In the name of the Creator, the Redeemer, and the ever present Spirit. Amen.
“Indeed, God did not send the son into the world to condemn the world, but in
order that the world might be saved through him.”
This verse, John 3:17, is often overlooked for its more popular preceding line
about God sending his only begotten son and blah, blah, blah. But the two verses
really go hand in hand, as the second one explains WHY Jesus was sent to earth. It
wasn’t to wreak God’s vengeance on the wicked, or to hand pick those people
who would be saved, or to declare that one country is better than another, but to
save THE WORLD.
That was Jesus’ calling from God, his ministry, and his mission.
Yesterday at the Vestry Retreat, we discussed how serving on the vestry is a
calling from God to ministry, and that ministry is the church’s mission. By
accepting nomination and election to the vestry, we accept this calling, and
commit to bringing the mission to fruition.
Here at Grace, our mission is to welcome, support, and serve ALL God's people.
There are NO exceptions made in that mission statement. Much like how God
sent his son to save the world, we are called to love one another as God loves us;
to love our neighbors as ourselves. As our Presiding Bishop always says, if it’s not
about love, it’s not about God.
As part of our retreat, we took a look back to where Grace was 6 years ago, when
Rev. Deb first came to be Rector. We looked at how the church functioned then,
and then looked at where we are now.
And wow, what a difference a global pandemic makes.
We are now a hybrid church, with one primary service most Sundays and an
online simulcast via our Facebook page. We are seeing an increase in parishioners
returning to attendance at in-person services, as well as seeing some new faces
join us occasionally. We have committed to building a labyrinth on the property,
as well as finding a rectory for potential future clergy and developing something
on our upper lot that serves the mission of our church. We are bigger, stronger,
and more financially stable than we were six years ago, despite the pandemic,
which is not something most churches can say.
Despite all these changes, one thing has remained the same – our mission as a
church, to welcome, support and serve all God’s people. That means feeding the
hungry, clothing the naked, inviting strangers into our community, and housing
To that end, the biggest takeaway from the vestry retreat for you, the
congregation of Grace is this: what we do as your vestry is in keeping with our
mission statement, which is in keeping with scripture and our faith. We are
putting our words into action.
Lest you be concerned, we are being fiscally responsible. We are using the
resources we have, but we are not risking the future of the church. The decisions
we make are designed to help sustain this parish while simultaneously doing the
work God has given us to do. We are working to address the desperate need for
affordable housing in the country, in the state, and particularly in Martinez.
Today’s readings were focused around the idea of faith. It was Abram’s faith that
sent him away from his country to make a great nation. It was faith that the
psalmist channeled when looking to the hills for help. It was Abraham’s faith that
promised grace to all his descendants. It was Nicodemus’ faith that led him to
It’s our faith that helps our clergy lead us.
It’s our faith that encourages us to serve on the vestry.
It’s our faith that guides us to accept all people.
It’s our faith that reminds us we are doing God’s work.
For God so loved the world. The whole world. That the world might be saved.