This the sermon the Rev. Canon Janet Waggoner preached on the Third Sunday after Pentecost, June 13, 2021.
Year B, Proper VI - Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 92:1-4,11-14; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10,14-17; Mark 4:26-34
I speak to you in the name of the Living God - holy Trinity, ever one. AMEN.
If I were to name the theme of today’s Gospel lesson, it would be
“God is in charge, and we are not.”
God means for that to be good news for us, words of comfort to us as God’s beloved children.
But some of us get all tangled up wondering, if God is in charge and we are not, what does that mean about the role each of us is supposed to play. I mean, we hear all the time that we’re the hands and feet of God in the world. And in the collect this morning, we prayed that God’s grace would allow us to “proclaim God’s truth with boldness” and “minister God’s justice with compassion.” How are we supposed to know what we’re supposed to do? How much giving and striving and working is enough?
In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus gives us a glimpse of what it looks like for God to be God in our lives. Seeds are scattered on the ground and just left there. Meanwhile, the sower goes about his or her business, sleeping, rising, working, playing, doing whatever is next on the endless list of things that need to be done on a farm. The seed draws what it needs from the earth and then does what seeds do, it grows. When the sower next encounters the seed, it’s ready to be harvested as food for his family or seed to start next year’s crop.
I grew up on a farm. Chores started before dawn. When chores were done, my dad would often wash up, hop in the pick-up, and go to town to Ted’s Café to have coffee with the farmers gathered there. There were farmers there every single morning except Sundays. Mostly, they talked about the weather. The sun, the wind, the rain, how their crops did last season, how their crops might do this season. Then they would get back in their pick-up trucks and go home to work in the barn or in the fields or on whatever else needed building or fixing that day.
As a child, I was mystified by this practice of “having coffee.” First of all, it seemed like a waste of time - not to mention gas money - to drive to town to have a cup of coffee, especially when Dad just drove right back home, to have another cup of coffee with breakfast. Second of all, the weather was the weather. Talking about it didn’t change it, so why talk about it all the time?
Years later, I realized that daily coffee at Ted’s Café was the farmers’ way of coping with the fact that they poured their lives and their money and their blood and their sweat into the soil - and yet had absolutely no control over whether or not they would end up with any harvest at all. Rain, wind, heat, blight, bugs, hail, anything could happen - and often did. Daily coffee at Ted’s Café was the way these farmers practiced surrendering to whatever was to come and supported each other in the midst of it all.
Some people practice these same things in AA. Some wrestle through to them in Bible Studies. Some people hash through their struggles in counseling. Some take in the body and blood of Christ and find in it the strength they need to get through another day, another week.
God is in charge, and we are not.
So, if God is in charge, why bother to do anything? In today’s story from the Book of Ezekiel we hear God saying that God’s got this. When God wants a tree, God just plucks a sprig off of one tree and plants another, and it grows on its own, without any tending. Not only that, but if there’s leveling out or pruning or watering to be done, God can do it.
God doesn’t need us, but God wants us. The God-who-is-in-charge loves us and the rest of all creation. The God-who-is-in-charge longs to be with us - so much so that God sent Jesus so that we “might live no longer for ourselves.” And if we give ourselves over to God’s goodness, God’s love, God’s way, our lives are hidden in Christ who died and rose for us. And then, as the apostle Paul says, “there is a new creation” - meaning God’s love makes us new and then we get to work with God as God creates newness around us.
Sounds pretty good, eh? All that goodness, all those promises, all of that hope . . . But did you notice, all that still doesn’t answer the questions: How are we supposed to know what we’re supposed to do? How much giving and striving and working is enough?
Here’s a closing thought about that - from the farm and from the Gospel.
If you follow a farmer around all day, you’ll notice that the farmer isn’t doing a lot of running. Even though she has an infinitely long list of things that “might should get done,” she’s walking at a moderate pace, going from one project to another - “easing along,” as my father used to call it - so that at the end of the day, the farmer still has enough strength and energy to do the chores and then make supper.
In the parable of the seed, what does Jesus say the farmer is doing while the seed is growing? “Sleeping and rising.” Nothing heroic. Nothing out of the ordinary. Taking care of business and taking care of himself, so that when the grain is ripe, he’s ready to harvest it.
Our crazy Protestant work ethic might lead us to believe that every minute of our lives needs to be accounted for, every day has to be full. But the God-who-is-in-charge can manage things without us, while we are resting or reading or hanging out with friends or doing whatever refreshes us, so that when the God-who-is-in-charge calls, we are ready for God to create new things through us in our neighborhood or elsewhere in our world.
May it be so. AMEN.
This is the sermon the Rev. Karen Calafat preached on the Second Sunday after Pentecost, June 6, 2021.
Proper 5B – Mk. 3:20-35
June 6, 2021
The Rev. Karen A. Calafat
I had a spiritual awakening in my mid-20’s which left me completely filled with joy and excitement about this new-found grace of God I had experienced, this new-found love of Christ. It was all I could think about, all I wanted to talk about. I discovered an entirely new genre of music -- Christian pop – and I wanted everyone to listen to it. My family was convinced I had lost my mind, gone off the deep end, become a bonafide holy roller, a Jesus freak. I really just wanted everyone to experience the grace and love that I had discovered, but I was too over-the-top for my family and friends’ comfort level.
That is my personal point of connection with the confusion and misunderstandings that are part of Jesus’ story in Mark’s gospel.
It might be helpful for us to get a running start on this one, remembering that on the 2nd Sunday of Advent we heard the beginning of the “good news of Jesus Christ, the son of God” and John the Baptist appearing in the wilderness proclaiming baptism for the forgiveness of sins and the coming of the one who would baptize in the Holy Spirit. Through the season of Epiphany we heard from the Gospel of Mark each Sunday, including Jesus calling the 12 disciples and performing healing through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Mark, the emphasis is on Jesus as prophet, teacher and healer – the human Jesus whose work can be seen. The lens through which we might approach today’s lesson is verse 15 of chapter 1: Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
Now, to be honest, I wrestled with this reading all week in order to find the “good news.” The Rev. Susan Butterworth’s words helped me. She writes, “In today’s passage, we have it all. Human Jesus misunderstood and at times impatient, and divine Jesus, actor in the eternal drama of good versus evil, conqueror of Satan.
By the time this passage begins, chapter three of Mark has established Jesus as prophet, teacher, and healer. He has cast out unclean spirits and appointed twelve apostles to aid him in his work.
