I was asked to share a portion of my sermon from Sunday about blessings, community, and hope.
Josiah Royce, an early 20th century writer stated, “My life means nothing, either theoretically or practically, unless I am a member of a community.” Royce went on to describe characteristics of actual communities and those of the ideal Beloved Community. He invited people into a community he founded called the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Some years later, Martin Luther King, Jr. was part of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. King expanded on Royce’s ideas to create Beloved Community. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has since reiterated that call for Episcopalians to build Beloved Community. This is making real what we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
For many of us, church is a place where beloved community can emerge and flourish. Church is a place where God’s blessings are named and claimed, even when the world would call particular situations anything but blessed. And what does God require of this beloved community? The prophet Micah sets it forth succinctly: Do justice; love kindness, and walk humbly with your God [Micah 6:8 NRSV]
All Saints’ has been doing justice through, for example, our support of creation care, CVAN, CCM, Racial Equity Cabarrus and the two Wesbury Senior Housing complexes. We have practiced loving kindness in pastoral care, meals at the night shelter, CVAN, Meals on Wheels, and for homebound/ recovering parishioners, through Stephen Ministry, cards, calls, and prayer shawls, through blood drives and lay eucharistic visits. And we walk humbly with God and one another in worship, prayer, small group study, and community gatherings.
When Matthew’s gospel was written, the writer offered a word of hope to people whose lives had been upended by the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, people who no longer could worship where they had for generations. Recounting Jesus words, the writer told them they were blessed because they were a community of hope.
Coming out of Covid, where our lives have been upended, your Vestry and parish leaders have been and are continuing to be diligent in finding ways to move forward in hope, in ministry doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God.
This is a breakout year. There is renewed energy in our community. We have a full vestry for the first time in three years. Eight new people have made pledges. We sent 10 kids to the Bishops’ Ball
All Saints’ had the largest group of teens in attendance. New people are visiting each week, finding All Saints’ is a community of hope doing what we are called to do as a community, a community blessed and beloved of God.