This year our annual meeting also falls in the second phase of our stewardship campaign, the phase when we focus on the stewardship of our time and talent. So part of our stock-taking is asking ourselves, what are our talents? What gifts has God given us as a community? And how is God calling us to allocate our time? What is God calling us to do with our collective gifts?
Paul’s first letter to the Christians in Corinth is all about that question. Last week I preached on what could be the thesis for much of the letter. “To each has been given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (12:7).
Paul continues that thought in the passage assigned for this morning.
He begins, “Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the member of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into the one body.”
Near the end of the passage, Paul adds, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
That picture of them is also a picture of us, a picture of us at our best. We are the body of Christ. As individual members, we have different gifts. We have different roles in the body. But we are also united as one body. And we work together for the common good.
What does that look like at Saint David’s?
Our annual reports give us a kind of snapshot of who we are. Forget for a moment the specific contents of the individual reports. What immediately strikes me about the reports taken as a group is how many different people are involved.
We have something like thirty reports by seventeen people. In addition to those seventeen, another ten people are listed on our leadership page. That is twenty-seven different people. Virtually all twenty-seven work with still other people to accomplish their different ministries. That adds up to a high percentage of our membership.
A lot of people work hard and work together to keep Saint David’s going. We should give thanks to God and to each other for all that hard work, all that faith and dedication, all those gifts being put to use for our common good.
We can see the same thing if we look at our worship this morning.
Cindy printed the bulletin, and the Seavers folded it.
The Altar Guild makes the altar look great. This week it was Jean Carpenter and Cynthia Fleming.
The Music Team chooses the music, and the Praise Team, who you can see at the back of the Church, practices it so that we can make a joyful noise to the Lord, without me having to make too much of that noise. You should all thank them after the service!
Readers and Eucharistic Ministers and acolytes and ushers all keep the worship itself moving along.
The Children’s Ministry crew are teaching our children now and will provide child care during our annual meeting.
After our service, Ellen Rendrick and the Coffee Hour Team provide a little something for us to eat to sustain us through the annual meeting.
After the annual meeting, Jude and Sue will deliver communion and flowers to people who were not able to make it this morning.
By my count, that is at least seventeen people who are necessary for our worship just this morning. Next week it will be still more different people.
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 blessed to have each other. We could not do what we do without each other. Truly 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!
Much of what I have said applies not only to our different gifts—of service and hospitality and music and care and so on—but also to how we use them. We use our gifts in worship. We use our gifts to support our life together. We use our gifts to help each other. All of that is the common good.
Our gospel reading reminds us that we are also called to use our gifts to advance God’s kingdom in the world.
This is Jesus’ very first sermon in the Gospel of Luke. 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.”
That is Jesus’ mission statement. And that means it is also our mission statement. God’s Holy Spirit anoints us. God showers us with spiritual gifts, 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 God’s mission and that is God’s call to us.
We answer God’s call when we invite people to join us for worship or prayer or study. We answer God’s call when we pray for our nation and for our world. We answer God’s call when we are public about our faith. We answer God’s call when we do all the things we combine under the umbrella term “outreach.” And, of course, we answer God’s call when we go about our business living our Christian lives in the world.
I am proud of all the work that all of us do, and I hope you are, too.
And our Annual Meeting is an opportunity for us to pause and to reflect on what we are already doing and on what God may be calling us to do now.
Last week, I invited you all to think prayerfully about your spiritual gifts. I hope many of you did.
This week, I invite you to study our annual reports. Pray about them. Pray about the things you are already involved in. Pray about other opportunities that we have right now. Pray about things that we as a parish might be doing but are not yet doing.
It may be that you are called to drop some commitments. It may be that you are called to join ongoing ministries. It may be that you are called to help us as a Church to move into new areas of ministry.
The important thing for this week is to ask the question and trust that God will give you an answer. If we can each do that, then together we can move with confidence and faith into the future, following God’s lead and answering God’s call.
For that opportunity, and for each of you and for the many gifts you have, I give thanks to God.
In the name of Christ, who calls us to follow him and who gives us the grace to do so. Amen.
Passage: Luke 4:14-21