What does the number 168 mean to you? Think about that for a minute………Come up with anything? Well, 168 is the number of hours in one week. God gives you 168 hours to sleep, eat, work, get dressed, get your kids dressed, look up weird facts on Wikipedia, and all the other things we fill our lives with. And generally we’ll spend one hour of that time in worship. If you’re like me you spend that hour praying, singing (except the 8 o’clockers), listening, repenting, celebrating the Eucharist, sometimes chasing a young boy who just learned to crawl, but for the most part anything we can do to focus on our relationship with God. All of these things are vital for that relationship and are vital in how we live out our baptismal vows. But when we look closer at those vows we’re not hitting all of them in that hour. If you haven’t memorized them (I know I haven’t) here they are:
1. [to] continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the Prayers.
2. [to] persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord.
3. [to] proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.
4. [to] seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself.
5. [to] strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human Being.
When you walk outside the walls of Grace ask yourself this: Where in the rest of the week do I talk to someone about the Gospel or show them what I’ve learned from it? Do I spend time expressing love for those outside my family either at work or in my neighborhood? How do I stand up for those that are in need of love and justice and are hurting?
I know what you’re thinking: “Those commitments are really tough to fill. I barely accomplish getting through the day let alone getting all that done each week”. The important thing to remember is God knows that. That’s why He equips us with all that we need to fulfill them. He expects and wants us to rely on His strength to share the love He has for us. All He asks of us is to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit. And to be fair, do you think one hour a week is enough to open ourselves up? If I allotted one hour a week to my children I think I’d end up at the bottom of the “Dad of the Year” list. Or if I set one hour aside to eat for the week I’d be struggling to do anything. We need to offer more of ourselves so that our spiritual health can thrive.
I’ll tell you four years ago I had no idea what that looked like. All I could see was how unprepared I was, how difficult it was to commit more of myself to the Church and the obstacles that were in the way. I tell you I didn’t do anything to change that situation. It wasn’t by my own will that I write to you today as Senior Warden. All I did was close my eyes and say, “Here I am Lord”. That’s it. He did the rest. He found the time in my schedule. He moved the mountain, I thought was in my way. Once I stopped concentrating on what I could DO I was able to see what God wanted me to BECOME.
Now I’m not saying it’s going to be an easy road. We all stumble as we try to keep ourselves living in Christ but that’s the amazing part about the Church. We are a family that supports each other in times of need and understand that we are constantly tempted to forget about our vows and forget about what the Gospel teaches us. If you allow the Holy Spirit to be your guide, then you will have more clarity in how your vows are obtainable goals rather than just wishes. It’s through our collective Christianity that we resist those temptations and rely on Jesus and each other to persevere. As you answer His call, your ability to see the Holy Spirit working will get stronger and that vision will feed the burning bush deep inside of you. It’s real and powerful and will bring you bliss no matter what part of your faith journey you reside.
Last month we were presented with an extensive agenda for 2015. Your Vestry will have one mission this year: To execute our baptismal vows as God has commanded. We will strive to be your catalysts. We want each of you to truly live in Christ not only on Sunday but the rest of the week. We want each of you to be on fire for the Lord and make that fire visible.
With Lent around the corner we will be in prayerful reflection, repentance, and preparing ourselves for Easter. During this time your spiritual priority should also be on discerning what God has called you to become. Our 2015 initiatives have 10 committees that range in every aspect of the Church. God is calling you to one if not more of those committees. He may be calling you to lead or to support. Both which are vital to the success of each initiative.
We started out with the number 168. Now I want you to concentrate on 167. How do you fill the 167 hours left in the week after you leave the pew? Does your 167 feed your burning bush? Now is the time for Grace to move from Maintenance to Mission. Allow God to take more charge of the 167 and your life will be changed forever!