|Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B||March 18, 2012||Sermon, Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B||Numbers 21:4-9, Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21|
|Third Sunday in Lent, Year B||March 11, 2012||Third Sunday in Lent, Year B||Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22|
|Second Sunday in Lent, Year B||March 4, 2012||Second Sunday in Lent, Year B||Mark 8:31-38|
|Sermon, First Sunday in Lent, Year B||February 26, 2012||First Sunday in Lent, Year B||Genesis 9:8-17, I Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1: 9-15|
|Ash Wednesday Service, Feb 22, 2012||February 22, 2012||Ash Wednesday||Joel 2:1-2, 12-17|
|Last Sunday After Epiphany, Year B||February 19, 2012||Last Sunday after Epiphany||2 Kings 2:1-12, Psalm 50:1-6, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Mark 9:2-9|
|Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||February 12, 2012||Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Mark 1: 40-45|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||February 5, 2012||Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year B||Isaiah 40:21-31, Mark 1:29-39|
|Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||January 29, 2012||Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||I Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28|
|➤Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||January 22, 2012||Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Mark 1:14-20|
|Second Sunday After The Epiphany, Year B||January 15, 2012||Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 139: 1-5, 12-17; John 1:43-51|
|First Sunday After The Epiphany, Year B||January 8, 2012||First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Mark 1:4-11|
|Sermon on Joy, Epiphany, 2012||January 6, 2012||Epiphany||Matthew 2:1-12|
|Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2011||December 25, 2011||Christmas Day, 2012||Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 2:1-20|
|Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2011||December 24, 2011||The Eve of the Nativity of our Lord||Luke 2:1-20|
Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B
Sermon Date:January 22, 2012
Scripture: Mark 1:14-20
Liturgy Calendar: Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B
Today’s gospel is perfect as a Biblical backdrop for our congregational meeting, because we find within this gospel story the guidance for who we are to be as the body of Christ in this world.
Jesus lays it right out, here in the first chapter of Mark.
“The kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the Good News.”
Our job, first and foremost, as individuals and as the church, is to focus on the Good News, Jesus Christ himself, the man we believe to be God incarnate, our Lord and Savior, our stairway to heaven, as I mentioned last week.
Second, our job as the church is to follow Jesus, and again, this is a matter of focus. Jesus calls each and every one of us, and he calls us as the church to follow him, just as the disciples did, and to learn from him how to be the good news for our world.
So today, this sermon will focus on how we, St Peter’s, have followed Jesus in this past year, and how we ourselves have been good news to the world in which we find ourselves.
This story is best told by all of you. If you would like the nitty-gritty, the details of the past year, you can find all of the reports of the year on the web, and also you should also have received a link to the reports from Ben by email. For those of you without the internet, we have some hard copies of the reports in the back of the church that you are welcome to take.
But here today, we are not going to listen to reports. Instead, we will hear about the people who have led us in our witness to the good news in the past year.
You will have time for questions at the end of the sermon.
First of all, I’d like to thank our newest members, who decided to follow Jesus in a visible way, the people who were confirmed and received into the church by Bishop Jones during his visit with us this past July . We had ten people join officially join us, seven received and three confirmed, and I’d like to thank them for making their commitment to God’s work and this church official. In addition, we had five baptisms this past year.
A person who has had a great deal to do with making our ministry visible to the world is Ben Hicks. Anyone who goes to our website is instantly able to find out about who we are and what we are doing. Posters of upcoming events, formatting our bulletins every week—these visible things are important in helping people outside of us know who we are. Ben is a constant source of ideas and information. Ben, thank you. And I would also like to thank Terri Harrison, who prints out and assembles the bulletins every week for us.
The best way to make our ministry visible to the world is still, though, through word of mouth. If you have brought a visitor to church in this past year, please stand. And, now, if you came to church because Helmut talked to you about St Peter’s, please stand. If the Bible were being written today, Helmut would appear as a great evangelist.
Worship is essential to who we are. Gathering together as the body of Christ each week, to proclaim Christ crucified and risen, to praise God, to offer up our own sinful selves for transformation , to be bound together through the very body and blood of our Lord and Savior—this weekly gathering is an essential part of who we are as the Body of Christ.
For our music, we give thanks for Brad Volland and the choir—Brad has stuck with us in spite of major challenges in his own life. Still struggling with the aftermath of being hit by a car a year ago and being badly injured, Brad still manages to bring us the gift of music every week, and has inspired our choir to reach new heights. Brad, and the choir, thank you.
So many of you help this service to run smoothly each week. Ushers, acolytes, lay readers, lay Eucharistic ministers, and those who are being trained as lay Eucharistic visitors—these people help us to focus on our worship each time we are together. Those of you who serve in these ways, please stand.
My written report provides more details about our worship services this past year, and I’m not going to describe all of the ways in which we worshipped last year, but
I must mention that 2011 was a red letter year for us as a parish. We celebrated our 175th anniversary in May after a year of celebrations with a homecoming—worship, a wonderful luncheon, and an afternoon service focusing on our history. So many of you worked to make this day a great success, and I’d like to thank Cookie Davis and Nancy Long who served on the planning committee for the 175th anniversary.
The only other specific thing I want to point out today is the addition of the 9AM Rite One Eucharist on the last Sunday of the month. We added this service, and because it is useful to people, this service will continue throughout this year.
