Aloha Kakou! (Aloha to all) Aloha Ke Akua! (God is love)
“Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon.” E. M. Forster
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” Colossians 3:23
“Above all, clothe yourselves with love.” Colossians 3:14
I am so grateful for the past nine years, living in a beautiful place, ministering collaboratively with beautiful people. By the grace of God, together we’ve built something special here at St. Michael’s Kauai. This community has become a beacon of light and love that has attracted pilgrims from around the world. Our small church in the middle of the Pacific Ocean has become known and beloved from Nova Scotia to Japan. How did that happen? Other than by the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit, I suggest three guiding principles and core values that can continue to lead us, and all faith communities, toward a bright future.
- Build bridges. Establish relationships with those who are seeking. Collaborate together. “Only Connect” as E. M. Forster put it in Howard’s End. Whether it was an animal blessing, a jazz festival, a collaboration with Kauai Voices, or hosting a YWCA or PFLAG event, we’ve become a spiritual home for many who never thought they’d have one. We count as “extended ohana” (family) those who would claim nothing to do with institutional religion. Continue to “bring people together and bring people to God,” which is the true mission of the church. Always include.
- Whatever we do, offer our very best. Strive for excellence in all we do. As George Herbert wrote in that beautiful poem which is now a hymn, offer “the cream of all my heart.” That is, when we do something in the name of God, it should be apparent that we went to a lot of trouble, that we took time and care to create an event, a moment, a worship service, a ministry in which people could quite easily fall in love with God. Continue to do things well, and offer our very best to God.
- Love one another unconditionally. There is nothing as powerful as a community of human beings who begin to love as God has loved us. As the writer of Colossians frames it to the community there, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another, and forgive each other, just as the Lord has forgiven you.” There is no substitute for love. You can have the finest programming in the world, but if the community is not loving, forgiving, and kind, your witness is powerless. Love bears all things, hopes all things, believes all things, and endures all things. The greatest is love.
I did not master the Hawaiian language while I was here, although I can now strum a few chords on the ukulele, and my mai tai recipe is unparalleled! But these truths I understand and cherish: Aloha Kakou! Aloha Ke Akua!