Proper 6B – Fr. J. Devin Rodgers
This sermon is the first of a three part sermon series for St. Alban’s 100th anniversary “Remember, Rejoice, Renew!”
It started as a seed.
It was not a typical seed, which one would put in the soil in order to grow vegetables or flowers. This seed was an idea, but it was a seed, nonetheless.
This particular seed was given to a Bexley resident in 1918 -Mrs. Emma Cooper Thomas. It came to her from God.
Seeds by themselves are quite useless. Unless they are planted, cared for and watered they just sit there. So it is with ideas that are given by God. Unless they are shared, nurtured and acted upon they remain as untapped potential.
That was not the case with this particular seed.
Emma Thomas shared this seed with her husband, Dr. David Thomas.
“Bexley needs an Episcopal Church”
After being shared, that seed was planted one evening in fertile soil. It was planted by bringing together a group of friends in worship. But this service didn’t happen in a church, or a cathedral, it didn’t happen under a heaven reaching spire or behind red doors. It happened in the home of Dr. and Mrs. Thomas, and from there a small shoot sprouted from prayers and Thanksgivings to God.
Sprouts and seedlings however are just a beginning. They need nurtured. Sleeping and Rising night and day new sprouts appeared as worship expanded and began in other homes, the numbers grew and with growing numbers new seeds fell.
Harvests were coming, with each harvest came more planting, more ideas, more germinating seeds. Eventually land was donated at 333 S. Drexel Ave and a Sunday School was planted. From that small, one room school house, St. Alban’s Church grew, producing more and more abundance. The community of believers, the Church spread forth great limbs so that others might come and nest and find a home in the Church.
This one part of God’s great kingdom started as a seed given to one faithful woman.
Next week, St. Alban’s will begin a year-long celebration and remembrance of our one hundredth anniversary.
As we celebrate our church’s role in God’s kingdom, the scriptures gives us an opportunity to reflect on God’s reign and its nature. In Mark’s Gospel there are two stories of God’s kingdom being illustrated through planting, growth and harvesting.
When we hear these parables, we often look right to the end result. A massive mustard tree, a field ripe with grain ready for harvest.
We are infatuated with end results. We desire to see the field full, ready to harvest. We want to see that big tree with arms stretched out so that birds can nest in them. (actually, mustard trees are more like large shrubs)
We translate this into what successful ministry looks like. We want to see packed church pews, full Sunday School rooms, ministries that flourish and grow and blossom. We want newcomers to feel welcome and find a place here in the place we’ve chosen to call our church home.
These are all good things. But we have to remember, mustard trees start from a seed. Fields of grain start from seed. God calls us to continual growth in faithfully sharing and planting, not to end results.
We learn to do this through remembering what God has done for us.
Today, prior to our celebration next week, let’s take a moment to remember.
All that we see before us, and all that came before us here in our church came from the seed that was planted in the minds of our devout forebears.
The seed that gave birth to St. Alban’s was planted in worship.
Today, In our own worship, our prayer life is centered on and grounded in the Holy Eucharist where Jesus words are brought to life and shared.
“Do this in Remembrance of Me.”
Re-member my Body. Remember that my life, my body was given for the sake of the world, it was given to the point of death, and it lives on.
It lives on in us and in the ministry that we’ve been doing for the last 100 years.
In the bread and wine, our members are stitched together into the one living, breathing body of Christ. It’s nothing short of an act of Resurrection and it provides us with fertile ground in which more seeds may be planted.
When we do the holy work of Remembrance, particularly when we talk about our relationships with one another and God, we discover that those memories contain seeds that when planted reveal God’s kingdom.
We all have been given seeds from God. Do you remember what you’ve been given?
This week as we lead up to 100 anniversary party, I invite you to remember and also share those stories with someone else. Perhaps use your remembering as a seed and share it with someone from St. Albans’ who you have not seen in awhile or someone you might invite to celebrate with us.
To get the “remembering” started I would like to share one of my first fond St. Alban’s memories with you.
Who doesn’t love a good party? I had been at St. Alban’s all of two weeks when I pitched an idea to Mike Bissell, our then senior warden.
I called him and said, “Mike I want to have a big Shrove Pancake Supper. Have we done that before?”
He mentioned that we had and how it had not been attended well the year before.
“There was not a lot of energy around it. It wasn’t well attended”
I joked with him. If there is one thing I can do well, it’s brunch. We called together a team of people and assembled our first annual “Shrove Sunday Pancake Brunch.” Despite Shrove Sunday not really being a liturgical day, we planned a great celebration the Sunday before Fat Tuesday that included pancakes, breakfast frittatas, bacon and a mimosa bar.
We started the new tradition of the pancake race around the labyrinth.
That morning was such a memorable and joyous event. I remember leaving church that morning and realizing that I had made the right choice in calling St. Alban’s my new church home.
It will always be the highlights of our shared ministry.
God has a really funny way of calling us to remember.
You may remember that at that first pancake party we created a piece of collective artwork.
Using our own hand prints we made this piece of art.
“Growing in God’s Love.”
This tree started 100 years ago as a seed. We have grown into mighty tree so that the birds of the air may nest in our branches.
Week after week in worship we will continue to re member the Body of Christ and continue to plant seeds that are given to each of us to show others the kingdom of God.
Give thanks for Dr. and Mrs. Thomas. Give thanks for all our forebears in faith here in our church. They had the faith to plant and nuture the seed that became St. Alban’s.
They gave us an example. Remember, now it is our turn to plant and grow…and we are.
This gives us reason to celebrate. Join us next week. We’ll be rejoicing!