The Very Rev. Peet Dickinson

Names always have great meaning in the Bible, and the very first place where the people of Israel camped in the Promised Land after their Exodus and 40 years of wandering in the wilderness was called Gilgal. Why that name? Because Gilgal sounds like the Hebrew word for “to roll.” We read in Joshua chapter 5 verse 9, “And the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.”  12 men from the 12 tribes of Israel each took a stone from the middle of the Jordan River where they had just walked across on dry land after God held back the flood waters for their crossing and then placed them in a pillar at Gilgal. The stones were to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever of God’s faithfulness to his promises. That land was consecrated with a special name and a special physical sign in order that the people would remember and fear the LORD their God forever as they told the story from one generation to the next.

It probably won’t surprise you that it didn’t take long before Israel ceased to remember God’s faithfulness. In fact, just two chapters away from the events at Gilgal you’ll find the first words of Joshua chapter 7  are “But the people of Israel broke faith…” Even after all that happened at Gilgal and then at Jericho as the walls came tumbling down, still the people of Israel broke faith. It doesn’t take much for mankind to forget the faithfulness of God. And with each forgetful moment when we turn from our faithful God, we are wounded and a destructive trajectory begins.  Atonement is desperately needed.

The good news is, however, that although God’s people may break faith, the LORD’s faithfulness never ends. His mercy endures forever, and there is redemption by his hand. He is still the God who rolls away reproach and delivers us from bondage into the promised land of his Kingdom. Will we remember that?

It seems to me that as we come to the 200th anniversary of the consecration of our Cathedral Church, it is a good time for us to remember the faithfulness of God to our generation and to all those generations that have gone before us. We never know ourselves quite so well as when we learn that history that leads right up to our arrival on the scene. History is our story, and in the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul story there are moments of blessing that we want to affirm and celebrate. There are also moments when we, like the people of Israel, broke faith and we need to confess and repent of those parts of our story in order that we might be healed and restored to the fullness of what God desires for this church body.

The Rev. Dr. Russ Parker

The Rev. Dr. Russ Parker

The Reverend Dr. Russ Parker has immense experience in coming alongside churches, some with much longer and deeper histories than ours, and helping them through a process of transfiguration of their past and future so that they can experience the full flourishing of the mission to which God has called them. Russ will lead a church through healing weekends which include a day of engaging teaching and activities that focus both on the story of the church and on the Great Story of redemption, and then culminate with a Christian Day of Atonement. In Russ’ words, “The major purpose of this Day of Atonement is to heal the place of ministry to be the place of ministry.”

We are blessed to welcome Russ Parker to the Cathedral Saturday, April 30th and Sunday, May 1st. He is a first-rate teacher who will keep you on the edge of your seat as he weaves Scripture, humor, and amazing experiences through his talks. I can’t wait to hear him again, and I want all of you to join me as well. There will be a day of teaching on the 30th from 10:00 – 4:00 and then we will have the Christian Day of Atonement service as our worship service on Sunday, May 1st at 10:00. I believe this will be a seminal moment, not only in our Bicentennial year, but also in the entire long history of our parish. Look for more information about registering for this event very soon.

Please come join us on April 30th and May 1st for Transfiguring our Past and Future!