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Calvary Episcopal Church
667 Mount Road
Aston, PA       19014

610-459-2013
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RECTORY
SERMON
16 Pentecost - Proper 19
September 16, 2007
The Rev. Robert C. Granfeldt
667 Mount Road, Aston, PA   19014                                                 610-459-2013
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Today’s the 16th Sunday of Pentecost. It’s also the 16th of September.

Why I mentioned that, I have no idea; it has absolutely no significance.

More importantly, today is Calvary Day!

Two days ago – Friday – was the Feast of the Holy Cross.

Some years ago, you’ll recall – a year or two before I came, the Interim Rector at the time,
Fr Joe Rivers, suggested it would be a good thing if the Parish had its own, special day.
For parishes named St Paul’s, or St Francis, or Epiphany, or Resurrection, that’s not a
problem: all of those names are associated with special Feast Days, and that associated
Feast Day would be called the Parish’s Name Day, celebrated every year.

But there is no “Calvary Feast Day,” so it was a problem.

But he had an idea, and he checked it with the Bishop, who approved it, and it was
decided that the closest thing there is on the Church Calendar to a “Calvary Day,” would
be “Holy Cross Day!”

So at long last it was decided that Calvary Day would be celebrated every year either on
Holy Cross Day or the Sunday following it!

Actually, I think we lucked out, because the practice works especially well for us in that
the time – anywhere from the 14th to the 20th of September – turns out to be a great for
kicking off the new season. In this area where the congregation begins, at Memorial Day,
to disappear “down the shore,” this is the perfect time to bring us al together, again, for
a special event to begin another year of worship together!

But mainly, it’s just good to celebrate the Parish!

Calvary Episcopal Church has existed in Rockdale, PA, for 174 years, a faithful servant of
its Lord for all those years – and that’s something to celebrate! And I hope all of us will be
here, later this morning – chilly as it’s going to be, for a change – to do that! We need to
celebrate, together, the whole 174 years, and we need to celebrate the parish today, just
as it exists in the year 2007. We need to celebrate both what the parish has been in the
past, and what it’s is today; what it’s done in the past, and what it’s doing, today! I’m proud
of what you’ve accomplished in the past 8 years, since I’ve been with you; I’m excited
about what I see going on, today; and I’m confidant of what’s going to be happening in
the years ahead.

So lets celebrate! The party Starts as soon as we can get our act together at the end of
the 10:00 Service.

So let’s celebrate.

Let’s celebrate, but (Wouldn’t you know it! There’s always a “but,” isn’t there? Well you
didn’t think you were going to get off that easily, did you?)… let’s celebrate, but let’s not
let our celebration make us forget what it’s really all about!

Let’s not forget that none of this is really about us!

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Jesus. And the
Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with
them.” So he told them this parable: “What man of you. Having a hundred sheep, if he has
lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one
which is lost until he finds it?”

That’s an odd parable that Jesus tells, this morning. It contains a bit of a dig, to begin
with, when Jesus says, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of
them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one which is
lost?” when he knows, in fact, that none of them would actually do that! What shepherd in
his right mind would? If one sheep is lost, the lone shepherd might hope for someone to
come along to relieve him, so he can go look for it, but no way is he going to leave the 99
– no way is he going to risk the rest – for the sake of the lost one!

But then Jesus isn’t really talking about his shepherds; this is a parable, and he’s talking
about God!

And God’s not like us. God knows the 99 are safe! They’re part of the flock! They’re fine,
thank you! No need to worry about them!

God’s concern is about the one that’s not of the flock, the one that’s lost! And that’s
where God’s attention must be!

You see, when Jesus says things something like, “what man of you,” he’s not talking
about his hearers, he’s talking to them! And he’s telling them not what they are, but what
they are called by God to be! Learn from your Father, he’s telling them, that you must not
be concerned for those who are not lost – they’re in my care, and they’re fine – but you
are called to go find the one who is lost – the one who isn’t of the flock!

The Church, he’s telling us, does not exist for its own sake, but for the sake of others –
for the sake of those who are not part of it! Indeed, when the Church begins to think it
exists for its own sake, it ceases to be the Church. And when the Church’s members
begin to think the Church exists for them, to fill their needs, when they forget that the
Church they’re part of exists not for them but for others, they cease to be part of the
Church - and then, ironically, they become the lost; they become the others!

But the real irony, the great irony, is that whenever we first come to the Church, and at
whatever age, whether we’re born and raised in a Parish or begin to discover the Church
late in life, when we first begin to see the Church, to see and know the people in it, when
we begin to experience the liturgy, when we begin to hear the Gospel message message,
and when we finally say, “That’s what I need; that’s what I want to be part of; that’s the
body I need to join, to become active in; that’s the family I need to live in,” the moment
we say that, the Church that had existed for us no longer does! Rather, suddenly, it exists
for others – and so do we.

And they if we’re truly paying attention, truly coming to understand Christ’s call, we, too,
must soon realize that when the Church begins to think of itself, of its needs and wants, it
ceases to be the Church!

We who are part of Calvary Church are blessed in so many, many ways. We have an
enormous amount to be thankful for, and we have an enormous amount to be proud of!
We need to remember and celebrate both!

But even as we do, we need to remember – to remind ourselves and one another – that it’
s not about us! We need to realize that the thanks we have to give is for the privilege of
serving our Lord in His Church – not ours – and that our greatest privilege, our greatest
honor, and our greatest call is to turn around from ourselves and turn our attention and
our efforts to those “others” that are not part of us – not yet. And we need to seek them
out, to welcome them in, and to allow them to join us in the same ministry – the ministry of
finding even more lost sheep, and of inviting them in, too, in the never-ending story that
is life in Christ!

In Jesus Name. Amen.