Thank You! Thank you very much for the many ways in which you have blessed Christ Church and the many people she serves. Thank you for participating in the life and ministry of this community of faith. Thank you for joining us in worship, whether indoors, outdoors, or online. Thank you for the Christmas wishes. Thank you for celebrating Christmas with us; some of you rejoiced in your hearts, some of you prayed online with us, some of you sang some of the old familiar Christmas hymns and carol with us, some of you had your little communion kit we blessed with you so that you could actually share in the Eucharist with us.
Some of you could not see your children or grandchildren - loved ones you have celebrated every Christmas with since they were born. Denis and Cindy could not travel to New York to be with their daughter and grandchildren. Marjorie and Paul could not host her daughters and grandchildren. She shared with us on Tuesday that this is the first time in forty-seven years that she has not spent Christmas with her oldest daughter. Mary Kay Tucci told me that she met her children and grandchildren at the park. Jim Collins shared with me that her daughter visited but they socially distanced all through her Christmas visit.
Besides Denis and Cindy, Marjorie and Paul, and Mary and Jim, many of you have similar stories and experiences that tell of how difficult the year has been and how different Christmas has been. The one thing that warms my heart is that you did celebrate Christmas. As tortuous and lonely as it may have been, you did celebrate it.
Someone described the past year as being in a disco with all the lights - blue, red, green and yellow - rolling around without knowing which particular light you can follow with your eyes. Tomorrow, we begin a new journey into a new year. Remember all the excitement you had at the beginning of the year? Remember all the plans you had at the beginning of the year? It has been a turbulent one, but turbulence only brings out the character in us. We are not out of the woods yet, but we will be in a matter of time. The one thing that I want you to focus on as we welcome a new year is one thing you would want to accomplish during this next year.
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus reflects on the cost of being a disciple and then makes a startling observation to the crowd. He says in Luke 14:28-29 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it. Lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him.” Jesus does not talk about someone intending to build towers, but a tower - one thing. Remember, the tower at Jesus’ time was like a storehouse, and for farmers, building a storehouse meant the ability to preserve and keep produce.
To build a tower - that one thing - means making a decision. You have to decide whether you want to build a tower, or not. As we make a turn for the New Year, you have to decide which tower you want to build. Yes, the past year has been challenging, but what is that one thing you want to do in the coming year which is different from what you did this past year?
No decision is made out of a vacuum; that is what Jesus seems to be saying. To decide, you have to consider the cost involved in making that decision and to evaluate whether you have the necessary resources to complete the project. That is why our focus should be on simply building a tower, that one thing we know we have the capacity and the necessary resources to accomplish. So, as you prepare to welcome the new year, I need you to figure out which one thing you want to accomplish. More than that, I need you to evaluate whether you have the resources to make that happen and, should you lack, how do you plan to secure the needed resources. Your decision can be the defining moment in your life.
There is a story of a special moment in the life of a university student. Each week, he attended the same seminar. He could not concentrate on the documents studied in the seminar because he was captivated by the face of another student who sat almost opposite him each week. He got no impression she noticed him, but he could not take his eyes off her. He actually dropped the course, but he kept on attending the seminar just to look at her. Eventually, he plucked up the courage to ask her to join him on a bike ride. They cycled about ten miles together until they reached a great castle. And at that point, she looked around at her fellow rider, and in an instant, he knew. He knew he would marry her. He knew they would be together. He knew whatever challenges life threw at them; they would face them together. It was his defining moment-the moment he decided on the one thing that would make all the difference in his life.
You also have an opportunity to decide on building a tower - that one thing. Do not saddle yourself with too many towers; just one tower is enough for you. Even if you drop the class, keep going because you know what it is that you want from it. As we make a turn for a New Year, figure out which tower you want to build. Calculate the cost involved in bringing it to fruition. Plan every step of the way and execute the plan to your own surprise and that of your loved ones.
As awfully terrible as life might be at this moment in time, remember that life has a peculiar way of smiling at you with favor. In all the struggle, God has been gracious and blessed us with more than we can ever desire or deserve.
I do not know the decision you have made or intend to make, but I implore you to keep your focus on the one thing that you can build. As we make a turn for a new year, I know you have the chance to start anew. As the Chinese proverb goes: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Without that first step, you cannot build the tower. So, what kind of tower do you want to build in 2021?
The good news for you and I is that that one thing could be anything - yourself, your relationship with God, family, friends, colleagues, career, and everything in-between. Whatever it is, your first step may lead to a storehouse of goodwill. And so, do not hold yourself up. Do not limit yourself. Do not count yourself out. Let the New Year be the beginning of building a new tower-that one thing.
Like St. Paul, I always give thanks to God for you, my beloved, and I wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!