Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray, as you will and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
This prayer is called the prayer of self-dedication. It was written by a former Archbishop of Canterbury named William Temple. The Archbishop was both a theologian and a force for justice. He was a supporter of the workers’ movement in England and an influential voice against Nazi atrocities during the Second World War.
The prayer is a window into Temple’s mind. It shows him to be a holistic thinker. In it, God is invited into hearts, minds, and imaginations. And finally, God is asked to touch our wills so that we may be dedicated to God’s purpose for us.
As we at the two Episcopal churches in Ossining enter this year, it will benefit us to think about Temple’s prayer. We are taking on a year-long process of strategic visioning. Everyone will be included. Each of us must bring heart, mind, and imagination to the task…not in a self-centered way but in a way that is constantly referencing God’s will for us and for those around us.
We are living in a time where Christian religious institutions are shrinking. And in parishes, the membership is aging. What’s more, we don’t understand what this means or why it is happening. But, as people of faith we know that God is present with us as we experience these trends. And we know that we still have a gift to bring to this world: the assurance that there is something more to life than we can see− healing and loving God.
And so, in 2019 we shall search our hearts, employ our minds, and release our imaginations to discern God’s will for St Paul’s and Trinity. “How,” we shall ask, “can our parishes give glory to God and serve the welfare of people?”
The process will be lay-led, facilitated by the Kaleidoscope Institute, and the Rev. Bill Cruse will be our facilitator. At the end of the process, we expect to have a practical three-year plan for our churches going forward.
Right now, the Strategic Visioning Team is being formed and their names will be released shortly. I would ask at this time that you pray for this process EVERY DAY. It doesn’t have to be a long or complicated prayer, just perhaps a good thought for our churches that our hearts, minds, imaginations, and wills may be touched by God in this year to come.
You are dear and faithful people and I will pray for you too as you discern your path. And remember, as Joseph Campbell said, “if the path ahead is clear, you are probably on someone else’s.”