Sunday, December 20, 2015

Choose Life!

As you all know by now, I am usually a strictly Lectionary preacher. But today, I am going to bring in another text. Today, I want you all to also hear the words of Moses to his people. Moses had led them through the Wilderness and knew that he would not be able to lead them further – he would not accompany his beloved people to the Promised Land. So today, I am using his words as a framework for my final sermon among you all:
Moses said,
This commandment that I’m commanding you today isn’t too much for you, it’s not out of your reach. It’s not on a high mountain—you don’t have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. And it’s not across the ocean—you don’t have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. No. The word is right here and now—as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it!

Before we get to Moses’ commandment, I want to remind you all of what we have all done together over this last year:
     ·      50 people for Christmas eve services
·      Bylaws passed
·      Upgraded Sound System
·      Helped launch new church in deanery
·      Lived through several rearrangements of our space
·      Bishop High at Palm Sunday
·      Seder Dinner with WF MCC
·      60 people for Easter services
·      Power Packs for Kids >300 per packing
·      Covered houses for Parade of Homes – met many new friends
·      Started Downtown Dinner: 6/16, 9/15, 12/15
·      Sent two of us to General Convention
·      Welcomed New Members
·      Ferris Teacher’s Lunch & School Supply Donations
·      First Combined Audit
·      Racial Reconciliation
·      Hosted Executive Council
·      Bishop Mayer Visit
·      Joint Deanery Project: Ramp for Marsha
·      St Francis Blessing – Outside
·      All Hallows’ Eve & Trunk or Treat
·      Live Broadcast of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s Installation
·      Hosted live music concert for WF MCC friends
 “Just do it” – and we did!

Here is Moses’ Commandment to his beloved people
And I command you today: Love God, your God. Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments… so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by God, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess.

I do not know what land you are about to enter and possess – I have no idea what God is up to here – Moses didn’t know for sure either. He did know that was not his to worry about – that God knows and God is working. It may take another 40 years for God’s work THIS DAY to be known in this place. Just as our Biblical ancestors showed us, we will continue to worship and praise God, trusting that was are all God’s beloveds as we move forward.

Mary and Elizabeth show us that same faithfulness and trust in God in our Gospel lesson today. Childbirth could be the beginning of the end for any woman, statistically much more so for Mary and Elizabeth in their day – yet they are happy to be carrying new life. They are celebrating their pregnancies and dreaming about how their lives will change. They are birthing the future, just as you all are here. Dream big dreams and live, truly live exuberantly, blessed by God as you nurture and raise up the Episcopal Church of Wichita Falls.

Moses continues, for us and for his people,
I call Heaven and Earth to witness today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham [and Sarah], Isaac [and Rebekah], and Jacob, [Leah and Rachel].

All that you need is here. You are courageous and beloved  – Just like Mary and Elizabeth – pregnant with possibilities – Choose Life!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Announcement of Transition at ECWF

My very first day on the ground in Wichita Falls was October 1, 2014. And here we are, 14 months later. This is hard for me to say – it is hard for me to live – but I feel as though my time among you here has come to an end. Next Sunday, December 20th, will be my last Sunday as the Priest in Charge of the Episcopal Church of Wichita Falls. This week, I will be here on Tuesday to feed our homeless friends at WFMCC, and I will pack up my office. Next Sunday, I will ask you all to bless me, as I will bless you.

I have brought you all along as a church as far as I am able. The Bishop and Canon to the Ordinary will lead you on from here. I do not know what that will look like. It is not my place to know, nor will it be my place to be involved in the on-going life of the church here. I know I will see you at diocesan gatherings and you will all remain in my prayers. “Surely it is God who saves us, we will trust in him and not be afraid.” God is steadfast and faithful to you. No one can thwart God’s will.

“What then shall we do?” “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” “Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name; Make his deeds known among the peoples; see that they remember that his Name is exalted. Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, and this is known in all the world.”

Today’s Advent candle is the candle of Joy. My prayer for you – no my task for you – is for us to remember our time together with great Joy. I have been blessed beyond measure serving here with you all. I know I was called by God to serve here, and I know God is calling me away from here now to do something different. It has been a season of Joy, and I pray that we will continue to live that Joy through our last week together.

Audio is on the right sidebar PodBean player.