Monday, November 21, 2011

A Short Invitation on Consecration Sunday

Late Monday night, I got back from CREDO (thank you for your prayers, and your card; it made my day) a clergy wellness workshop put on by the larger church.  A lot of good learning, sharing, challenging, growing, and one simple thing that is no less important: a lot of traveling.  Five flights in all.  Corpus Christi to Houston to Atlanta to Asheville.  That was on the way out.  Asheville to Houston to Corpus Christi coming back.  Lots of travel.  And not just the flying.  During the Health and Wellness portion of the week, we were given complimentary pedometers in order to count our steps each day.  The goal is 10,000 steps.  One Rector texted her associate, who had stayed back at home: “They gave us pedometers,” she said, “and I got one for you.  Oh yeah, and I’m learning to assert my authority.  You’re in for it now.  Look out!”  

Plane flights and counted steps, lots of travel.

St Christopher’s, of course, is the patron saint of travelers.  The legend holding that Christopher encountered Christ in his day job helping travelers cross a hazardous river.  Oddly, though, it isn’t St Christopher that I think of when I strap in on the runway and say a quick prayer.  Instead, I think of St Francis.  

Why St Francis?  Truthfully, I’ve remembered St Francis so many times as I’ve boarded airplanes and said a quick prayer to God that I sometimes have to remind myself why.  St Francis - because the story goes that as he was planting flowers in the monastic courtyard one day, a visitor approached him and asked him what he would do if he knew that God would take his life in the next ten minutes.  What would he do - St Francis - knowing that these minutes were his last?  St Francis looked up from his work, thoughtful, and said, “I suppose I would finish planting this next row of flowers.”

I know, I know - lots of things more likely to bring about death in this life than airplanes, but maybe because of the vulnerability of sitting in row 14 of that thin metal tube flying through the air, I think of St Francis.

What if you knew that these were your last ten minutes?
What kind of work gives you peace of the St Francis kind?  

When you sort out your life into piles - the chores, the delights, the thanksgivings, the regrets - when you think about the distractions and detours and destinations of your life - what are the matters that matter to you, and how do break the pull of the orbit of the mundane and live into the things that matter, daily?

At the end of your mortal life, if this was it, what are the matters that matter to you?

The reading from Zephaniah this morning reminds us that there are lots of matters that don’t matter; mortality can help us identify them.  And we need help from time to time letting go of them.  Thus the phrase, “You can’t take it with you.”  As resurrection people, however, we know that there are also some things you can take with you; they just aren’t the usually things folks tend to hold on to.  Love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, forgiveness, self-control, joy.  The character, the disposition, of the People of God.  These things are not lost in the economy of God's Kingdom.

Today is Consecration Sunday, the day that we collect our pledge cards for 2012 and, as a parish family, ask God to bless them.  Our theme these past few weeks has been ‘Growing Generous Hearts’.  Our guiding verse has been from Proverbs 11: “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer.”  Along the way, we have observed that giving opens us up as people to the movement of God in our lives.  We have also observed that generosity itself is a gift of God: we can give because God has given us everything, even his Son.  To say that we open ourselves to the Spirit in giving and that God is a giving God is to say that generosity is part of the image of God planted in each one of us.  It’s what we were made for.  

It’s a matter that matters.

This morning we’ll be rearranging some things in our worship to give each of us time to reflect and respond.  There will be no confession, no creed, this morning.  In a moment, the lay reader will lead us in some reflective prayers to open a short time of quiet.  This is a chance to respond, to fill out your pledge card, if you haven’t already.  You have a pledge card in your bulletin.  A

If I were to brave some unsolicited counsel, it would be this: Relax.  Take time to breathe.  Reflect on where God has been moving in your spiritual life.  Where are your blessings?  Reflect also on what you hope God might be hoping for you.  How is he calling you now?  

Lastly, if you’re visiting St Christopher’s this morning - and just lucked out to meet us on Stewardship Sunday (and the day the A/C is out) - or if you’re not ready to call St Christopher’s home in the form of a pledge - feel no pressure.  Don’t fill out a card.  But take the time to reflect.  It’s a gift meant for you.  A gift born of the conviction that God has made each of us in his image, and that the image of God is generous, giving, kind.  We believe in the call of a generous God because he feeds us here.  The call if for all of us.  The time is for you.

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