Ironically, in Mark 3:11, the unclean spirits recognize Jesus as the Son of God, while in today’s passage, the crowd, the family, and the scribes just do not get him at all. “He has Beelzebul, (which is literally “lord of the flies; lord of death and decay”) and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” They see Jesus as out of his mind, possibly even possessed by evil spirits. As he has done so many times in his earthly life, Jesus is called to respond to the confusion of friend and foe alike. He teaches, in a parable about Satan, and calls the scribes and his family to account.
The structure of the passage is interesting, important, and enlightening. We have a story within a story: the controversy with the scribes about exorcism and the parable of defeating Satan inserted into an episode about Jesus’ family. The structure is called chiastic, meaning that ideas are introduced in order, then developed in reverse order. In this case: Crowd, family, and scribes are introduced in that order. The parable of Satan is the story at the center. Then, in reverse order, scribes, family, and crowd are addressed.
The structure is important and enlightening for the way it focuses on the central idea at the heart of the pattern – the conflict with Satan, the cosmic battle of good and evil. First, the crowd gathers, followers of Jesus and witnesses to his deeds and teaching. Then family and scribes put forth the misguided, mistaken accusation that his power to exorcise demons comes from Beelzebul. We can almost hear Jesus’ frustration in his words: How can Satan cast out Satan? Carefully, he explains, if Satan is divided, he cannot survive. In casting out unclean spirits, Jesus defeats Satan bit by bit, undermining his power.
But Jesus draws the line at confusing Satan with the Holy Spirit. Being misguided, blind, mistaken can be forgiven. The people may be slow to comprehend that Jesus, the man who heals, is in fact the Son of God. Make no mistake, however – Jesus’ healing power comes from the Holy Spirit. To call the Holy Spirit an unclean spirit is a blasphemy too far. Jesus is called upon to speak with authority yet again.
So, in the reverse order of the chiastic structure, Jesus reprimands the scribes, then his family re-enters the scene, and the passage resolves with Jesus addressing the crowd.
Does Jesus reject his family, his mother and his brothers and sisters, when he asks rhetorically, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Rather, when Jesus looks at the crowd and says, “Here are my mother and my brothers!” perhaps he is connecting his earthly self with his divine self. He has a human family, and he has a spiritual family. And that spiritual family includes us, part of the crowd, followers of Jesus and witnesses to his gospel.
Today’s complex and rich passage from Mark’s gospel reveals the tension between the human and divine aspects of Jesus. He has a family that doesn’t understand him, that doesn’t see him clearly, or fully. A family, friends, a religious establishment, that do not see that he goes beyond humanity, and is the eternal Son of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, healer of bodies, healer of souls, destroyer of Satan, the Messiah who overcomes death to usher in the kingdom of God.
The power of the Holy Spirit is a strong message. It is a Pentecost message. We are in the season which celebrates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on God’s people, the moment when the Spirit empowers God’s people to be witnesses and spread the Good News. Jesus’ ministry is outward-looking, expansive, as Christ welcomes all.” Therein lies the Good News. The Holy Spirit helps and empowers us in our own struggle against sin and brokenness. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be receivers and bearers of the grace of God and the love of Christ. So share that love and grace, even if people think you are out of you mind. Go ahead, be a little crazy for Christ’s sake!
Susan Butterworth, M.A., M.Div, is a writer, teacher, singer, and lay minister. She leads Song & Stillness: Taizé @ MIT, a weekly ecumenical service of contemplative Taizé prayer at the interfaith chapel at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She teaches writing and literature to college undergraduates and writes book reviews, essays, and literary reference articles.
This is the sermon the Rev. Karen Calafat preached on Trinity Sunday, May 30, 2021.
A new preacher in town was trying to find his way around. Finally, he asked a young girl for directions. “How do you get to the Town Hall?”
The girl gave him directions, then asked, “Why do you want to go to the Town Hall?”
“Because I’m to give a speech there.”
“What will the speech be about?” the girl asked.
“How to get to heaven.”
“How to get to heaven? And you can’t even find your way to the Town Hall?!”
I feel a bit like that today in addressing the concept of the Trinity. I don’t even pretend to fully know my way around this God who is 1 in 3 and 3 in 1, so let’s not even try to define the Trinity, but more see what we can glean from the readings and from our own experiences about our Trinitarian God.
I visited with Linda Taylor last week about the Trinity. This is how she described her experience: I am “filled with wonder for the beauty of this world and by the presence of the CREATOR who is always with us, always creating, always bringing new life into being. In times of sorrow and distress, I have been comforted by the compassion of the CHRIST who lives with us in suffering and brings us through the difficult times into new life. And I remember all the times when the power of the SPIRIT has brought goose bumps to my arms and filled me with new life and energy.
Energy and creativity are part of my experience of the Trinity. I think that is why the image of dance resonates with me in relationship to the TRINITY. The Divine Dance, the dance of our faith, that pulls us inside the circle of love that is our Triune God.
Richard Rohr writes, “In our attempts to explain the Trinitarian Mystery we overemphasize the individual qualities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but not so much the relationships between them. That is where all the power is! That is where all the meaning is!”
You have seen the traditional folk dances of the Middle East— where people are holding hands or locking arms and moving about together in a circle, swaying together - side to side and in and out - but together in one connected circle. I believe that is what the Divine Dance is like - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit -- the Creator, the Christ and the Spirit - united in love, purpose, energy.
My favorite image of the Trinity is Rublev’s icon. The three figures are present to each other and invite us to join with them at the table. It is thought that on the original icon, there was a mirror at the table where the viewers would see themselves at the table with the Trinity.
We are invited to participate in the Trinity dance, to be part of the interaction that brings continuous renewal and fresh new life…. The dance where we are invited. God in three persons invites us to experience the Holy in whatever way is most accessible to us. The great good news is that God continues to seek us out. God continues to woo us into ever-deepening relationship. That is why the icon, simplified on the cover of your leaflet, is my favorite depiction of the Trinity. Being circled up, creating together… connected and related… welcoming.
Theology Professor Ginger Barfield says, knowing where to start with the Trinity is key. It is difficult to grasp and difficult to explain, but the best starting place seems to be with "the reality of God’s activity in Jesus."
So, what is God’s activity in Jesus' interaction with Nicodemus and what might it teach us about the Trinity?
