Sermon for June 26, 2022 Third After Pentecost/Anniversary “Roots and Wings”
It was with a personal commitment to faith, a zeal for proclaiming the teachings of Jesus and a long term vision that the first Methodist circuit was established in Fairville, Lancaster and surrounding areas. Our roots are in that fiery personal passion and devotion to Jesus and our wings enable us to soar by the desire to be the people of God in our time.
In his outgoing remarks as Moderator of the church Richard Bott comments: “For the longest time, probably my entire ministry or longer, the message I have heard in the church is that The United Church of Canada is dying. That’s been the narrative. My sense of call was not necessarily to be moderator. My sense of call was to stand in front of the General Council of the The United Church of Canada and say, ’this narrative is a false narrative, and we need to stop repeating it,’ if we are truly living our call as community, then what our future is doesn’t actually mater. What we’re doing matter, how we’re living matter, that whose sense of being integral. When I said what I said to the General Council, I had accomplished what I felt I had been called to do. The fact that that resonated with the General Council for whatever reason, and they asked me to be in this role, was a continuation of that call. My task has been to challenge a narrative of death and to talk about who we are as people now and who we are called to be as people living the ministry into the future.”
As we celebrate this year, not only St. Marks but most other celebrations, the overwhelming theme is…Finally! After almost three years of COVID which seemed like so much longer, we can do events in person, choosing to wear a mask or not, and even tempting a handshake or hug. These years have put on hold much of we and I hold dear in ministry, have caused us to react quickly and innovatively and have proven that we can change and adapt and thrive. It is my hope and prayer that we do not return to the restrictive COVID measures and that we can move from a place of reacting to protocols and restricting what we do, to a place of enthusiastic planning for the days and months to come.
It would I think, be a mistake to hold on to a belief that things will go back to the way they were in 1859 or 1959 or even 2009. We are on a path of continually discerning the path forward. In no way does that diminish the lessons from history but it does require us to use all the tools that worked before and the advantages that are available in the 21st century. It has always been hard work and it has always been filled with joy and faith. And the path forward will continue to be filled with work and joy, worship and wonder.
I quoted Richard Bott because I like the image he offers. If we say often enough that we are dying, we are declining, that we need start planning a funeral then that becomes our influencer. So we need to change the narrative and plan and live and worship like who we are and what we do matters to us, our community and to God. The Board has started to plan like this and it is much easier if you offer your gifts for the ongoing success of St. Marks. For God sees us and has held us carefully these past few years. Now God is challenging us to see where the opportunities are, how we can shift to the adventures that await. We have proven to ourselves that we can be creative, responsive and dynamic and that truth will move us to great and faithful ministries in the months to come.
God promise to Elisha continues even today, that if we are aware, if we keep our eyes and hearts wide open we will be granted the wisdom to lead. And with that promise we continue to be faithful servants of God’s people, proclaiming the good news of Jesus’ love to all.
Our history which is a continuation of God’s history gives us strong roots and solid foundation. God’s wisdom upon us, our faithfulness and the Spirit’s imaginative creativity gives us wings to soar beyond what even we thought possible. So no, the United Church is not dying and a definite no St. Marks is not dying. So this is my invitation to be part of a committed, energetic life enhancing ministry that has much to accomplish.