Fr. Philip Eberhart
February 5, 2017
Welcome, my friends, to the Annual State of the Flock Address for 2017.
I think that many of us awoke on January 1, just about a month ago, happy that 2016 was in the rear view mirror! In looking back over the year, both personally and professionally, for our family and for the church here, it was a year of change, renewal, almost a year of "reset!"
For the Eberhart's personally, almost all are aware of the remodel of our house, that was accompanied by an almost clean sweep of appliances and systems, including our heating and A/C, our washer/drier, our dishwasher, and of course, the death of my long time friend, the BOB - Big ol Burb. Alongside all of those changes, came an accident at Val's work which broke her wrist and jammed her elbow and arm at the shoulder. We are still engaged in that fight as many know and pray for daily or weekly. For us the year, contained much upheaval and change. It felt as though we had a big "reset" button on the house that Someone pressed!
This past year has also seen significant changes here at REZ as well, especially in our staff. On the last Sunday night in June we had the only triple ordination I've ever seen, with Michael, our friend Jerry from Florida being priested and Ethel ordained a deacon. Along side that our Reverend ladies, Margie and Barb were received as priests by Bishop Bill on behalf of the ACNA and began to function fully along side myself, Edward and now Michael. Over the past year the Lord has been forging us into a team to lead REZ. You can see the new flow chart in your Report booklet outlining the many ministries and roles that each of us have.
We feel certain that God has brought us all together here at REZ for special purposes in His Kingdom. Over the past year part of the task has been to eliminate the feel that this is all the Fr. Phil show - the "one-man-band" that it has been for so many years. As I have been working more and more with Bp. Bill in our Diocese and in our City over the past couple of years, God has seen to it that the players have increased alongside me to bless this congregation and continue to grow it both in depth and in breadth.
Probably the greatest things that have happened this past year are these changes and the addition of truly amazing people who are willing to engage in ministry as volunteers in this parish. I, Mary and Bonephas remain the only "paid" employees of this parish, while we have a very active ministry staff of priests and a deacon who volunteer their time throughout the week and are very active in the ministries of this church. I wanted to say that very loudly for all to hear. We have been given an extraordinary pool of talent both in the clergy and in the laity at this church. The changes have been challenging at some points, but our focus is singular: We want to exalt Jesus Christ and to draw near to His presence here at REZ; We want to bring God's people to maturity, recognizing their own value and giftedness, taking their places in ministry as the Body becomes whole and sound; We want to be the Love of God, extended to the World, both near and far.
I am reminded of a line in one of my favorite Pentecost hymns: "tell of how a hundred people, turned the whole world upside down!"
When I talk about our church to people on the outside, in our diocese or across the city, I describe us as a "hobbit" church, small in stature, but with a great big hairy foot print! You all completely amaze me! In a few weeks you will have an opportunity to see all that we have our feet and fingers in, around the city and around the world. When you step back from it and look, it is really amazing what God has accomplished through this small faithful band of friends.
Part of my role in this talk is to remind us of who we are and to challenge us to new things!
In years past we've talked a good bit about the Acts 2:42 formula as a template for the life of our parish:
> The Apostles' teaching
> The Fellowship
> The Breaking of Bread
> The Prayers
Each of these parts are faithfully represented in our life at Resurrection from the central part the Word of God takes in our services and preaching and teaching, to the depth of fellowship and belonging that we all feel to and for one another, to the hospitality of the Lord's table and extending that, of our own tables, to the powerful presence of Jesus that we feel as we pray in various ways and venues in this church! The outcome of hitting that target is that we are in a place where love is the hallmark of our life together; Where prayer happens at the drop of a hat; Where funds are shared generously, as each has need; And finally, where people come to meet and encounter the presence of Jesus in His people, day by day. All of these things are realities, in this, my favorite church!
And today God is calling us further up and closer in!
The prayers and the life-verses from Scripture apply to us as the Body of Christ! Welcoming the Presence of Jesus Christ in the midst of His People is our goal here, the goal of all of us as clergy and we hope, all of us as worshippers together. Jesus said that the Father seeks those out who will worship "in Spirit and in Truth." We have always stiven, and continue to do so, to let the life of this parish run on those twin 'tracks'. The leadership of Jesus through the power of His Spirit and the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as truth about our life together and the world around us.
Over and over in these last days, as we pray, we have been hearing the prayers of St. Paul and his directions in Ephesians for this church. Let me just read a couple of his prayers for the churches in Colosse and Ephesus, and the directions he gives to the church in Ephesus...
Prayer #1 is from Colossians 1:
Prayer #2 is from Ephesians 1: Similarly, Paul prays ...