Fr. Reid recently mentioned to me that he thinks about Jesus all the time. Of course, I responded with something like, “That’s great!” but actually thought something like “Really? That seems extreme. On the other hand, it is your job, so … good for you!” And good for us. After all, who wants a pastor that doesn’t spend a great deal of time thinking about Jesus? Fr. Reid’s passion for Jesus gets him out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to pray and study. It gives him energy to put in long days and drives him to work so hard for the rest of us. He has to do budgets, and run committees and supervise staff and all that – but always in service to the goal of helping his flock share his passionate desire to know and follow Christ.
Researchers say true passion develops through delving into a topic, and being willing to put some work into it. Are you passionate about God and His Church? If not, perhaps a little delving and a little work would help. We must tend to our intellectual and spiritual growth the way we tend a garden. And, this is important, Christian growth has no end unless we end it. The potential for deeper knowledge and new insights into the things of God is limitless. We may grow in Christ all our lives – and should! Our God-given minds are capable of learning until the day we die (and beyond death for all eternity!) And our souls are designed to grow ever closer, passionately close, to our Creator. The more we learn about God, the Bible, theology, history, spiritual disciplines, Christian Worldview, Christian artistic expression, etcetera, etcetera, the better equipped we are to love and serve the Lord!
Happily, All Saints’ offers a truly excellent adult education program. There are classes for everyone. There are 3-4 classes Sunday morning open to all. There are morning Bible studies. And All Saints’ Church is the home of the legendary Parish Academy, which offers a variety of semester long classes on Wednesday evenings. The curriculum is designed to build your knowledge and deepen your faith.
Now, perhaps you are among those grateful that school is a thing of the past? Maybe the idea of taking a class fills you with dread rather than excitement? Fear not! There are no tests. You don’t have to give a report. You can sit in the back a be quiet if that’s where you’re comfortable. BUT you will learn and grow and be in the company of others who also want to learn and grow and encourage you. So there’s another excellent reason to step out and take a class. Community. We, together, are the body of Christ. We, together, worship, serve and study. This is God’s plan. On a personal note, as the consummate introvert, taking classes reminds me that other people are nice to be around! Parish Academy classes also become a sort of date night for me and my husband. Education, friendship and romance – what more could you want?
One more thing. I am honored to teach classes from time to time. Not too long ago a student from one of my classes shared an experience with me. This person has been a lifelong member of the church and is now eligible for the senior discount at IHOP – so a Christian for a long time. While listening to a lesson, something became clear for the first time, even after all those years in church, that then illumined everything else and helped this person in surprising and marvelous ways. Suddenly what was confusing was clear and classes taken after that one were more joyful because God had touched the mind with understanding. I tell this story in order to show that God is with us in the All Saints’ Parish Academy and He works through our efforts. This is not an isolated story. I can think of many people who had similar faith enlivening experiences because of our education program. How wonderful!
The fall semester of Parish Academy will begin September 5. I can’t recommend it strongly enough. If you haven’t signed up, why not? Come and see how good it feels to stretch yourself a little in the company of friends.