A year in review…

Annual Meeting  – St. John of the Cross
January 20, 2013

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Let us pray.

Gracious and loving God You have gathered us together this day to worship You, to praise You.  We thank You, Lord God, for the year that has past and await the coming year with holy expectancy. May we keep Your cross before us in all that we do.  Lead us Lord Christ into the coming year. By the power of the Holy Spirit give us a passion for the Gospel, a heart for the lost, a willingness to do whatever it takes, and a commitment to one another.  All this we pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

When I look back over this past year I am ever thankful.  I am thankful for this parish, for all who faithfully serve this parish.  I am thankful for each and every member of St. John of the Cross Episcopal Church for you are the ministers of this parish.  You are the body of Christ, You are the saints.

Our Gospel lesson today speaks of Jesus’ first miracle, The Wedding of Cana, changing water into wine. Had the wine run out…it would have been a social disaster.  The couple forever remembered as the ones whose wedding ended early.  John includes this story and cites it as the first of seven signs; signs that reveal the identity of Jesus – the promised one. The symbols in this story are rich:  A joyous wedding, six Jewish ritual pots, thirsty wedding guests, and an abundance of wine. We need to remember that our celebrations should be joyous. The symbols of the ritual water pots now being transformed into an abundance of wine reminds us that Christ wants to transform our lives: Not being just quiet people of faith but a community of a celebration of people; joy-filled, living out loud — people of faith, filled with God’s lavish outrageous grace.

Being a Christian is perhaps the most demanding task of this life. Yet, we have each other and we have the Holy Spirit… so should not give up or grow complacent in our mission. We must live our faith and be willing to share our faith with others.  You see, faith, though it is personal is not meant to be private.  We must be willing to share that faith and witness in the community – the community where we live and the community in which we work.  We need to make that invitation to others. Share what we have. Share the fact that we are THE alive and exciting Episcopal Church in Bristol, Indiana.

We must become a light on a stand instead of under a bushel. I believe this will require all of us to become courageous witnesses for Christ everywhere we go and in everything we do. Each one of you has a story to tell about your faith.  We also have a wonderful and glorious story to share as an Episcopal congregation and as a Christian community. We must learn to tell our story boldly. We must learn to make invitation.  That will be challenging but it is essential to our growth. That will be transformation, like changing water into wine.

We must continually learn what it means to be faithful stewards. We must continue to learn about discipleship, for discipleship asks much from us. Yet we serve with a glad heart.  When we serve we find the rewards eternal.  We find the rewards priceless. Here is just a sampling – a small list of what I find priceless at St. John of the Cross. I pray I haven’t forgotten anyone or anything.

We have fine leadership in our Sr. Warden, Deb Walters and Jr. Warden, Cindy Dixon.  Your direction is … priceless.

We have excellent guidance in our vestry, Bruce Krueger, Dave Streeter, Lynne Barnaby, Terry Miller,  I am forever grateful for the spirit of cooperation that permeates our vestry and the willingness to get the job done.  Your service is … priceless.

I would like to say thank you to Bob Hatley who has done an excellent job as treasurer.  And also thank Karen Hipsher for assisting the treasurer. Both Bob and Karen has work many hours to keep our financial records in order. Your expertise is … priceless.

Thanks to the finance committee that works with Bob [Hatley] and the vestry to present a budget that we can live with. We thank you!     Your guidance is … priceless.

Thank you to you the congregation, the parish stewards, who without your financial support these doors would not open.  Your giving of treasures  … priceless.

Thank you Sue West for the keeping the schedule of readers and servers.  Thank you for your card ministry.  Your personal touch is always nice and it is… priceless.

We have the fine work of Cindy Keck and the Altar Guild that work behind the scenes to prepare for worship.  Your time is … priceless.

We stay current with the times with our facebook and new webpage, our newsletter is maintained by Mary Ann and Joe Bean, your technological expertise … priceless.

Thank you Kay Streeter for your time in preparing the announcements each week. Your service is … priceless.

How could we function without the many volunteers?  Thank you to those who serve as Lay Readers, Lay Eucharistic Ministers, Greeters, Coffee hour ministry, Acolytes, Altar guild, Men’s group, Women’s Group, the Gardening ministry, Musicians, Tellers, Trash ministry, Cemetery records, and Prayer ministry.  Thank you to all those who serve behind the scenes I may have missed.  Your willingness to humbly serve is… priceless.

Seeing to the needs of Christian education led by Anne Raftree. Your willingness to share…. priceless.

For your service to the community in efforts such as the Bristol Food Pantry, Bristol Elementary School… the sock tree, backpacks, food baskets… the many ways you all give back……. priceless.

The Bristol July 4th parade, the Strawberry Shortcakes, Garage Sale, Trunk or Treat, the Sugar and Spice Bazaar, Shrove Tuesday pancakes… the many ways we come together and serve… priceless.

To those retiring from vestry, Dave Streeter and Bruce Krueger; Please know that your service has been greatly appreciated by everyone. Your leadership is … priceless.

What has our worship life been like this past year? We have had

  • Mass on the Grass, a wonderful summer picnic, a horse-drawn wagon ride, a time of fellowship at Bonneyville… priceless.
  • Blessing of the Animals held at LoveWay Theraputic Riding Stables.  Watching the Cadets from The Howe School interact with the members of St. John of the Cross… priceless.
  • The Lesson and Carols service at The Howe School the many members that came to support our choir and the see the Historic Chapel. Watching our members interact with the Cadets and eating in the Mess hall… priceless.
  • One confirmation and one reception this past year.  Welcoming our newest members to our parish, Cyd and Michael Sunday … priceless.
  • Two baptisms this past year.  Watching Christ touch the lives of Marcus and Kiaya is… priceless.
  • The job description for Acolytes: One who gets to play with fire, smoke and big sticks.  Watching Breanne and Austin serve as acolytes … priceless.
  • The ministry of music continues to grow.  Our Sundays are blessed with the musical talents of Terry Scott, Mary Ann Bean and Skip Barnett.   Also for those who sing in the choir and are willing to add voice to our worship. Sharing the gift of music is… priceless.
  • Steve Streeter and Cyd Sunday led us in a Fall Bible study based on the book “Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus”.  We look forward to its completion in Lent. Thank you for leading us … priceless.
  • Wednesday evening prayer and monthly Eucharist — 463 persons attending … priceless.
  • A steady Sunday attendance: This past year there were 3035 persons in attendance at the Sunday worship service. Our average Sunday attendance is 58.  Feeding God’s lambs… priceless.
  • It is my privilege to serve as your priest.  I hope that this has been a year of renewal and a year of spiritual growth.  I look forward to the year to come.  Tending God’s lambs…  priceless.

Dear Lord, may You find this parish, St. John of the Cross, precious in Your sight.  For these and all Your priceless gifts that You have bestowed on this parish we thank You and praise You. May we come with open hearts to serve You with all that we are and all that we have.  May we have eyes open to see where You lead us and ears to hear you call us. Give us the courage to trust and follow you where you lead and the boldness to do whatever it takes so that others may know the saving grace of the cross of Christ. All this we pray in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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