this place!” As we move through this Church calendar season of waiting to meet God in Christ, yet again, I call us to reflect on the complete text of St. Peter’s Rock:
Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversum eam. (You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.) Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock. How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’
St. Peter’s Parish Vision is to become a community of bold followers of Jesus, a crowd that effects good change for the world, a place known for radical love and welcome, and beacon of hope in Center City Charlotte. May God give us strength for the journey, and the patience to slow down just enough to reflect on and respond to “How awesome is this place!”
Advent blessings and peace as we grow in faith,
– The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector