May 15, 2022, Message For A Resurrecting Church, by Pastor David
Revelation 21:1-6 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
God will dwell with them; they will be God’s peoples, and God himself will be with them;
4 God will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’ 5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy & true.’ 6 Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha & the Omega, the beginning & the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.
Meditation - We take a moment now to notice God’s presence in this ordinary breath, in this simple time. God was here all the time, and we hardly even knew it.
May 15, 2022 Message for a Resurrecting Church
One of the persistent and continuing messages I hear in scripture, and which I have tried to convey in 1,248 sermons (give or take 30 sermons) at St. Luke Church, is the theme of God’s presence in our everyday lives. As I have been looking back over the last 26 years of ministry, God’s presence is palpable.
In last weeks pictures, I gave you a sneak preview of one of the highlights af this next section of memories - the years 2010 to 2014. In 2010 Eliza Nunnelee, and Melanie and Marisa Cumming joined the church after a wonderful confirmation class trip to Washington DC.
We visited several churches where we experienced dynamic ministry going on, including Dumbarton UMC, where we stayed, a reconciling congregation with a beautiful sanctuary. If gave us ideas about our own sanctuary. Traveling and having an adventure together has always made our confirmation classes feel connected to each other and to God’s mission in our lives.
As I mentioned last week, Frantz Excellent had been singing in the St. Luke choir and became a member of the church in 2006 with Sally Newport. Frantz did some wonderful ministry through St. Luke
He became the mentor for Harleigh Myerovitch in the next confirmation class.
Frantz often hitched a ride out to the church with me because the trains did not start early enough for him to get here in time for choir rehearsal. We would pass the Haitian Church where his mother worshipped on the way out and we had wonderful conversations. (I showed Cathy the pictures of Harleigh and Frantz together and she said, “That must have been one of the most important things that happened during your 26 years there.” I said, “it might be in the top 100 things. Loving life changing relationships happen all the time in the church.”)
Around that time we began to have more connections with the Islamic Foundation for Education up on Montgomery Ave. Imam Mustafa Ahmed and the congregation were generous and welcoming to us each year during Ramadan and I reconnected with Gail Montgomery Watson and her husband Richard through the dinners there.
I became close during that time with Rabbi Yitzhak Nates and we spent some time at Sukkoth over at Mishkan Shalom synagogue.
That year, Kathy Taylor was in a serious van accident out in Kentucky. She was in the hospital for months and we were really worried about her. The children made this big card for her, and I took it to her in the hospital. We helped to arrange for her to get a medical flight back to Philly, so she could recover out here. The church’s support for her was crucial.
Here’s Harleigh, Frantz, Sally, and the rest of the St. Luke choir in 2011, directed by Clyde Shive. The music was beautiful and a gift from and to God week after week. The choir has always had a great time here, laughing and enjoying the process as well as the beauty of harmonizing together.
Sometimes as you know we had guest musicians and even choirs join us. That year we had the signing choir from Lansdale UMC join us. Harleigh’s mother is a signer as is Lisa and one or two others along the way, so that concert was special.
We fit in all kinds of mission work along the way. Jon helped to pack food at annual conference at the Oaks Conference Center.
We continued to work for an end to gun violence.
And 2011 was the year that POWER was founded, with an opening assembly of 3,000 people at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church.
Rev. David Brown helped to lead a couple of planning retreats at St. Raphaela’s retreat center during those years.
He became a special friend of the congregation and we awarded him the Kathy Taylor award for community service in 2012.
For years we took the children’s celebration to Germantown Friends School to do a day of service on Martin Luther King’s birthday.
Here’s Marisa reading a children’s book on tape for people who are blind or otherwise need to listen to a book.
We did a lot of fun projects together, year after year. Here’s 2013.
Maybe some of you felt God’s presence at some of these regular God-filled events: Ash Wednesday.
That year we had a special service at Narberth Church
In 2012 welcomed Adrienne Lucas into membership and we baptized her lovely daughter, Eleanor Mulligan. Their extended family has been part of St. Luke ever since and have helped us notice God’s presence in the ordinary, extraordinary events each week
That year’s confirmation trip was again to New York City with Brian Collingwood, Harleigh Myerovitch and Grayson Nunnelee. This picture is from the roof of St. John the Divine (Enormous). I wish I could take you all to that amazing Episcopal Cathedral in NYC and to the National Cathedral in DC. They are beautiful places.
That was a special trip and a great confirmation class. We baptized Grayson Nunnelee when Brian, Harleigh, and Grayson joined the church.
I have to speed up here just a bit - because I can’t leave out other places we found God’s presence in those years - on a workday in Germantown,
at a Walking the Walk event at a Sikh Temple in Upper Darby
welcoming new children into our midst - Joshua and Matthew Himmelberg
At Bryn Mawr Day
at the 2013 Children’s Festival
while we were gardening and making our campus beautiful
at a workday at Cradles to Crayons
at a workday in Atlantic City
at a wedding at Arch St. Church
serving meals at Mary Jane Enrichment Center
and even at United Methodist Night at the Phillies (2 slides)
We made the sanctuary beautiful for Advent
with Hanging of the Greens parties
And with Big Band Concerts in the sanctuary, with Big Push & blues harmonica
and we blessed the geckos, and other animals most years - maybe this year we can bless Scribbles
The last thing I want to mention in preparation for next week’s sermon, is the renovation of the sanctuary that we start in the summer of 2014. It was an amazing work of love and commitment. Taking out all the pews and standing them on end up in the altar
taking out carpet and scraping all the floors
preparing the sanctuary for a new floor covering
designing and installing this new concrete design over the radiant floor.
It turned out beautifully, and made this space into a unique and wonderful home for the worship of the Living God.
Next week we will continue to read in Revelation, the specific inspiration for our river of fabric that flows through the sanctuary above us. We were kind of amazed at how it all came together and the way we felt God’s presence both in the process of the renovation and the ways the new space encouraged different possibilities for worship.
Some of us are still amazed at how we went from this
to this. God shows up in everyday events and in extraordinary transformations - in the blessing of a gecko, and in the death of a beloved, and the birth of a child. We give thanks for the surprises, and we say yes to God’s presence. This is God’s good news.
Responsive Hymn: 548 In Christ There is No East or West