Nicodemus comes to meet with Jesus at night. We don’t know why he chose that time. It has been said that he was concerned that he would be seen in Jesus’ company, but it may be that he was simply a very busy man who came when his workday had ended. Nicodemus was a leader of the Pharisees, highly educated and who well grounded in the teaching of his religion. He knows a lot of stuff. This learned man recognizes that Jesus is a holy man, and he begins the conversation by acknowledging that God must certainly have sent him. Jesus responds by telling him that no one can see the kingdom of God unless they have been given new birth by the Spirit, then goes on to tell Nicodemus that he has knowledge without understanding. It is the action of the Spirit that brings us understanding, and we can easily imagine that it was the action of the Spirit that called Nicodemus into this encounter with Jesus.
It must have been quite unsettling for Nicodemus to approach Jesus, for Nicodemus is viewed as an expert on God so perhaps it was humbling or maybe even embarrassing, for him to ask Jesus anything about God; he may have even feared Jesus’ response to him -- a Pharisee, who Jesus regularly scolded for their self-righteousness and judgmental attitudes toward others. But it seems Nicodemus was so moved by the Spirit he could no longer resist talking to Jesus. The conversation is something of a riddle.... Jesus says one must be "born from above" and Nicodemus takes the "born" part literally, apparently not wondering what "from above" means. Jesus ignores his question and goes on with the explanation of "being born of water and Spirit." ... We might learn from this that Jesus does not answer all the questions we ask. "Jesus does more. He tells us what we need to know, not what we think we need to know." (Ron Lavin)
You see, we are called to know God, not simply to know about God. Our experience of God changes in every moment, with every change in our awareness of the world around us. We are called to be in relationship with God, just as the persons of the Trinity are in relationship - a relationship that is a never-ending, ever-changing dance. The Creator, the Christ and the Spirit are in continuous movement—always changing, yet always the same.
Jesus, the Christ, who did not lose patience with Nicodemus’ lack of understanding, also does not lose patience with us in our human struggles – whatever they may be. So as you move through this week, may you have moments of dance. May you be awed by something in the world of the Creator; comforted by the compassion of Christ; and inspired by the energy of the Spirit. May you grow not necessarily in knowledge, but in the experience of the Holy Trinity.
As you approach God’s table today, place yourself in Rublev’s icon -- imagine yourself in that Divine Dance with the Trinity, where there is always, always room for you.
This is the sermon the Rev. Karen Calafat preached on Pentecost, May 23, 2021 - St. Luke's first worship service in their new worship space. [Note: the congregation occupying the building at 4301 Meadowbroook Drive is not an Episcopal Church affiliated with The Episcopal Church.]
May 23, 2021
Karen A. Calafat+
I have felt a bit like Dorothy this week. You know, Dorothy, from the Wizard of Oz -- blown to and fro, occupying a strange land, trying to find something that feels like home. I think we could all be good companions with Dorothy and her friends, the Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow.
The winds of change have surely been relentless the past several months, the past year plus, really. Many of us are struggling to come out of a Covid pandemic fog. Others are reeling from the unfavorable litigation results that, like Dorothy, have knocked our foundation out from under us and landed us in a strange land. Then there is the ongoing
tornadic activity of racism across our country and before our eyes on a daily basis. We might feel Dorothy’s words, “We aren’t in Kansas anymore!”
I can’t help but think that those disciples gathered on that Pentecost described in Acts must have been feeling some of this same disorientation that we are experiencing. Now, Pentecost was nothing new to them because as faithful Jews, Pentecost was one of the major pilgrimages of their faith. The Book of Leviticus describes Pentecost, which was originally a harvest festival observed on the 50th day after Passover. There are detailed instructions about the way the harvest is to be conducted and the way offerings are to be made to God. It was essentially a tithe of the harvest, giving to God 10% of the profits. But there is more to the harvest as well. God’s instruction was for the farmers to harvest only so close to the edges of the fields, leaving a portion untouched for others – for those who didn’t own land or have harvests of their own. Out of thanksgiving for God’s presence with them, delivering them from slavery and providing them a promised land, they fed those who were struggling. The Book of Ruth is usually read during Jewish Pentecost because of its emphasis on caring for the lost and for those on the fringes, as well as welcoming outsiders into the faith family.
An additional focus of Pentecost was the celebration of God giving the Torah. There is a rabbinic tradition that says when the Ten Commandments were given, it was with a single sound, but the sound went forth and divided into seven voices and then seventy tongues, so that every people heard the law in their own language.
This sounds similar to the Pentecost the disciples experienced after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. People from foreign lands gathered together in one place. The Holy Spirit showed up and all kinds of strangeness broke loose. People were suddenly fluent in foreign languages and those from far lands and other cultures felt right at home as their language was spoken and understood. It must have been a perplexing experience all the way around as the Spirit fell upon them and moved through them. The Spirit moved through the first disciples – Jewish disciples and Gentile; male disciples and female; rich and poor; slave and free; old and young. The Holy Spirit flowed through everyone without discrimination, without judgment. The Spirit empowered those first disciples to proclaim the Good News of God’s love through Jesus Christ – crucified and resurrected! The Holy Spirit moved in and through those disciples and empowered them for mission. You might say our presence here in this place today is a direct result of that same Pentecost Spirit. That same Holy Spirit flows in and through you today – you gathered in this one place today.
Theologian Bruce Epperly says, “The Spirit’s “intention is always the creation of wise, compassionate, and healthy people and communities.” That is certainly what St. Luke’s is – what you are – “a wise, compassionate and healthy community.”
Epperly continues, “Peter’s sermon… describes God’s embrace of all the people of the earth and enjoins us to cross every boundary to fulfill our role as God’s partners in healing the world. The Pentecost(al) church … embraces diversity in all its many forms. This is what it means to be church, for Pentecost – to be unity in diversity, moving outward in ever-expanding circles of grace.” I love that! That’s the church I want to be part of: a church that is “moving outward in ever-expanding circles of grace!” That is why I love St. Luke’s. You live into ever-expanding circles of grace -- in your faith and in your actions.
We are one and many in God’s ever-surprising Spirit.
Dr. Christine Valters Paintner, a Benedictine Oblate says, “Pentecost is a story of the courage that comes from breaking established boundaries. Life is not about knowing with more and more certainty. Life is about moving more deeply into the mystery of things.”
