Sermon given Vestry Sunday by the The Rev’d Canon Rob Park.
In our reading today from Mark’s Gospel, Jesus in tells us and his disciples what the purpose of his ministry is. As Nancy and have said about Mark’s Gospel, Mark keeps things simple and straightforward. So it is not surprising that Jesus speaks plainly and clearly about his purpose. Jesus says, ”Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.”
Jesus ministry will have him teaching and interacting with regular people and authorities. Jesus will perform miracles and heal the sick. Jesus will be an example of God’s Good News in all he does and says. He will die, and will rise for the dead. Through it all, his purpose will be unchanged and firm, to proclaim the message. That is what he came to do.
As I begin my vestry sermon today, I begin with the purpose and goal of proclaiming the message of Christ. And As we meet today as a church family, we must always keep that simple purpose in mind to guide all our actions.
In all that we do we must proclaim the message of Jesus Christ.
In reflecting on 2017 this morning, I want to give thanks for the many ways we have proclaimed the message. And I want to give thanks for the many good people of this community who contribute to this most important purpose.
“people come to worship in meaningful ways”
One of the biggest and most important way that we proclaim the message is through being a place where people come to worship in meaningful ways that connect them through the teachings and sacraments of the church with the message. That role of being a place to worship and gather has always been an important role of the church.
Setting aside time in our day and week to worship God through Christ is essential to being a Christian. Serving together, lifting our voices together in prayer and song, and supporting each other is key to proclaiming the message. And at St. George’s we do it in many ways at different times and in various forms. We do our best to makes sure there is a time and place for everyone to worship. From our three Sunday morning services in three different styles to our mid-week service, monthly Messy Church gathering, and our monthly seniors home services. The Rev’d Nancy Rowe, myself, and so many volunteers work together to make each service meaningful so that our faith is celebrated and strengthened.
“Messy Church has become our most important way of reaching families”
One of the innovative ways we have been proclaiming the message of Christ, has been through our monthly Messy Church. This year Messy Church at St. George’s celebrated it’s 10th Anniversary. It continues to be an excellent and innovative ministry to young families. It combines worship, teaching, and community into one package. Under Nancy’s creative leadership and with great volunteers, St. George’s proclaims the message of Christ in with a gathering that is meaningful and relevant to needs and concerns of the young families living in Georgetown. In its ten years Messy Church has become our most important way of reaching families in our community.
Celebrating ten years of Messy Church, goes hand in hand with celebrating the ministry of the Rev’d Nancy Rowe. From her beginning here doing a placement as a theological student, she has developed a full featured ministry to young families. That ministry stretched from baptism through to youth, Messy Church being one of the jewels of that ministry. Nancy has built strong relationships with parents and helped nurture their children in their baptismal ministry connecting them in new ways that fit with changing needs of our community. At the same time, Nancy has also connected with St. George’s through our regular liturgy, worship, and parish events. Nancy has become part of the parish family. Her retirement in July, will be a big change for her and us, but it is made easier know that she will remain part of our parish family and will continue to provide her experienced leadership at Messy Church. God has blessed St. George’s with her leadership and ministry.
In 2017 I celebrate the important ministry of music that is such an important part of the worship and volunteer ministry of St. George’s. I cannot thank our 9:30 choir and 11:15 singers and musicians enough. Their leadership has become even more important as we continue to be without a music director. For these talented volunteers to be able to continue to provide music leadership at worship, it has required extra effort and added challenge. Using pre-recorded accompaniment has been a both a blessing and challenge. Add to this the loss of some regular volunteers at both services, and the challenge has been doubled. I am proud to say that both groups of volunteers at our 9:30 and 11:15 services continue to give their very best to ensure our worship is joyful and sacred. Although finances are currently not available to fill the music director position, I remain hopeful that working together, we will find the leadership support that is need at both services.
“God puts the right people in the right place at the right time.”
One reason that I remain confident and trust that our music leadership needs will indeed be eventually met, is because I believe that God puts the right people in the right place at the right time.
Our the amazing completion of our parking lot project in 2017 is one example of God at work in just that way. With the leadership of our property committee, the introduction of Mr Brian Burton, and the generous donations, both historically and currently, toward the project, God put the right people in the right place at the right time. I truly believe thatGod put all the pieces in place to accomplish the improvement and complete a repair to our parking lot that has been needed since before my arrival in 2002!
Even with such a big project to tackle, the property committee and our many volunteers also helped us to accomplish and support a number of other important work to continue to maintain and keep beautiful our church building and property. Our beautiful and stately presence and welcoming appearance proclaims loudly to those who drive past the message of Jesus Christ.
“In 2017 we continued to connect and make an impact in our community.”
But just being here and appearing welcoming is not all that we do to proclaim the message of Jesus. In 2017 we continued to connect and make an impact in our community. We support the good work being done by God to help those in need, through our support for the walk for ALS, the work of the Georgetown Bread Basket, and the Christmas hamper program run locally by the Salvation Army. We also support local farmers and encourage everyone who lives in Georgetown to eat locally and healthily by supplying a great team of volunteers to prepare, pack, and distribute fruit and vegetables as part of the Halton Fresh Food Box program.
In 2017, when the local youth drop-in centres futures were threatened, St. George’s extended itself to be part of the solution to help keep them open. Through our actions in our community we are proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ.
I continue to be blessed by this community as we work together to proclaim the message of Jesus. We continue to accomplish great things by working together. Our worship and service together strengthens our faith and our bond. It fills us with joy and becomes a source of that joy to those we meet and those we minister to.
“I am fortunate to be reminded everyday of the great faith and generosity that this church community shows in Jesus Christ.”
I am fortunate to be reminded everyday of the great faith and generosity that this church community shows in Jesus Christ. Every single day, in response to the Good News we have received from Jesus Christ, people of faith in this community selflessly give back in time, talent and support to help Christ’s mission to proclaim the message continue.
Thank you for your faith and your support and may God continue to bless us and St. George’s.