A sermon for the 4th Sunday after Epiphany, January 28, 2018
Calvary Episcopal Church, Flemington, New Jersey
Today is a special day of discernment for Calvary which will finish with our Annual Parish Meeting. 2017 was a year of transition for Calvary. Father Harry Mazujian left as Rector at the end of February. Mother Ann Holt and Deacon Jack Hain stepped in with outstanding liturgical and pastoral leadership. The people of Calvary took responsibility for the activities and programs of the church with the faithful and diligent leadership of our Wardens, Jean Good and Karen Sammer. Karen Sammer and Doug Reagan organized the discernment team, which has put in an incredible amount of work in preparing Calvary’s profile and vision for a new rector. Jennifer Poruczynski has been marvelous in staffing Calvary’s ministries as our diligent and reliable administrator. We have also been blessed by the work of the Way of St. Paul team, Bob Violette and the wonderful choir, our youth, the Tuesdays at Ten Group, the Shepherds who visit the sick and shut-in, and parishioners who organized new initiatives this year, including being a part of the Flemington community’s Halloween observance and Christmas parade.
Thank you to all, and thank you to all our members and friends who support one another and what we mean to God’s people.
I came to Calvary in September because working with churches in transition is what I do. What I love about this work is that transition is a time of change, a time when we can recognize what is vitally important and what can just … change. An important part of our time together today is appreciating together how important what happens at Calvary really is. Our mutual support and witness, and living God’s love for the world together make a real difference for that world, especially here in this community of Flemington and Hunterdon County. Calvary is a resilient community and as this congregation goes through the changes of this transitional time together, it is becoming stronger and more focused on what is truly meaningful.
Becoming whole is what our Gospel lesson is about today. It’s important to remember that Jesus was a healer. We often think of him as a teacher and preacher, which can make us miss how important healing was to him. What he did was to heal and cast out demons, far more than even teaching and preaching. We see this here in the Gospel of Mark. It starts with John the Baptist, Jesus’ baptism, and then Jesus comes to Galilee and gathers his disciples. And then this story, the first time that Jesus is teaching a congregation.
What’s of note in our Gospel lesson today, is that though we are told that Jesus is teaching or preaching, what is it that he’s really doing? He’s healing.
We don’t actually hear the content of Jesus’ teaching here, but we are told about his hearers’ reaction. The congregation at that synagogue in Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee, were astonished. This was something new. This is what they said: “What is this? A new teaching, with authority, and he commands the unclean spirits and they obey him.” And that was the foundation of his ministry.
Today, we will have time to think about our focus and what is it we want as our foundation for our ministry at Calvary and in our community. We’ll each have time to talk and we’ll each have time to listen. It will be a time of reflection and a time of fellowship.
Please take a few moments in silence, to reflect along with me:
Imagine a Church in which every parishioner is welcomed into a place where God’s love shines and lives are nurtured and transformed in Christ…
Imagine a Church in which every parishioner is valued as a unique Child of God and empowered to offer their gifts to the benefit of the congregation and the community at large…
Imagine a Church in which every parishioner is inspired to live their dreams of making a better world in which Christ’s peace, justice, and love is available to all…
Our imagination is based on remembering things we have seen and experienced, what we know is possible and is real. As our Psalm for today says:
God’s work is full of majesty and splendor,
And his righteousness endure for ever.
He makes his marvelous works to be remembered;
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion.
He gives food to those who fear him;
He is ever mindful of his covenant.
The works of his hands are faithfulness and justice;
All his commandments are sure.
Come, let us remember who we are, and whose we are, and imagine what we can become as the People of God…
After this Holy Eucharist we will gather in the parish hall, and work together on remembering Calvary Church as the people of God.