Homily from our Foundation Blessing on Aug 27:
O happy day! Friends…it is so good to worship with you on this firm foundation for the very first time. And, indeed, it is only a first time…for what this foundation represents for us is a future. It promises that St. Julian’s will be here, I believe, for many generations yet to come…certainly long after I will have retired and, even, entered the gates of glory. And, this is true not because of the strength of the concrete and rebar that literally sits under our feet, but because of God’s unending love, grace, and provision. Though the vision, generosity, and hard work of so many has been essential to bringing us to this day in large and, equally important, small ways…and for all of that…you have my undying thanks…still it is God in Christ’s eternal love that has called us into being. It is Christ our sure foundation, our head and cornerstone, that has provided, all along, the inspiration, the wisdom, the strength, the perseverance, the hope and the passion that has shaped our family of faith into a place where so many have experienced God in Christ’s salvation…that is God’s healing and hope and peace and nurture and growth and companionship…right here on earth, as it is now and will be for each of us in heaven.
Thus, today, as we rightly celebrate this important step in the building of this new mission outpost…as we rightly bless it and set it aside for God’s life-giving, love-spreading work in and for the world…I think it is also an opportunity, must be an opportunity, to, as our Vision Statement reads, seek even greater intimacy with God in Christ…by recommitting ourselves to weekly worship and daily prayer…to intentionally grow our faith through study and formation…to expand our service to those who are hurting and deepen our work to make our society more just and equitable for all the rainbow-colored people of God. For, all such good work, indeed, leads to greater intimacy with Christ, who is the true and unfailing foundation of our lives and everything that is made. Though it will, indeed, be nurtured and fed in this place, it is a relationship with the living God and not a physical space on which hope is founded…the very hope of the world. And, it remains our work now, in our current space, and in our undiscovered future, on this foundation, to strengthen that hope in our own live and then share that hope with each and with all.
And, to this end, I noted that before the rebar was laid out and before the concrete was poured into the form that shaped this foundation that there was a deeper layer prepared. A foundation for the foundation, if you will. And, it was made up of thousands of individual rocks (much like this one) arranged closely together and perfectly leveled. And, friends, just as Jesus gives Simon a new name, Peter, which literally means rock, in our Gospel reading this morning, we are, metaphorically speaking, those rocks…the foundation for the foundation. For, the church, which is the Body of Christ alive and active in the world today, is always a people gathered in the name of Jesus, who is the head of our body, and not a place. And, the foundation that we are laying in this family of faith is far from done. It excites me to say, in so many ways, we have only just begun. As Paul notes in his letter to the Romans this morning, the Body of Christ has many members…requires many different and uniquely gifted people to be whole. Likewise, many more rocks, that is human lives, are needed to lay the foundations we plan to pour in the future for our permanent sanctuary, education building, and hope and healing center. And, many more rocks…that is many more people who will make up this part of Christ’s Body…are needed to become the center of redemptive love for the larger world around us that I believe God intends and has created St. Julian’s to be and become.
So, I invite, even implore you, to pay attention to those in your own life, at work and school, among friends and family, who are seeking healing and hope, meaning and purpose, friends for life’s journey…that you might invite them to discover the love you have already found in this family of faith…God’s saving love. We need them and they need us. Perhaps, even, this creative work we are doing together, this, but phase one church, that rises from the earth under our feet, which is intended to point people to God, can be a means of invitation. That is this time in our life together provides another opportunity, which is to invite people to come and see…to come and see this new work that God is doing among us…to come and see, even now, all the rocks…that is all of us…through which and on which God is building this church to make Christ’s salvation known…for each and for all…for the very life of the world. Amen.