Sunday, February 08, 2015
So You think You're Busy
Imagine Being Jesus
If you ever think you're busy or that you are under some stress, or that the demands of your job are getting to be too much for you, imagine being Jesus.
We're told in today's Gospel that, as Jesus sets up headquarters in Capernaum at the home of Simon and Andrew, first Simon's mother-in-law was sick with a fever. Then the town's folk heard that Jesus had amazing powers to heal those with physical, mental and spiritual illnesses, and eventually the entire town was at the door clamoring for Jesus' healing touch.
Such were the demands on Jesus, that he found that he needed to rise up very early in the day, while it was still dark, and find a deserted place where he could pray, and get his spiritual batteries charged up.
Then of course the disciples found Jesus and told him; the whole town is at the door and is crying out for Jesus to come and attend to their wounded bodies, spirits, and souls. And of course he does exactly that.
But first he must tend to his own spirit.
This is why I am recommending to you that we learn to journal as part of our lenten discipline together. I have set myself under the discipline of the journal for over twenty years now. It is the first thing I do every day.
Well, that's not quite true. Truth be told, I tend to the necessaries first, then have my breakfast and read the Boston Globe, but then I go to my journal. I review the events of my life, my feelings about these events and how I find that God is inviting me to deal with these matters. And in doing so, I discover that God is guiding and strengthening me.
Given that St. John's has been through significant upheaval in the recent past, I think we too need to tend to our spirits. After all, these events were out of your control and imposed themselves on you and you by external circumstance. Several clergy have been abruptly removed from your life as a church and you have been left with significant feelings around these events.
There is no need for us to dwell on the matter, but we do need to name what has happened and deal with how we feel about it and then move on.
I sense that this congregation is now seeking some stability. Your lay and clergy leadership need to establish the bonds of warmth, affection and trust for us to find a way to turn the page and move along.
Therefore I am going to make three recommendations to help us move ahead into our future and prepare the groundwork for you to receive your new priest however soon or long that takes in God's time.
First we owe Joyce Harrington a tremendous debt of gratitude. She came into our midst at a time of upheaval and she helped steady the ship and has done good and faithful service for this church. I am grateful that we can take some time today at our annual meeting to recognize the significance of her contribution and express our gratitude to her.
Therefore, among the first things must do is to make a decision about staffing the office with an effective and efficient parish administrator and secretary. That will require some time, but I am hopeful that by the end of February we will be able to move ahead with a decision as to who will provide coverage for us in our parish office.
The second thing I think we need to do is to establish a Membership Committee. We need to work on our parish list and take attendance often enough to track new members and make sure we are doing an effective job at shepherding their entry into the life of the church. We also need to notice as soon as possible that some of our membership seems to be drifting away or not in attendance for whatever reason. Then we need to establish a way to follow up with any significant patterns we notice so that we are more effective and timely in our pastoral care.
Thirdly, I'd like to establish a Parish Council who will help prepare a calendar going out over 18 months. After all, Shrove Tuesday always comes on the same day every year. Even if the Sunday Bulletin calls it Shrove Thursday, the fact of the matter remains, this year Shrove Tuesday comes on a Tuesday evening, namely February 17th from 4-6 pm. I would like to have a small group of planners work with me and the office in establishing clarity of dates, times, clarifying the purpose of all parish activities, and then assist in recruiting leadership teams for each event.
Yes, do too few folks do too much work? Indeed they do. But that is not peculiar to this congregation. This is the tendency in all congregations especially after they have been under significant stress over an extended period of time. When we plan, we will learn to extend our leadership base more effectively.
Friends, at last count I have noted that 14 new families and individuals have become involved at St. John's in various levels of commitment. This is very encouraging news and speaks well of the leadership of the church at least at the lay level, and hopefully your ordained leadership as well.
We are all on the same side in these efforts and we ask God to bless us in this work.
But that only underscores how critical it is for us to remember what brings us together each Sunday. We are here to encounter the God in the Word and Jesus in the Sacraments. We are here to remember that the Holy Spirit seeks to share with us the Holy Wisdom from on high and to equip us with gifts to do the work of the church. In that Spirit then, we are called to learn how to love one another as God loves us.
In review then,
We will be making a staff decision about our parish administrator within about a month or so.
We will be seeking to establish a Membership Committee
We will be working on a Parish Council who will assist with planning activities for the church.
This is not just busy work. As Jesus reminds us, we will need to take time to find a quiet place where we my pray and know the living God. That's what brings us together each week. It is to learn to love God and to learn to love one another.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen,