A Community of Faith in the Jupiter, Tequesta and Hobe Sound Area
The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd
"We Have A Place For You."
The Rev. Dr. Douglas F. Scharf
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Prayer and Belonging
Every Sunday, we pray our Parish Prayer together and ask God to “make our parish of Good Shepherd truly a community of prayer and belonging.” In the midst of all the various ministries and functions that are part of our congregational life, these two characteristics form the nucleus of our identity and mission. And so, this month, I would like to reflect upon what it means for us to embody this identity both corporately as a church and in our individual lives.
A Community of Belonging
During the course of his earthly ministry, Jesus gathered a community of followers that traveled and ministered with him. This band of disciples included people from different social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds. It included men and women, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile. And yet, despite the diversity within this community, each member experienced a sense of belonging, a deep connection to Jesus and to the spiritual community he created.
Since my arrival at Good Shepherd, I have had the privilege of listening to many of your stories describing how you came to discover and become a part of our parish community. These stories are as varied and diverse as the individuals that make up our congregation. However, one theme was consistent among these many different stories – a sense of belonging. Deep in the DNA of our congregation is the pledge, “we have a place for you.” This sense of belonging is not of our own making; it is an expression of the belonging we all have been promised through our relationship with Jesus.
A Community of Prayer
In addition to being a place where people discover a sense of spiritual belonging, we are also called to be a community of prayer. The earliest followers of Jesus devoted themselves to teaching, fellowship, and prayer. Through prayer, the first disciples grew in the faith and were sent forth into the world as ambassadors of God’s love and transforming power.
At Good Shepherd, our calling to be “a vibrant spiritual and educational community resource” must be firmly rooted in prayer, for it is prayer that makes us a distinctively spiritual community. There are many organizations and projects that seek to do good in our local community, but it is our call to be rooted and grounded in prayer – to be formed and transformed in God’s presence and then sent forth to radiated God’s love in the world. Without prayer, the church becomes simply a social service organization that seeks to do good, but lacks real spiritual power.
And so, I am inviting you to join me in setting aside time each day to intentionally pray for God’s mission and vision for our congregation. Each Tuesday morning, we gather in the chapel at 8:30 AM for a time of intercession and prayer, but you can pray for our congregation every day as part of your own life of prayer and worship. On Sunday, November 4, we will make available a “Daily Prayer Card” that will include a short prayer service that you can use at home. As Paul reminds us in First Thessalonians, let us “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all things through Jesus Christ our Lord.” May God bless you always!