On Saturday, December 20th, Saint Paul’s will celebrate the 90th anniversary of its founding in the living room of Mrs. J.H. Shepherd. On Sunday, December 21st, we will gather to celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent and the first day of our 91st year. As we look back on all that Saint Paul’s has done for the Kingdom since December 20, 1924 and look forward to all that God has in store for us over the next 90 years, the lessons for Advent 4 seem particularly appropriate; especially the words of young Mary as she responds to Gabriel’s word from God.
“Here I am.”
There is a popular saying in Pastoral Care circles that goes, “90% of ministry is just showing up.” I’ve found that to be true over and over again in my ministry. Just showing up, just being willing to say “Here I am,” can begin to do wonders for everyone involved. In the case of Mary, a very young woman, pledged to be married to a honorable carpenter, these words forever changed history as she presented herself, fully, the the Lord.
We can learn a lot from Mary’s example, but as important as it is to show up and say “here I am,” it is even more important for a community of the faithful to join together in saying “Here we are,” and that is exactly what Saint Paul’s has done for 90 years. “Here we are, devoted and engaged disciples of Jesus who are committed to bringing the Kingdom of God to earth in Foley, Alabama. Let it be with us according to your word.” Mary was present to the Lord and through her came salvation to the world. We have a chance to be present to God as well. As we live into our baptismal covenant by seeking and serving Christ in everyone we meet and loving our neighbors as ourselves, we share the good news of God’s love for the whole world and continue the work begun through Mary; the redemption of the world.