St. Mark's Episcopal Church

124 North Sylvia Street - Montesano, WA, 98563

Epiphany IV 2016 Sermon

Sort of a harrowing ride through the readings today!  First Jeremiah, who doesn’t want to go forth for God, is ordered to do so and told he will be given what to say—and he does!  Then our Psalm reminds of that which is our Rock and Hope.  Then 1 Corinthians 13 (really famous words about what is love) gives us all we need to know about true love for everyone.  Finally, Luke’s Gospel tells us that Jesus spoke too honestly and bluntly in his hometown and was driven out
I have had my own harrowing journey these past 3 weeks plus.  Double valve open heart surgery on someone not in great physical is double tough.  Twelve days in hospital recovery (longer than normal but too short for me).  Then just two days at home, where I fell in a low blood pressure moment and hit my head, opening up a 3” gash needing 13 hours to stop.  Ride to Summit Pacific followed by a ride to St. Peter’s again.  This time 6 more days there, where I opened my eyes and did the right things to be ready to come home.  I got home on Wednesday and things are going much better this time.  My grandsons Caleb and Aaron came up to visit that day and I feel much better for their concerns and support for me.  Bonnie and Anne have been awesome through all of this.  I just need the time and effort on my part to get fully ready to go again.  I did found out Friday that my Boeing contract job has somehow disappeared, so my contract agency will be looking for another one for me over the next few weeks.  You can only do what you can and pray for the best!
Strangely enough, I find all of this humbling.  Not that I feel humbled or humiliated like maybe a poor person could be made to feel, but that I found out there actually are limits in myself—in what I can do, control, or think there are things I am having any effect over my life or others.  That is hard for one who deeply believes they are in control, when behind it all there is constant anxiety and some depression (mostly attempted to be hidden by me).  But God really is in control and if I work with him.  This can all change.
To get the requisite stewardship message from these readings, I turned to our Diocesan Canon Lance Ousley, who write: “Sacrifice is an element of stewardship. There is an old stewardship mantra that says, "Give until it hurts." But I say, "Give until it hurts, then give some more until it feels good." We don't know exactly how Jesus was able to slip through the crowd in Nazareth after he read the kingdom prophecy of Isaiah, but we know he was willing to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel. Possibly he was able to escape the traps because he was not encumbered by the anxiety that caused his hometown audience's outrage in the first place. This is what I mean by my adage "give until it feels good."
Giving is one way we express our love to God. And giving sacrificially until it feels good helps us to proclaim the power of God's kingdom in our lives and in the world, expressing God's love for the world. “
Here at St. Mark’s we do talk about money and its place in our lives of faith and action.  We show it very directly in our outreach giving as a church to many things around here to help others.  In creating this 2016 budget I had had to be creative a bit due to poor return of pledge cards, so I feel some portion of our outreach funding may be at risk while we cover basic operations.  You all know I am all over those things, reducing maintenance costs allowing to have every $$ available for outreach that we can.  In any case, we need to talk about this and decide how we address it going forward.  Not just Bishop’s Committee, but all of us in our annual meeting in February.  So, I will provide all information to help us see how we work with our budget  and we will come to a great common plan to move forward.
I thank you all here for your support and prayers and whatever else you did for me and my family these past few weeks.
Closing, our collect sums it up: “Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth.  Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns and you and Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  AMEN

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