Sunday, November 10, 2013

Instructions to the Church # VI

"Remember Your Leaders."
Bishop Eric Menees

This morning we continue our journey with the author of the book of Hebrews, studying the instructions that the Lord has given us for the church. So far we've examined the need for the church to: Continue in Brotherly Love (13:1), Show Hospitality to Strangers (13:2), Remember Those in Prison (13:3), Honor Marriage (13:4), and Keep from the Love of Money (13:5-6). This morning we continue with a scriptural imperative to: Remember your Leaders (13:7). Specifically, we are to:
"7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and  imitate their faith."

The author of Hebrews is telling the people of the church to remember those leaders who have faithfully taught the Word of God to them. These are the ones who shared the Good News of Jesus Christ and whose lives reflected that same grace and love that Jesus shared with his disciples. We are not only to listen to their words, but to honor them by imitating their way of life and, most importantly, their faith.

As I write this Bishop's Note, it has not even been 24 hours since I received the news of Bishop Schofield's death. How appropriate it is, then, that today I write on verse 7 of chapter 13, because it is so easy for me to think of one such leader - the Rt. Rev. John-David Mercer Schofield, IV Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin.

I first met Bishop Schofield in 2009, when I had the great privilege of sitting at the feet of his teaching when he came to San Diego to lead the San Diego Anglicans clergy retreat. The theme of the retreat was Forgiveness, and I found myself instinctively knowing that I was sitting under the teaching of a truly godly man. How impressive it was that he could teach for two hours a session, regularly quoting scripture, and never look at his notes or the Bible. His teaching was straight forward, passionate, well illustrated, and grounded in the Good News of Jesus Christ. Bishop Schofield's ability to teach was clearly a gift of the Holy Spirit - I knew, when listening to him, that I was not only getting a glimpse into his life, but that God was using him to speak directly into my life. Of course each person present at that retreat felt the same way - that is the mark of an anointed leader.

While I had met Bishop Schofield a few times after that retreat and prior to my being called to be his successor, it was in those first months of being in the diocese that I fell in love with +John-David as a father in God and a brother in Christ. I'll never forget the fall of 2011. I had been in the diocese only a week or so, and I was on the football field at my son's elementary school watching the end of his football practice. I struck up a conversation with another dad, who turned out to be a local pastor, Jymme Foote, who was also relatively new to the Fresno and trying to get his feet wet. He explained how he had, that day, realized he had come into his own. Pastor Foote shared that he knew he had made it as a pastor in this city because he had received an invitation to dinner with Bishop Schofield. "Have you heard yet of Bishop Schofield?" Pastor Foote had asked.  All I could say at that moment was, "Who hasn't?"

Over these past two years, as I've attempted to follow in the footsteps of +John-David Schofield, I have prayed that the Lord will give me the grace to pray with the same intimate knowledge of our Lord and Savior; that I'll preach and teach with the same passion and grounding in the scriptures; that I will pastor my clergy with the same measure of true and sincere love; and that I will laugh with the same gusto, both at myself and at the marvelous ways God works all things to his Good. (Romans 8:28)

I will always remember Bishop Schofield as a leader among leaders, and as a man whose ministry I hope to imitate - secure in the knowledge that nothing, in this life or the next, can separate our brother +John-David or us from the Love of Christ.  “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor “height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) All I can say is, Amen to that!
Note: The "Notes to the church" articles are written by Bishop Menees for the Diocese of San Joaquin. I have posted them on Soundings with his permission for a wider audience. This is also the case for his "Why I am an Anglican" series. Dale+

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