Today's lessons made me ponder the end of the Anglican Communion, as I was reminded of the end of the British Empire. Ten years ago, you'll remember, this weekend, the British returned Hong Kong to China.
Twenty-seven years ago, and a few weeks, I was ordained, and the church into which I was ordained no longer exists.
But hasn't Jesus been telling us this all along, not to put our faith in empires, to put our hand to the plow and not look back?? To go with Jesus on a missionary journey is a scary thing. Some churches, with full pews and large pledged incomes, have the luxury of pretending that those scary missionary journeys, strict and spare, are not for them. They are. They are for all of us, if we want an Episcopal Church that reflects the gospel imperative -- if we want an Episcopal Church at all. Put your hand to the plow and don't look back.
Proper 8-C July 1, 2007
1 Kings 2:1, 6-14 Psalm 77 Galatians 5:1, 13-25 Luke 9:51-62
Ten years ago the
As o'er each continent and island
the dawn leads on another day
the voice of prayer is never silent,
nor dies the strain of praise away.
So be it, Lord, thy throne shall never,
like earth's proud empires, pass away;
thy kingdom stands, and grows for ever,
till all thy creatures own thy sway.
Many of us are the products of that imperial church. Here in North America, of course, where we have recently celebrated 400 years since the founding of the English colony
Well, as the residents of
Look at what happened to poor Elisha. He was a dedicated follower of the prophet Elijah. “As long as you, yourself live, I will not leave you,” he said to Elijah. They travel a while, to the bank of the River Jordan, and in a whoosh of a chariot of fire, Elijah is taken up, leaving Elisha behind, wondering what would happen next. In the words of another old four-square missionary hymn, “Elijah’s mantle o’er Elisha cast.” Elisha now becomes
The Jesus we encounter in this week’s Gospel is serious, stern. We are not yet half way through the Gospel of Luke, but already Jesus’ face is set toward
Signing up for the
I’ve been thinking lately with all this upheaval in the Anglican Communion, and here in the Episcopal Church, that the Church into which I was ordained 27 years ago no longer exists. It feels like it is crumbling around my ears. What happened to Anglican reasonableness, to our pride in being the middle way between Protestant and Catholic, to all those wonderful hymns, missionary or not? What happened to a sense of security in this institution, to this church as a place where we could all go to be baptized, married and buried, to its reliability as an employer, a deliverer of pastoral care? We’re all on the banks of the River Jordan, watching something go rising up in a blaze of fire, although we don’t know quite what we are seeing.
Welcome to the missionary life. Apparently, if we read the Gospel of Luke correctly, this uncertainty is the way it has always been. The chief cornerstone of our faith is not this building, or any building, or any institution or empire. It is Jesus Christ, and to mix our metaphors, Jesus is on the move, to
Today’s reading from Galatians is one of those lessons from Paul we preachers would rather do without – a list of sins we’d rather not read about in church, thank you very much. But at the very end of the lesson, Paul gives us the reason why we follow Jesus, one way to describe what discipleship is all about: The fruit of this Spirit, Paul says, is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those are not the things empires can deliver, even empires based on the Church of England. But for we who live by the Spirit – who put our hands to the plow and do not look back – those are the fruits by which we will live.