|"Morning by morning new mercies I see..."
Our initial arrival in 2013 was abrupt, sort of like a tuck and roll from a moving vehicle. Robin & I arrived without clericals and looked like anyone who was visiting the church for the first time. But that said, we were immediately welcomed by loving saints like Mary Wong who faithfully leads ASC's newcomer ministry. Others made it their point to welcome us, sharing about the many ministries that included a vibrant set of adult programs. In my spirit, I immediately sensed that Bishop John had correctly discerned Divine direction in placing us on the hill in Woodbridge.
Unbeknownst to those gathered at the 8:45 AM Eucharist, Robin & I had just passed through the eye-wall of a spiritual maelstrom, an intense and prolonged period of spiritual warfare and spiritual assault. We needed to be where we now found ourselves. That morning, Father Daniel Morgan was used by the Almighty to speak words that my bruised soul needed to hear. As part of his benediction, Father Dan proclaimed "Now be blessed by the Lord who you've received. Forget not the poor. Make no peace with that which would oppress you." A Benediction is defined as "the utterance or bestowing of a blessing, especially at the end of a religious service". His words lived up to this definition as they were salve to our spirits. It would now be a season of sitting still and listening to God through His word and discerning His will and direction. It felt good to find myself among those who welcomed us for who we were in Christ and not having their expectations colored by meeting a man in a clerical collar and his wife. Six months later and to the surprise of all (including Mary Wong), the man most knew as "Andy" was in fact "Deacon Andy".
Three years out, I can now reflect on the many lessons I've learned here at ASC. I've been blessed to see Biblical servant-leadership lived out in the lives of men like Father Dan, Father Alex, and Father Mark. Included in this list would be sister-saints like Deacon Julie, Lindsey, Lorna, and countless others. Each of these epitomizes ASC's motto of "Love, Grow, Serve".
I've learned important lessons about my self, a very powerful one being that its not my mission on earth to be one who is obliged to "Fix" every situation. In retrospect, being one who self-senses the need to be a fixer can find themselves being mangled in the gearbox.
I've learned the power of "Matthew 18". Succinctly, exhorting those who feel that they've been offended need to (by Divine command) take the concern to the one who they believe they were offended by. Too, there's nothing in this passage that commands one to be an intermediary between offendor and offendee. When an individual had a low level issue on what was being shared in our Prayer's of the People, I lovingly exhorted them to speak to one of the Priests concerning their issue. As a Deacon, I'm called to many responsibilities; nowhere in this list will one find either human shield or mediator.
God bless, preserve, and prosper you All Saint's Church. May you be salt and light that's spread across Prince William County, Virginia, and the world until our Lord's return.