Rev. Leonard B. Oakes
“Be bold yet humble”
Today’s Gospel is part of Jesus’ discourse on the mission. Jesus reminds his disciples that they will experience persecution and rejection by their own people as they go forth preaching the Gospel. He encourages them not to be afraid of those who oppose the mission of Christ – and to proclaim the gospel with boldness. Through the power of God, the Gospel will triumph- no power will prevail against it. God, through Christ are to go out and preach what was first revealed to them by Jesus himself.
Before the disciples heard Jesus’ preaching they were in darkness, but now that they have heard the word and have accepted it, they have come into the light. Having come into the light, they are light. Disciples are the light of Christ.
Proclaiming the Gospel is not an easy undertaking. The proclaimer is vulnerable to hostility and suspicion. Boldness and fervor are required. The message of the Gospel is love. When lack of Love is exposed, those guilty of the failure to love often feel resentment and refuse to be confronted. Their failure to love is often the result of selfish pride, power, and prestige – difficult sins to overcome. The evangelical mission demands that the Gospel of Love be preached – even when it is difficult to hear. Today’s Gospel reminds us to be bold in the face of such a challenge. Discipleship requires some sacrifice. To spread the Gospel is not always a glorious experience, it could be an unsettling confrontation that disturbs the lifestyle we have learned to love and which we are not willing to give up. However, if we equip ourselves with the love of God, there shall be no fear, there shall be no doubt that we will get to where we are going.
During the feast of the Day of Pentecost, I was bold to proclaim before you that in 2015, Holy Child and St. Martin will become a Parish, just as what God intended us to be, a vibrant, self sustaining, self governing and self reliant community. I also reminded you of my message in 2008 when you elected me as your vicar, that without dreams and visions we will not get into where we are going. I also shared with you a dream a couple of Sundays ago, that in that dream we are all together sharing our talents, time and love to fulfill our calling.
Today, I would like to inform you with great humility, that we are having a foretaste of that dream. The Episcopal Church United Thank Offering (UTO), through the help of Bishop Marc and Kathleen Piraino have awarded Holy Child and St. Martin the amount of $37,500 for the elevator project. Those whom we have been praying to be able to join us at our social gathering at the Church hall, the arthritis exercises and our health and wellness center is now about to be fulfilled. Thanks be to God for answered prayers.
We also received the second part of the Grant for our Health and Wellness Center for the year 2014 the amount of $10,000. We are again ready to meet the community at our health and wellness faire and we need your love in helping us reach to the community at large, especially those low income, uninsured and vulnerable in our society, by distributing our flyers, by word of mouth tell everyone, your neighbors, at the bus, at the mall and wherever you may be, that we have a free clinic, free exercises programs that could benefit them, their families and friends.
We were also informed by the Diocese that the sale of one of the cell towers above our roof was sold to $320,000 dollars less the agent fee who sold it. Such money will be invested to the Diocesan Endowment fund named after Holy Child and St. Martin.
Today, we have with us Deacon Rebecca Goldberg who will help us with equipping our Sunday school program and the various ministries of our Church.
What are all these signs telling us? That we are having a foretaste of that which we are going, a full parish status?
For one who has a doubt and fear of what might be the possible things to happen in exchange of all these blessings, will only have to believe in the Love of God, for in God, all things are possible. We need to believe and we need to trust in God who is our strength and our help.
With all the blessings we continue to receive from God, I would like to ask you to pray faithfully as we humbly walk with God towards our goal.
Ponder upon these challenges I ask us all to share:
First, Be loving always, no matter what. The only job in the world is to love and be loved. When we do this, we don’t have to fear about divisions and fear of the end. When we live in unity and love, everlasting life is bestowed upon us.
Second, Be welcoming, being proactive to new people around us. Inviting people to come to our gatherings for in our midst is God who is love.
Third, Be always present on Sunday if you can. It is when we come together that we regather strength and hope in our daily lives.
Lastly, be a giver as well as a receiver. Share you time and talents to the Church. Suggest things that benefit us as family.
The rector announced on the pulpit one Sunday, “Brothers and sisters, I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that we now have the money to do the needed repairs in our church, we now have the money to feed the hungry in our neighborhood, and we now have the money to hire a Youth Director.” What’s the bad news Father? , the congregation asked, “The bad news is,” he said, “the money is still in your pockets!”
It is always a blessing to be a blessing to others and the Church. and I would ask you to be part of this stewardship transformation and campaign because that is one of the requirements to be a parish, to be self sustaining, we need to be generous in our pledging. God blesses us more and more.
Let these words be our vision in our giving and our receiving:
“To relieve the distressed is a duty incumbent on all good persons who
are linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection. To
soothe the unhappy, to sympathize with their misfortunes, to compassionate with their miseries and to restore peace to their troubled minds, is the great aim we have in view. On this basis, we
form our friendship and establish our connections.”
May the love of God be with us always. Amen.