September brings us the opportunity to renew our desire, our hope, our commitment to our Lord and Savior. Why do I say that September brings this? Doesn’t every day? The answer is of course each day should be desiring to serve our Lord with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. Each day we should place our hope in our Lord and Savior. And each day we should be renewing our commitment to the Lord. But September brings us the end of summer relaxation and rest but also the opportunity to become engaged in the ministry of our Lord at St. Alban’s. Bible Study resumes on Wednesday; Choir resumes on Wednesday evenings; Christian Education resumes on Sundays at 9:15 am; the Life Shelter continues to serve those in need; the Age to Perfection group continues to meet for lunch; the Greeters and Newcomers continue to welcome those known and unknown into our community of faith; the Ushers, Acolytes, Altar and Flower Guild continue to serve the Lord for worship; the nurses continue to provide blood pressure checks for the parish; the St. Alban’s Singers begin their rehearsals; the Youth Group continues to meet; Inquirer’s Class begins –and the list goes on and on. This September brings us the opportunity to work—yes I said work—for our Lord. The Letter to St. Timothy states very clearly that faith without work is dead.
Although our Rally Day has come and passed, September still offers us the opportunity to work and live out our faith. I was at a conference in August focusing on the revitalization of the church. The speaker quoted an author. I don’t remember the author’s name who coined the question but I thought I would at least share a paraphrased version with you: Are you a person who waits for the golden opportunity or are you one who looks for the gold in every opportunity?
God asks each one of us to step out in faith and trust in him. Are you up to taking an opportunity to look for the gold that He has placed in the various ministries he has given St. Alban’s? In a very secular way perhaps we have heard it before: you only get out of something how much you are willing to invest in it. If we are looking for the Church to provide us with a cafeteria of delights and looking for just the right opportunity, we will be greatly disappointed. If we are looking to deepen our faith and love of the Lord, then we must look for the gold in every opportunity that God has put before us. Putting our desire for God, living and working for God, and committing our whole self to God is living our life searching for the gold in the opportunity. After all, does not Jesus say that the kingdom of God is like a pearl of great price and the merchant sells everything to purchase it? Or the kingdom of Heaven is like a hidden treasure of great price and the man sells all that he has to purchase the field? The gold is in every opportunity that God puts before us—are we willing to give ourselves up to finding it?
We have been given Good News. Our Lord Jesus Christ came to us and is with us always. He died on the cross for our sins and the sin of the world. Are we willing to take every opportunity to share the Good News with others? Are we willing to change our routines we have made for ourselves and accept the routine of God? September provides this opportunity as each and every day does.
I thank you for such a generous response to our appeal for Ellis Elementary School and to Carole Shunk for organizing the drive for school supplies. Your giving to help those students in need was overwhelming and I know it will be appreciated by both the students and teachers. There may be other opportunities come available through the school year but please keep the principle, teachers and students in your daily prayers.
Fr. Binga, our centurion has received the first of our giving towards his new “priest’s house.” He asked that I express his deep gratitude for the gift. If it pleases the Diocese of Northern Malawi and us, he stated the name of the house would be St. Alban’s. It will cost $25,000 to completely build the house so if you wish to commit to an ongoing gift, please mark in the memo that it is for the “priest’s house.” He is most grateful for your generous support.
September is a great time for us to turn our attention to supporting the USO. With our world in turmoil and tensions, our military service men and women need to know we support them and appreciate them for putting their lives on the line for us and others. I hope we will be as generous as possible to help stock the shelves with the items that are needed. They may be small tokens but meaningful for our military people as they travel to the torn places as well as come home. It is another opportunity for us to find gold in.
Finally, I pray and give thanks that as I write this article many of the Christians have been rescued from the plight and horrible persecution of ISIS. There are still 8000 still needing help. The stories told about the suffering and persecution of Christians by ISIS is horrifying. It is overwhelming the faith and courage they have shown in the face of torture, rape, beheading, dehydration and starvation they are enduring. As I have stated, I admonish you to pray for them daily. As refugees they still have more than a tough time to face. If you wish to do something, please go to the Anglican Relief and Development web-site to give a donation to help the refugees. Archbishop Anis, the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East are overseeing direct relief efforts.
Yes September offers many opportunities. Seek and you will find them. Knock and the door will be open. What a wonderful and glorious God we have.
Faithfully in Christ,