25th Anniversary Celebration

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Anniversary homily
On Sunday, October 11th, Holy Family Episcopal Church celebrated the 25th anniversary of its creation. Deacon Cathy’s homily for the event is shared below. A special hospitality hour was hosted following the 10 AM service to allow congregation members a chance to share fellowship and good memories about Holy Family.Anniversary cakeAnniversary food
Homily by The Reverend Cathy Scott
in honor of Holy Family’s 25th Anniversary 
 Mark 10:17-31

Happy Anniversary! Today we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Holy Family. We are such a forward-looking parish, but today we remember our past, those parishioners and clergy who nurtured and raised up this church with their vision and prayer and hard work.

As a church and a community, we are formed by our history.  Our faith is based on a collection of writings dating from antiquity.  In scripture, we read the stories about what God did for His people thousands of years ago. We tell the story of our risen Savior just as it was told the first time, two thousand years ago. That ancient Word captures our attention and our hearts and forms us as the people of God today.

Our faith is further shaped by centuries of Christian history. We affirm our belief using the words of an ancient creed; we sing hymns hundreds of years old; we practice rites and liturgies performed by the earliest Christians.  Indeed, we have inherited a powerful witness. The 12th century theologian John of Salisbury wrote this in 1159:

“We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.”

When I was thinking about the many hands and hearts that have brought Holy Family to this moment in time, I remembered a work of contemporary art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It is by a Korean sculptor, Do Ho Suh, and is simply called Floor.  It is a grid of 32 squares. Upon entering the gallery, viewers are invited to step up onto an expansive platform covered with thick glass plates.


Beneath the glass platform, small specks of color are visible. Looking closely, those specks of color are the small palms of figures assembled below the glass floor. Hundreds of sculpted men and women crowd together with heads upturned and arms raised up.  The collective strength of this group supports the weight of individual visitors who step up onto the floor grid. To step onto the glass is to feel supported by so many hands.  In spiritual language, this art work represents for me the communion of saints, or a cloud of witnesses. It is a striking reminder that we are supported by those who have gone before us.  I recommend that you take yourself (and your children) to the IMA to experience this. I have watched children lay down on the glass for a long time, quietly looking at the tiny figures holding them up.  It is a transformative time for me whenever I step onto the glass.

Those that came before us have provided us a strong foundation through their labor and prayers and vision for the future. Holy Family today was, 25 years ago, a dream, a hope in the hearts of others.

The most important function of the past is to lead us into the future. Jesus made that plain. Jesus never let His disciples dwell on what had already been done. Their purpose was not to be found in where they had been, but in where they were going.
Our faith is born and nurtured within a sacred history, in what God has done for us in the past, but our faith always leads us into the future. Jesus commissioned us and sends us into the world with a mission.
We have a responsibility to our youth, to prepare them for what they will face in life, to give them a solid foundation of faith, tradition and scripture. Our willingness to commit to our youth is witnessed in the building of a larger educational wing and in the strong educational programming we provide.

We have a responsibility to our elders, to help meet their needs in a changing world. We have a responsibility to the community around us, to proclaim the good news of salvation and to be examples of Christ’s love. Our mission statement is very clear: We bear witness to the Light of Christ by serving as the heart and hands of Jesus, nourishing people and transforming lives.

The Gospel today focuses on the question of eternal life, that good news of salvation we are called to proclaim.  The rich man wants to know how to get it. The disciples want to know who can have it. We hear about leaving our families, selling our possessions and giving our wealth to the poor. And, as good Episcopalians, we ask if there isn’t possibly a “middle way.”   The good news that Jesus offers is this:

 “… for God all things are possible.”

The rich man ran to Jesus and knelt before him, earnestly desiring salvation, thinking he knew the way. Jesus’ response went deeper than the man anticipated.  But before Jesus responded to the man, the Gospel clearly states, Jesus looked at him and loved him. Jesus loved that man, and saw deeply into his spirit.  Jesus identified the one thing the man needed to let go of in order to grasp the love and wholeness of the Kingdom of God.  That man was unable to let go of those possessions that, in reality, possessed him. As we look to the future, the question we must ask ourselves is: What possesses us to the exclusion of God?

As we move into the next 25 years of discipleship at Holy Family, are there things we need to let go of, individually and as a community, in order to live more fully in the Kingdom of God?  Will we let go of fear that keeps us from fully offering that radical welcome of the Gospel to all that enter our doors? Will we allow God to fill our hearts with love for our neighbor, whether that neighbor is across the street, across the aisle, or living on the margins of society? And we will open ourselves to the vision God has for Holy Family as we move into the future, confident in God’s love for us.

May this holy village forever inspire you, love you, and stretch your abilities and imagination. May you come to know what God can do through a community that faithfully desires to follow Christ. I will close with this prayer from our Jewish brothers and sisters and the Shabbat Siddur.
May the door of this sanctuary* be wide enough
to receive all who hunger for love, all who are lonely for friendship.
May it welcome all who have cares to unburden,
thanks to express, hopes to nurture.
May the door of this sanctuary* be narrow enough
to shut out pettiness and pride, envy and enmity.
May its threshold be no stumbling block
to young or straying feet.
May it be too high to admit complacency,
selfishness and harshness.
May this sanctuary* be, for all who enter,
the doorway to a richer and more meaning life, Amen
(Mishkan T’Filah, Central Conference of American Rabbis, 2007)
*original word was synagogue