I would say we are pretty deep in the throes of mystery right now, discerning the future for our church and mission. Like Dorothy, we are searching for that place called “home.”
Together, we will find our way forward. We have everything we need to do that because of the Spirit that shows up with us week after week, empowering, enlightening, encouraging. We may lack awareness at times, but we really have everything we need.
You recall the Scarecrow in search of a brain, the Cowardly Lion in search of courage, and the Tin Man in search of a heart. And what happened in the end? They all discovered they already had what they were searching for.
What St. Luke’s needs is already here, in and through each one of you, the Holy Spirit lives. That Spirit is present in your unconditional welcome of all God’s children; in your choice “to be about the loving and leave the judging to God.” The Holy Spirit empowers your generosity and care for those in need, especially those in need of food. The Spirit flows through your gifts – gifts of music and song; finance and organization, creativity and worship; in your hospitality, service and leadership.
On Pentecost, we remember the power and presence of God’s Spirit. We may live in times of mystery and unknowing, but the Spirit always shows up right on time – not usually our time, but in God’s economy, right on time. So as we move through the mystery of our current circumstance, remember you already have what is needed – you have the heart, the mind and the courage that makes you St. Luke’s - that makes you bearers of the Good News of God’s love for all! Like Dorothy, we are on a grand adventure where we will learn a lot along the way, and by the guiding of the Spirit, we will find home.
Final Sunday in St. Luke’s
The Rev. Karen A. Calafat
"Oh, that we might see better times!”
I think that line from the Psalmist was meant just for us, for our tenacious little diocese and its faithful parishes. “Oh, that we might see better times” - from the words of the Psalmist, through our lips to God’s ears. "Oh, that we might see better times!”
It has been a rough couple of months for the Episcopal Church in North Texas. Actually, it has been a longer rough season than that as you stood up for your faith over 12 years ago, vowing to love as Jesus loved, respecting the dignity of every human being and striving for justice for all God’s children.
Your convictions lead you to love and welcome all.
You treat women equally and support God’s divine call of women to all orders of ordained ministry.
You throw open your arms to God’s children in the LGBTQ community, both as your fellow parishioners and even as your clergy. You feed those who hunger. You love as Jesus loved. You welcome to your table the people reduced to the fringes by segments of our society and, yes, even by some churches.
You are beautiful in the expanse of your love.
In this diocese, that kind of love has come at a large cost as we lose 5 of our beloved, beautiful and sacred church buildings to people who do not love as you love.
We must leave these holy places where, in love, you have baptized babies, confirmed youth and adults, ordained women and LGBTQ folks, married your beloved, given your children in marriage, and returned to God’s care and keeping the dearly departed.
We lose sacred altars where we are invited by our very Christ to break bread in Christ’s name and dine with whoever happens to be at our side, because that is what Jesus invites us to do. That is what Jesus commands us to do. Love. Love God, love your neighbor.
You will come to this altar today. You will receive spiritual food to sustain you on the journey. This will be the last time at your parish altar.
This is hard. This is unfair, unjust. This hurts.
Jesus knows something about the hurt you are experiencing. Jesus knows how you are suffering. Jesus, too, was persecuted for the way he loved. He suffered at the hands of those who judged him for welcoming the outsider and dining with sinners. Jesus suffered even unto death for the sake of love.
You suffer a death today – the death of your sacred church home. It is painful. It is maddening and sad. It is wrong. It hurts.
This is like a funeral. When people die, we think about how much they meant in our lives, remembering joys shared and challenges endured with them. We celebrate lives lost, treasure memories made and release them to God’s eternal care.
I wonder if we might use the funeral model for our church building today, remembering joys shared and challenges endured in this place. Look around you at the beauty of the stained-glass windows, recall baptisms and weddings, think of the countless saints commended to God’s care in this place.
Remember the times you have been fed at this altar – times where you were struggling and especially needed that sustenance for the days and weeks ahead, times where your heart was troubled and you came to the table with Jesus, seeking peace; times you came in grief or joy or simply as a matter of routine, a discipline of your faith, because it is Jesus who welcomes any and all to dine with him.
We not only carry our memories with us when we leave a funeral, but the impact a loved one or friend had on our lives. We carry whatever our hearts and minds contain, but we also live our lives differently because of the experiences we have had.
We will do the same as we leave this building today.
We will take not only our memories and as much faith and courage as we can muster to move on, but also the transformation that has happened in our lives over the past 12 years of litigation.
I have witnessed some of the transformation in this parish.
You have learned who you are as church – that you, the people, are the church. You have learned to love more deeply, give of yourselves more freely, take leaps of faith with a little less fear. Your determination to carry on and let the light of Christ shine through you to your neighbors is an inspiration to me and to many who watch you in action – who watch you living out the call of Jesus to “love.”
Before we gather around Jesus’ table, I encourage you to remember. Remember your days and years and for some of you, many years in these places. Feel whatever feelings surface, whether a doubtful heart, a troubled mind, a flash of anger or a downright flood of righteous indignation. Feel your sadness. Feel your pain.
During the Offertory, I invite you to come and light a candle as a symbol of your offering to God of any thoughts or feelings that burden you. Light a candle as a symbol of what you want to leave behind as we move forward from this building today. Leave here, in this space, anything that robs you of the joy of being St. Luke’s.
And when you leave this space today, light a candle from the Paschal candle taking the light of Christ from this place into the communities where you live and move and have your being.
Jesus suffered for love’s sake. Jesus dined with the disciples who were confused and disillusioned and scared. Jesus suffered deeply, even unto death. But Jesus did not stay dead -- on the 3rd day, Jesus was resurrected.
On the 3rd day. “Oh, that we might see better times!” We will have our 3rd day! St. Luke’s will experience resurrection!
In the 1st letter of John we hear, “Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed.”
I wonder if these 12 years might be likened to a long pregnancy – where something is happening in mystery that has not yet been revealed; something that cannot be rushed or forced. Something is taking place that we cannot see until it is ready to be birthed, ready to be revealed.
God’s purpose for St. Luke’s will be revealed. You are beloved children of God and God’s plan will be brought to life for you – for you are the church.
I say, “Watch out Fort Worth, St. Luke’s in the Meadow is experiencing a funeral today, being forced from our nest, but we have wings, and we are going to soar!”
You are resurrection people! You love like Jesus loved. You are Christ’s light in this world. I have seen it in you! Boldly let your light shine and do not let anyone put it out!
