Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Seeing Jesus - Even on a Vestry

[A short homily at our beginning-the-year Vestry Eucharist, Mark 1:29-39]

Mark’s gospel continues to tell the story of people who hang out with Jesus but don’t really know Jesus.  Only the demons seem to know who Jesus really is.  And they’re scared he’ll destroy them.  And 2,000 years later it's still true: You can hang out with Jesus without knowing Jesus.  That’s true for folks on Sunday, it’s true for Vestry members, and (God knows) it can be true for priests.

One of my prayers for each Vestry I serve is that someone would be able to say at the end of the 3 years on Vestry: that experience, that service, helped me see Jesus.

It’s easy not to see Jesus.  You don’t need a Vestry for that.  And God knows that having a Vestry doesn’t bring any guarantees.  But it does bring the opportunity.  It’s the opportunity for a committed community of leaders to come apart from time to time, to bring themselves, their souls and bodies, and ask the question that takes time and honesty: Jesus, where are you in all of this?

Mark’s gospel is meant to remind us: our inability to see Jesus does not indicate his absence.

Jesus is alive and present to the world, to St Christopher’s by-the-Sea, and even to vestries.  It’s easy not to see Jesus.  Anyone can do it.  But what would it take for you to say of your time on the Vestry, “It helped me see Jesus?”  (Don't laugh.  I think it can happen, and it's my prayer for this Vestry - and for you.)

What I’m asking about is the kind of commitment that you believe can shape us as a community of leaders to grow closer to Christ.

What are you personally willing to commit to this group of leaders, so that we can see Jesus?

I want to share with you 3 beginning commitments that I believe will help this Vestry see Jesus up-close:

The first commitment is represented by the number 53.  The average Episcopalian comes to church 48% of the time.  Come 53%.  Most months, it’s the difference between coming to church two Sundays a month instead of one.  (If you come more, don’t do less - be exceptional!)  But it’s simply the honest to goodness truth that you cannot see Jesus through the Vestry without participating in the life of the worshiping community that the Vestry was made to serve.  53.

The second commitment is represent by the number 7.  This is the number of days each week that I hope each of us will remember this parish and one another in prayer.  Even if it’s just for two minutes a day.  This will help you see Jesus because your prayers will open me and your vestry members to the work of the Spirit.  Your prayers will make the rest of us stronger to serve.  This commitment is the greatest gift you can give your fellow leaders.  7.

The third commitment is represented by the number 1.  If you will find one small group of believers within this faith community to commit yourself to, you will see Jesus in the way they care for you.  Maybe this is a Cursillo small group or the wisdom group, the Wednesday night prayer group, the praise band, or maybe you just need to grab a couple of friends and set a time.  But do it.  1. 

53.  7.  And 1.  These three things will help you see Jesus through your time on the Vestry.  (They will "prime" you to see Jesus.  Get it?)  And just as powerfully, these three things will help the congregation see Jesus in us.

Homework for next time:  What other commitments do you hope we as Vestry members make to this church and one another that will help this experience be what we pray it will be?