“You are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22
Dear People of Saint David’s,
This week, I am in Providence, Rhode Island, attending the Society of Catholic Priests conference, which has the theme “Providence in Providence: Grace, Freedom, Sacraments, and the Mission of God.” This organization of Episcopal and Anglican priests, deacons, and religious orders (nuns and monks) has a mission to “promote priestly spirituality and catholic evangelism,” with a focus on centering one’s spiritual life on the Eucharist and commitment to saying the Daily Office (Morning and Evening Prayer). When I told my daughter I was going to this conference, she said, “You’re not Catholic, you’re Christian.”
I laughed a little, because she has in fact overheard me say to a person at a train station or sitting at a funeral at a Roman Catholic Church that we are not “Catholic.” However, I tried to explain that we as Episcopalians are in fact catholic, in the lower C catholic sort of way, meaning catholic as universal and general.
The Book of Common Prayer Catechism states, “The Church is catholic, because it proclaims the whole Faith to all people, to the end of time.” So, while I—or St. David’s—is not Roman Catholic, we do affirm our belief and hope in the “one holy catholic and apostolic Church” as we say in the Nicene Creed. This means that even though we see sad divisions in Christianity, and denominations that fight with one another, we must with faith see past these divisions to the truth that the essence of the Christian faith is universal.
In the letter to the church in Ephesus, St. Paul reminds us that our foundation of faith are the faithful people who have come before us, teaching us, and showing us how to follow Jesus Christ. Paul reminds the early Christians in Ephesus that there is only one cornerstone—Jesus Christ himself. Sometimes we forget how connected we truly are with the whole Body of Christ.
St. David’s is not the one and only dwelling place for God, nor is Christ Church Ithan, Wayne Presbyterian, or Second Baptist. We are not all separate dwelling places for God. Rather, we affirm that, even in our differences, we are all members of the One Body of Christ, One Church. All of us together are built into one structure, one holy temple, one dwelling place for God to be made manifest in the world. Dr. Carey Walsh, an Old Testament professor at Villanova, and herself a Roman Catholic, has taught the last two weeks at the Rector’s Forum at St. David’s. She will return this Sunday to finish her series, with a presentation on “Growing into Life More Abundant.” We’ve experienced the insights and the gifts this Roman Catholic professor has to share with us, while also seeing how we are all connected in our love of God, as well as the desire to ground ourselves in the life and teachings of Jesus and share Christ with the world.
I am encouraged by this reminder that the spiritual reality—the catholicism of our faith—is our connection. This is the big takeaway I’ve gotten from attending this conference, just how connected we are and how universal the Christian faith is—and can be.
Our St. David’s Fair this week reminded me of this truth. We raise money to share with our siblings in Christ in the local Philadelphia region and around the world, knowing that we are all connected in Christ. This Sunday, I’ll be serving at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Wynnewood, for one of our fellow Episcopal priests on sabbatical. I won’t be at St. David’s, but we are all connected through Jesus Christ, our cornerstone. We’ll be reading the same scriptures, praying similar prayers, all receiving the most precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, and being sent out to love and serve God.
Let us all grow together into the holy temple, the dwelling place for God, so we might show forth God’s love and grace and good works to the world. For as the baptism service says, “There is one Body and one Spirit. One hope in God’s call to us; One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; One God and Father of all.” Amen!
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Emily Zimbrick-Rogers