The following is the text of the address I made Monday night at our Annual Parish Meeting.
“This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day.”
So spoke Shakespeare’s Henry V on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt. This speech has echoed down the ages as a prime example of mideival leadership. In it, he spurs his troops onward with the thought of the ongoing glory they will enjoy for years to come. John’s Revelation records a similar song where the saints of God sing the glory of the victories won in Revelation 15:2-4.
“And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb…”
It is interesting that the saint’s song is here called not only the song of the Lamb, but the song of Moses as well. Isn’t God alone to be praised in heaven? Of course. However, the great acts of salvation are brought to bear in real life through God’s use of weak, empty, earthen vessels like Moses, you, and me. What this means is that each of us will spend eternity recounting before God all the great acts of His salvation even as He has worked it through His own servants.
Forever, I will sing the praises of God for how He worked salvation in my own life not only by the accomplishment of my redemption on the cross, but of how His servants proclaimed that good news to me when I was lost in darkness, and how I persevered in faith because of the faithful ministry of His people. I will forever praise God for sending a young undergraduate named Robert Sturdy to share the Gospel with me, so that for the first time in my life I understood that we are made right with God by faith and not by works. I will praise God for the ministry of The Reverend Sandy Key, the chaplain at The Citadel who first showed me what godly character in ministry looked like so that I believed him when he told me about Jesus. I will praise God for the ministry of saints at Trinity like Rod Sanders and Frank Sloan who have kept me encouraged through the trials of ministry.
Likewise, each of us will sing the praises of God for the work of His servants in our lives. The question is, will God’s praises be sung because of our lives works? Are we laboring for that which will result in eternal glory? The mission of Trinity is “to Share the Gospel and make Christ-centered Disciples.” This means nothing other than equipping each of the saints to so labor that their works will be to the eternal praises of the one who has saved them.
This work happens in unassuming ways. Small groups, bible studies, one on one bible reading are all means by which we are training one another for the work of the ministry. It is our desire not only that every person at Trinity would be trained and equipped to follow Christ, but that each of us would be trained and equipped to exercise our gifts to help others to grow as disciples of Jesus.
In the course of the past year, it has become increasingly obvious to me that our ministries are currently overextended, hampering our ability to fulfill this mission. Chris Bear and I began discussing how to resolve this last fall. It became clear to us that Trinity did not have the strength or the momentum to continue to support Coastal Fellowship and move forward with our mission.
After much prayer and discernment, Chris and Zhenya Bear have decided to go off staff at Trinity and make Coastal Fellowship a mission of the Diocese independent at Trinity. From now on any support Trinity gives to Coastal Fellowship will be given as support to another ministry as outreach. Chris will stay on our staff through May to help support me as I search for a new associate and Coastal Fellowship will continue to use the space in our chapel.
I applaud Chris and Zhenya for this step of faith. They have courageously stepped out in obedience to where they feel God is leading them. Let us not be guilty for not supporting them in prayer. The congregation of Coastal Fellowship is to be applauded as well. They have stepped up to the plate pledging to support Coastal Fellowship to the tune of $50,000. I have been amazed at what has been accomplished through this enterprise in the last year and a half and I think that Coastal Fellowship will benefit from having Chris full time as their pastor and Trinity will be blessed as well having an associate who’s energy and time isn’t split between what is effectively two churches.
This associate will be tasked with creating the structures needed to produce a culture of discipleship at Trinity so that existing members can be resourced for spiritual growth and mission and new members can be grafted in to our body. Please keep this search process in your prayers. As you know, the associate’s position at Trinity is essential to our health and engagement in the mission of the Gospel.
And so as we enter on a new year of ministry, I am once again amazed at God’s grace and his working in this parish. I look forward to seeing what He has in store for us in 2014!