22nd Sunday After Pentecost

22ND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

St. Luke’s Sunday
October 21, 2018
St. Luke’s Church-Granville Ohio

Texts: 2 Timothy 4:5-13 | Psalm 147: 1-7 | Luke 4:14-21

May the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and redeemer. Amen.

I can’t tell you how much I have been looking forward to sharing St. Luke’s Day with you. Today is a day that we lift up the example of our patron saint, St. Luke the Evangelist, a physician, historian, first writer of icons, but most importantly, a witness to the transforming love of Jesus Christ.  

It is said that Christians are a people of stories and Luke was a superb story teller. It is because of his writing of the Gospel and the Book of Acts that we know more about Jesus’ life than we ever would have otherwise. It is because he wanted to share what he had heard about Jesus from others and experienced firsthand in his life on his travels with the Apostle Paul that we, more than 2000 years later, are able to share in the healing and reconciling ministry of Jesus Christ.

Today is also a day when we honor our past and celebrate our present as we move confidently and boldly into our future. You will notice as you look through your bulletin that we have separated the service into three parts: Who we were, Who we are now, and Who God is calling us to be.  

We began the service as we always do: honoring our past by singing our praise to God; reading from our sacred texts, those family stories handed down to us through the millennia, and by reciting the ancient statement of faith-the Nicene Creed. We have even heard from one of our more recent ancestors-Dr. William S. Richards.

From honoring our past, the service moves into celebrating our present moment with prayer: prayer for our current circumstances, prayer for our neighbors and friends, prayer for God’s grace that as we have fallen short we will know in our own lives and in our own day forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace and, just as importantly, we ask God to help us to be instruments of the same.

It is in this present moment, it is in celebrating who we are right now, that we will commission, we will bless, and we will anticipate the work that St. Luke’s Discernment Team is being called to do in the calling of the next rector of St. Luke’s Church. 

And it is right and fitting that as we move into who God is calling us to be, we celebrate the Eucharist. We are here together as the family of God honoring all that we have been, all that we are, and with thanksgiving anticipating all that we can be with God’s help.  

I’d like to say just a little more about each segment.  

Who we were:

What does it mean to honor the past? How do we most faithfully and honestly do that?

To honor the past is to look back and to be thankful for all that has come before-the good, the bad, the trials and tragedies, the challenges and opportunities both taken and missed. It is to understand that all of it has made St. Luke’s into who it is right now.  

To honor the past is to look back while moving forward. We do not honor the past by looking back and deciding to live there in the present. 

We honor the past by learning from it. By taking what it has to teach us seriously while at the same time holding onto its lessons lightly. It is only in holding those lessons lightly that we can give them to future generations as a gift that they too can learn from.  

If we hold onto the past too tightly we risk not passing on a gift but a ball and chain that makes moving into the future, into what a new generation is to do in response to God’s calling of them much more difficult.

We honor the past by sifting through it, like the gold miners in the 1800’s, and taking into our future the best it has to offer us. It is those nuggets, those priceless gems that can not only inform but also enrich us. But it takes discernment that deep, holy listening to help us know what is true and what is fools gold.  

We honor the past by recognizing that it is our foundation. But like any foundation, there is the expectation that something more is to come, that something larger is to be built upon it. A foundation was never meant to be the whole house.

Who we are now: 

St. Luke’s is a parish in transition. It is in what is known as a liminal state, a state of in-betweenness. Like the time in the early morning where it isn’t quite daylight and it isn’t quite night, we lie there perhaps a tad confused, not quite sure of where we are and what we are to do. Things may seem gauzy, hard to define. We aren’t sure if we are going to drift back asleep or wake more fully and start our day. Liminal states, by their nature, are disorienting.  

But the truth of the matter is that all of our life is a liminal state. We come from God and we go back to God and all the stuff that happens in-between, all that stuff we call life, is really just the moment in time between the two realities of being with God. We are all on a journey between two points. We are all just walking each other home.  

This liminal time is our present moment; it is the only time we have. So our work does not stop.  f anything, it takes on even more importance and requires more commitment.  It requires that we recognize that we are sitting here because we all have been the recipients of 191 years of other individuals efforts and generosity.  

It is in this present moment that we remember individuals, who throughout all those years gave of themselves, of their fortunes, gave of their gifts and talents and who as a result forever transformed the landscape, the life, and the culture of Granville, Ohio.  

We remember today and honor that they were willing to step into the uncertainty of their present time and stand on a foundation laid for them by others. 

Who we are now asks if in this present moment we will be that foundation that others build on.  

Who we are now asks if we will boldly step into our liminal time, into the uncertainty of our present moment to claim their gift and to pass it on to future generations.  

Who we are now asks us to continue the transformation of the landscape, life, and culture of our community and our world through our generosity.

I want you to know that your vestry is committed to this work. I am committed to this work. And we invite all of you to join us in committing to the work of transforming generosity.

If you are fearful or wary, I understand. But I promise you St. Luke’s, there is a morning star rising. There is a new day dawning. There is a future that you can walk towards together that is guided by the one God who loves you, wants the best for you, and who is already in the future of St. Luke’s. As the angels have been known to say, “Fear not! God’s got this!”

Who God is calling us to be: 

God is calling us to be a holy community, a Eucharistic community. A community whose life and worship is not based in fear but that is grounded in thanksgiving and praise.

God is calling us in the words of our last hymn today, to “claim the high calling angels cannot share.” We are given such amazing and sometimes amazingly hard work to do.  

But that is the awesome part of it. God is calling us to do it. God is calling us to engage, enrich, empower, and transform God’s creation and creatures. God is calling us! When I think about that I am absolutely gobsmacked!

God is calling us to remember: To remember our holy stories. To remember who and whose we are and where we have come from.  

God is calling us to learn, to be curious and questioning, and to move faithfully into our future.  

God is calling us to stand not on our past laurels, but on God’s future vision.

St. Luke’s, be bold enough to transform this church, this world, and the future through your generosity and your faith. And then, be vulnerable and humble enough to let yourselves be transformed as well.

 1 Jakeowensby.com Going Home 10/19/18

Robin Whittington