The Very Rev. Rob Courtney
Fr. Rob is the Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church & School
One of my favorite bands is Radiohead. I've been listening to a serialized music podcast recently called Dissect, and the whole season they're currently in is about one Radiohead album, In Rainbows. Each 45 minute episode explores a single song on the album in depth. Maybe that sounds tedious to you, but I am loving the deep dive.
On a recent episode, the host said this about the band:
"Radiohead remain forever students, forever subservient to the art, to the process of creation. It's why after decades they're still able to evolve, to maintain relevance beyond a normal band's typical life cycle."
Forever students. That is something that I hope for myself, as well as others. That I will be a forever student. To recognize that there is no "arrival point" in one's vocation, or in life. There is never a point at which I can believe I will know it all or have all of the answers. There's always more to learn, always more ways to grow.
One thing I hope I never am is "stuck in my ways."
One thing I hope I never am is stuck in my ways.
I'm reminded of a gentleman from our church who died several years ago now. He was a "forever student" of life, he was always doing and thinking about something new. Even in his late 80s this man could zip around an iPhone better than a lot of teenagers I know! He seemed, to me, to be so full of life because he was still open to learning new things and having new experiences. He was a "forever student."
When it comes to the Christian life, I believe this concept of being a "forever student" is crucial. One reason is because every follower of Jesus is a disciple. That means you and me! It is not just Peter, James, John, or Mary Magdalene who are disciples. It's not just the characters from the New Testament. All followers of Jesus are disciples. And the word disciple simply means student.
There are no graduates in the Christian life. No, being a priest, bishop, deacon, or any kind of ordained pastor for that matter, does not make one a graduate. None of us clergy have achieved spiritual perfection, not even the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Pope himself. Even the people who in our eyes are the most faithful are still disciples. We are all, always and forever, students of Jesus.
As forever students of Jesus, then, none of us can ever remain truly faithful if we're stuck in our ways.
The word disciple simply means student. We are all, always and forever, students of Jesus.
If we ever believe we arrived we can be assured that we have not. There is always more to learn about ourselves, about God, about the Bible, about life.
And that's okay! That's the way it's supposed to be!
God want us to continue to grow more and more into the full stature of Christ. I believe God wants us all to be a little like Radiohead, to "remain forever students, forever subservient to the art, to the process of creation." God's creation is not static. It's ongoing, and as Christians attempting to be faithful we do well to continue being students of what God is up to in this world.
Where do you believe you need to get "unstuck" and to grow in your life of discipleship? What makes you curious?
Where do you believe you need to get "unstuck" and to grow in your life of discipleship?
We, as the St. Paul's Community, are always trying to learn and grow in relationships with each other, in service to the Church and to the world, and in our life in Christ. We are always trying to become more faithful disciples, and we're always offering new opportunities to grow and learn together as "forever students."
Come learn and grow alongside us! All levels welcome.