Reflections from our Rector The Rev. Tom Eklo
There has been a broad spectrum of discussion over the past several years about a word that most of us never saw on our spelling lists that we committed to memory in those early years of schooling. That word is “outsourcing.” It is one of those “hot words” within contemporary culture that seems innocuous but has the potential to create polarizing perspec- tives and opinions. Whether it be Labor organizations, government, cor- porate boardrooms or that conversation with a co-worker, neighbor or friend over a cup of coffee, the subject of outsourcing seems to surface time and time again. There are very few times in the flow of conversation about almost anything that someone does not interject that all familiar phrase – “Well, almost everything is made in China these days.” And while I think there is a sense of loss in that statement, there is also a sense that there is very little we can do about it. Imported clothing and goods may be just a piece within the vast maze of outsourcing, but it is something that is very tangible and concrete in our understanding.
So why bring up the subject of outsourcing in this forum? I will make a simple yet unequivocal statement. We cannot outsource our discipleship as followers of Christ. It would be nice. We could give someone else the responsibilities of taking care of all that nitty gritty “Jesus stuff” while we get on with the other aspects of our lives. But it doesn’t work that way. No one else can make your spiritual life alive and dynamic. It is your relation- ship with the living Christ within the context of daily living that defines who you are as a disciple of Christ. As disciples of Jesus, we have a mandate to live out our faith in words and how we live our lives.
While I’m at it, let me throw three other words your way – incarnation, invitation, stewardship – words that have everything to do with our under- standing of discipleship. They are too familiar, perhaps, but they speak to the core essence of who we are as Christians within the Episcopal Church.
Incarnation: Anglicans believe that God becomes incarnate not only in
Jesus but in lives embodied within all of us. We find the sacred in the faces and stories of our family, friends and neighbors. Our baptismal covenant calls us to “seek and serve Christ in all persons.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu says there are no ordinary people. We head out into the world not as
missionaries intending to save the needy but as seekers looking to find new friends.
Invitation: We are called to serve. As a faith community, we are also called to make the possibility of meaningful service real for everyone. The practice of invitation extends beyond those whose religious beliefs mirror our own. Part of our service to others means embracing people from diverse backgrounds whom we would not otherwise meet.
Stewardship: Our service calls for effective use of all of our gifts, as individuals and as a community. We have many resources – people’s time, people’s expertise, our congregational space, our relationships and our funding. We are a sacramental church, which means that we find the sacred in everyday items. Just as within our faith there are no ordinary people, there are also no ordinary gifts. Everyone and everything has the possibility of use in God’s service.
Why are we out in the community in mission and ministry? Because the world meets Jesus embodied in our lives, in our love and care for others. It is who we are as disciples of Christ. It is our mandate. Let’s live it. No one else can do it for us.