|Lent 4, Year B||March 15, 2015||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B||Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21|
|Lent 3, Year B||March 8, 2015||Third Sunday in Lent, Year B 2015||Exodus 20:1-17|
|Lent 2, Year B||March 1, 2015||Second Sunday in Lent, Year B, 2015||Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16, Mark 8:31-38|
|Lent 1, Year B||February 22, 2015||Lent 1, Year B||Mark 1:9-15|
|Ash Wednesday, Year B||February 18, 2015||Ash Wednesday, Year B||Matthew 6:1-6,16-21|
|The Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||February 15, 2015||Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||2 Kings 2:1-12, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Mark 9:2-9|
|The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Year B||February 1, 2015||Luke 2:22-40||Luke 2:22-40|
|The Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||January 25, 2015||Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Mark 1:14-20|
|➤The Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||January 18, 2015||Second Sunday after Epiphany, Year B||I Corinthians 6:12-10|
|The First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||January 11, 2015||First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||The Book of Common Prayer –Holy Baptism|
|Second Sunday after Christmas, Year B||January 4, 2015||Second Sunday of Christmas, Year B||Luke 2:41-52|
|Two Christmas Eve Meditations||December 24, 2014||Christmas Eve, Year B||Luke 2:1-20, John 1:1-5, 14, 16|
|Advent 3, Year B||December 14, 2014||Third Sunday of Advent, Year B||Psalm 126, I Thessalonians 5:16-24|
|Advent 2, Year B||December 7, 2014||Second Sunday of Advent, Year B||Mark 1:1-8|
|Advent 1, Year B||November 30, 2014||First Sunday in Advent, Year B||Mark 13:24-37|
The Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B
Sermon Date:January 18, 2015
Scripture: I Corinthians 6:12-10
Liturgy Calendar: Second Sunday after Epiphany, Year B
Last week when we reviewed our understanding of Baptism as Episcopalians, I talked about the fact that deciding to be baptized represents a choice that we make, or make for our children, to choose good over evil.
When we’re baptized, we turn away from evil, and then the baptismal service gives us our job descriptions and road map for how to stay on God’s good path.
Then we start out on the journey, and we see that our choices in life are not as clear cut as we had hoped. Sometimes all of the choices in a given situation seem morally murky. Sometimes we have to choose between competing goods. Sometimes we have to tease out the good and figure out the potential evil in a situation before we can make a decision, but we are constantly under pressure to rush to solutions, leaving little time to think through the nuances of the positions in which we find ourselves.
As one of my friends would say, “Life ain’t easy.”
Paul knew this when he wrote to the Corinthians, who were struggling with issues such as whether or not to eat food that had been sacrificed to idols—a complicated situation, since much of the food in the market, and food shared in social settings fell into that category.
In the passage we just heard today, Paul is answering some questions that the Corinthians had asked about their sexual freedom, since they were now no longer under the law.
And Paul makes it very clear that when we use sex for nothing but to satisfy our sexual drives, when it is nothing but “hooking up” for a night, when sex is a mindless gratification, then we have got a problem with how we are using our sexuality.
I really like Paul’s advice to the Corinthians, because his answer gets right to the heart of the decision making we must do in our lives. Paul gives us the starting place for how to choose good over evil as we try to live as God would want us to live.
And here’s the advice.
We ARE our bodies and we have chosen to have God live in us.
Paul puts it this way– the Holy Spirit dwells in us—our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is like your Smart Phone or your GPS or whatever you use when you drive to help you go in the right direction. If you’re listening, or watching, you’ll know if you’ve made a wrong turn, and you can make the correction and turn back in the right direction.
And Paul reminds us that we are not only to be the dwelling places for the Holy Spirit and travel toward the good in our lives, but we are also supposed to glorify God in our bodies, so that others can see that the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us.
My prayer for each of us today is that we can remember this fundamental advice and use it when we’re making decisions in our lives.
Paul’s advice not only applies to us as individuals, but it also applies to us as the Body of Christ, the Church Universal, and in particular, St Peter’s, here in Port Royal.
We are the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit lives here. So our job description, as this Church, is to travel toward the good in our lives together, and to glorify God in ways that the world can see.
Today is the day for our congregational meeting. Today is the day we set aside to look back on the past year, and to look forward to the year ahead.
This is not simply “here’s what we did last year,” but it’s also all about how we traveled together as the People of God, and how we glorified God in 2014 in our life together as this church.
And this is also a time that we set aside to get out our maps and to try to see where God is calling us in the year ahead.
You can find the details of what we did last year in my annual report and in all the reports that have been collected and that are now available to you on our website. We haven’t printed out the twenty two pages of information, but if you need or want a printed copy, please let me know and I’ll make sure you get the reports in printed form.
You will also be receiving this information, report by report, in the new newsletter that we will be sending out each month, starting in February, thanks to Wendy Gayle, who has offered to be our newsletter editor.
