The Last Sunday after Epiphany
100th Anniversary of the Consecration of Grace Cathedral
The Very Reverend Steve Lipscomb, Dean

Exodus 24.12-18; Matthew 17.1-9

In 2007, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the beginning of Grace Cathedral / Grace Church, and the first worship service held in 1857 at Constitution Hall on Kansas Avenue. Constitution Hall was the gathering place for the people of Grace, until the first Grace Church building was completed at the corner of Seventh and Jackson in 1865. In 1879, Grace Church was designated as Grace Cathedral, the cathedral of the Diocese of Kansas, which at that time encompassed the entire state.

In 1888, arrangements were made to set apart the northeast corner of the Bethany College campus for the construction of a new Cathedral and a cornerstone laid for Guild Hall, which included a worship space, a gym, a parish hall, church offices and Sunday school rooms. A residence for the dean soon followed. In 1910, the cornerstone was laid for this grand Cathedral, and on March 4, 1917, 100 years ago, it was completed and consecrated to serve as the Mother Church for our diocese.

And so, today, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of that event, the consecration of this Cathedral, as well as the 60 previous years (1857-1917) of new starts and new beginnings for Grace Cathedral. They are events that represent milestones in the life and journey and stewardship of a people, generations of people.

We give thanks for those who came before us—those who dreamed, and planned, and built, and cared for this place and for us, who would come after them. And today, we think about and celebrate our church community, past, present, and future.

In our first lesson this morning, we hear and recall the story of another people with many new starts and new beginnings. The Hebrew people’s story begins with Abraham and Sarah, setting out for the new beginning God has for them. They leave their original home for a new place. Following God’s direction and promise, they venture forth confident that God will provide, not just for them but for generations to come. And God blesses their faith. A nation is born, and grows.

Through Isaac and Jacob and Joseph, there are starts and stops, blessings and hardships, but the community prospers until they become enslaved in Egypt, but eventually, God sends a deliverer in Moses, and the people are set free. Moses’ climb up Sinai marked the beginning of a new community of Israel as God’s people. After 400 years of slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh, God gave them laws for following under his gracious and grace-full rule. He reminded them that HE was their God, and THEY were HIS people.

Likewise, in our gospel lesson, Jesus’ climb up the mountain signaled a new beginning. We hear the same words spoken by God at Jesus’ baptism and the beginning of his ministry. Now, we hear them as he sets his face toward Jerusalem—the beginning of his march to fulfill the purpose for which he was sent: the salvation of the world and the bringing together of every person into the family of God and a community of faith under the gracious rule of the king of kings.

One hundred and sixty years ago, a new church began, a group of people gathered together to worship God in Topeka, Kansas, and chose the appropriate name of Grace, as they began a new venture in a new land, a new frontier.

Like Abraham and Sarah, like the Hebrew people venturing out from Egypt, unsure of what lay ahead, like Jesus, the people of Grace set out in trust and faith that the God they served would watch over them and bless their efforts. And God did bless them. From generation to generation they grew in people and in spirit. They prospered under the hand of a grace-full God. They built church buildings for worship and ministry, one generation building on another: one generation building for another. And just as we have been recipients past efforts, today, new
construction is underway so that we can better serve and minister to the people of God, those both inside and outside our congregation.

New beginnings are underway that will benefit not only this generation but many generations to come. That is what we celebrate today. Not just the 100th anniversary of this building, not just the 100 years past, but the next 100 years to come and our making provision for the future of Grace Cathedral—Just as the celebration and consecration of this cathedral in 1917, was surely a celebration of making provision for the church’s future: Of making provision for the church that is here, right now, today.

Bishop Sidney Partridge, then Bishop of the Diocese of West Missouri, was the preacher at the Cathedral’s consecration service. In that sermon, he reminded the congregation that (and I quote), “this building is not the goal, but the beginning.” Not the end but the means for ministry in God’s name. May the same be said for what we do and what we build together today.

When Peter was on the mountain with Jesus, when he caught a glimpse of the glory of God, and of things past and things to come, he said, “It is good for us to be here.”

Let us echo those words today. “It is good for us to be here,” celebrating this time, our time of remembering the past, and our time of action and stewardship today, and in preparation for the future. Let us count our blessings as one generation among many before, and many to come, serving in this place, this city, this diocese, our God.

In this great edifice, built to the glory of God, and for worship and prayer and ministry in God’s name, let us not miss the glory of God’s shining face, and his loving grace that shines upon us today, just as it did for God’s people then, and just as it will for God’s people tomorrow.

Let us remember that
As long as we build with the Lord,
As long as we listen when God speaks to us,
As long as we open our doors and our lives to the needs of the poor and marginalized and lost,
As long as our young see visions and our old dream dreams for a better world,
As long as we live and dance the resurrection story of Christ,
As long as there are songs of love and dreams of peace in this place,
Then this place will be a beam of hope and light to this dark and broken world.

As we celebrate 100 years of ministry in this place, let us give thanks and glory to God, whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.
Let us glorify God from generation to generation.

And in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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