Parish Interview: Andrew Goldhor

April 3, 2012 Comments Off on Parish Interview: Andrew Goldhor

St. Luke in the Fields Blog: Lent actually originated in the early Church as a period of six weeks intended to instruct and train those new converts desiring to be baptized into the faith. What advice would you give to the newly baptized/confirmed/received coming into our church?

Andrew Goldhor: Lent is a season of preparation and examination, a time to get ready to baptize and confirm new and rededicated members of the body of Christ, and an opportunity for all of us to stand back and look at our lives as followers of Christ and people made in God’s likeness, and to imagine new possibilities.

The language of the baptismal covenant reminds us that even as we move through a time of considering our sins and omissions, we do it as a people marked as Christ’s own forever.

Maybe by this point in Lent you have started to test those disciplines. Perhaps you have held fast to the denial of some treasured treat. Chocolate? Television? Alcohol?

Or there are those of us who have added a new spiritual practice for Lent. We may have taken on yoga, meditation, or a more regular reading of scripture.

These are all wonderful possibilities for reflection and prayer, but it is important to remember that our disciplines do not secure our relationship to God. God’s grace is given to us, not because of anything we do, but because God loves us.

A dear friend of mind tells of her time working as a foster care case worker here in New York. Her supervisor was a beautiful and very kind woman, particularly to the scared and clueless new caseworker.

And she had a big personality. She had a booming voice that you could hear from anywhere in the office. But the thing that was the most striking was that she called everyone, caseworkers and clients, “Beloved.”

 She did it when you came in in the morning– “Hi, Beloved.” Or when she was telling someone what to do—“Get your case notes up to date, Beloved.”

But the most compelling moments came when she did it in the midst of yelling at someone, “Listen, Beloved, you need to show up in court tomorrow.” And she really meant it. She believed deeply in God’s love for everyone, and reminded them, herself, and everyone else of this love, even when it was most difficult.

My friend has always recalled this expression, and spoke of her thanks for the message of that belovedness, which can be so hard to accept or to really believe for ourselves.

And so it is at that intersection of God’s freely bestowed grace, and our reflections that we can begin to glimpse what God has created us for. Frederick Buechner, a favorite theologian of mine, articulates the message as this:

 It is our business, as we journey, to keep our hearts open to that, to the bright-winged presence of the Holy Ghost within us and the Kingdom of God among us, until, little by little, compassionate love begins to change from a moral exercise, from a matter of gritting our teeth and doing our good deed for the day, into a joyous, spontaneous, self-forgetting response to the most real aspect of all reality, which is that the world is holy because God made it and so is every one of us as well.

As we walk towards Jerusalem with Christ, we know that are to die with him. And yet, through God’s abundant grace we know too that we shall be raised in new life with Jesus. This is the promise of the Easter morning ahead.

In that day, we realize that we do not do good to become closer to God, but rather that are we God’s and so we have been made good, and it is our very nature to share this love with one another.

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