|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 Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B
Sermon Date:January 25, 2015
Scripture: Mark 1:14-20
Liturgy Calendar: Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B
As most of you know, Roger and Eunice and I attended the 220th Annual Council in Richmond this weekend. And only a fall on Thursday afternoon and his resulting broken nose kept Boyd, our alternate delegate, from going with us.
Have you ever seen someone do a sand painting? You can see this process on YouTube. Someone comes out and stands in front of a blank surface, and then the evocative music begins. The person takes sand in his or her hands, and before our eyes, an amazing scene grows and changes and transforms as the artist , seemingly with no effort at all, creates a story in the sand.
Life in the Episcopal Church is like that, and going to Council is like watching an artist at work. This weekend, we saw living, breathing examples of all the ways that we have worked together and reached out beyond ourselves in the past year. This year, we witnessed Trinity, Highlands, one of the churches in the Diocese, taking one of its last breaths. The people of that church will close their doors forever on Sunday, February 8th.
But their life is not over. One of their members, who is old now, and has been at that church since 1939, spoke to Council, and her parting words were, "Watch out, world, here we come!" As the doors of their building shut, even the old members of the congregation plan reach out beyond themselves in the new ways that God will be calling them. (Remember recently I said that no matter how old we get, God still has plans for us? And this woman was visible proof of that.)
And then we witnessed the resurrection of Emmanuel, Rapidan, a church that has been around since the 1800’s. In the 1980’s, the Rapidan River flooded the church, and for the next twenty years, this congregation has struggled to regroup. They had to go into mission status with the Diocese while they rebuilt their church. This weekend, they regained their parish status. And the room was filled with joy. God is calling on them to reach out beyond themselves now that they have overcome this disaster that nearly destroyed them as a congregation, thanks to the help of people all around the Diocese.
Birth and death-and then everything in between.
We heard many stories of groups and congregations coming together in this Diocese in order to reach out beyond themselves. And these stories were amazing-like St Catherine’s School in Richmond, one of our Episcopal schools, partnering with St Stephen’s, which is right across the street, and partnering with a Muslim private school in Richmond to provide food for those in Richmond without enough to eat-four of the young girls, from fourth to sixth grades, two Christians and two Muslims, told us what joy they had not only in the work they did for others, but also the joy they had found in becoming friends with one another.
By video, we heard from missionaries from our Diocese all over the world, who thanked us and said that our support made their reaching out possible-in places like Brazil, in Hong Kong, in the Sudan.
A sandpainting, growing, changing, transforming, truly breathtaking.
In today’s gospel, we see the beginning of the great sandpainting of the ministry of Jesus. Mark makes it clear that this ministry, just beginning, will have its challenges. John, who also proclaimed a message of repentance, has been arrested, and will meet his death in Herod’s prison.
So we can imagine that Jesus will also find some resistance as he calls on people to repent.
But nothing will stop Jesus, because the kingdom of God has come near, and he has good news to share.
I love the next part, because Jesus chooses not to enter into his ministry alone.
So in Mark, one of the first things he does at the beginning of his ministry is to gather some people to help him.
He calls Simon, and Andrew, and then James and John.
Because he wants them to help him grow, transform, and change the world, and to bring the kingdom of God to birth.
Bishop Susan started off her address to Council by talking about how our Diocese is like a crazy quilt-all sorts of colors and different fabrics stitched together into one beautiful and functional quilt-
And the disciples that Jesus chose were like that too-each person with different talents, faults, and imperfections-but all people that Jesus would transform and change into kingdom people, people so on fire with God’s love and excitement for the gospel that nothing, not even death, could put out that fire.
After Ben’s parents died, and I was cleaning out their house, I opened a chest in their bedroom and found this robe-it is like a crazy quilt-all these different colors and fabrics have been stitched together to make this functional piece of fabric art. Someone, probably Ben’s grandmother, made this, and then wore it, and then passed it down, and Beth wore it, and now I have it.
And this robe is like us-St Peter’s.
