“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.
Our first reading is from the prophet Amos and includes that wonderful line “let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” It comes in the context of a prophetic condemnation, a charge to the people of Israel who have not done what God has asked of them, and it is a powerful reminder for us of the call to live lives of righteousness and faith. For a special convention focused on our diocesan budget, it is perhaps especially important as a reminder that our work with the financial resources entrusted to us is not about us—it is about God, and we are called not to be comfortable, but faithful, to do God’s work, with justice, compassion, and mercy.
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.