The state of our union
Passage: Mark 1:21-28; I Corinthians 8:1-13
Date: January 29, 2006
Preacher: Dr Jim Moiso
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Each year on this Sunday, I seek to give you my perspective on our life together. I am privileged to do so, to look back and ahead. If you are a newcomer, I hope you learn something of who we are and what we are about. Here are glimpses of what I see.
I celebrate the church of Jesus Christ at Westminster
this multi-faceted collection of blonds and balds, brunettes and browns, bottled and bleached, silvers and every now and then a red,
this strange wonderful band
people who would never have chosen each other
but who have been chosen by Christ Jesus to travel together in this short lifetime.
I celebrate this community, gathered in worship
clowns cavorting, drums chanting, saxophone wailing, organ's throaty sounds filling the arches,
worship in which children lead and an infant reaches for baptism,
worship in which a mime dies on a cross and eggs crack on heads,
worship in which a young wheelchaired woman rises to light the pink candle of hope,
worship quiet, meditative, anointing, healing,
worship jazzy in the courtyard,
worship energetically led by singing, dancing, acting children,
worship musically touching hearts,
worship conveying meaning and hope through youthful words,
worship connecting us live across continents and cultures with sisters and brothers,
worship feeding our spirits in stars and colors, in baptism, bread and cup.
I celebrate this community, gathered in worship,
open to the Holy, seeking connection, rightness, wholeness of heart and life.
I celebrate this part of the body of Christ, often here and there,
women sharing profoundly on the lip of the fabulous Colombia gorge,
the choir singing, laughing, eating, and praying itself into greater faith,
men letting down normal defenses in order to connect and grow at the Sandy River,
children and adults playing and learning together on the Pacific's edge,
elders first and now others being shaped by God during a weekend away,
teens at Magruder and Canby, young people at church camps.
I celebrate Westminster, here and there,
connecting with the holy One, encountering the living Christ.
I celebrate this congregation, growing in Christ,
stretched by professors Rohrbaugh, Dempsy, Long and Borg,
unafraid of questions like innocent suffering,
open to the world: Israel/Palestine, hunger, sexuality,
seeking perspectives of faith in medicine, environment, lifestyle.
space where one can affirm Jesus as Lord and Savior
and another wonder how Jesus died for our sins;
space, so Republicans and Democrats can pray together;
space where a group of parents of gays and lesbians can begin to feel safe,
even as others may wonder about the homosexual lifestyle.
I celebrate the community of Westminster,
in which God continues to transform our self-centeredness into generosity:
more than 2,000 meals prepared and served through our partner, Grace Episcopal;
hundreds of times, the lowest and the least receiving gracious welcome and physical nourishment through Pan y Vida in Bogota, Colombia;
hospitality, safety extended through your ministry at Operation Nightwatch;
at risk young women giving birth to drug free babies because of us;
more than 500 gifts piled into the Great Hall, destined for neighbors at Christmas;
God only knows the number of children and adults given needed nourishment through the thousands of pounds of our donated food;
a young Cuban pastor and his wife en route to doctoral studies in Brazil, eventually to teach at a seminary in Cuba, helping to transform that nation, because of us;
volunteers, responding in ministry here and in Cambodia, Colombia, Honduras.
I celebrate this congregation, focused on the future,
eager to get on with facilities assessment and hopes for improvement;
willing to open ourselves to God's Spirit in strategic planning;
desiring to know financial possibilities to undergird and move us forward;
reaching the first million dollars in endowment funds;
increasing operating budget pledges by 10%;
approving a tight slightly out-of-balance budget because we have ministries to accomplish and because we trust the future.
I celebrate this congregation, not resting on its past,
not content with its present,
but pressing ahead, eager to see where God will lead,
eager to be God's people in whatever lies ahead.
I celebrate the people of Jesus Christ at Westminster,
where candles are lit in the darkest hours,
where hope replaces despair,
where healing is expected, pain alleviated, hands held, laughter shared,
where each person is treasured as unique, valuable, loved by God,
where just good is not good enough, not for God or God's purposes,
where staff members work beyond their hours because they believe in their calling in Christ, because they believe in you,
where God is vitally at work, connecting and growing us, propelling us into glad community and faithful service,
where the future is open, because it belongs to God.
I celebrate this community of faith that is Westminster,
not because we are better than others,
not because we are more deserving of Christ's love,
surely not because we have arrived.
I celebrate the people of Westminster
because of the privilege we have of life together, in all of its messiness;
because God in Christ has somehow chosen us in all of our humanness;
because exciting newness is happening here in small groups, on retreats, elsewhere;
because Christ's love is on the move among us and through us mysteriously, wonderfully;
because God is not finished with us yet.
I celebrate this community of faith,
a fabulous way of life God has chosen for us,
a wondrous gift God has given to us in Jesus Christ.
O celebrate what God has so generously given.
Give yourself anew to the One who has called you, called us by name,
to the One who has brought you into new life through the waters of baptism,
to the One who joins you to others in community and in faith,
to the One who will receive you at your life's end.
O celebrate this God we know in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.