What is St. Philip’s? I came to St. Philip’s at a very young age. But why did I come, what made me get up in the morning put on my Sunday best and come to St. Philip’s? At the time it was my mom making me go, and the knowledge that there would be delicious goldfish at Sunday school. Over the years the reasons have changed. And now I come for something that I did not know I would find. Something that at first was difficult for me to define, faith.
The dictionary definition of the word faith is, “a firm belief in something for which there is no proof”. Well let me tell you there is proof. I am living proof, we are living proof, St. Philips is proof of Gods work in the world. Faith is why we get up in the morning, why we put on our Sunday best, and faith is why we come to St. Philip’s.
Today’s Gospel, tells us about a Shepherd, and a familiar voice. When I first read this Gospel I thought, what is Jesus saying? The practices of the Episcopal Church encourage me to ask questions and go deeper than just a reading in church. Verse 4 “…he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” Who is your Shepherd? Do you know his voice? I know the voice of my Shepherd, I know the voice of St. Philip’s. Our mission statement at St. Philip’s is, “St. Philip’s In the Hills Parish is a strong and loving community that welcomes, encourages, and empowers all to grow in Christ and to do God’s work in the world.” To paraphrase today Gospel, The strong and loving shepherd leads the sheep from the church to welcoming, encouraging pasture that empowers them to grow in Christ and to do God’s work in the world.
I can think back now to my 6th
grade year in my math classroom there was a poster that said, “Life, the road
where construction never ends”, much like
I have been empowered and I have grown more than I thought I could, more than I thought any one person could grow. It was just yesterday I was in the 7th grade standing in my front yard. “Where are you?!” my voice choking “Why aren’t you here?!” I yelled to God, I demanded that he show himself, I needed help. You guessed it, St. Philip’s was there. St. Philip’s showed me how God has always been there. I will be the first one to say life is hard. Drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, the stresses of life; There were time when, I wanted to give up, to stop. Why should I keep going? I asked myself.
Why did I not give up? I stayed clean and sober because I had a support system. But why am I still alive, I’m here today because of St. Philip’s. And for that I say. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
It may have seemed as if I had just said thank you three times. Let me clarify. Thank you to God, Thank you the all those who lead us in worship, and last but not least Thank you to everyone that has ever been a part of and to everyone that will be a part of St. Philip’s in the future. God changes lives, my life is better because of what I have learned and how I have grown in Christ. St. Philip’s In the Hills is doing God’s work in world I am proud to be a part of it.
And the Lord said “I am the gate, whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” I have entered the gate I have been saved, I am heading out. And I know I will continue to find more and more pastures. There is hope and I am not alone. St. Philip’s is with me, God is with me.
Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.