THE LAST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST/STEWARDSHIP SUNDAY, YEAR C
ST. AUGUSTINE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
THE REVEREND BARRY GRIFFIN
When I was growing up my family always watched The Ed Sullivan Show. Ed Sullivan came on Sunday nights. It was a live variety show. Ed was the emcee. He presented singers, magicians, ventriloquists, animal acts, and circus performers – you get the picture. (I remember Topo Gigio and Jose Jimenez.)
If you remember Ed Sullivan you remember the plate spinner. This man spun plates on waist-high, flexible thin poles. He’d get one going, then start another, then another, until he had six or seven or more spinning away. The hard part was keeping all those plates going. He had to move constantly between the plates, re-spinning each one of them before they toppled. It was something to behold.
Today I feel sort of like the plate spinner on Ed Sullivan. We’ve got lots of things going on, and each thing is important.
Today is the last Sunday of the church year, commonly known as Christ the King Sunday. Our opening prayer, the Collect of the Day, made reference to Jesus Christ and “the King of kings and Lord of lords.” Today’s gospel is Luke’s account of the crucifixion. Luke writes: “There was also an inscription over him [that read], ‘This is the King of the Jews.’” Christ the King rules from his cross.
The cross over our altar is a Christus Rex. It depicts Christ the King: the King who suffered for the world: the King who continues to suffer for the world. Even today, God continues to suffer for this broken world.
Today is Christ the King Sunday. That one plate we’re spinning.
Today is also Stewardship Sunday. Today our Annual Stewardship Campaign comes to an end. It’s time to return our 2017 pledge cards. Put them in the offering plate, and they will be brought forward at the offertory and presented to God. If you forgot and left your pledge card at home, do not dismay. All is not lost. There should be another pledge card in your bulletin! Our stewardship chair thinks ahead.
So Stewardship Sunday is another plate we’re spinning.
This Thursday is Turkey Day. On Thursday this busy nation stops, steps back and takes a breather. We stop complaining (imagine that), and we recognize our blessings. As a nation, we give thanks to God. We are grateful, truly grateful, for so many things that generally go unnoticed throughout most of the year. Thanksgiving Day is a day of celebration and gratitude.
So Thanksgiving is yet another plate we’re spinning today.
Speaking of plates, after this service I’ll be filling mine. I hope you will, too. Everyone is invited to our Annual Thanksgiving luncheon. Come and get your turkey and dressing and side dishes. Share in the abundance of blessings. You will, by your presence, bless others in return. Don’t miss out on the blessings.
Today, at the end of worship, we will commission our vestry. Once again, St. Augustine’s has elected a very fine vestry. Vestry members are, in alphabetical order: Elaine Beal, JoAnn Blackstock, Shirley Cargile, Catherine Meeks, Elayne Miller, Betty Riley, and Corrie West.
Did you notice something about this year’s vestry? They’re all women! Someone has suggested that we refer to this year’s vestry as the “Hen House” vestry. Someone else suggested “The Wonder Women.” I don’t know. That’s up to them to decide.
I do know this. I am deeply grateful for these women, for their commitment to God, and for their commitment to St. Augustine’s parish.
If you care about St. Augustine’s, you should be grateful, too. Make a point of thanking these fine leaders for their service to you and your parish.
So, the commissioning of vestry members: that’s another plate we’re spinning today.
Maybe you’ve noticed the beautiful prayer shawls draped over these first several pews. Today we will bless these prayer shawls. They were made by our Prayer Shawl Ministry. They were prayed over lovingly as they were made. Those prayers will bless all who receive these prayer shawls. Shirley Cargile introduced Prayer Shawl Ministry to us a few years ago. I am so glad and thankful that she did, because prayer matters. Prayer changes things. When we pray, prayer changes us.
The blessing of prayer shawls: that’s another plate we’re spinning today.
There’s one more plate to spin. Susana and Phil Kyle have given us a new altar book. The altar book, or missal, is the book the priest uses when she or he celebrates holy eucharist. It’s what the priest reads from.
The Kyles noticed that our missal was in bad shape, and they have given us a new one. We will bless it today, and give thanks for their generosity.
Our concern for worship is a central priority: that’s another plate we’re spinning.
So we’re spinning lots of plates. That’s St. Augustine’s. That’s life. That’s life, especially, as we follow Jesus. It’s not easy. It never was. It never will be. It never was meant to be.
But it is what it is, and it is so much better than an easy life: a life without Jesus, centered only on one’s self, with only one plate to spin.
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