We are members of the Jesus movement, a movement which is not defined by time, place or building. We are the Jesus movement, a group of people working to be in the world as the hands and feet of Jesus. As a movement, we have chosen this building as our outpost, our gathering space, to witness the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God. This space is a speedbump to our world, a world which says being busy is successful, profit is greater than humanity, happiness is a commodity we can buy. This community stands as a beacon to our neighbourhood as a place of both refuge and growth, security and change. We stand for something greater than ourselves, we stand as a beacon of God's love for all peoples, something our discipleship of all peoples drives us to practice with our lives everyday.
There is an energy, a vibrancy here, which is hard to deny. There is something in this space which, even when it is totally vacant, feels totally full and alive with energy. This is the Holy Spirit, which not only dwells and hovers here in this space, but moves us into new places in order to grow the Kingdom of God in Christ’s name in this neighbourhood. And it’s important for us to name that none of this happens just by chance, prayer that is animated by the Holy Spirit has led us to where we are today, and it is that spirit-infused prayer that will lead us into our ancient future. Our second reading, from 2 Peter, this morning reminds us that the ministry of Christ which is yours and mine to share in this place, does not happen by accident. The ministry that Christ draws us into as a parish, to form missional disciples of all peoples in our neighbourhood is not controlled by any singular person or agenda. Rather, our ministry is answering the call of Christ to follow him into the salvation of this world through the good news of his death and resurrection. A death and resurrection which was not foretold by human means, but by those moved by the spirit who spoke from God. A God who tells us that they are well pleased in the work Christ is doing. But what is that work? It is the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of active, engaged, and outward love for all people.
The pleasure we hear from God at Christ’s baptism and again today is about being faithful to the mission set before him, a mission which is grounded in being authentic to his identity. Which, as we gather for Vestry, leaves us with an interesting question to pray on as we make decisions, elect people to positions of authority among us, and commit ourselves to funding our ministry for the next year together. Are our decisions, our votes, our finances, authentic to our identity to make disciples of all peoples in this neighbourhood? With our decisions, our votes, and our finances, are we clothing the naked in our neighbourhood? Are we feeding the hungry in our neighbourhood? Are we tending the sick and isolated in our neighbourhood? Are we preaching Christ crucified, died, and risen in our neighbourhood? Basically, are we loving all people as we love ourselves? I think if you read our various ministry reports in the annual report, we can agree that yes we are. But does that mean we just carry on with what we are doing? Yes, but it also means we take another step forward in our ministry together, being moved by the Holy Spirit to dream dreams of what loving our neighbourhood means in 2020.
So as we prepare for this new year of life together, with renewed leaders and growth in the spirit of God's love, what does it mean to love our neighbourhood this year? What does it look like for us to love Acadia Park and its residents? What does it look like for us to prepare room for the Lelem development and to prepare a loving community for our new neighbours here in this parish building? What does it look like to love UBC, Wesbrook Village, Hampton Place, and the University Endowment Lands, in our life together this year in the work God has given us here together to make disciples of all nations in his name, work that we are faithful to, a faithfulness that God is well pleased with because of the abundance of the transformation we receive in return, which we put back into the work of the gospel’s growth among us. We are a movement, not an institution. The church is a movement of the spirit, that calls this neighbourhood home. So church what does it look like for us to love our neighbourhood this year? To grow our outreach this year? We are a people moved by the spirit to be faithful to God’s mission of love for all people. And for us, all means all. How will we renew and expand our love for this neighbourhood together this year?