5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – February 4, 2018

Those of you who were here for Hurricane Irma in September remember how long it took to recover from the storm. There were quite a number of trees knocked down. Most neighborhoods were without electricity for at least a few days.

I enjoyed thoroughly the first night without electricity at the rectory. The humidity was low, and the lack of electricity meant that there were no streetlights or houselights. It was really nice to be able to see so many stars at night. By the second night without electricity, however, I was no longer impressed by the beautiful night sky; I just wanted my air conditioning running again. Job’s words in today’s first reading are a perfect summary of my sentiments on that second night without air conditioning, “Is not life on earth a drudgery?” (Job 7:1) It was real drudgery not to have the convenience of electrical appliances.

It is easy to take for granted the things we depend on for a normal life. I put very little thought into my regular use of electricity, air conditioning, a wifi connection, gasoline, groceries from Publix, and other similar conveniences. I did, however, notice their absence immediately after the hurricane.

The more than fifty diocesan administrative offices and ministries are the types of activities that can be taken for granted rather easily. They operate behind the scenes to serve hundreds of thousands of people. We probably wouldn’t think about them at all unless they ceased or disappeared.

The diocese provides mentoring for couples approaching marriage, faith formation for children and youth, training for lay ministers, and, as Deacon Scott explained last week, formation for the Permanent Diaconate.

The Diocesan Diaconate Office has been extremely helpful to All Saints over the years. Deacon Jack was in the diocesan training program many years ago. He was a student in one of the classes I taught for the Diaconate. Deacon Pete was referred to All Saints by the Diaconate Office when he moved into the area three years ago. Deacon Scott, of course, was ordained just about four months ago. Although he is a parishioner of All Saints, there was no guarantee that he was going to be assigned here. We’re very fortunate to have him ministering in the parish.

The other administrative offices and the ministry offices operated by the Diocese provide similar benefits to us, to the other parishes in the diocese, and to a wide range of people in need – not the least of which are victims of the hurricanes last year. It’s easy to take those activities and services for granted, but we would be much the poorer in their absence.

All of those necessary behind the scenes activities are funded by the Annual Pastoral Appeal. Most of you received a pledge card in the mail about two weeks ago. If you did not receive an envelope, but would like one, the ushers will provide you with one now.

Last year, we met our goal easily. This year’s goal is a little higher than last year, but I know we will have no problem collecting the $112,901 that is our assessment for 2018. I ask each of you to make a pledge to the Annual Pastoral Appeal.

Each year, when I make my pledge, I am reminded of the irreplaceable services that APA provides. The Diaconate Office has an annual budget of around $300,000. Our parish contribution to APA goes a long way toward sustaining the Diocese’s administrative and ministry activities.

I’m very grateful to Deacon Scott for his witness about the Diaconate training program, and I’m very grateful for your support of APA. You can mail your pledge to the diocese, or place it in the Offertory collection today.

I remember very clearly the moment that Duke Energy restored electrical power to the neighborhood where the rectory is located. I couldn’t see any of the work and effort that went into giving my air conditioning back to me, but I perceived immediately the results of that work. In a similar way, the workings of the diocesan offices are often unseen, but their effects are very visible. The three good men who are our parish Deacons are proof of that. Your faithful support of the Annual Pastoral Appeal guarantees the continued benefits of ministries and activities that take place behind the scenes but provide tremendous blessings to our parish.