Alleluia, Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!
April 26, 2020
Barbara Brown Taylor, a wonderful theologian and author, reminds us, Jesus gravitates toward those whose lives are split open, either by sickness or loss or disappointment. It is in the cracks of our humanity that divine, resurrected life shines brightest.
On this Third Sunday of Easter, we need that ‘divine, resurrected life to shine’ through, perhaps like never before, into this weary, worrisome world experience. Our lives have been split open to a new way of living, to a new way of being, in which we really do not know how long it will last nor what the lasting results will be.
Stay with me now as we take this journey down the Emmaus Road. I want to address our real-life experiences, current and past, but will not leave you without a word of hope, a word of Alleluia!
Dreams have been dashed for graduates at every level of education - high school seniors likely hurting the most, missing proms, senior events, graduation ceremonies and parties. For all graduates missing pinning ceremonies, degrees being conferred and celebrations with loved ones - the disappointment is real. May the light of that divine, resurrected life shine into those disappointed spaces. As well as into the disappointed spaces of weddings postponed, funerals delayed and any other life events on hold. And may it shine powerfully for all who are grieving the immeasurable losses of these days when we find ourselves on an Emmaus Road.
We are not unlike Cleopas and his companion, followers of Jesus, walking along the road to Emmaus the day Jesus tomb was found empty. Their hopes in who they thought was the Messiah had been crushed by crucifixion. Their despair even greater when Jesus’ tomb was found unexplainably empty. They were likely discussing this news – THE news of the land – that Jesus, their Rabbi, their leader, their friend – who threw open wide his arms of love and acceptance to all, even reaching to the farthest fringes, had been brutally taken from them and now had even been taken from the tomb. It was the news of the day, the talk of the town, even along the road to Emmaus.
And we all know that Emmaus road because we have walked it at some point in our lives, even as we are walking it now in this pandemic. The Road to Emmaus, the one with potholes of pain and disappoint.
The Road of scary diagnoses, defeat, divorce, even death.
The Road of loneliness, depression and grief.
This is the very road on which Jesus met his friends. Where Jesus met them in their confusion and dashed dreams. Where Jesus met them and walked with them.
Imagine today that you are taking a walk with a friend, socially distanced and wearing masks, discussing the harrowing experience of living in a pandemic. How this far reaching, highly contagious, unknown virus has affected every aspect of our lives. How we are stripped of life as we have known it and removed from the freedoms we love and enjoy, (and perhaps take for granted.) You discuss how there is no level of life that has not been impacted to some degree. Imagine you are sharing this conversation as you walk along and then a stranger approaches and asks what you are talking about, why your are wearing masks, why you are walking 6 feet apart from each other. Your response would likely mirror the disciples: How in the world do you not know what is going on? Have you not listened to the news? How is it even possible that you have not heard?
And then you tell this stranger about your experience with this all-consuming pandemic – how it has impacted you, what hopes it has dashed, what your fears about it are and about how you are managing day by day as you continue your walk on this Emmaus road.
And this stranger listens - Jesus listens. Jesus is present to them in their disbelief and dismay. Jesus remains with them. Stays with them in their bewilderment and heartache. Jesus stays with them in the unknown, in the darkness. Jesus stays with them until they recognize him, until the divine, resurrected life shines through – until they see the light break in through the cracks of their humanity.
Therein is our hope in this season of challenge and change - this season of disappointment and difficulty. Through these cracks in our humanity, the Divine, resurrected light will shine. We may not recognize it for a while, but based on Cleopas and his friend’s experience, we can trust that the resurrected Jesus is with us in the darkness and will stay with us until we recognize his presence to sustain us and to empower us to carry on.
We may recognize this divine, resurrected life in listening to the birds who bring music to our days, or in the flutter of a hummingbird’s wings. Perhaps it will shine in through reconnecting with friends who we have not talk to in a while, or even making new friends in a virtual way. You may come to recognize this divine resurrected life in the sacrifices of healthcare workers and doctors. Perhaps you will see that divine life shine through researchers and scientists who are diligently working for our good. And we know they are because they have in the past – this month is the 60th the anniversary of the polio vaccine, now a disease that is prevented. Some day we will say the same of this dreaded coronavirus, because the divine, resurrected life will break through the cracks and remain with the professionals until a prevention is discovered.
In this unusual Easter season, Embrace your Emmaus Road experience and hold tight, Jesus is with you whether you recognize it or not. ‘Jesus gravitates toward those whose lives are split open; and through those cracks divine, resurrected life will shine!’ Alleluia!
Where do you stay?
Schools were integrated, but the town was not. Classmates from the other side of the tracks would ask, “Where do you stay?”
May have been on to something, because where we “stay” matters a great deal.
Word play going on here in this unusual conversation between Jesus and John’s disciples: John has just told them, “Yesterday, God showed me who Jesus is – the Lamb of God.”
So, his disciples follow Jesus. Jesus turns to them and asks a strange question, “What are you looking for?”
These are the first words Jesus speaks in the Gospel of John: “What are you looking for?”
Not “What do you want?” or “Why are you following me?”
But “What are you looking for?”
Then the disciples answer Jesus’ question with a strange question, “Where are you staying?”
What they are looking for, what they seek, is not so much the information of the teacher, but a chance to get to know him. The word we translate as “staying” refers to the source of one’s life and meaning.
So when these disciples ask Jesus, “Where are you staying?” they are asking, “What is it that sustains you? What power do you have? Where do you remain? Where do you live? How do you live? Who are you really? Where do you stay?”
It’s the same word used in John later, over in chapter 15, when we are told we are to abide in Christ. Abide, stay, remain, reside, dwell….
These disciples want a teacher, but more than that, they want a relationship. Then comes Jesus’ answer, Jesus’ invitation: “Come and See.” Jesus invites them to journey with him and hang out a while.
John says, “They remained with him that day.”
A careful listener would notice the repeated use of “remain” and “stay” in this passage:
The Spirit “remained” with Jesus;
God said, “The one on whom the spirit remains….”;
where are you “staying”;
they came and saw where he was “staying”;
they “remained” with him;
The Greek word is meno, “m-e-n-o”. It is sometimes translated “abide” and is used over 40 times in the Gospel of John. Meno is about relationship, being together with God, being sure of a future with God, experiencing a real connection to God.
Where we stay – where we are connected to God – informs how we live our lives. Where we “stay” is critically important.
