Advent begins Sunday December 3; and immediately we begin Year B, and our journey through the Gospel of Mark. Mark will move us right along – we will hear a story of Jesus and then immediately move along to a new story, a new place, a new view of Jesus and the unfolding life, ministry, and teachings. But before we turn to the year ahead, I want to take a moment to reflect on the year we are ending.
The Gospel of Matthew called us to go into all the world to preach the gospel, and to remember and to take heart from Jesus’ promise at the Gospel’s end: Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. At St. Philips, we heard that message and responded to it throughout the year. As I look at all that has happened in our parish life, I am amazed at what God has been doing in our midst – In and through our congregation, we have experienced God Present with us in so many ways!
We had a great Epiphany Service, with burning of greens and toasting of marshmallows. We began Lent by remembering that ‘we are dust and to dust we shall return, with services at church, and “on the go” on a corner in Castle Rock. We joyfully participated in Easter and Pentecost services, and committed ourselves anew to being disciples on the way… Crazy Christians in the Jesus Movement, as Presiding Bishop Michael Curry would say. We have embraced the spiritual inventory of RenewalWorks, and its invitation to deepen our spiritual relationship with God and others. We are on the journey, and there have been many markers along the way that show us we are on the right path.
We have celebrated baptisms, weddings, and life’s end; we have completely renovated our wonderful historic church, inside and out; we have celebrated the Eucharist together in the church, in the parish hall, on the patio, and in a tent on the field. We have served people in need of help in Denver at St. Francis Center, day shelter for the homeless; served dinners to our community at Dinner at the Rock; given food at Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving for local families through the Task Force; supported families in crisis with Christmas gifts and support through the Crisis Center.
We have visited and spent transformative weekends with men and women incarcerated in prisons through Kairos Prison Ministries; helped the Youth Group give love to our community with Laundry Love, BBQ and prepared meals to folks at Castle Rock Motel; Blessed Bikes and Bicyclists and all manner of vehicles at Perry Park Rd. We blessed doggies in our midst at church and all kinds of creatures, including bearded dragons, at the Blessing of the Animals with Christ Church and Well of Hope Church in October. We have packed Thanksgiving Meals for 12 local families, and are now in the midst of again preparing Angel ornaments for our Angel Tree of Christmas gifts.
So it is with a joyful heart that I invite you to give thanks for all that we have shared in this last year. In all of our work, play, worship and prayer, we have sought to follow our Lord more closely and faithfully, to serve those we have encountered, and to love our neighbors more deeply – to love and forgive as we ourselves are loved and forgiven by our Lord and Savior.
We look forward to the journey with Mark – and we invite all who would like to explore and journey with us to please come join us. That’s the year that was in brief… the year to come remains a mystery and a blessing to be discovered. Come and join us in the journey!