ST. AUGUSTINE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
THE REVEREND BARRY GRIFFIN
Preacher: Alleluia. Christ is risen.
People: The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.
Today’s psalm includes this verse: “They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn the saving deeds that the Lord has done”. Did you hear? They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn the saving deeds that the Lord has done. Keep that verse in mind.
Sixty years ago a small group of people wanted an Episcopal church in Clayton County. A lady from Forest Park took action. Miss Ida Baumgartner wrote the bishop of Atlanta, and soon St. Augustine’s was off and running.
We got our start back in 1958. Back in 1958 some of us were, in the words of today’s psalm, “yet unborn”.
So I’m wondering, how many of you were yet unborn back in 1958? If you were born after 1958, would you please stand? Don’t be shy. Lots of people here wish they had been born after 1958.
Now, I could ask those born before 1958 to stand, but that would require a lot more effort on our part, right? [Can I get an Amen?]
Here’s my point: we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. And whenever we were born, before or after 1958, we stand on the shoulders of those who established this church sixty years ago. As a church family, we owe our existence to them.
Today is the fifth Sunday of Easter. At St. Augustine’s it’s also “Peggy-bration Sunday”. Today we celebrate Easter and we celebrate Peggy Beal. Peggy and her husband George Beal came along in the early days of St. Augustine’s. They blessed this church, led this church, prayed for this church, and sacrificed for this church from the beginning. We stand on their shoulders. And tomorrow is Peggy’s birthday. Tomorrow Peggy Beal turns 99 years old. Can you believe it?
Peggy and George were the momma and daddy of St. Augustine’s. George has gone ahead of us. He’s gone on to glory. Peggy still holds forth, and we are so glad about that. She brings us energy, love and joy. Lots of joy.
A few weeks ago I said to Peggy, “When I came to St. Augustine’s my hair was brown, but now it’s grey. How come, Peggy, after all these years, your hair is still red?
With a smile, she leaned over and whispered in my ear: “Lady Clairol”.
If I’ve divulged a big secret, I hope Peggy will forgive me. I think she will, because Peggy has both forgiven me and blessed me on many occasions.
For her birthday, I got Peggy three birthday cards. You are invited to sign one or all of them if you wish. The first one is philosophical in nature. It’s a quote from Franz Kafka: “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”
Sounds a lot like Peggy to me.
The second card (my personal favorite) is pure fun. I think it suits Peggy very well.
“There are three stages in life: youth, maturity, and ‘Lady you are lookin’ good.’” And on the inside: Happy Birthday Peggy. You look fabulous.
And she does.
Whoever wrote the third card unknowingly wrote it just for Peggy.
“God made someone special when He made you. With every laugh you’ve shared, every hug you’ve given, every chance you’ve taken, every friend you’ve helped, every hand you’ve held, every one you’ve loved, every year you’ve lived… you’ve done great things with the gifts God gave you.
“Wishing you a Happy Birthday.”
So here’s the take away. Yes, today’s Peggybration is a celebration of Peggy Beal. But it’s more than that. Much more.
Today is a day of celebration and challenge. Simply stated, God calls each of us to do what Peggy and George did for so many years, and what Peggy still does today: to love St. Augustine’s; to be present for worship Sunday after Sunday; to be faithful and joyful stewards of our time and our gifts and our money; to make sacrifices for this parish; and to care deeply about the future of this church, for those people yet unborn.
Sixty years ago Peggy and George and a small group of faithful believers began what we cherish today. By the grace of God, they gave us St. Augustine’s.
Now it’s our turn. By the grace of God, we are challenged to do what they did: to make known to a people yet unborn the saving deeds that the Lord has done; to pass on to future generations what was passed on to us.
Today we look back to our founding in 1958. That was sixty years ago. Sixty years from now will be 2078. I don’t plan to be here then. I plan to be elsewhere in a place called eternity.
But I pray that St. Augustine’s will still be here. Because people yet unborn will need to know what we know: that God loves us; that God loves us passionately; and that a life of faith is a life worth living.
May we be given grace to make known to a people yet unborn the saving deeds that the Lord has done.
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.
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