Bishop Goff’s visit

Title:Bishop Goff’s visit

  Sunday, March 16, 2014  (full size gallery)

We had 52 in church for Bishop Goff’s visit on March 16. Brad and Helmut soloed on Handel and "Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring" joined in by the choir at the offertory. During the service Michael Fox was baptized and Chris and Becky Fisher were received. Michael Fox received a cross and a children’s Bible as gifts. The Fishers received a cross and a prayer book.   

Cookie was recognized for her 12 years of service with the newsletter. Words can’t express how much her family does for the church. Catherine added a gift of a rhododendron. Meanwhile, the Congregation presented the Bishop with  a photograph book of the church spearheaded by the organizational and publishing skills of Barbara Wisdom.

Ken updated us on the tutoring program. He has gone door to door in Port Royal searching out needs. There will be a meeting next Friday with a pizza dinner preceding.

 We had a wonderful luncheon of venison, various vegetables, and fruits. The desserts were over the top – Eunice’s Flam cake, Brad’s cheese cake, lemon poundcake, Susan Linne von Berg’s cookies.

Many of the above items are repeated yearly with different players. It’s part of recognizing growth, service and congregational life. We get to display our best for the Bishop. In turn Bishops are able to interact with our church as a whole and with our parishioners. They see too our changes since they were last here. (This was Bishop Goff’s first visit as Bishop.)  

What made this Bishop visit different from the past was the role of the children. It is apparent the role that Godly Play has done in bringing the children into the church. The children hear Bible stories and get to act them out in the curriculum. They live into them with a variety of senses. In the case of Zeke they even get out the punch line of the sermon evern before the Bishop did!

This year from 10am to 11am the Bishop met with the children in the Parish house. The room was filled.  The Bishop brought her puppet, Granny McQ to help.  A year ago the numbers would have been meager. It’s the result of everyone in the church – Catherine, Amy and Vestry as well as the Congregation who have supported Godly Play.  

The children’s sermon was on God abundant love – not letting you go despite what you have done. The Bishop was aided by her loyal sheep – "Granny McQ/"  

The Bishop’s message to the adults was on Abraham and Nicodemus – Lent 2, year A. In th Old Testament reading Abraham was told to go off to a new land as part of a covenant with God. He didn’t know where he was going but to leave all behind. Well, he did not leave all behind – for example the sheep were taken. He was not an ideal character. In fact the Bishop called him a scoundrel. 

Nicodemus, the Pharisee and a member of the Jewish Council, tooks risks to go to Jesus. He was a seeker.  He didn’t understand all that Jesus told him and could not go beyond understanding Jesus as a miracle worker. He didn’t understand the role of the spirit, being born again.  He was locked into his past.

Thus , both Abraham and Nicodemus were faithful in going and following but did not understand the full implications of their actions. Nicodemus later defended Jesus and  he and Joseph of Arimathea took charge of Jesus body after his death.  

God asks us to follow. We don’t get everything right either like Abraham and Nicodemus. We don’t see all of the implications of  God’s call. God calls us each of us to be ministers to each other and the world. We hear the voice of God in the twinge of our stomach in seeing disaster around us. We hear the voice of God through other people – for example in the congregations. God is continuing to call us and the congregation toward new tasks and directions. We need to respond to the community around us.  

She said that some people say the church is dying. That’s impossible – the Body of Christ cannot die. Congregations can die but many are reborn into new futures.  

We must be bold, faithful and not be afraid. God will call us to new directions. God is not done with us within God’s purposes.

Canon Lance Ousley of the Diocese of Olympia  has written the following on this Sunday

"Stewardship is an act of faith communicating our belief in the one true God over and above our faith in other things. It is values-driven and therefore, liberating, because it is an action of integrity with what we say we believe as people of faith. Nicodemus was discovering this bit by bit as the Holy Spirit lead him on a journey from out of the darkness into the light, letting go of his faith in the Law to give him a fullness of life he could only enjoy in believing in God as his eternal-life-giver.

"This week in our readings we have two stories running parallel that have stewardship implications.  

"The story of Abram (Abraham) in Genesis and reflected upon in Romans portrays a man who let go of what he knew as familiar, of worldly comforts of his father’s home and his possessions to believe in God’s promises and follow in faith where God told him to go. In short, Abraham fully put his faith in God, believing against "cultural wisdom." And our Gospel lesson gives us the story of Nicodemus, a Pharisee, who has put his faith fully in the Law and his own ability to achieve its fulfillment. But there is more to Nicodemus’ story. It seems that he has begun to doubt something in his faith in the Law, his ability to fulfill it, or both. In any case, he has a hunger for more than what his present faith journey (in the Law) is able to give him or what he is able to achieve.  

"Paul, writing to the Romans and a former Pharisee, makes his case against the idea of works righteousness positing that Abraham’s integrated belief in God was reckoned to him as righteousness. Righteousness is the liberated state of being in right relationship with God, with others and with God’s creation. It doesn’t mean that Abraham lived a perfect life according to the Law (the Law had not been given to Moses yet!). It means that Abraham lived a life believing in God over and above all things, and in so doing he gave of himself and his resources putting his faith fully in God. Paul’s context for making this case was that the Jewish Christians in Rome were holding up the Law to the non-Jewish Christians as a prerequisite for them to be in right relationship with God and members of the Church. We could summarize Paul’s argument as one that poses the question to the Roman church, "why would you keep lashing yourself to be a slave to the Law for something that is freely given in faith through God’s gracee in the Cross of Christ?" The overarching question here with stewardship implications is, "In whom or what do you put your faith, the One whom has the liberating power to give you eternal life, or that which steals your life through the enslaving impotence of the unachievable?  

"Nicodemus’ journey bit by bit, from out of the darkness of faith in something other than God and/or his own abilities, into the light of fullness of faith in God has something to say to us.  

"Nicodemus discovered that eternal life was his for the receiving. Eternal life is not something attained on the other side of the grave. Eternal life is something lived in the continuous present of the here and now (eternally), living freely in the fullness of faith in God over and above all else. So through Nicodemus’ story we learn as we let go of our faith in the "cultural wisdom" and all it’s trappings, and we give of ourselves and our resources putting our faith in God’s promises delivered to us in Christ that we step more and more into the light of the eternal fullness of life God hopes for us. Faithful stewardship, following the path of Abram in letting go of what is comfortable and familiar and the path of Nicodemus in letting go of faith in our "works" and things other than God, reveals the light of the promises of God in the midst of the darkness of the false promises of "cultural wisdom." And that is an abundance of life so full that it can only be described as eternal!

Leave a Comment