if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants
Back in 2007, the Barna Group conducted a survey of young people ages 16-29. The results were sobering to say the least. Among non-Christians, nine of the top 12 perceptions of Christianity were negative including: modern day Christianity is judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%) and too old fashioned (78%). Even among young Christians the negative images were significant, with half saying Christianity is too judgmental and hypocritical while one third said it was out of touch with reality. Wow. These are the strong and powerful cultural waters in which we, as a faith community, swim even today. Clearly there are widely differing ways to live out the Christian faith, some more effective than others!
For most of us, Christianity is learned—from our families, from friends, from others who take the time to both live faith out and pass it on. And what an enormous responsibility it is to follow Jesus and witness with our words and our life his love, his reconciling life, his witness to the promise that new life always emerges after letting go, allowing to die, that which we know and love. I am so thankful for those in our community who have been and continue to be faithful witnesses to the joy and the love that comes from following the Way of Jesus.
On October 25, we celebrate Heritage Sunday and recognize all those who have been at St. Simon’s, including those formerly of St. John’s, for thirty years or more. They have served on vestries, led committees, raised up our youngest members and cultivated a sense of care and love within and beyond our community. We will honor them in our liturgy, hear their stories and look through old photographs during the Rector’s Forum following coffee hour. Without their faithfulness, their generosity, their passion and compassion, we would not be here today. And while we appreciate their amazing presence in our midst always, Heritage Sunday enables us to recognize and celebrate them and their ongoing gift to all of us.
In 1676, Isaac Newton wrote, if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. The extraordinary commitment and dedication of those who have been here the longest provides St. Simon’s a wonderful foundation on which to raise our children and youth to experience Christianity not as irrelevant, old fashioned and judgmental but as alive and life-giving and transforming. Over the past year, we’ve focused our mission particularly on strengthening our common life around the areas of Worship and Youth. This fall, we started Youth Nights, for those in 8-12 grade to meet together and develop deeper bonds of affection while having fun and growing in faith. Our Children’s Chapel, inaugurated this past First Sunday, was an amazing and joy-filled opportunity for our youngest members to engage in worship in song and story and movement. I give thanks that our children experience a community of love that nurtures the light of Christ already in them and inspires them to share that light in the world around them.
We are so blessed by the witness of those who have offered a loving welcome for new people to enter into the community and created space for all of us, including our children and youth, to grow in love. Please join me in giving thanks for their ongoing commitment to making evident the light and love of Jesus in our midst. Take a moment to remember someone who inspired your faith, and then be encouraged to pass it on by your words and life.
Hope to see you Sunday,