And welcome to our annual meeting Sunday.
In the past, it has been my practice to give a sort of “state of the church” address as the sermon for an annual meeting Sunday.
I usually take the time to reflect on where we’ve bene in the last year.
What we’ve accomplished,
What we still want to work on,
And consider some dreams for the future.
It’s quite similar to a president’s State of the Union.
(Although not nearly as long: and with no references to political parties!)
But I will say this:
Despite all of the political turmoil in our country:
The state of the union is on the one hand, the presidents explaination of the condition of the nation,
On the other hand: it’s meant to be uniting.
That is after all, the root of the word “union”
To join together.
And today, our church is particularily gathered together as a union.
It’s what Jesus is talking about in the Gospel reading today:
“A house divided cannot stand.”
We must be united.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that we always have to agree:
But we do need to take some time:
With ALL the members of our community,
And reflect on the state of our union.
The state of our church.
And this is precisely what annual meetings are for.
It’s an opportunity for us to all come together:
Not only the vestry, or other congregational leaders:
So please: If you are able to stay after our worship today,
I’m also very aware
That this is my first annual meeting with you all.
And I’ve hardly been here for three months:
Making it slightly difficult to do a traditional, “state of the church address.”
For this reason, Dan, our extremely faithful senior warden will lead us in our meeting today,
And I can promise you that next year I will be much more equipped!
But its also important to note that I do have SOME things to say about the State of the church.
And let me tell you:
The state of the church is GOOD.
The state of St. John’s church is GOOD.
After MONTHS: Actually over a YEAR:
Of not being able to worship in person:
Here we are.
And not only that:
But a GOOD number of us are here.
Before I say any more:
I want to be clear that what we do is not about the numbers.
Church is never about how many people attend.
Having a good amount of people attending can be a sign of health and vitatlity:
And that is GOOD.
The statistitians report that churches can expect to be at only 80% of their pre-covid attendance by this fall.
It’s June: and we’re already over our 80%.
As a matter of fact:
We had the same number in attendance on Easter Sunday this year, than on Easter 2019.
(Where most churches saw a significant decrease in attendance).
This is GOOD.
And not ONLY that:
But the amount of children here at St. John’s is ASTOUNDING.
I’m certain we host more children here than most congregations in our diocese.
This is GOOD
And not only THAT:
But the welcome and hospitality to people of all ages in this congregation is incredible. We are not just a church for the young. And we are not just a church for the old.
We are a church for EVERYONE. Where everyone is welcomed.
And I say this not just as your priest:
But also as a parent.
I have attended many congregations where my children were not welcome.
(or at least: were not welcome to be children: and instead expected to be tiny adults).
The welcome, care, and PATIENCE that you’ve shown my children means the world to me.
And I’m certain it does for every other parent and grandparent too.
And this is GOOD.
Your commitment to the larger New London Community is one of ministry and service:
One that most churches wouldn’t even be able to imagine.
Through the thrift store, and the food pantry, you feed, clothe, and care for hundreds.
This is GOOD.
And not only that:
But our healing prayer center just opened!
Your firm and unshakable belief that God can and does heal is powerful:
Making a difference in the lives of those we love, and the lives of those that we don’t even know.
Isn’t this GOOD?
And I’ll be honest:
Most of the things that I’ve worked on with congregations in the past:
You already have figured out.
All of that goodness that I talked about above is part of what drew me to you.
But not because it means that we can just sit back, relax, and revel in all our goodness.
Because here’s the thing:
There is absolutely NO limit on God’s Goodness.
Today’s collect opens by saying:
“O God, from whom all good proceeds.”
ALL GOOD proceeds from God.
And there’s no limit.
No point at which there couldn’t be more.
So what Goodness do you still long for?
What Goodness can we give out to the world?
The church’s annual meeting is a time where we take care of some of the “business” that needs to get done.
But it’s also an excellent time to dream and reflect:
To dream and reflect on the possibilities of God’s INFINATE goodness:
And how we can be a part of it.
Nothing is off the table.
We wont be able to do everything:
But we can consider anything.
We wont be successful at everything we try:
But we can try anything.
I wont know how to do everything!
But I’ll learn more about anything.
Will you join me?
Can we come together as the family that we are:
The undivided house that we are:
The UNION that we are:
To explore new options,
Ideas, and adventures for us and for all the people of God?
But one more thing:
We don’t have to figure it all out today.
We CAN’T figure it all out today.
But today marks a beginning for us:
To begin consciously thinking, exploring, and praying for what’s next for us.
What new good things we can be and do.
And there is no point when its all figured out:
When it’s all finished:
Because there is no end or limit to God’s goodness.
Enjoy the weekly sermons at anytime.