Fr. Beasley shared a version of this talk in our gathering on Sunday evening.
Christians have been gathering to worship God on this corner since 1912 and in this building since December 5, 1926/ Think of those generations of faithful witnesses to Christ in this place, how their prayers and praises have bathed these walls on Sunday; how their tears fell on these cushions at their funerals; how their joys were shared in baptisms in that font. They are our Communion of Saints.
Grab hold of whatever part of a pew is near you and feel it. Solid, isn’t it? They have been here for almost 100 years, sturdy, just uncomfortable enough to keep most of you awake. You may have one of them that you think of as yours. It was someone’s before and will someone else’s someday in the future, because God does have a future for this church.
Look forward towards the baptismal font, where sin is forgiven, where children decked out in lace die with Christ and are raised with him, as anxious parents watch, where they are sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever, though they know little of what is happening to them, in a covenant moment of pure grace. They become part of the family of God, stretching back to the foundations of this church and past that foundation, through countless generations of the church catholic, to that band of Galileans who first followed Jesus of Nazareth.
Look further up at the altar, where God the Son is willing to be known in bread and wine, where the sacrifice of the Cross is pled to God the Father, where the Spirit draws together the prayers of us all and closes, for a moment, the distance between heaven and earth, between 1926 and 2022, between the first advent of our Lord Jesus Christ and the great day of his return. See the words above it: Porta Coeli and Domus Dei; this is very “gate of heaven” and “house of God.”
Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear know that to be true, that this is no ordinary building. It is house of God and the gate of heaven; it is a place that transports us from one plane of awareness to another, by the action of the Holy Spirit. Our prayers and praises here are joined to those who went before, to those who will come after, to those who sing and pray on a further shore and in a greater light.
As those who are here now, certain things fall to us. To pray with fervor, to serve gladly, to worship beautifully, to plan and administer, to know and love the neighbors God has given us. And, we remember this season, to give of our earthly treasure, so that those who come after us will have the same chance we have been given, to encounter the risen Lord here in the life of St. John’s church. You would not be here tonight if you weren’t ready to do so gladly, if the Lord had not already put it into your heart to build on the firm foundation that God has given St. John’s. I hope a pledge card has reached your home. The are available at the back of the church and online at https://stjohnscolumbia.org/make-a-pledge/. We hope to have your pledge by All Saints’ Sunday, November 6. Nicholas +