My “State of the House” address from tonight’s annual meeting

My “State of the House” address from tonight’s annual meeting May 20, 2013

85 people eating red velvet cake and participating in the HFASS annual “Big Fat Deal All-Church Meeting”

The State of the House.

I say we take a second to think about this year together.

There is so much to consider, so much to mourn, so much for which to be grateful to God and to one another. So let’s not mistake miracles for luck or grace for work and let’s take a moment to think about 12 months in our life together.

Raise your hand if you were not here, or were not an active part of this community 12 months ago. Look for a moment who God sent to be our brothers and sisters this year.  Were this all we were given this year it would be enough to celebrate it all night long.  But there is so much more.

We sometimes say that an Open Eucharistic table is at the center of our life together here at House for All Sinners and Saints. And hundreds of people have come to the table of Grace here – some receiving the Eucharist for the very first time. But you have also extended this table into your lives and into the world. You meet bi-weekly to break bread and pray together in Supper Clubs, you bring food to share at monthly potlucks and volunteer to cook for your church at our community meals.  You bring monthly home-cooked meals to GLBTQ youth at Rainbow Alley and you’re bringing meals every week to Bill and Dawn as Bill goes through a tough round of chemo. You’ve handed out donuts in a bar on Fat Tuesday and You’ve planted, tended and harvested our community garden so that the Food bank has fresh produce to give away during the Summer. You brought 1000 people Thanksgiving lunch during Operation Turkey sandwich – including that one sad guy working by himself at the adult bookstore on Colfax who teared up and said “wait, your church brought me thanksgiving lunch…here?” and you were like, “yeah. Happy thanksgiving”.  I love how you share the gifts of God which are free and for all.

And then there’s the font. When Cassie emailed me from California seeking the waters of baptism you reminded me that we have an open table and that  we should have an open font too. And you celebrated as Sherry and Luella and Joe were also welcomed into the family of God.

Together this year we’ve lived through the Aurora movie theater shooting and Newtown and Boston. When nothing was making sense and you didn’t know what else to do, you came together and prayed with such honesty that it was sometimes hard to hear. On Good Friday you gathered where a woman had taken her life and the lives of her 2 young children and you laid tulips and sang Holy God Holy and Mighty Holy and Immortal, Have mercy on us. And the hurting people on the block noticed a random group of Christians who came to pray and sing and how for a moment a light shone in the darkness and the junk yard dogs were silenced. And then you went home to await the dawn. And the next night, again, as only people who have experienced death and resurrection can do,  you defiantly sang alleulia despite it all.

You have opened your hearts to each other. I’ve never known people who pray so fervently on one another’s behalf. You are willing to show vulnerability in asking for prayer and show such love in offering it.  Your daily postings during Advent about Christ’s presence in your lives were some of the most beautiful things I’d ever read. Somehow your ability to speak truth and hold suffering never create a pathology because you take turns being the one who needs and the one who gives. It’s remarkable. I do not know why God has given this gift to us, but I know it’s rare and it’s not to be taken lightly.

This past year you have also shared your pastor with the broader church. Allowing me to preach the Gospel and tell the story of what God is doing among us. And this has mattered to more people than you will ever know.  It has given hope in places you may never visit. Thank you for that. And thank you for coming together and doing all the work it took to write a 26 page grant proposal so that I can have a kick-ass sabbatical.  Pray without ceasing that we get the money or else I’ll just end up watching Netflix for 3 months. Seriously, it made me feel very loved and cared for.

You’ve passed around babies and had day time family friendly holy week services and knowing how disruptive the Eucharist is to everything we hold dear, even silence, you have smiled when kids run around during communion.

You’ve baked bread and set up countless chairs and stayed and wiped counters after everyone else has gone.  You made stations of the cross and performed readings at the vigil. You so beautifully share the work of being this church together and you sing like a choir of angels – really, really sinful angels.

And oh my gosh do you guys laugh all the time. You’ve roller-skated and blessed bikes eaten your weight in red velvet cake and belted out old hymns at the top of your lungs in the basement of a bar. A couple weeks ago 2 dozen of you showed up to the Municipal building in the middle of the night to bless some civil unions blowing bubbles in celebration. The next morning your faces hurt from smiling.

And once, once… Amy Clifford was the fiery furnace.

This week Barbara Brown Taylor, a wonderful preacher and writer, took me out to coffee and when she said “tell me about the church you serve” she said that when started talking about this congregation my face lit up. “You are obviously in love” she said and she’s right. Not that you don’t also make me totally crazy, of course you do. And I make you crazy and somehow we seem to all get over it pretty quickly.

I cannot thank God enough for all God’s abundant blessings on this church and I cannot thank you enough for being a people who pray and laugh and show up and work and speak truth and welcome the stranger and love God and love each other.  We really aren’t that great a people – I have no idea why God has been so good to us. But I know God has.  So let’s not mistake miracles for luck or grace for work and just be grateful as hell for the last 12 months of getting to be House for All Sinners and Saints.




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