Faithful Witness – Pastor Jane – 1.27.2019

As I was reading the lessons for today, I thought I could have called the sermon “God’s Little Instruction Book.” I’ve never actually read any in that series of books, but the title is what came to mind. Inspiration, life lessons, and direction for God’s people.

We’ve an unusual gathering of people in our First Lesson. The image is significant – and message is simple. We’re told that men and women and children are all together in one place to hear God’s message of hope and promise. Picture that image, that eclectic gathering – with the Holy City of Jerusalem in front of them…shortly after they’ve returned from exile.

The message – God provides and will take care of you, just as he always has. Not to be lost, most important – share what you’ve been given with those “for whom nothing has been prepared.” Simple, straightforward.

One of the most familiar metaphors of Paul’s teachings is in his letter this morning. That we as God’s people are called together with our individual gifts to be the “body of Christ.” It’s okay to be yourself, but remember that together ‘we’ are the body of the Christ.

With all that’s going on for each of us, it’s easy to lose sight of where we are called to, of who we are called to be, of what we are called to do.

That’s one of the reasons that when you open the Annual Report Booklet our Mission Statement is right there on the first page…and along with that, a bit of history about this congregation. And contained in those pages is the living history of this Family. Not to be missed…all of us are part of that history. A history that is ongoing and constantly changing day to day, week to week, and year by year.

As part of this Family of Faith, first and foremost we dare not forget that we are a servant community – called by God, filled with Easter life, and empowered by the Holy Spirit as we are sent from this place to care for God’s broken world. Our Mission Statement is right there in our Annual Report, our bulletin each week, and stenciled on the rafter in the narthex so we can see it every time we walk out the door and leave worship.

This is the Gospel lesson for today. Jesus says, “God has called me to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, [give] sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed. And in my very presence ….it happens.” That servant body of Christ is in the midst of them…just where we are called to be.

What a great lesson for our Annual Meeting Sunday. To be willing to go to all those places where other people say, “No thanks, it’s messy. There’s no future, no promise.” We look for those places, we go to those places and we do the work of Christ. To tell the Easter story with all of its glorious hope and new life. To care for the most broken, the most alone, the most vulnerable of God’s children.

To have a vision of a world as God intends it…to have a passion for justice that cares for all of God’s children…to have a love of Jesus that drives us to give of ourselves – that drives us to do more for the One Lord who shows us how to live, and who died on the cross to give us life, so that all of God’s people might live free.

This is a busy time for us at church as we’ve been getting ready for our Annual Meeting…and planning for Lenten worship and Bible Studies. It’s Retreat Season as well – with our Council Retreat next weekend – Confirmation and First Communion Retreats just weeks away.

Ahead of our Retreat next week, Council has some work to do…which will prompt our conversation and time away. It’s always an exciting time, as well – a time to dream, to plan, to look ahead – with clarity and new vision for ministry and how we together do the work of the church.

A message for each of you – for this Family and for the Council as you do your homework for our Retreat. Don’t make it too complicated. Remember your baptism – what a difference your baptism makes. Remember why the Eucharist is important – it’s the heart of worship – it feeds and nourishes us. Remember God’s gift of Christ, that awesome gift of grace.

God invites us here and now…and Jesus says simply, “Follow me, in faithful witness…”