Remembering Sunday

Posted by Ruth Beresford on

This Sunday is a significant day for Christ Church and an anniversary for me. This Sunday we gather for worship and to celebrate our congregation's ministry and fellowship with our traditional picnic. It's been our way of saying, "summer's over; let's get back to business." Who we are will be seen as we assemble first to worship God and then to make and renew the bonds of affection as we share a feast, talking, playing, and exploring opportunities for ministry in the coming months. This Sunday also opens our first preaching series, "The Journey," using the Exodus story to explore God's guidance for our journeys. This week's sermon is titled, "Remembrance." I hope to share with you God's encouragement to remember our past as we set out on the next part of the journey. I remember ten years ago at the Parish Picnic when this congregation welcomed me as the 15th rector, and I stood in your midst to preach and preside at the Eucharist for the first time. You welcomed my family as you welcomed me, embracing them with kindness and warmth.

When one marks an anniversary, it's natural to look back and remember what it was like then. I remember looking out over the congregation - the church bursting at the seams with all the people but my family, missing from the seats saved for them. Eleven-year-old Sarah had dressed casually for a picnic but opened the front door to see people coming to church more nicely dressed and delayed her father and brother by rushing to change her outfit - they found seats in the overflow congregation. I remember settling into my office routines, which included kicking off my heels and padding about barefoot, much to the surprise of the staff. If I sit with the memories, perhaps aided by letters saved and photos taken, I can remember the people who were influential and each event that was new to me. The first Green Show was overwhelming; the first Christmas Eve was stunning! I feel such gratitude for people like Keith Dawson, Bill Owen, Catherine Dolan, Sherry Lawton-Fasic, and Jane Rubini - all staff members at the time, and Bob Brandt, Mark Attix, Wil Sherk, Helen Giammattei, Andy and Lu Johnston, Leslie Kelly, and Susan Casscells - all lay leaders. They leaned in to help me get to know this congregation and become its rector. Among the clergy staff, I was the young one then! George Karney, Carl Kunz, and Bill Field were all beyond retirement age but active and wise, faithful pastors. When we mark anniversaries, the more we look back, the more we remember both successes and failures - the trying times that drove me to my knees in prayer. An anniversary is an occasion to mark the changes and look toward the future, for you are no longer only who you were back then; you are who you are now and what you have learned about the world and your place in it. Hopefully, with God's guidance, you are still learning as you look around you and ahead to the next part of the journey. This is true for a person, a congregation, and a people, as we will see from the story of Exodus. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday.

"The past is history, the future is a mystery, and today is a gift - that's why they call it the present."

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