Our ministry costs money. Keeping this visible witness of who we are, our building and grounds, in good shape, requires money, time and attention. Clarence, our treasurer, has done a masterful job of keeping St Peter’s operating in the black, and we have a new finance committee that acted as an advisory committee as Clarence put together the new budget for this year. I am thankful to God that we have the freedom to focus on doing God’s work in the world rather than to be bogged down by worries over money. Of course, Clarence could not do his job if this congregation did not give generously to St Peter’s work. Thank you to all who have given money to St Peter’s in the past year, no matter what the amount. And I would particularly like to thank all of you who pledge, setting aside a specific amount of the money you have as a thanksgiving to God and for the work of this church. Without this money, we could not carry out our work in the world.
That brings me to the Vestry. In addition to holding the purse strings of the church, this group helps to figure out what God is calling us, the people of St Peter’s, to do in the world.
This year has offered many challenges to our Vestry. Thanks to the earthquake and the damage it caused, we had to decide how to proceed with repairs. The Vestry very efficiently gathered information, considered the options, prayerfully considered the choices. And throughout the process, they held together as the Body of Christ as they came to their final decision. This Vestry has truly blessed us. And Linda Beck has led us well in her role as Senior Warden.
At this time I would like to recognize the two Vestry members who are leaving the Vestry (and I hope they will both return).
Elizabeth Heimbach was our Junior Warden this past year. She is the only Junior Warden in our past history to have had to deal with not only the usual Junior Warden responsibilities, but also the aftermath of storms and an earthquake. As a result of her hard work, all of the repairs to our building have been completed, and we have an efficient new heating and cooling system. In addition, under her direction, the electrical circuits and wiring in Fall Hall have been updated, and have been made much safer. Thank you, Elizabeth.
I would also like to recognize Bill Smith and to thank him for his incredibly thoughtful service on our Vestry. Every Vestry needs a person with the mind of an engineer, who can take all of the facts, lay them out in understandable fashion, and then thoughtfully come to a conclusion. And Bill has a very gentle way of presenting his ideas, which bring his perspective to a group in a positive way. Every Vestry should be blessed with Vestry members of this caliber. Thank you, Bill.
I would also like to thank the two people who have agreed to serve on the Vestry for the next three years, Boyd Wisdom and Cindy Fields, both of whom were officially received in July.
As witnesses of God’s love in the world, education about God’s word is of the utmost importance. This past year, many of you volunteered to help our Christian education program grow. We have six people teaching the five children who come to our Sunday School, and I’d like to thank Ben for leading adult education on Sundays this past year. Christian education teachers, please stand.
We have added a new Christian Ed opportunity for children during the week. On most Wednesdays, Nancy Long and I meet with the children and we have done a variety of activities together.
I would like to thank all of you who have tended to your own spiritual growth through participating in our special Lenten program and our ongoing book group and Wednesday Bible study.
All of the groups I have just mentioned have made our life together as the Body of Christ possible, and joyful.
And now we come to our work in the world. How is Jesus calling us to follow and to spread the good news into the world? The shorthand for this spreading of the good news is outreach.
Because we are doing so much for such a small church (and if you look on the website under the outreach section you will be amazed at all we do), we now have a committee to keep track of and to coordinate our efforts, and I’d like to thank Fred Pannell, Johnny Davis and Nancy Long for serving on this committee.
The Episcopal Church Women are tireless in their outreach efforts. The Village Dinners and other fundraisers held by the ECW provide money that goes directly to outreach projects all over the world. This past year, this group gave over $4000.00 for God’s work in the world.
This past year, a new group formed to give women who can’t make it to the daytime meetings a chance to be involved in the ECW, the evening ECW for lack of a better description. You can read about all they’ve accomplished in their report, but I would particularly like to recognize Barbara Wisdom for heading up the group of people who produced our wonderful St Peter’s cookbook, which is an ongoing fundraiser for the ECW.
Now the men, not to be outdone, have established a new group as well. The Episcopal Church Men meet monthly for breakfast and they have been tremendous help in our various ongoing outreach projects like the community dinners that we have been holding for the community of Port Royal with the help of the Mustard Seed Grant from the Diocese. The diocese gave us $900 for this project, and the ECW and the ECM have made these dinners possible for Port Royal.
We have a new ministry that will begin this year. Laurel Ameen has led the effort to get several of us trained to provide a Bible study for the people at the Peumansend Creek Regional Jail. And at Christmas time, the children’s group put together three hundred bags of candy for the prisoners at the jail.
All of you support our ongoing outreach efforts—the Shoebox ministry, helping families particularly at Christmas, donating money for the discretionary fund, and bringing food to support the Caroline County food pantry.
All of our work together is undergirded by prayer. In addition to our corporate prayers during worship, and our individual prayers, I hope to get a St Peter’s prayer group underway this year. This group will learn more about various ways to pray, and will be in prayer for this church, St Peter’s, and for its ongoing needs and ministries.
One group is left to thank, and these are the people who have followed Jesus by deciding to come check us out and to be a part of us –we are very grateful to all of you.
At this time, I would like to ask for any additional comments and questions that any of you might have.
“Follow me,” Jesus said. May God give us the grace to continue to follow our Lord and Savior, and to be God’s good news and witness in this world.