For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
If someone who was not familiar with Church of the Redeemer came to you and asked you to tell them about Redeemer, what would you say? What if they asked you, “What is Redeemer’s greatest treasure?” How would you answer that?
Where do you think Redeemer’s treasure is?
I have heard from some that the new building over there is our treasure. I have also heard things like Redeemer is a rich church and has plenty of money hidden away where no one can find it, and that’s Redeemer’s treasure!
I have heard Redeemer described as a church that treasures a country club elite status.
So, Redeemer, I am asking the question, where is our treasure? I’m going to take a stab at answering this question. Let me know how I do.
This year, Redeemer’s Mission and Outreach committee, combined with the amazing, and I mean amazing, I’m not just using the word for added emphasis, amazing Thrift House volunteers to give away a total of $326,912 to worthy causes. Redeemer gives that money away to help others be God’s hands in our community. That money feeds and houses the homeless, empowers children to have a better start to the school year through Day 4 Hope. It sends missionaries of all ages to the Dominican Republic to join with our Dominican brothers and sisters in Christ to build up the church. That money helps to protect people who have been caught up in sex trafficking, it helps plant seeds in third world countries so communities there can feed themselves. It helps fund seminarians so they can graduate from school without crippling debt, and so much more.
This year so far, Redeemer has added 52 new members! 52 new members have decided to call Redeemer home, to come to this church to worship almighty God. We have been able to continue growing year after year because all of us are so in love with this church that we can’t help but invite people to come and see. Come and see what we are doing at Redeemer. Come and see our many outreach efforts. Come and see the value we put on youth and children’s ministry. Come and hear our fantastic music programs and our Sunday morning and Saturday night choirs. Come and see that this is a church that treasures its members, and loves building people’s relationships with Jesus through fun, art, music, and liturgy, and always with love.
This past week, Redeemer, through the hard work of many volunteers, but especially through the work of Melissa Long and Beth Bob, has put on the most fabulous Vacation Bible School (VBS) program in the entire Episcopal Church. While the rest of the Church uses canned VBS material, here at Redeemer, we build a custom VBS program based on how the Holy Spirit moves the leaders of VBS. They then empower the numerous volunteers who give their time and talent all week to ensure we build a firm foundation of faith for all these children to stand on. This week we had 96 adult volunteers, 78 middle and high school volunteers, all so that 115 children could come through this holy place and encounter the risen Lord. They came to Redeemer and learned that God always has their back, always and everywhere. Jesus was, in some cases, even introduced to some of these children for the very first time. Through and in the love of Christ, Redeemer was empowered to reach out and shine the light of Christ into the lives of all these precious souls, through arts and crafts, creative teaching, and fantastic music led by Dan Cartlidge and Ann Stephenson-Moe.
And all of this was done under the watchful and loving care of Jacki Boedecker, who I am pretty sure someday will be canonized as a saint of the church mainly because she deals with the clergy with such grace and patience!
I could go on for days talking about the amazing things Redeemer does. Talking about all our accomplishments, and how many people this church has taught to love our Lord since it was established.
I could talk about our new ministry to foster children, which has already had such an impact this year that the Manatee County Sheriff just reached out to us this week requesting more bags for foster children because they recognize where Redeemer’s treasure is.
I could talk about the acolyte program; I could talk about our ministry for singles, the GATORS. I could talk about a new ministry getting ready to kick off for widows and widowers, and on and on. You all get the idea.
The fact is, Redeemer is a rich church – rich in our relationship to God, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I can tell you where Redeemer’s treasure is.
Our treasure is in our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
It begins right here on Sunday mornings with the Holy Eucharist, where we all come to worship our Lord and to receive His body and blood. And from here, we, as followers of Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit, go out into the world and reflect God’s love to the people we meet. Every single ministry here at Church of the Redeemer is a mirror that reflects the source of all love, God, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.
Redeemer’s treasure is our unwavering, unapologetic, and all-encompassing love of God.
So, tell everyone you know that we have a treasure here at Redeemer, and then invite them to come and see.
Sermon preached by the Rev. Christian M. Wood
Church of the Redeemer
9th Sunday after Pentecost
11 August 2019