Bob Cornner

Bob Cornner
Visting St. Andrew's Torrance

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Scripture Passage for 2014  

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."       
 Matthew 6:19-21(NRSV)

Laying Up Treasure In Heaven

This may sound like an odd opening to my Report for this past and coming year, but I hope by the time you have finished reading it, you will understand what I am trying to communicate.

This past year of 2013, we have seen a very long and successful ministry known as The Casa De Los Amigos come to an end after over 38 years (incorporated March 28, 1975) of service to the seniors of the greater South Bay area.  This parish and their priest at the time, The Reverend Phillip Schuyler, the second rector of Christ Church, saw a growing need for low income housing for senior citizens and with God’s grace and the support from the larger community and HUD, they built a beautiful 136 apartment home at 123 South Catalina that continues to serve our neighbors.

The Casa ministry is a clear example of what it looks like to “lay up treasure in heaven.” When the project of building this beautiful home started, it was not intended to be a money-making venture. In fact, it involved a heavy investment of time, talent, and treasure from this parish and the larger community.  Over the 38 years, this parish has continued to lay up treasure in heaven through the brilliant leadership of those members from Christ Church, Saint Cross and other community leaders who have been on the Casa board.

When I arrived at Christ Church the leadership of the parish and the Casa Board of Trustees expressed their belief that it was time for Christ Church to turn the management and ownership of the Casa over to another trusted entity. Bishop Jon Bruno responded to this call and through a very complex, expensive, and challenging period worked with our board and the Episcopal Housing Alliance (a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing low income housing and affiliated with the Diocese of Los Angeles) to buy the Casa and to honor our desire that the Casa De Los Amigos building be maintained as a low income housing project for an additional 50 plus years.

The Bishop laid up treasure in heaven so that the Casa gift to the community could be a continuing reality.

The Casa Board has served this parish with distinction, competence, and grace. Under the excellent leadership of Rob Robertson, The Casa De Los Amigos non-profit corporation has dissolved and has given Christ Church $3.1 million dollars. To be sure, this gift might be seen as a reason for us to just let the interest or even part of the principle be used to pay for keeping Christ Church going. We might be tempted to “lay up our treasure on earth.”

Laying up treasure on earth is contrary to Christ Church’s way of being a community of faith and contrary to God’s way of being and giving. Treasure that becomes an end in itself and not a way to create healing, forgiveness, reconciliation, and community can easily become a source of division, envy, resentment, strife, and spiritual death for us.

The coming years will be about finding ways to lay up treasure in heaven. We will need the prayers, engagement and commitment, gifts and human resources of time, talent, and treasure of this whole community of faith and our neighbors who wish to be part of this process. God is calling us into God’s future, not the future of Christ Church.

Our Gospel for the Sunday of our Annual Meeting contains the call of the earliest disciples.
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea-- for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
 Jesus is walking by the shores of the South Bay and inviting people to follow him in casting our nets to fish for the unmet needs and concerns of our neighbors. In following Jesus, we learn about the treasure laid up in heaven in the wise and gracious use of the gifts we have received.

In God’s grace, we will find that in another 38 to 40 years, a future gathering of Christians, will be able to proclaim the Good News of God in Christ in this neighborhood and community because we have laid up treasure in heaven and found new and exciting ways of bringing heaven to earth.

Pray for wisdom. Pray for grace. Pray for your vestry. Pray for all of those who are engaged in seeking to know, love, and serve God.

May our nets be thrown high and wide and may the needs of the community be revealed.