I am allergic to cats. And when I say allergic, I mean off the charts allergic. I vividly recall having to go home from a sleepover because I couldn’t breathe and my eyes were so red and itchy I could no longer see. Or the time when someone thought my allergies were just in my head and so told a party host to hide their cat in another room—she’ll never know, they said. Within ten minutes of being on the sofa, I was a wheezing, dripping, itching mess who had to go to the pharmacy to get something to help with the reaction. So, as you can imagine, having all these conversations about the CAT survey—the Church Assessment Tool we as a parish are taking in a few weeks—is no small thing. And poor Howie is feeling a bit put out that Stephen and Holly’s cat, Dr. Waffles, and other parish cats are getting such high visibility.
Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of surveys either—I tend to ignore them for the most part; but I’d like to make the case for why I hope parishioners will take the time to thoughtfully respond to the CAT survey coming out November 19. Back in 2012, all active members of the parish participated in the CAT survey as part of the search for the new rector—yours truly. The information gleaned was extremely helpful, not only to the vestry and search committee, but in providing me valuable information about what was important to the people of St. Simon’s, as well as lifting up our strengths and opportunities. Over the years, our congregation has changed due to moves and deaths as well as many newer parishioners. While the vestry, staff and I work hard to listen to you, having a snapshot of the breadth and depth of your voices across a range of questions can help us do better. So, on November 19, when we invite all active parishioners to participate, we need each person to take the time to reflect and respond, contributing to a rich and valuable picture of our parish.
Spiritually, it is also essential that we are taking time to assess where we are, where we are going and how we are hoping to get there. We who are called to follow Jesus are part of the Body of Christ. We affirm these truths; but it is our commitment to practicing these truths that makes all the difference. Embraced by God’s love, we are to be growing into doing this more and more. Jesus, gave us a new commandment: that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. Church is a place where we are to practice living our faith so that we might be better witnesses as we interact in our daily living.
Reflecting on how we are living into the invitation to follow Jesus reminds us again what our true purpose is in this life, and doing so as a community helps us to be sure we’re investing in those things which support our life together. I hope you’ll join me in articulating what matters most to you.