This is Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. We know where he ‘stayed’: he stayed in the place of equal rights for all; he stayed in the place of ‘love overcoming hate and light driving out darkness.’
I opened the Standing Committee meeting this week with this quote from MLK:
“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.
“We must meet hate with creative love. Love is the most durable power in the world. Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
Jesus stood for LOVE and for justice.
And what was Jesus’ answer to the question, “Where are you staying?”
“Come and see.”
They “went and saw” and then left there telling others, “We have found the Messiah!”
I wonder what would happen if we slowed down long enough to ask ourselves, “What are we looking for?” and then accepted Jesus’ invitation to “Come and See.”
This is the season of The Epiphany, the time in the church year when we hear and see more and more about who Jesus is as revealed in scripture…. Jesus - God manifest, Incarnate, in our presence.
In this season, “Where do we stay?”
“What are we looking for?”
If we don’t know what we are looking for, how will we recognize it when we find it???
We must know where we “stay” for that will be our anchor in this tumultuous, divisive times. Know where you stay and out of that relationship with God, let that foundation of love and justice inform your words and your decisions in 2020.
S- Epiphany 2020
It is the obligatory “If the Wise Men Had Been Women” joke:
What would have happened if it had been three Wise Women instead of three Wise Men?
They would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts – diapers, wipes, and a variety of Johnson and Johnson products!
Today is the Eve of the Epiphany – The day we recall the Wise Guys following a star to discover the Incarnation of God. An epiphany is an eye-opening experience; something that gets our attention in a new way.
In an article published in the Huffington Post, the writer says:
Taking that step to live out your epiphany is when real transformation happens.
These are eight epiphanies everyone should have.
1. You aren't what people say you are.
What matters most is what you say and feel about yourself. You get to choose, you can let others define you and tell you who you are or you can show them who you are. Be you. The world needs you as you are.
2. Plan B is often better than Plan A.
The most freeing moment in your life is when you let go of what you think is best for you and allow the universe to show you what you really need. Stop holding on to what is no longer working: that job, that relationship, that dream. If it feels like hard work and is causing you more pain than gain, it is time to release it. Instead, follow your heart.
3. You are not the number on the scale.
At the end of your life the weight struggles, the food wars, or the obsession with new diets and trying to look a certain way will have no relevance. The only thing that matters is what is in your heart. How you make people feel and how you make YOU feel is more important than how you look.
4. The journey is more important than the goal.
Yes, reaching goals are important, but the actual process of becoming, growing, learning, and morphing into who we need to become is the real sweet stuff that makes a wonderful life. Enjoy the journey as much as the reward.
5. Being alone doesn't mean you will be lonely.
The fear of being alone strikes the heart and makes many people settle. But when you learn to love your own company, you will see that you are never really lonely.
6. It will never be all done.
The to-do lists, the chores, the things we race around to get done, will never be done. It is called life. Situations, chores, to do lists will always unfold. Instead of focusing on the end result, be in the process and celebrate what you have accomplished.
7. Emotional pain shows up to show us what we need to change.
Sadness, depression, and heartache are gentle reminders to probe deeper into our life. Look at what is not working and be open to living your life in new ways. You will see that one day it will all make sense.
8. You don't have to find your purpose, it will find you.
The transition period between where you were and where you are going can be painful on your journey of finding purpose. Recognize that there is purpose in the pain. Each step you take is helping you carve out more of who you really are. Instead of regretting or resisting, try turning inwards and embrace the journey into joy.
In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that many enjoy watching during the Advent and Christmas season, the main character, Scrooge, experiences an epiphany. Scrooge begins the novel as a pessimistic, harsh man who has no sympathy for other people. On Christmas Eve, he is led through the past, present, and future by three ghosts who show him the effects his attitude has on people he loves. As a result of this journey, Scrooge has an epiphany that he no longer wants to live life in this manner and changes his outlook.
In this example, the sudden realization the character had was simply to treat others with kindness and gratitude.
An epiphany is the sudden awareness or realization that a character gains through an experience. Many times, the character’s epiphany leads to a positive growth in the character’s life.
Epiphanies do not have to be some earthshattering experiences, but small insights or changes of heart.
We are people of HOPE – the Magi followed the star, filled with hope of finding God’s incarnation – a Savior born for all people!
The first gift the magi gave was the gift of their attention; their reverence; their worship. The first gift they gave was their hearts.
On this Epiphany, let us re-dedicate our hearts to Jesus.
Let us worship and adore him.
Let us set our sights on loving God by our worship and our service.
In doing so, we will live in the Epiphany the whole year long – because as one of my mentor’s said: “What you focus on will grow.”
A cartoon posted by David Carpenter on Facebook showed two creatures. One asks the other, "Why so optimistic about 2020? What do you think it will bring? Everything is so messed up." And the other one says, "I think it will bring flowers." And the first asks, "Yes? How come?" And the second one aswers, "Because I am planting flowers."
What you focus on will grow!
I believe 2020 will be a challenging year, but I also believe it will be a year marked by courage, hope and love.
Let us all embody courage, hope, and love.
Be the Incarnation of God’s love everywhere your journey takes you.
December 8, 2019
Good Morning, “You brood of vipers!” (Laughter, I hope…)
There are probably preachers preaching that message this morning, but thanks be to God, you are a lovely flock, not a brood of vipers!
“John the Baptist may have been like Alexander Whyte, a noted preacher in the early 1900’s at Free St. George’s Church in Edinburgh. It was said that Whyte could be so direct and penetrating that to hear him preach was to take your life in your hands.” (Mark E. Yurs)
But fear not, I do not plan to preach life threatening words today, …. spirit challenging words … hopefully.
What might we learn from John the Baptist’s message this 2nd Sunday of Advent? What John has to say is important and necessary for our souls’ sake.
One might begin by asking, “Why do we have the adult John the Baptist bringing on the scene the adult Jesus Christ as our readings on Advent 2? Why aren’t we reading about the babies to be born to Elizabeth and Mary instead? Afterall, isn’t that what Christmas is about?”
Yes, Christmas is the day we celebrate the Incarnation, God taking on human form by becoming human by becoming Jesus, born of Mary. Advent is the season we prepare for that day. If you have ever prepared for the birth of a baby, you know there is a lot that goes into it – taking care of your health for starters, but also readying the nursery, buying diapers, onesies, blankets… “Nesting” as some call it. My nesting (some 24 years ago) included changing the office in our little home to a nursery. I will never forget Phil (my ex-husband and good friend) saying, “It’s a baby! How much space can it possibly need?”
