Last weekend the Vestry went on retreat. And we didn't focus on "business." In fact, even though we'd planned to spend just a few minutes on business, we got so caught up in time retreating with God in prayer, song, story-sharing, reflection and creation that we left even that snippet of business out.
What caught us up so fully was the work of sifting the story of St. Andrew's to find an "icon" for the year ahead. "We have such diverse ministries," we said. "What is in the center, binding them all into one work of doing church in our time and place?"
And so we sought an icon.
A Christian icon is a window into God. One familiar style of icon is the painted kind. Our parish has many painted icons in the Byzantine style; a gift of saint Sandy Strang, who rests now in peace. They depict saints of the church and events in our relationship with God, and they become a window for us when we pray with them and enter into holy life they depict.
Icons have power because we both see our present self in them, and are drawn deeper into God and our self through them. On retreat, our Vestry sought out a good icon for the present life of St. Andrew's. From among the treasures of the Gospel and Church, we asked, what can guide us well in this season?
Together we were drawn to the story of the Road to Emmaus. We agreed that this sounded like St. Andrew's. We could see our present self in it. We also agreed that it had greater depths in it that could encourage us, sharpen us, lead us deeper into God and our selves, and closer to our neighbors. It's a story we hope to return to throughout the year.
From our diverse reflections we heard a few central characters jumping out to us. And from those we drew forth a small handful of words that could be held on to and carried around in our pockets. An icon-in-words for the year ahead:
Or in its social media form, as the group creatively devised, #WalkSeeBecome.
The Vestry and I were energized by this story and these words during our retreat, and have already begun finding encouragement in them. Having gleaned them from the life we share, we now offer them back for the full community. Like Sandy's icons, we hope that the meaning of this icon will grow as it is shared.
We'll be using it for reflection and inspiration in the Vestry and all the committees of the Vestry (Formation, Finance, Buildings and Grounds, etc.), and we offer it up to our many ministries as a lens for our common Gospel life.
Praise God for the faithful work of our Vestry. And praise for all the steps ahead as we go together deeper into God's dream for us.
In Hope of Walking Together, Recognizing Jesus and Practicing Resurrection,