From Fr. Gary: Looking to the future and the past


Many of you may know that the month of January was named for the Roman god, Janus. He was, (according to the Wikipedia entry,) "the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. . . . Janus frequently symbolized change and transitions such as the progress of past to future, from one condition to another, from one vision to another, and young people's growth to adulthood. He represented time, because he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other." Images — whether sculpted, etched or painted — could be found on doorposts and road markers, places of “comings and goings.” Janus, to me, has often been a powerful image, a reminder that things do come to an end, only to begin anew.

As someone who worked for years on college campuses, that ending/beginning “thing” was celebrated annually as students finished their coursework, only to attend a ceremony called “Commencement”. At the University of Denver, I was asked, every year, to offer an “invocation” at DU’s Commencement ceremonies, with the implicit charge to point in both directions — to reflect on what the students had accomplished on the one hand, but, on the other hand, to imagine what might lay ahead.

Several weeks ago, I was commissioned as Good Shepherd’s Priest-in-Charge. It was a wonderful day, and I am so grateful to all who helped the congregation mark that event. But while that service officially marked the end of the “Search Process,” it also marked the beginning of our collective "Season of Discovery.” This season is described in the “Field Guide” for the Priest-in-Charge process as . . .

. . . a time to explore together, congregation and priest, the past and present of the congregation and to create a common narrative or story about the congregation. During transition, the congregation conducts an assessment to create a community portfolio and works to develop a clear picture of who the congregation is, and what is sought in a new priest. However, the Priest-in-Charge was not part of that work, and it may be that some things have changed or emerged since that work was undertaken. Therefore, you need to walk through it again, together, to see what things are foundational to the congregation and its life and ministry, and which things need to be changed or replaced. It takes time, but it really does help to orient and prepare you as you move in the second season.

We have our work cut out for us! The Vestry, a Transition Team, and I will be working on putting together the various means of making this “season” enjoyable (as are ALL of our seasons in Colorado, each in their different ways). Our focus will be on taking stock of where we’ve been, and where we are now. At the end of the process, we’ll produce a short document —a “snapshot” (to use an older “image”) — that speaks of how Good Shepherd has been shaped into the vibrant place it is today. My hope is that, once we’ve put together that “picture,” we’ll be able to look at it and say, “Wow! Look who we are! What an amazing place God has made us!”

Standing then on the threshold, together we can move from where the Holy Spirit has brought Good Shepherd to the good future to which we are beckoned. 

Let us begin journey together!

New Years’ blessings!