But clearly the Holy Spirit has been swirling around us because the assigned readings for today are perfect for our annual meeting. Our readings for this morning remind us of who we are called to be and what we are called to do. Annual meeting is an opportunity for us to take stock of how we are doing on exactly those questions.
Start with who we are.
In First Corinthians, Paul describes the Church as the very body of Christ. Paul says, “Just as the body [here he means a normal human body] is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ,” so it is with the Church which is Christ’s spiritual body.
What Paul is saying is that we here at Saint David’s are joined with each other and with Christians from all over the world and all through time into the one body of Christ through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. And just as every separate part of our bodies are necessary for us to be healthy, so each of us as members of Christ’s body are necessary for the healthy functioning of the body as a whole. Each of us brings our different gifts to the body of Christ, and together we do what needs to be done, always with God’s help.
In this passage, Paul is offering us a picture of who we are in Christ, a picture of us at our best. Paul mentions apostles, prophets, and teachers. We have wardens and vestry members and lay leaders, which we are just about to elect. Paul mentions deeds of power, and gifts of healing, and speaking in tongues. We talk about worship and hospitality and fellowship and service. But just as Paul says, we who have different spiritual gifts come together to do all the many things we need to do for our common life.
Think for a minute about our annual reports. Most of you have not had a chance to read them yet, but I hope you will. They are impressive. Two things about them immediately strike me. First, the range of what we do, the wide diversity of tasks that make up our life together. And, second, the sheer number of people who are necessary to accomplish all those tasks.
As just one example, think about our worship this morning.
Sue put the bulletin together. Ellen and Lenny copied it. Beulah folded it. Virginia made slides for the announcements and the service based on it.
The Altar Guild keeps the altar looking great. This week it was Diane Seaver.
The Music Team chooses the music, and the Choir leads us in making a joyful noise to the Lord. These days even I make a little of that noise!
Readers and Eucharistic Ministers and ushers all keep our worship itself moving along.
The Children’s Ministry crew are teaching our children right now.
After our service, Ellen and the Coffee Hour Team will provide a little something for us to eat to sustain us through our annual meeting.
By my count, that is more than twenty people who are necessary for our worship just this morning. Next week it will be different people filling those same roles.
Here is the point. It is simple. A LOT of people are involved in what we do. No single one of us—certainly not I—have all the gifts that it takes for us to worship, let alone for us to do all the other things we do.
We are truly blessed to have each other. We could not do what we do without each other. We are the body of Christ, and our members share their individual gifts for the common good, for the health of the body. Thanks be to God for that!
But of course there is more. Our life together is incredibly important to me personally. But our life together is not an end in itself so much as a means to an end. Our life together has as its purpose the fulfilling of Christ’s mission in the world. And that is what we see in our Gospel reading.
This is Jesus’ very first sermon in the Gospel of Luke, and it is like his mission statement. Jesus says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And, as Jesus tells the people in Nazareth, that mission is being fulfilled in their hearing, right before their eyes. That is what Christ came to do. That is what Christ commissions us to do.
Ever since Jesus said those words, Christian people have continued to work on his mission. Today, we who are Christ’s body in this time and place, continue to work on fulfilling Christ’s mission.
God’s Holy Spirit anoints us so that we can follow the example of Jesus, so that we can work at the same things Jesus worked at. Like Jesus, we are called to bring good news to the poor, and release to the captives, and light to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed, and the good news of God’s grace and favor to all people. That is Christ’s mission, and that is Christ’s call to us.
We can’t solve all the problems of the world. Not even Christ himself did that!! But we can, and we do, answer Christ’s call to mission in the world. We answer Christ’s call whenever we invite people to join us for worship or prayer or study. We answer Christ’s call whenever we pray for our nation and for our world. We answer Christ’s call whenever we are public about our faith. We answer Christ’s call whenever we do all the things we combine under the umbrella term “outreach.” And, of course, we answer Christ’s call whenever we go about our Christian lives in the world.
I am proud of all the work that we do in service to Christ’s mission, and I hope you are, too.
So, on this annual meeting day, one big thing we do is pause to give thanks to God for each other and for the privilege of joining together to do our part in fulfilling Christ’s mission in the world.
But on this day, we also pause to reflect prayerfully on what Christ is calling us to do now. Are there things we need to let go? Are there things we need to take up? What does it mean to serve Jesus in 2019? What do we need to do to draw closer to Christ this year? How can we best proclaim and live out the year of the Lord’s favor?
We will work on those questions at our annual meeting and through the rest of this year. For now, I thank God for the opportunity to serve Christ with you in this place. And I ask Christ to bless our efforts to be his people and to fulfill his mission.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.