Look at us. Talk about a collection of different sorts of people!
Here we are, each a little bit of fabric, but when God stitches us together in love, we become something useful, and we become strong, and we can reach out beyond ourselves and proclaim the Good News by being people of justice, truth and love, people who can help make the kingdom of God a reality here in this place-here in Port Royal, in Caroline County, and beyond.
And when we are stitched together with others in the Diocese, the good news gets even bigger and better.
I’m going to give you a real life example of what I’m talking about.
So-a year ago, the Vestry started talking about upgrading our kitchen.
Wouldn’t new counter tops and cabinets be nice for starters, and so Cookie, the Junior Warden at the time, got some estimates for that. And then the Vestry started thinking about the big picture, and Sally O’Brien came and we kept thinking about how we could use our buildings more effectively to serve the community, and we tabled the kitchen idea for a while…
Until this year, when right before the deadline for applications for UTO grants to be submitted, Cindy Helton, who is the UTO chairperson for this Diocese, sent out an email to tell everyone that no one had submitted a grant yet.
How could a UTO grant help us reach beyond ourselves out into our community? There must be SOMETHING! And then it hit me!
Our old kitchen has already been helping us reach beyond ourselves out into the world.
Every month, Eunice and Betty and Cookie with the help of many others work every month in the kitchen to create a lovely dinner that costs only $7 a person, and people come and enjoy that dinner, and all of the proceeds go to ECW outreach. Because of the Village Dinners, we have been able to send God’s love all over the world in the form of financial donations. This past year, we sent out almost $2000.
This past year, the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service used our kitchen for Foode Fridays, and people came here every month for about six months to learn about healthy eating, to prepare some healthy recipes, and then to eat together -right in our kitchen.
And then there are the other things we’ve done with food-our community dinners, which we’ve served in the firehouse, have started to bring people in this community together as we’ve sat down over food together and shared our stories.
And now in our kitchen we’re dividing about 350 pounds of produce each month (this past month we gave out potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions and oranges) along with the staples that you all bring-like this past month’s spaghetti –to distribute to twenty one families, which means that we are getting fresh food to over sixty people every month.
And so I wrote up a grant application for our kitchen with the help of the figures that Cookie had already gotten-because our kitchen is a bridge over which we carry love into our community.
Just think, a new updated kitchen will help us do work even better and more creatively, and reach even more people!
On Tuesday, a Diocesan committee reviewed the four grants that came in, and I’m happy to announce that our grant was chosen by the Diocese to advance to the national pool of grants. Last year the UTO offering funded over eighty grants, and I fervently hope that we will be a recipient this year.
See what I mean? The UTO committee of this Diocese has stitched its time and resources onto our piece of this crazy quilt of God’s love for the world, and as a result, our kitchen may become a new and improved kitchen and we will be able to reach out to even more people.
Then at Council, another piece of fabric got stitched onto this kitchen crazy quilt.
I told Charles Sydnor about our grant.
And he got excited.
"Hey, I know a professional kitchen designer," he said, "and she’s here this weekend, she’s a delegate at this Council. I’ll introduce you to her."
And so he did, and Dee David and I talked yesterday, and she is going to volunteer her time to come look at our kitchen and give us her ideas about how to use our kitchen space as efficiently as possible.
Another piece of fabric on our quilt.
In today’s gospel we’ve heard about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
And we know the end of the story. Jesus died, and was resurrected.
But what if no one had told anyone what happened?
What if Mary Magdalene hadn’t told the other disciples that she had seen the Lord?
What if the disciples had kept their mouths shut out of fear? Or inertia?
What if they had shut the doors on that part of their lives and had just gone back to fishing?
It’s up to us now-it’s up to us to join forces with one another, with our Diocese and with Christians all over the world.
As Bishop Susan told us, we’re the living, believing, body of Christ.
It’s up to us now to tell the world that the kingdom of God really has come near,
And to proclaim the Good News together, by reaching out beyond ourselves.
Yes, look out world, here we come!