April 19, 2009 Second of Easter (RCL B) John 20: 19-31
The 172nd Annual Meeting of St. Andrew’s Church
Dear friends, as we certainly feel all around us still the wonderful spirit of last Sunday’s great Easter Morning celebration—echoes of brass and timpani, organ and choir, and of course the wonderful sights and sounds of our youngsters scrambling in the sunshine through the Churchyard in the festive annual egg hunt.
One of those days every year that takes so much preparation, Melanie in the office, our housekeeper Becky, our choir and all the musicians--altar guild and acolytes and layreaders and ushers and the great hospitality team, and so many more. Just such a fun and inspiring day. And lots of well-earned naps on Sunday afternoon!
So much challenging. This past year, and the painful disarray in our diocesan life and wider church, which is going to take a long time and a lot of work, to find the healing, the forgiveness, the grace in our lives to build foundations for the future. And of course the economic meltdown. Wars abroad, against a fierce and determined enemy. Moments of brokenness nearer, in our own city and neighborhood, as we experienced even in these past weeks with the shooting of our policemen just up the hill here in Stanton Heights. Lots of challenges.
Yet for me, in my mind and heart, as we moved on into the family activities of Easter Sunday—and it was so nice for us to have both Dan and Linnea home—for me, although I’m a realist, a pragmatist, I did just feel a great sense of optimism, hope, purpose, joy. I hope you shared something of that also. Not to deny any of the hard parts, any of the challenges. But to look around here, in the midst of this good old St. Andrew’s parish family, and to recognize in the midst of all those challenges, the presence of our risen Lord Jesus.
He is here: present, truly alive, with us, in word and sacrament, present in mission and stewardship and service, present in the songs we sing, in the abundant overflowing of friendship and kindness. O sons and daughters, let us sing! The King of heaven, the glorious King, o’er death andhell rose triumphing. Alleluia!
We come from so many places. As I have said so many times, when people ask me for driving directions to St. Andrew’s, I always tell them, “just follow the signs to the zoo.”
There are so many different stories that have brought us to this place. Every breed of cat! Some of us here going back years and decades and generations
--and some so recently arrived that the dust of transition hasn’t even quite settled yet.
Some have arrived in moments of excitement. Some in moments of searching and exploration in the deepest areas of faith. Some in times of joy. Some in times of brokenness. Trying to find our way, we have found our way here. And as we are here, in the midst of so many stories, the presence of our risen Lord Jesus. And that is always good news. Always good news. However we got here, certainly my prayer this day, that your life here may grow in love and peace, rich in God’s blessings.
And as a matter of fact, as we come to church this morning on the day of the Annual Meeting in the 172nd year of this parish, with all those generations behind us looking on, all the way back to 1837, and with the sense of generations yet to come, our children and our children’s children, I want to take as my text for this morning, to highlight, to lift up over us, this from John 20: 20, this moment on the evening of the first Easter, the disciples hiding out in fear in that Upper Room where only a few days before they had shared that Last Supper with him. Fear of arrest, confusion about what will happen next, the impossible stories of the women. And then, there he is, here he is, at that same table, with them now.
His greeting. Peace. Shalom. And when he had said this, he showed them his hand and his side. And this is my text: Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Just to hear that again: they were glad. Glad to see him. In his presence, their hearts were lifted up.
If in the midst of so much we are glad here this morning, if there is joy in our hearts, if there is a sense of health and forward movement in our congregational life, if we feel excited about the work we share, let it be, friends, because we see him here. Our Savior, the marks of the Cross testifying to his costly gift of a love so deep, so broad, so high, unexpected, unearned. Jesus himself, and no one else.
That we open our eyes to his presence, our ears to his word, our hands and our heart to be with him in his ministry and his compassion. 172 years of life, generations of men and women, boys and girls, baptisms and weddings and funerals, potluck suppers and festive receptions, tutoring and shelter meal preparation, wonderful singing, learning.
We’re going to get together in a few minutes to look back over the previous year, to talk about our congregational life, to celebrate all that it means for us to be a part of the family of St. Andrew’s. Let it be all for him, that we are glad in his presence. To know here his blessing, and to serve him every day.