All too often we approach faithfulness from a selfish perspective. Our desire in wanting to increase our faith or to be more faithful to God is usually wrapped up in some desire for life to be better for us. “If I had more faith, I wouldn’t worry as much.” “If I trusted God more, things would turn out better.” All too often we think of faith as part of our skill-set that we should hone so life will be easier. Rarely do we look at faithfulness as our worship of God, as our love of God that he invites as a response to his love for us, our recognition of just who God is.
What’s on your list of the five most important things to you? You’re reading this so I’ll bet that God is on that list. Maybe family is on the list. Health. Work. Financial security. Community involvement. Your good name. All of those are pretty important. Now if you’re real honest, where exactly is God on that list? You’re like me so I’m guessing it depends on the day. Some days God is number one. Some days he slips to four or five. But he’ll be back to number one in a few days. He kind of moves around depending on what we need or how the other things on the list are going.
What I’ve just described is probably the opposite of faithfulness. Years ago I read a list of the 20 biggest party schools in the country. The list had one prominent school at number one with an asterisk beside it. Then it listed the other nineteen schools. Then at the bottom the asterisk appeared again and noted that the school listed as number one really deserved its own list altogether. None of the other nineteen schools should even be on the same list as that school, the note explained.
God shouldn’t just be on our top-five list. God should be a list unto himself. God should be at the center of our lives. We should worship him because that is meet and right, not just because it helps us feel better. God should be at the center of our lives and we should deal with our list of important things to tend to from that centering. Faithfulness isn’t moving God up a notch or two. Faithfulness is putting God in the center of all my efforts. Faithfulness is trusting that God is tending to things in the best possible way. Faithfulness is appreciating all that is being accomplished by God’s grace and knowing that the things that aren’t going the way I think they should will ultimately be resolved by God. Faithfulness is taking all my concerns to God in trust instead of taking God to all my concerns as a fix-it man. God is not there for me to use when I need him. God is there to be worshiped, loved, and trusted.
Your Vestry has just returned from our annual planning retreat. The primary thing we identified, along with all the many positive things going on in this parish, is that we need to encourage a deeper commitment among ourselves. For many, our church involvement is just one more thing on our long list of things to squeeze in. We weigh church offerings against school, family, work, and leisure, and we get to the church things when we can fit them in. Surely God wants more from us than to just be one more thing on our list of things to juggle.
Lent is that time of preparation which asks us to examine ourselves, our priorities, our choices, our faithfulness. It also reminds us that God is the center of the universe, not we ourselves. But we act like we are the center. We bring God in when we can fit him in. We move him up and down on our list of priorities. Lent asks us, not to move him up higher, but to put him on a list all his own. The Old Testament speaks of God as a jealous God. That doesn’t mean God is petty and pouts when we ignore him. It means that God wants more with each of us.
Our great model for faithfulness is Christ Jesus, the one who becomes like us so that we may become like God. That’s the promise of faithfulness, not that we would improve but that we would we would be transformed. Be faithful. Be faithful, not for yourself, but for God.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
Adult Inquirers’ Class Led by the Rector – Sundays in Lent
If you are an adult and would like to be confirmed by the Bishop on May 12, or if you just would like a refresher course in the faith, development, and teachings of the Episcopal Church, an Inquirers’ Class will be held during the Sunday School hour on the Sundays in Lent, February 17 – March 24. This course covers all matters of things Episcopal with attention to what distinguishes the Episcopal Church from other denominations, personal prayer and stewardship, Holy Scriptures, Church History, the Sacraments, the Liturgical Church Year, symbols, and the Book of Common Prayer. Presentations will be made each week with dialogue and questions encouraged. We will meet in the Library.
Family Promise Thank You
Thanks to everyone who volunteered for Family Promise: The Selman Family, Sarah Spratling, Jeanne Drummond, Mary Lil Owens, The Gamble Family, The Lawlor Family, John and Emmi Harrell, Valerie Wilkerson, Nancy Mitchell, Bob Young, Michael Clark, Charlie Harris, Nancy Bradford, Daniel Cenci, The Murphy Family, Delia Cerpa, Jean Smyth, Katharine Harris, Rebecca Miller, Mike Jarrell and the entire church staff. We had a very successful hosting week February 3-9 and it could not have been done without the help of everyone. There were two families in the program that enjoyed delicious meals and a good, warm and safe place to sleep for the week.
The mother of three children (ages, 6, 7 and 8) received two job offers while staying at St. John’s – Raycom Media and The Doubletree Hotel, both jobs in the marketing area. She will accept one of the jobs this week and hopefully the family will be back on their feet and stable very soon.
The other mother has a job and a teenage son who is doing well in high school. They just need to get life stabilized and re-established in a home.
Wednesdays in Lent: February 20 – March 20
Preaching Series at 12:05 with Luncheon to follow
Holy Eucharist at 5:30 with Supper to follow
Teaching Series at 6:30 by the noonday preacher (special series for children and for youth)
February 20 – The Rt. Rev. Lloyd Allen
Bishop of Honduras
February 27 – The Rt. Rev. Kee Sloan
Bishop of Alabama
March 6 – The Rt. Rev. Santosh Marray
Assisting Bishop in Alabama
March 13 – The Rev. Thomas Joyner
Associate Rector of Holy Trinity in Auburn
March 20 – The Very Rev. Ian Markham
Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary
Holy Week: March 25-29
Daily Word and Sacrament Offerings
The Great Vigil of Easter – March 30 at 7:30 pm
The Day of Easter – March 31
The Holy Eucharist – 7:00 am, 9:00 am, 11:00 am
Children’s Procession at 9:00
Our Episcopal Faith – A Sunday morning class taught by the Rector
February 17 – March 24, 9:15 am
Lenten Meditation booklets available in print or electronically