Image via WikipediaThis weekend, the people of Trinity Church, Boston celebrated their 275th anniversary. As part of that celebration, they combined their morning services into one grand liturgy at 10:00am. Trinity is a fabulous church. The magnificent building was designed by the famed architect, Henry Hobson Richardson under the leadership of Trinity's renowned rector, Phillips Brooks. The exceptional organ and organists and talented choir ensure that the worship is majestic and inspiring. And so it was this morning. The processional moved me to tears as my senses were overwhelmed by the glorious sights and sounds.
Trinity's 275th anniversary happened to fall on the Sunday that we observe the Feast of All Saints'. On this day, we recognize the role of all people of faith - not just those who are famous. We give thanks that God works through all of us (past and present) who are open to the movement of God's Spirit in our lives.
The preacher this morning was the Reverend Peter Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in The Memorial Church at Harvard University. Gomes is thought by many to be one of the most influential preacher in the country. He did not disappoint. Gomes used as his text Jesus' words from Matthew 5.14 - "You are the light of the world." Speaking to the people of Trinity, he reminded them that they had served as God's light in the city of Boston and beyond for 275 years. However, he encouraged them not to become comfortable in their celebration or to rest on their quite remarkable history.
Gomes offered two principle points. First, he reminded them that they are not alone. Second, he encouraged them that their best days were ahead of them. Regarding the first, Gomes said that no one does God's work alone. All of us stand with the countless saints who have gone before as well as with those who journey with us in the present. Of the second, Gomes reminded that although 275 years may seem like a long time, the future is much longer. Moreover, there is much work yet to do. There are still poor people, he said. There still are people who are sad. There are people who need to hear the good news of God's love.
We are the light of the world! How do we live into that reality? In his opening prayer, Gomes prayed that we might become masters of ourselves so that we could be servants of others. What a powerful prayer!
Here is my reflection on that. How hard it can be to dedicate ourselves to God's work without letting our own stuff get in the way. We seek to open our hearts to receive God's healing, God's strength, God's wisdom so that we truly can embrace that we already are God's children. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes, we don't master ourselves sufficiently and we limit our ability to serve as the light of the world. When that happens, we have only to repent, to learn from our wrongs and weaknesses, and to turn (as is meant by the word repent) and walk in a new direction. That is not as easy as it might seem, but God is with us as we make the move! In what direction do we turn and walk? We walk in the direction of servanthood. We walk in the direction of love. We walk in anticipation that what has gone before will not limit what lies ahead. Indeed, it shapes it, strengthens it, inspires it - but it does not limit it. Of one thing we can be sure - God continues to make all things new! God continues to redeem, to transform, to reconcile, to bring to wholeness that which is broken or damaged. God continues to bring light where once there was darkness. God uses what God heals! What good news!
As Peter Gomes told the people of Trinity this morning, I tell you now - none of us walk alone, and our best days are yet to come. Thanks be to God!