I. Whenever someone says, “Tell me about Ascension. What’s your parish like?” I don’t know where to start: you’re impossible to explain. We are a Spanish-speaking community, we are an English-speaking community. We have black and white and brown skin. We’re young and old, some wealthy, some who live in poverty. We’re immigrants from Africa and Asia and islands, and the children of European immigrants whose families have warmed this church for generations. And then there’s the rest of us and all the others. This is the vineyard of which you and I are the heirs, its stewards and trustees.
II. In an article titled, “Despite Our Differences, We Are One Holy, Catholic, Dysfunctional Family,” Brian Harper writes,
We live in an extraordinarily and boundlessly diverse world. If our faith is to have any significance, it must be reflective of that world…How will we possibly be able to encounter the complicated world lying beyond our cathedral walls if we cannot stomach the complexities within?
Beyond regularly congratulating ourselves on being so fashionably diverse, we must encounter and accompany one another at the cost of discomfort and pain, so that encounter and accompaniment makes a difference in our lives and in the world. Our complexities in here make us more able to encounter the complicated world out there.
III. Some months ago, a few of us gathered on Saturday mornings to pray for peace in our neighborhood and justice for our immigrant brothers and sisters. Every week, we prayed these words:
For our faith community, that we may celebrate and welcome the diverse faces of Christ in our worship, our ministries, and our leaders;
For the wisdom to receive the stories and experiences of those different from ourselves and to respond with respect;
For the courage to have difficult conversations about racism, and for a better appreciation of how our words and actions—or even our silence—can impact our communities.
Having been welcomed indiscriminately to the vineyard ourselves, let’s be benevolent stewards, dependable tenants, of the lush vine entrusted to our care.