19 February 2018

"Proclaiming the Good News of God" - Annual Meeting Sermon

Chetwynd Shared Ministry
February 18, 2018
Scripture:  Mark 1:9-15

(Note:  We had our Annual Meeting today, and it was integrated in to the worship service.  This means that the sermon is shorter than usual, and is directed towards the Annual Meeting.)

Today is the first Sunday of Lent, and on the first Sunday of Lent, the readings usually focus on the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness; but somehow that part of the gospel reading didn’t seem quite appropriate for the Annual Meeting.

So instead, I want to look at the beginning and the end of today’s reading from Mark – the part that comes before and after Jesus is tempted in the wilderness.

But first, let’s begin with the premise that we, as the church, are the body of Christ in our world.  We are called to be the hands and feet and eyes and ears and heart of Christ wherever we go.  We can’t do it alone – none of us is Jesus after all – but together, led by the Holy Spirit, we are constantly being transformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of Christ.

And what does this mean?  In the reading from Mark, when Jesus came out of the wilderness, he went about proclaiming the good news of God.

Now when we proclaim the good news of God, we may do that with words, but it doesn’t necessarily involve words.  Proclaiming the good news of God might look like the Care Team putting together and delivering Christmas baskets to the residents of Little Prairie Haven, Surerus Place, and the extended care wing at the hospital.  Proclaiming the good news of God might look like inviting a friend or neighbour who is struggling with the holidays to attend a Longest Night Service in the week leading up to Christmas.  Proclaiming the good news of God might look like a silent auction to support the local women’s shelter.  Proclaiming the good news of God might look like inviting a neighbour to attend bible study.  Proclaiming the good news of God might look like regularly attending Council meetings in order to make sure that the church continues to work as the body of Christ.  Proclaiming the good news of God might look like gathering faithfully to worship every Sunday morning even when it would be easier to sleep in; letting the world know that we trust an alternative narrative to the one that the world tells us – a narrative of hope.

And this is who and what we are called to be as the church.  We are called to be Christ’s presence in our world, proclaiming the good news of God in all of the different ways that we do.  This is the work or the mission that God has called us to – the little piece of God’s overall mission that Chetwynd Shared Ministry is called to live in to.

And part of the good news is that we don’t have to do it alone.  God is with us, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, in all that we do.  We are carrying out God’s mission, and it is the Holy Spirit who empowers and enables us to carry out this mission.  Just as the Holy Spirit was with Jesus in his baptism, with Jesus in the wilderness, and with Jesus when he was proclaiming the good news of God, the Holy Spirit is always with us.

As we reflect back on the year of 2017 as Chetwynd Shared Ministry, I invite you to consider how we have been led by the Holy Spirit over the past year.  Where can we see the work of our congregation fitting in to the overall mission of God?  What new adventures is the Holy Spirit going to lead us on in the year ahead?

And always remember God’s voice, reminding us that we are God’s beloved children; and that God is pleased with us simply because we are God’s children.  Thanks be to God.

Let us pray:
Holy God, who is love,
            we thank you for the past year.
We thank you for the opportunity
to be your people here in Chetwynd;
we thank you for your guidance in the past;
and we ask you for your presence in the year ahead.
Help us to discern who you are calling us to be,
            where you are calling us to go,
            and what you are calling us to do.
Strengthen our faith,
            so that we know that you are always with us,
                        even to the end of time.
We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ,
            the one true head of your church.

(Though this is a picture of our building - before it was buried in snow! - I truly believe that the Church is the people, not the building.  At our annual meeting, we remember, celebrate, and plan for the work of the Church as we carry out our piece of God's mission.)

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