The sacramental entry into the Christian Community is Holy Baptism. After the rite of water, the one being baptized is signed on the forehead with the Oil of Chrism with the words, "You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ's own forever." (Book of Common Prayer, Page 308).
Regardless of age, this action begins an incredible, lifelong journey that happens at all levels of our being. We call this journey Formation. It has no series of courses, graduation or quantitative evaluation. However, along the journey we do have almost limitless opportunities to gather, learn, explore, enrich, research, investigate and experience moments of reaching goals in our growth.
At St. Bede's we are exploring three elements of Formation: Engage, Re-Form, Transform.
We are sensate people by nature. Information and orientation are the result of what we take in through sight, sound, taste, smell and feel. What is taken in is processed and packaged as thoughts, ideas and emotional responses.
While we don't often realize it, we are also engaging reality at levels well beyond the senses and conscious thought. We call this spirituality. To engage ourselves and life from this level is the goal of the baptismal journey. Soundness of body, mind and spirit is the work of Formation in our tradition.
At St. Bede's we are in a process of taking fresh assessments of our life as a faith community. As the world around us has shifted and changed markedly during our 62 years of life as a parish, so we are exploring how our faith journey must take on new approaches with new tools and resources. Our Vestry is exploring the meaning of mission and ministry in light of shifts within our faith community, in our neighborhood, and in the Episcopal Church...indeed the Church at large.
To Re-Form, our Vestry is committing to re-defining leadership, organization and faith-based initiatives for energizing our parish and being a true "House of Prayer and Ministry for all people."
We are in a place of rapid shift. Driven by communication technology, our world is becoming smaller in terms of connectivity and information sharing. This shift is opening us to other cultures, traditions and lifeways with which we must be able to be conversant. Being a Christian in today's world challenges us to frame the Gospel in deeper ways.
We can no longer simply think and act locally. We must begin at this level; but we must also be willing and able to grasp the implications of who we are and what we do as part of the larger Church and as an increasingly diverse people.
The awakening of the Spirit in individual lives is calling forth deeper and transformative ways of worship, inter-dependent community development, expanded moral and ethical standards. We are definitely coming to a place of more abundant life.
St. Bede's is taking this particular journey. We do not know where it will take us in the months ahead. However, we will be actively exploring. This is where you will find specific moments of formation. It has been called equipping the saints for ministry. It is that and more.
As St. Paul tells us: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Add to that your heart...the whole being.