This Sunday our congregation will have its Annual Meeting. Why is that important? On one level it’s key to the functioning of our common life. We choose members of our Vestry -- those lay leaders who make decisions about the temporal concerns and priorities of our faith community in the year ahead. That in itself is a reason to show up. Even more so, what we do at the annual meeting is a concrete expression of how we understand the institutional church as Episcopalians.
Our whole structure begins on the Parish level with our vestry and clergy, we then send representatives to the convention of our diocese where both lay and clergy members have a voice and vote in matters of our diocese. That body sends representatives to the Convention of the Episcopal Church every three years, similarly, having voice and vote over the direction of our church as a whole. But it all starts in every parish and mission all across the Episcopal church.
On another level, and maybe even more importantly, the Annual Meeting is about celebrating our common life. We will have some reports from the Deans and the Wardens, and about Buildings and Grounds; we will hear about our finances and budget. And we also will share a meal and we will see photos of our life together in the past year. It's a time to think about where we have been and where we are headed. It's one of many celebrations of what it means to be in community together.
We celebrate those things frequently. Just last week we honored Hazel Baptist on her 102nd birthday. This Sunday we will celebrate Chinese New Year. In a few weeks’ time near Valentine's Day we will for the first time at St. John's invite all married couples to come forward to renew their wedding vows -- on the same day we celebrate Black History Month with the Feast of Absalom Jones. All of these very human celebrations are also deeply Christian, because it's through the joys and sorrows of everyday life together that we meet Christ incarnate and with us.