Sunday, July 18, 2010

Saying Good Bye to A Ministry and Friends at Christ Church Greenwich

Let me just say,
it feels great to be here with all of you this morning.

Somehow I can not believe this will be my last time
to stand here in this great pulpit,
but it’s safe to say, it could be a quite while
before I am back to preach.

Nevertheless, it always feels good to be in this
beautiful sacred space.
I will miss it.

I have to admit I am already wondering
what Christmas Eve is going to feel like in Florida.
It just won’t be the same…

Today is Sad for me in a lot of ways.
Sad because I love the people of this church so much.

Cheri and I could never ask for better friends here…
especially the distant members of her Smith family tree --
Clawson and all your family,
and more Smith’s - Scott and Lynn.

But, anyone who knows me, knows that I love all people.
Not just Smiths…
I am an extrovert off the charts, sometimes…
Cheri, Emma and Ella will tell you,
I enjoy talking, maybe too much…
I hear - “can we go now!”
Happy clergy families = 2 cars.

It has been both a blessing and privilege
to serve along side you.
I feel like I have learned a lot…grown in so many ways.

One of my brothers who is about 12 years older than me
and a banker in Mobile, said –
“Oh, this Church business will be good for you.
It’s easy work.
You only have one book to read,
and it’s a one-day work week!”

I said,
actually, Episcopalians have two books…

Nevertheless, I will miss you all.
Cheri, Emma and Ella join me in saying
thank you for our time together.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about our time…
the baptisms, weddings, confirmation, divorces, funerals,
staff meetings, chaplain at Belle Haven.
It’s been a long ride hasn’t it…

Thank goodness for my three-years of CPE chaplaincy training
at Greenwich Hospital.

But through it all,
to follow in the path of other assistants like
Sydney, Terry Ellsbury, Sandy Stainer, Al Votow,
Ted Babcock, Lee Walker, and Pam Strobel, etc…
has been a real honor for me.

But let me just say this from MY heart,
there has never been anyone
who is more thankful to God than I am
for these last seven years of my life here.

Our girls have grown up in a comfortable
clergy home at 8 Ridge Road,
benefited from the Cos Cob School,
our friends in the Cos Cob community.

Where, Cheri says,
we have been more embedded than the Russian spies!
ALL will be forever a priceless gift…

Now, speaking of friends,
we meet three of Jesus’ closest in Luke’s classic story…

Mary and Martha of Bethany and their brother Lazarus.
I read recently that some scholars now believe
Lazarus was “the Beloved Disciple” at the foot of the cross.
Of course, we don’t know this…

But, what we do know is this --
Jesus makes it very clear to ALL Martha’s –
past and present,
stop the worrying!

He says, we are “worried and distracted by many things.”
Boy, that’s the truth, isn’t it?

Stop. Settle down and listen,
especially to those you love.

Even St. Paul jumps into this…
and says, “Do not be anxious,”
especially, the men and women
who are trying to work out the practicalities
of living the Faith in a hostile world,
and among people who believe religion and
a personal relationship with God
is a total waste of time.

I can’t even begin to count the number of funerals I have done
where I see such an emptiness in certain loved ones
who appear to have no experience or interest in a life of faith.

It’s like they have been transported to a foreign land,
with no language, feelings, or means to express
human pain and grief
to a Living, and Loving God.

There is a Richard Dawkins, blankness which is sad.

Unfortunately, religion in this post-modern, post-Christian world
is often viewed by some people as untrustworthy.
Maybe in some cases, with just cause!
Nevertheless, there is a vast sea of emptiness in our complex world.
My hope is we can now move beyond distractions
and into a more sacred non-anxious place,
called un-conditional Love.

There is a clear task ahead for us Episcopalians…
we can not mess this thing up!

We are in prime position to welcome seekers.
Seekers who are looking for a new way forward,
away from hatred, judgmental religious anger,
into a Faith/Church filled with big welcoming tents
just like Abraham at Mamre.

St Paul said, “The Lord is very near to us.”
What this means for 21st century Christians is this --
our hearts must be fixed where true joy is to be found,
and when “we make our requests known to God
in prayer and with thanksgiving,”
the peace of God will be ours.

Mary was right! Peace is still possible…

But let us act NOW and move forward in ministry,
both at St Simon’s and right here at Christ Church
to gain confidence,
live in love,

because underneath each one of us
will always…ALWAYS be
God’s everlasting arms.

May God bless you in this Journey.
And - I’ll see ya down that road!

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