Saint Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church



1 St. Francis Drive - Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561
            www.stfrancisgulfbreeze.org             
From The Rector

The Rev.
Tim Backus
Rector

 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 

The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia! This is not a simple sentence. This is an intentional proclamation of faith. A proclamation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who rose from the dead. A proclamation that separates Christianity from all other religions, thoughts on spirituality, and various forms of philosophical thought. 

While similarities are present across various religions, no religion expresses a more intimate, loving relationship with their God or deity than Christianity; the Word made flesh who lived among us, suffered and died for us, rose from the grave, cleanses us from our sins, and offers the promise of everlasting life to all people. 

Jesus connects us with God the Creator and continues that connection in our lives today through the Holy Spirit. The Trinity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, is relational. God is relational. Christianity is relational. 

In a book entitled “Resurrection: Interpreting the Easter Gospel,” written by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop reminds us that the church is relational and called to be in right relationship with God and one another. 

The church has a need to address itself to all human violence whether that be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual in all human beings. Fr. Williams goes on to say that “If the church is to be itself, it must live in penitence and critical self-awareness and acknowledgement of failure” (p. 46).

 

What I believe the Archbishop implies is that in order for us to be a relational church, we must identify and acknowledge our faults, individually and collectively. Outside of the church, this approach would strengthen the relationship within any group whether it be a social organization, sports team, family, or any group in the cultural world. However, what sets Christianity apart, is not only do we acknowledge our own faults within ourselves and collectively as a group, we do so in relationship with God. 

Rowan Williams reminds us that the orientation of the church is a movement towards reconciliation. As followers of Christ, with the knowledge, faith, and understanding that we are loved and forgiven by our creator, regardless of the sin that we or another may commit, the place for a sinner, especially one who is penitent, is within the Church. 

All Christian communities are broken and filled with broken people. None of us are without sin. Understanding and accepting this is critical to our relationship and connection with Christ as a Church. All of us have faults and weaknesses. What binds us together through our struggles with one another and our own brokenness is our commonality on Christ; knowing that all of us fall short and all of us are saved only by the grace in Christ. 

Regardless of how good or ineffective a member of the church is related to something has no relevance on being the church. What is relevant is how we treat, help, encourage and support one another. Archbishop Williams states that what it means to be a ‘penitent Church’ is to authentically say that no one’s failure is theirs alone (p. 69). By our common mission in Christ, we are bound to help one another in right relationship. 

Williams goes on to say “…when the Church performs the Eucharistic action, it is what it is called to be: the Easter community, guilty and restored, the gathering of those whose identity is defined by their new relation to Jesus crucified and raised, who identify themselves as forgiven” (p. 52). 

With the love of Christ,