Wednesday, December 26, 2012

God showing up for us

Here is an excerpt from Bishop Paul V. Marshall's sermon on Sunday, December 23, 2012, the Fourth Sunday in Advent. As part of the annual Episcopal visitation, the parish celebrated Canon Andrew Gerns' thirtieth anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. 

What makes an invitation inviting? I think it boils down to who sends it, where it is, and what’s it about. All three boxes are checked for me today. Fr. Gerns is a special friend, a thirtieth ordination anniversary is a rare testament to faithfulness, and it is at Trinity Church.

Start with the “where.” I wonder if you know much your parish contributes to the lives of other Episcopalians in this diocese. In addition to your service to your own community, your feeding and your habitat program, your sisters and brothers here provide diocesan leadership in the Standing Committee, Stewardship, Evangelism, Congregational Renewal, the Daughters of the King, and the Liturgical Commission, just off the top of my head. Two of you are giving many, many hours to the repair and rebuilding of parish life at St. Stephen’s, Whitehall, an enormous task that will take some years. For all of this I am deeply grateful, and I am trying to express that by the most basic thing we can do as humans: showing up for each other. In the long run, of course, what we celebrate at this time of year is God showing up for us, and to that I will return.

Canon Gerns is quite well, thank you, and is my last surviving friend from back in the day, so I am not going to eulogize him in any embarrassing way, but I still have all the pictures from the 70s, and they can be bought. I can tell you without embarrassing him that that he is a faithful pastor to many, a crafty leader in diocesan matters, a wise adviser, a leader and shaper of thought in the Episcopal Church itself. We are honored as a diocese to have his presence. A recent book on how to do church communications credits him, not quite for inventing the internet, but for being among those who best made that internet serve the Gospel of Christ and keep on doing it....

...So I dare to suggest that to honor Fr. Gerns by giving school furniture for Sudanese who have absolutely nothing, just like the completion of your Habitat for Humanity commitment now underway, is to honor a faithful and committed priest. Much more, such acts demonstrate that we get it about his ministry, and are ever expanding the room we make in our hearts for the Christ child who brings us Life Itself.

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