2020 Annual Parish Meeting
Jan Smith Wood
Late last Spring, out of the blue, one of the organizers of Oktoberfest called me and asked if Grace could help out. We have no natural or obvious connection with Oktoberfest. I didn’t know the person who called, nor did he know me. We didn’t have a mutual friend (that we knew of) nor were we long-ago classmates. But he called Grace to ask for help. Turns out the people who usually committed to providing activities for children at Oktoberfest pulled out of the event and they were at a loss for what to do.
This is what he said, “We know you participate in the Sandusky Pride Festival and hoped that maybe you would be willing to help out at Oktoberfest as well.”
We know you come into the community. We know you put yourselves on the line. We know you are there for the overlooked and dismissed: maybe also for us? For children? They needed help - and they called us. That happens around here.
We got our digital sign because “you help a lot of people - you need this sign.”
We were asked to help with emergency shelter in dangerous weather because “Grace helps people.”
Folks come to our doors all the time, asking for help, asking for someone to lighten their load.
Think about that for just a minute.
Grace helps people.
We help people for many reasons.
Because they ask.
Because the need is great.
Because we can.
Because we’re in the neighborhood.
But most of all because of our faith.
Because it is at the core of the Gospel: love God with all your heart and mind and body and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. As we do for the least of these, we do for Jesus Christ, our Savior. God’s will be done - and let God’s will be mine.
Because it is at the core of who we are and what God has led us to be: workers in the vineyard, fishers of people, compassionate companions, seekers after justice, and doers of the Word.
We have an impact in our community far beyond what one might surmise by how many we are in this community of Grace, inside these walls gathered for worship, companionship, and discipleship.
A persistent bass drum beat.
That piccolo in the Souza march.
A little bit goes a long way - and we’re that little bit, aren’t we? It’s okay to be a little bit. It’s where we find ourselves. It is the road we are walking. We are a little-bit. Whether or not it is what we’d imagined - or what some of us have experienced at Grace in days long-gone - it’s where we are now.
A few. A faithful few. People who have known goodness, meaning, and blessing inside these walls and with these people - and have stayed faithful to this community. It’s okay to be few, to be a little-bit.
But it is not where God needs us to remain and it is not who God has made us to be.
Good and complete in and of themselves, yes. But for a season and a reason that endures and abides: to change everything. To influence and transform the entire dish, opus, room. Emptied into the whole, making all things better, truer to its essential nature, delightful and delighting.
It’s who we are. Now we are being shepherded into something bigger. Something grander shaped in a way that we’ve not known before.
Do we have the stamina?
Do we have the skills?
Do we have the energy?
Because we have each other. We have our prayers and our community. We have leaders in the Vestry, and in those who attended Connecting Communities in 2019 (Pete, Ellen, and Katie), in those preparing to attend Convocation, and in every one of us who joins in, who shows up, who serves and engages. We have everyone gathered here today - every one who brings their wholehearted curiosity and engagement to this gathering.
We will make a beginning today.
With one another.
Around this shared meal.
Before we begin our conversations, let us pray.