Every year at this time, all the priests and deacons of the St. Cloud Diocese gather together with our Bishop for our Annual Clergy Conference to be held at the Arrowwood Radisson in Alexandria. The purpose of these conferences is to pray, to listen, to enjoy some fellowship, and to enrich our faith through the help of various speakers and presenters who give us talks on certain topics of our time. It’s a great gathering of clergy and is meant to help us all improve our ministry in Christ, which we take back home to our parishes. Starting this Sunday, October 5-8th, Deacon Dave Lindmeier, Deacon Bill Ritchie, and myself along with all the other clergy will gather for these talks.
This year’s conference is entitled: “Fostering a Culture of Encounter: Overcoming the Globalization of Indifference.” You know so many people, (and you have seen it even in your own families for yourself), have become indifferent to our faith in Christ, and I believe because of that indifference to Jesus, they have an ever-growing indifference to the spiritual, political, social, and environmental issues in our world! Soren Kierkegaard would put it in terms of “Despair” which he argues is the worse disease of our present life. In his book, “The Sickness unto Death,” despair is not just an emotion so much as a complete loss of self. God requires more than being good, he demands that we seek an inner connection to him. We need to find a balance. Many people, even those who feel they are living happy, in reality are in deep despair! I personally have witnessed this in people and in our society many times.
In Scriptural terms, you might call it “lukewarm-ness.” Time and time again, both in the Old and New Testaments, we are warned of being “lukewarm.” Lukewarm-ness is an infection of the soul that even God has difficulty resolving in us. Jesus demonstrates this in the parable the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16,19f) and many other parables of encounter with our neighbor and our God. Even the Book of Revelation warns of this (Rev. 3,14f) which speaks of being spiritua neither “hot” nor “cold.” This, I believe, is the biggest challenge of our time which can only be resolved by a personal encounter in Christ! Hopefully, our time spent together as a diocese at Arrowwood will help us move forward in our journey and in helping us all encounter our living God as well as address this issue of “indifference.” I ask that you please pray for us as we come together in solidarity, in learning, and in prayer.