So please take time to look back at last year, because all we did last year is the foundation for what we will do this year, and of course we will make some course corrections through the year as we try to live in this Body of Christ and to glorify God.
Let’s take time now to have some conversation and prayer around how we are going to live in this Body this year, and how we are going to glorify God together for the good of this community and for the world.
And I have a few concerns that I want to share with you.
I am not a numbers person. Words are my thing. But I have to confess that when Ben put together the figures for the parochial report this year, I was sorry to find out that our average attendance has dropped this past year from 40 to 38.
This drop worries me because worshipping together is the most important thing we do. It’s the time we set aside to praise God here in this place, and I hope it’s a time when you find the fuel and energy you need to go out from here and serve the Lord out in the world all week. It’s so easy to say, “Well, I’ll get there next week,” and after a while, this hour is no longer a priority.
So I look at this drop of two people in our average Sunday attendance as a warning—make a course correction now, because
this Body of Christ is only as strong as the presence, the voices, and the prayers of the people who gather as the Body. And we want to be strong! Your presence here in this place, Sunday after Sunday, truly matters!
I would love to have feedback from you about how we can improve our services. I do get helpful feedback from many of you on a regular basis, but sometimes I’m the last to know, or I may never know, what works or doesn’t work for you in worship.
My job is to listen to all concerns, and then to try to weave together, based on sometimes conflicting desires, worship that will feed us all on some level, and to allow us to glorify God within the parameters of our identity as Episcopalians.
So let’s take a little time right here for some input about worship.
Elizabeth Heimbach, our Vestry registrar, will write down your comments, and then the Vestry and I will take this information to heart in our planning for the year.
How can we better glorify God in our worship in this coming year?
And how can we be intentional about encouraging others and inviting others to come be part of who we are as a worshipping community? Here are two quick examples. If you’ve missed seeing someone here in a while, call them up! Let them know they’re missed. And please, invite your friends to church. Bring your family when they’re in town.
Now let’s talk about the budget.
I love to talk about money when the conversation is about using money as a way of thanking God for the abundant goodness in our all of our lives. I love to give money to glorify God in the world, and I hope you to feel that way too. So in light of God’s abundance to us as a congregation, I’d like to talk about the budget now.
The budget that the Vestry adopted at its last meeting is a deficit budget. Here’s why.
Our buildings are a visible way of glorifying God in our community. People know that the church and the people who go there make up God’s house. This is why you all chose to add the belfry and a cross to the church roof several years ago so that anyone passing by could instantly say, “Oh, that’s God’s house.” And so we want God’s house to be well maintained and inviting.
Second, these old buildings are, in reality, a huge resource to us. I believe that their historic value will help us out financially in the long run. I’d love to see us get the church on the National Register of Historic Places—we’d be eligible for grants, and we can be leaders in the future of the restoration of this whole historic town. Yes, maintaining old buildings is a financial liability, but I believe that the money that we put into maintaining and improving our buildings will help this place survive into the future as a church, and not end up as an antique shop or a coffee house, or even a private dwelling.
The $8000 deficit at the bottom of the budget is largely due to the painting project we are in right now, the painting of this building. Yes, we have this money already set aside in our reserve funds, but we do not want to get into the dangerous habit of spending our reserves each year in order to do things that regularly have to be done. So our hope is to pay that $8000 back to our reserve fund—because before long, we’re going to have to paint the Parish House, and anyone in here who is a homeowner knows that the expenses of maintaining buildings never end.
We will be asking you, the congregation, to help come up with this $8000 dollars this year in order to pay back our painting expenses and also to help with the cost of heating and cooling our buildings—a cost that continues to rise, just as it does in our homes. Please be generous.
And remember, our budget also pays some of the expenses of our outreach projects, makes the wonderful work of our Godly Play teacher possible each Sunday, funds the nursery and the cleaning of the church, enables us to have music at our worship, pays my salary, covers our worship expenses, and a variety of other things in our lives together that have costs attached to them.
And people are also very generous about donating time and the material things that we need as a congregation.
Let’s take some time now to think aloud about how we can praise God in our budget this year and also, if you have money questions, Clarence, the Vestry and I will try to answer them. Once again, Elizabeth will take notes for our use.
Are there any other comments, questions, ideas, worries or anything you’d like to share now?
What other ideas would you like to share about our life together? Please feel free to share them now, and also, you can contact me, or a Vestry member at any time to give us ideas, thoughts and feedback about our life together.
Before the offertory, at the end of announcements, we’ll officially call our meeting to order. The main order of business will to thank our outgoing Vestry members and to elect two new members to the Vestry, and to address any other issues that you bring up at that time.
So for now, let’s end this time of reflection and conversation with a collect for the church, based on a collect from our Book of Common Prayer.
Gracious Father, we pray for St Peter’s, this part of Your Holy Catholic Church. Fill us with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where we are corrupt, purify us; where we are in error, direct us; where in any thing we are amiss, reform us. Where we are right, strengthen us; where we are in want, provide for us; where we are divided, reunite us; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.