If you haven’t prepared for the birth of a child, you have certainly had other events in your life that required preparation and intention: planning for a vacation – deciding where to go, how to get there and where to stay… reading about what to do when you get there,
shopping and packing what you need to pack for weather…. And then praying the forecast doesn’t change.
You know the routine --physically preparing, but also preparing one’s heart and mind for the adventure.
Or perhaps moving into a new home… what to pack, what to donate or throw away. How to arrange the furniture…. Do you know what I am talking about? You can think of times in your life where preparations were needed for whatever event was upcoming, right?
So that is what Advent is… a season of preparation… a season of readying our physical space (as you can see has begun here), but also readying out spiritual space…
And this is where John’s message is important – Repent! Confess!
John the Baptist asks us to “examine ourselves, rather than only basking in holiday wonder. We should bear good fruit, rather than only worrying about material things to get or give….” According to John Burgess, “What John – and Advent – remind us is that repentance is not primarily about our standards of moral worthiness, but rather about God’s desire to realign us to accord with Christ’s life. Repentance is not so much about our guilt feelings as about God’s power to transform us into Christ’s image.” (Which, by the way, is why we are using St. Augustine’s words at the invitation to Communion:
“Behold what you are…. May we become what we receive…”.
We come to be spiritually fed, but also to be spiritually transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ.)
The goal of repentance is always about God’s grace, not about making us feel bad. John’s call to repentance is a call to all of us to reform, to live our lives faithfully. It is a call to God-centered living rather than self-centered living.
In The Universal Christ Richard Rohr writes about the Incarnation that “Jesus came to show us how to be human much more than how to be spiritual.”
Jesus’ entire life was the Incarnation, not just the moment he was born. The Incarnation doesn’t begin and end on Christmas. Thus, having the adult Jesus appear on the scene, in the wilderness, with John the Baptist is part of the story of God’s Incarnation. With John the Baptist, the message is how to find a way in the wilderness…. The wilderness is a setting for both judgment and redemption.’ (Wm Herzog II)
Themes of judgment make us good Episcopalians squirm a bit. We try to live loving, affirming, accepting lives. We try not to judge others and are quite happy if others don’t judge us. But judgment exists in our nature. Often our self-judgment is far harsher than God’s judgment… and grace with ourselves much less abundant than God’s grace to us.
In a movie preview a couple of weeks ago, I heard, “You are more than the worst thing you have ever done…”
You are more than the worst thing that has ever happened to you...
John the Baptist’s Advent invitation to repentance is an invitation to accept that you are accepted. To speak your guilt, fear, burdens – your wilderness experiences -- to God and receive in exchange the gift of grace, the gift of acceptance, the gift of release.
Our Advent preparations require us to take a moral inventory and examine those hard, shameful, challenging moments in our lives -- those things we judge and fear God judges as well – and hand them over to God – in other words, REPENT – acknowledge those things, give them to God, release them to God’s care and keeping, and live more freely in God’s grace.
This is the foundation of our faith. This is our hope. That in the wilderness places of our lives, God’s grace does not run short. When you find yourself holding on to the failures and disappointments of life, remember that the Incarnation is for you, …. And you…. and you….
If you were the only person on the planet, God would still have become human in order to show you how to be human. “Faith is accepting that you are accepted. We can’t accept ourselves without accepting God’s radical acceptance of every part of us.” (R. Rohr)
In the moment of silence prior to our Confession today, speak in your heart and mind any wilderness burdens that have taken root in your life. Repent, meaning invite God’s grace to transform your pain into hope. What could be better this Christmas than spiritual awakening, abundant grace and abounding hope?
Epiphany 3C / Annual Parish Report
January 27, 2019
In today’s gospel reading we hear one of the three Holy Spirit stories told by Luke. In the first story, the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove when he is baptism. In the second story, the Holy Spirit fills and leads Jesus into the wilderness for a time of testing as Jesus refuses the pathways that are wrong for his servant ministry. And in today’s reading, the Holy Spirit fills Jesus with power for ministry as he reads a text that will be his mission statement as Messiah. And then preaches perhaps the shortest sermon ever, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Now don’t get your hopes up – my sermon is going to be longer than usual today, because I am combining the annual parish report and sermon so you only have to really listen to me one time!)
Robert Brearly’s essay on this passage from Luke is insightful: Jesus is called to be “an agent of mercy to the downtrodden: to be good news to the poor, release to the captives, sight for the blind, freedom for the oppressed, and new beginnings for all who have failed.” In other words, Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit, is sent for everyone, for don’t we all fit into one of these categories at some point in our lives or another?
Then experiencing the love of Christ by the power of the Spirit, we are called to do and be something in return. We need to know our mission and understand what God has given us to do. That is as important for us as it was for Jesus. Luke wants us to know Jesus’ ministry began when the Holy Spirit claimed him in baptism, tested him in the wilderness and filled him with power for “an urgent ministry of grace…” The Holy Spirit came and taught Jesus what was real: to say yes to God’s good purposes for all people; to help the poor and captured of all kinds; to say yes to working for God with urgency and compassion.
And the Holy Spirit gives us something to do for God as well. In this era of declining church attendance, the question I often hear is “How we are doing as a church?” but a better question might be “As a church, what are we doing for God?”
On this Sunday of our Annual Parish Meeting – I’d like for you to imagine church as theater -- a stage play; worship as a drama – not acting, but a Spirit-led movement in which we all fulfill a role, in which we all participate. (Now this analogy may not work if picked apart too deeply, but just humor me and play along….)
Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,”
The church is God’s spirit-filled stage, inspiring worshippers upon it. And all kinds of worshippers are needed to fulfill God’s mission in and through this sacred place.
Let’s say the Altar Guild are the stage hands, making sure the set is just right. Their work makes our worship space beautiful, from the polished silver vessels to the polished brass on the doors. They make sure we are in the correct colors for each liturgical season and that all the linens and vestments are properly cared for and presented. Much of their work is behind the scenes, but with careful attention to details, they make our space a worthy offering to God. An interesting statistic for the Altar Guild is that they count each wafer to be consecrated during the Eucharist which totaled 3,538 wafers in 2018. (Altar Guild – please stand.)
