We had a wonderful Annual Meeting, or as I like to call it, “annual celebration” on Sunday. I hope you will take the time to read the Annual Report which contains so much good news about how we have reconnected with God and one another in 2022 and been renewed in faith and in our life together. You can also watch my sermon as well as the Senior Warden’s Children’s/Youth, Grace Outreach, Treasurer’s, and Stewardship reports in the recording of Sunday’s service. I encourage you to do so, as there is much good news to celebrate in the life of our congregation!
On Sunday as well as in last week’s e-news, I introduced the theme, “Let Us Dream” for 2023. Actually, Sarah Neidhoefer brought us this theme on Epiphany, when she pointed toward the magi’s courageous receptivity to their dream from God, which saved the young Messiah’s life. Annual Celebration Sunday brought us the opportunity to reflect on God’s dream for us as encapsulated in the beatitudes of Matthew 5. God’s dream turns the world’s ideas of blessedness on their head; Jesus says: “blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers, the pure in heart, the persecuted, those who hunger and thirst for justice.” We also heard the beatitudes in t he Message paraphrase. I talked about how, in the limited human perspective, people in these situations are considered are anything but “blessed;” yet this is the way that Jesus offers his disciples— a way that can lead to life for the whole world. We heard the beatitudes’ echo in Micah 6:8: “What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God?” Justice, loving kindness, and humility, or as one commentator summarized, hopefulness, compassion, and simplicity, are the golden thread that runs through beatitude living. I gave examples of how I see our Grace community living these out, and pointed out that they are both descriptive and aspirational. When Whitney Leblanc asked for a theme for the windows of the bell tower, Micah 6:8 was what I offered him. Whitney completed the justice window— so I guess we’re 1/3 of the way there! Living as individuals and a community the values of simplicity, hopefulness, and compassion—living our lives and existing as a church community primarily for others—provides the fertile soil in which God’s dream can take root and grow.
Welcome to 2023–let us dream!