|Last Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||March 2, 2014||Last Sunday after Epiphany||Exodus 24:12-18, 2 Peter 1:16-21. Matthew 17:1-9|
|Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||February 23, 2014||Seventh Sunday after Epiphany||Leviticus 19:1-2. 9-18; Matthew 5:38-48|
|Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||February 16, 2014||Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 5:21-37|
|John Hines sermon||February 11, 2014||Daily Office||I Kings 8:22-23, 27-30, Ps 84, Mark 7:1-13|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||February 9, 2014||Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Isaiah 58:1-12, 1 Corinthians 2:1-16, Matthew 5:13-20|
|The Presentation, Year A||February 2, 2014||Presentation in the Temple, Year A||Luke 2:22-40|
|Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||January 26, 2014||Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 4:12-23|
|➤Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||January 19, 2014||Second Sunday after the Epiphany||Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-12, John 1:29-42|
|First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||January 12, 2014||First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Isaiah 42:1-9, Psalm 29, Matthew 3:13-17|
|The Epiphany, Year A||January 6, 2014||Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 2:1-12|
|Second Sunday After Christmas, Year A||January 5, 2014||Second Sunday after Christmas, Year A||Psalm 84, Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19a, Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23|
|Christmas Eve||December 24, 2013||Christmas Eve, 2013||Luke 2:1-20|
|Third Sunday in Advent, Year A||December 15, 2013||Third Sunday in Advent, Year A||Isaiah 35:1-10, Matthew 11:2-11|
|First Sunday in Advent, Year A -The Circle of the Church Year||December 1, 2013||Advent 1, Year A||Isaiah 2:1-5, Matthew 24:36-44|
|Last Sunday after Pentecost, Christ the King, Yr C||November 24, 2013||Last Sunday after Pentecost, Christ the King, Year C||Luke 23:33-43|
Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A
Sermon Date:January 19, 2014
Scripture: Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-12, John 1:29-42
Liturgy Calendar: Second Sunday after the Epiphany
Congregational Meeting, Jan 19, 2014
Today’s gospel opens with John the Baptist declaring that Jesus is the Lamb of God. John the Baptist knows this because God has revealed it to him.
And God has revealed to us that Jesus is truly the Lamb of God, the Son of God, even though we have not had the privilege of knowing Jesus as a human being.
We know Jesus through faith, and we come to know him more and more intimately through the years as we gather to worship and study together. We meet Jesus here each week in the bread and in the wine and God’s love that we share with one another.
Raymond Brown points out in his commentary on the gospel according to John that John the Baptist had an assignment from God, based on what he knew about Jesus—and this is our assignment as well.
“John the Baptist is to prepare a road, not for God’s people to return to the promised land, but for God to come to God’s people…to open up the hearts of people, preparing them for God’s intervention in their lives.”
As you know, today is the day of our congregational meeting, the day that we look back over the past year in our life together as the people of God to reflect on what we have done and to seek God’s direction for the future. (See the congregational meeting reports.)
And the work that we have been given as a church is the work that was given to John the Baptist–to prepare a road for God to come to God’s people. Our ministry this year has been to continue to build roadways here in this community—roadways that hopefully will bring the people of this community closer together as all of us travel toward glory.
If you haven’t already taken a look at the reports that were sent out to you this week, I commend those reports to you. They provide the details of our life together in this past year, and these reports also describe the roadways that we have been building in this community, roadways that we can travel together in love as we carry God’s love to one another.
This work of outreach, a good catch all phrase, includes many ongoing projects—our community dinners, the jail ministry, FredCamp, reaching out to our community and the world at Christmas time, our financial support for many organizations, and many, many other things that we do, like having a Transportation in Need list and visiting the nursing home periodically.
This year we’ve added some new projects—a new Bible study in the trailer park, working with other churches in the county when we provided supper for the Caroline County High School football team, our substantial financial support for two Region I projects for Haiti and South Sudan, and what I hope is the beginning of periodically welcoming people to Port Royal and to St Peter’s to enjoy music together, which got off to a great beginning with The Thirteen concert.
2013 was the year in which we continued to partner with other organizations as we built our outreach roadways. We’ve worked with the Caroline County Department of Social Services for quite a while by collecting food for the food pantry and finding families to help for Christmas.
This trend of partnering continued when we got our Mustard Seed Grant in 2011 from the Diocese to hold our first community dinners we did.
