“For ancient Israel, Passover was God’s saving event, in which Moses led the people Israel out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt into the Promised Land. For Christians, Christ is God’s “saving event” calling us, leading us, out of bondage to the slavery of sin and death into the light of God’s love and life, love and life, here, now, today, in our world and in our lives. And we today, and our world, are desperately in need of this saving event.”
Christmas came into my mother’s dull room in a New York City nursing home last week. It is my prayer that the newborn Christ comes just as surely, and with that same heavenly light and joy that shines, that always shines, in darkness, wherever and whenever that darkness exists.
ECS is already making a meaningful and positive impact across the diocese through its education and advocacy work and through the grants it is making to address vital human needs in this part of God’s dominion. The convergence of ECS Sunday with the Second Sunday of Advent is appropriate and powerful.
Episcopal Community Services of the Diocese of New Jersey is a significant means by which we all can show our love for Jesus by tending to the sheep he has entrusted to us, and especially those who hurt most, who are most fragile and vulnerable. This third Sunday in Easter, as we proclaim the risen Lord, I pray you will join me in giving thanks for the work we are doing together through Episcopal Community Services of the Diocese of New Jersey. More important, I pray you will support the work of the Lord, our feeding the sheep and tending the flock entrusted to our care by generous with your donations and your prayers.
How often we create obstacles for one another. How often we create obstacles to the Good News of Jesus Christ. Checking in on our own behaviors is important. Today’s reading from the Letter of James offers some guidance here—“confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). It points us to humility with one another. Too often, today, humility seems in short supply.
It’s all about God…All about God and God’s grace in Jesus Christ. We are what God has made us. The good works we do, including our financial stewardship, including our giving of time and talent, we do because God made us for these, we do them by God’s grace as our thankful response to the love God has so abundantly and freely bestowed on us. To God be the glory in our serving. To God be the glory in our loving. To God be the glory in our giving. To God be the glory in our living and whenever that day comes, to God be the glory in our dying.
We’re human – fractured, fallen, sinful, finite human beings in need of God’s redemption and God’s love, which, thankfully, God offers us, abundantly, all the time. It’s this that allows us to stand on our feet, invites us to keep at it. Practice what you preach.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we have something worth preaching and practicing. We are a people called to offer some good to the world and society in which we live. We have what James refers to in our appointed reading for today as “the perfect law of liberty” (1:25).
Gracious and generous God, giver of all we have and hold as stewards; grant the people of this church a deep and abiding awareness that all that we have-our health, our incomes, our jobs, our talents – are gifts received from your hand. Send your Holy Spirit to help us as we swim against the rising tides of materialism and greed in our culture. Send your Holy Spirit to teach us that we make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give! Send your Holy Spirit to remind us that when we give generously and joyfully, we grow in grace and our spiritual lives are transformed as our stewardship becomes a witness to the love of Jesus Christ in our lives. We pray with grateful, thankful hearts, in the name of Jesus, the Christ…AMEN!