Supplementing the beautification process for our stage – our worship space – is the Flower Guild. Your honorariums and tributes fund the flowers and a small team of volunteers make them happen every Sunday (except Lent and Advent), every funeral and reception. (Flower Guild – please stand). Thank you for sharing your talent and time in this fashion!
No theater is complete without Ushers. The Ushers are not only responsible for handing out our programs – our Worship Leaflets, but also for checking lights and sound equipment, securing oblation bearers each week to bring forward the bread and wine, and collecting our gifts of tithe and offering. For funerals, which totaled 10 this year, ushers make sure pews are reserved for families and assist with seating and welcoming guests. They have many jobs, which I am still discovering even after 4+ years of being here. The ushers keep a head count for every service as well, which totaled 4,131 noggins in 2018. (Ushers, please stand.)
Another important aspect of worship life is music. Do we not have an amazing choir and organist??? (Applause!) Often after their anthems, I find I wish I could clap to show my appreciation, but it doesn’t seem to work as Tony so quickly takes us to the doxology. This music department works very hard, practicing every Wednesday night 10 months out of the year to present us with 56 anthems during worship for 2018. And Tony is a master at choosing anthems and other music that work well in our setting and for our choir. He also takes great pride in playing our Kilgen & Son organ that is 110 years old this year. The choir is here for every service during Holy Week, Advent and Christmas, including TWO services on Christmas Eve! Choir, Tony – Thank you!!!
The other “players” upon this stage, if you will, are the Lectors and Readers who share in worship by orating the scriptures of the day. Some read with great expression, others with a sense of reverence, but all offering themselves to God in worship. We have heard many voices reading in our services the past year. Please stand if you have given of yourself in this way.
And finally, the acolytes who physically lead our worship and make my role look easy. They lead the procession into worship with reverence and grace. They accompany the Gospel proclamation, receive the gifts, set the altar, assist with the distribution of communion, light candles, extinguish candles, and help all around with the worship experience. We have new people on our teams and are always eager to train new leaders. I would be remiss not to give a special thank you to Eleanor for schedule, organizing, re-scheduling, training and leading the acolyte teams – Thank you, Eleanor! And all acolytes, please stand… Thank you for sharing your time and talent to help our worship of God.
In order for Sunday morning worship to happen, there is a lot that takes place during the week. We are 5 years into volunteer office help from 9-1 Monday-Thursday. That is 832 hours a year of volunteer time put in primarily by 4 folks – Pam, Suzi, Gary and Patti. You four save the church thousands of dollars a year with your devoted time! Please stand… thank you!
The generosity of this parish continues to amaze me! You support every outreach opportunity thrown your way – from school supplies to stocking stuffers, from Thanksgiving bags to food pantry extras, from angel tree gifts to Eastside Ministry requests. And that is not counting the nearly $2,000 given to help 12 local families with rent or utilities, to help 1 family with funeral expenses, bought 7 coats for children who had none, and helped one gentleman get an ID card which in turn helped him get a job. The brain and passion behind managing this Ministry Fund is Carolyn Brannen. She is careful and thoughtful with the funds you generously share to give away from ourselves. Thank you all for your generosity to the Ministry Fund and thank you Carolyn for your compassionate and discerning service.
Not only are you generous with your time and gifts, you are generous with your space. St. Luke’s in the Meadow is in use 7 days a week which is a great sign of life and spotlight of hope to our neighborhood. Most everyone here has played a part in this great parish and I appreciate you all. And there are two people who have been driving forces behind St. Luke’s doors remaining open through all kinds of ups and downs.
First, Sr. Warden Patti Callahan. Patti has believed in this church and its mission on the Eastside of Fort Worth. She has put in countless hours as Sr. Warden for the past 5 years. Patti has done everything from building renovation and restoration to grant writing to food pantrying. She has been a great Sr. Warden to get a new Priest-in-Charge trained and eventually to become the Rector. Patti’s has been a great stage manager, up to whatever drama, comedy or worship opportunity God has put before her. Patti, thank you!!!! Enjoy a break from Vestry…. And run again before too long!
Now, before the music starts and you kick me off the stage, there is one more person I want to recognize. Let’s just say the Holy Spirit has been doing all kinds of amazing things around here the past year. And I think it is God’s tremendous affirmation to one man who has given so much to make sure St. Luke’s stayed financially afloat. We still have work to do to get to a balanced budget, but we are making progress. There were a record number of pledges made for 2019! Thank you for that! Thank you for taking that leap of faith! Our operating budget is about $220,000 and our receipts are projected to be about $215,000, a short-fall of $5,000, which I trust will appear somehow. I recall a year ago at our parish meeting, in response to our financial needs, Katie Sherrod said, “We do not know what God has planned.” And boy was she right! Katie ran a GoFundMe Campaign in Gayland’s Memory that brought in almost $12,000 for our church! Most of it helped balance 2018’s budget and the remainder is in our memorial fund. Thank you, Katie… and thank you Gayland Pool – your memory lives on!
And then, not knowing God’s plan, another surprise came along – a surprise that I think was in part God’s way of affirming the great gift of money management given by Jay Andrews for many, many years. Jay has pinched pennies, stretched dollars and miraculously made ends meet. The Holy Spirit gave Jay a “miracle” to retire on from his Treasurer role. The Connie Wood Endowment of $723,000 will give life to this parish for many, many years to come. It will take a couple of years for the interest to accrue enough to supplement our Operating Budget, but it will give us a little breathing room and take some of the financial pressure off. I truly believe this endowment is God (and Connie’s) wink to you, Jay, saying, “well-done, good and faithful servant!!!” Please stand and come to the front….
Jay, we promise to continue your conservative approach to spending. and we have a gift to honor you and to remind us of the importance of giving and conserving. And as a reminder to us that “We do not know what God has planned for this place,” but we can be sure the curtain is not closing any time soon!
The Holy Spirit filled Jesus with power for “an urgent ministry of grace…” The Holy Spirit has filled this parish with faith, hope and love. The Spirit has given us courage to say yes to God’s good purposes for all people; to help the poor and captured of all kinds; to say yes to working for God with urgency and compassion.
I’d say that as a church we are doing well! As for what we are doing for God…. I’d say we are doing whatever God puts before us to do! I am blessed beyond anything I deserve to serve as your Rector! May the Holy Spirit fill us, the love of Christ flow through us, and the power of God direct us on the stage of sacred purpose and mission. Amen.