This past year, the Diocese gave us $250 as a gift, again for community dinners. And our most successful community dinners have been in partnership with Caroline County Parks and Recreation, Caroline’s Promise, and the Town of Port Royal.
I’d like to announce that the Diocese is partnering with us once again to broaden our food ministry by giving us $500 to put together a program to help feed children who would go hungry in the summer when they aren’t eating at school.
We’ve done intentional work with our Baptist brothers and sisters this past year—feeding the football team was a Caroline County Pastor’s Forum initiative. The Rev. Charles Mumbo was one of several visiting Baptist ministers from Kenya and he preached here one Sunday, bringing us an evangelical perspective on the Psalms. Warrington Tripp from the Gideons has also preached here at St Peter’s in the past year. And Pastor Kevin James and Salem Baptist Church provided the moon bounce for Charter Day in Port Royal. We helped the youth of Salem Baptist Church in Jersey, VA, with their paper drive by collecting papers for them.
We held The Thirteen concert in partnership with St Asaph’s, our sister church in Bowling Green, and also with Historic Port Royal.
Christians have lots of work to do in this world. The more we can work together for the good of our community, the more successful we will be. I hope that we will be intentional about continuing this trend of working together with other organizations and churches in this year ahead.
Now lest we get caught up in the business of thinking that we can build all the roadways needed for God to come to us and orchestrate God’s travel along those paths, let’s go back to today’s gospel and spend some time with the Andrew and another of John’s disciples, who is unnamed in this passage.
John tells these two disciples of his that Jesus is the Lamb of God, and so the two go and follow Jesus. And when Jesus turns and sees them following him, he says to them, “What are you looking for?”
The disciples want to know where Jesus is staying, and when he invites them to come and see, they go with him and remain with him that day.
Following Jesus and spending time with Jesus are essential activities if we are to deepen our relationship with God.
And so just as important as all of those outreach things we do are the things we do here within the community to remain with Jesus and to grow closer to him in faith.
The most important thing we do together is to worship together, because everything else we do grows out of the time we spend in the company of God and one another.
Study and ongoing education are essential if we are to grow in our faith. This year we have continued our Wednesday Bible study while experiencing some major shifts in other areas of Christian Education.
We have substantially increased Christian education for our young children from preschool through second grade.
Thanks to the generosity of this congregation, we have been able to offer the Godly Play curriculum for this group. We hired The Rev. Amy Turner to put this curriculum into place and to work with the children from September of 2013 to May of this year. This spring Amy and I will be working with leaders who can take over next year when Amy is no longer here with us. This past summer, thanks to the efforts of many in this congregation, we held a Vacation Bible School that the children attended.
The youth group took a break this past fall. This group has begun again, and our first program for this year will be to work with several scouts and others on the God and Family scouting merit badge.
During the last half of 2013, we made the decision to move adult Christian from Sunday mornings. We’ve offered several evening programs, and one half day retreat. In addition, I developed an internet study through Facebook during Advent. My plan is to continue to seek creative ways for us to engage in Christian education, since coming together for prayer and study is essential for the health of our parish.
The practice of hospitality here at St Peter’s is one of our strengths.
When we gather for Village Dinners and for various special occasions throughout the year, like Gospel on the River, we grow in love for one another.
So, like John the Baptist, our job is to prepare those roadways, and like the disciples, to follow Jesus and to spend time with him, soaking up his wisdom, guidance and love for us. Later in the gospel according to John, Jesus gives the disciples this wonderful metaphor. “I am the vine and you are the branches,” he tells them.
In other words, when we disciples abide in Jesus, the root and vine of God’s love, so that God’s love courses through us, what we will do is to grow and bear to fruit, and of course God will periodically prune us, but that’s another sermon!
The reading from Isaiah reminds us that as easy as all of these things that we’ve done may sound, our work as God’s servants can be hard and discouraging. Sometimes, along with the suffering servant in Isaiah, we can feel that we have labored in vain, and that we’ve spent our strength for nothing and for vanity.
But Isaiah reminds us that God has given us as a light to the nations, and that even when we feel like dimly burning wicks, God will fill us. God is our strength.
And so as we enter into this year ahead of us, continuing to build God’s roadways, and abiding in God’s love with one another, may our prayer be the prayer of the psalmist—“You are the Lord; do not withhold your compassion from us; let your love and faithfulness keep us safe forever.”