The Hopes and Fears of All the Years

For our Dirty Sexy Ministry family, we thought you'd like to read the sermon preached by one-half (Mary) at the other half's (Laurie) installation as rector and the Celebration of the Ministry of St. Michael's.  We hope you can feel the love, because it was a joyful, amazing night.  And yes, we had cupcakes.  And champagne.  

“The hopes and fears of all these years are met in thee tonight...” Indeed.  This evening St. Michael’s installs her new rector.  The journey has been long: you have examined your parish, looking at your strengths and weaknesses.  You have worked toward developing a profile and putting out what you wanted in a rector.  You did your search.  You consulted with your bishop and canon to the ordinary.  At last, the rector arrived.  Now the journey begins again...  The relationship begins for real.
With hopes and fears:  What is Laurie like?  Does she get us?  Will she love us?  Will she hate us?  Do we get her?  Will we love Laurie?  Will we hate Laurie?  How is this all going to turn out?
Aaah the fears of all the years...
You are just beginning your ministry together.  But what is ministry?  What is it that Laurie is supposed to do?  What is expected of you, St. Michael’s Church?  The answer is so simple: love one another.  A simple command, so obvious, and yet...
You are to love one another.  You are no longer servant and master.  You are friends.  Or at least you are to treat each other as friends.  Can you do it?
How do you love someone you just met?  How do you keep loving someone year after year?  Will love mean that somehow St. Michael’s will never encounter another problem, issue, disaster?
Logically we answer no.  Love does not mean never having to say you are sorry.  Love means always having to say you are sorry.  Love means deciding day in and day out that you will treat the other with respect and care whether or not you feel it.  Like I said, love is simple but...
Love is simple but not easy.  Loving can be simple but never easy, fraught with good intentions and lousy follow through.  Life is a complicated and difficult thing.  Helping St. Michael’s Church grow and express its ministry to the world will be complicated and difficult.  
There are vestry meetings and shortfalls in budgets.  There are arguments about liturgical styles and customs.  There are classes to teach, people to visit, and gospels to preach.  There will be arguments.
Lord have mercy, there will be arguments.  If only church membership and budgets would grow on arguments, but alas...  The church does not grow on arguments.  The church grows despite arguments and disagreements.  The church grows because no matter what we love.
No matter what, we love.  No matter what, God loves us.  God loved us first, giving us that first taste.  That first taste of love that will not be recreated in gimmicks or programs or meetings or good intentions but only when we love.
The church grows in our ministry, a ministry centered on the very foundation of the world, expressed one night on the night before he died for us, when he took bread, blessed it and brake it and gave it to his brothers and sisters and said: “Take and eat this, this is my body given for you, do this in remembrance of me.”
“Do this in remembrance of me...”  God says: Love in remembrance of me because that is how I live in you.  Come together and share your bread, your heart, and I am in the very midst of you, transforming your hopes and fears into a glorious banquet of love.
St. Michael’s, Laurie, this is your night to begin.  This is your night to begin that ministry started at the foundation of the world when our God first loved, loving us into life.  The ministry of St. Michael’s, the ministry of Laurie Brock are wrapped together in the simple package of love, remember that in remembrance of him.


Alex said…
God bless you all.
Robley H said…
Mary's a writer as well as a priest. :-)

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