Sunday, July 21, 2013

Proper 9 + Year C + 2013

The story is told about the baptism of King Aengus by St. Patrick in the middle of the fifth century. Sometime during the rite, St. Patrick leaned on his sharp-pointed staff and inadvertently stabbed the king’s foot. After the baptism was over, St. Patrick looked down at all the blood, realized what he had done, and begged the king’s forgiveness.

Why did you suffer this pain in silence, the Saint wanted to know.

The king replied, “I thought it was part of the ritual.”


Baptism…what does it mean to you?  More importantly what does it mean to God?  Confirmation…it too begs the same question.  Then there is Ordination…well everyone knows what that means right? While we're at it, let's throw in Matrimony for good measure!  

 
Each of these is a commissioning.  With God: it is a "co-mission-ing." That is kind of like "God is my co-pilot" although I do think that saying should be more "God is my 'pilot'"! That is to say that the Christians sacraments are commissioning into service. It is the Christians:  vocation, calling freely embraced joyful opportunity to be a presence of God in the world. Mission Impossible?  Not if we participate in the process. 

 

Paul wrote to the Philippian Church: " Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure."  The Message (Phil. 2:13) 

 

All too often in the Christian Army, we want to be servedCin fact we are offended if we are not!  We don=t see our first obligation to IHSBX to get in there and get involved in the fight of God=s Kingdom against that of the world.  We hire bishops, priests, and deacons to "do" the ministry..  Too often the norm is: the ministersCminister and the congregation congregates.  Is this God=s plan for us?

 

Let me quote from the service of Holy Baptism two things:  "Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised them to the new life of grace. Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen."

 

and "We receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood"

 

The courage to will and to persevere,.. Confess the faith, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood  Is that what we're thinking about when we bring anyone to the baptismal font???  And with all of the cultural rituals that have grown up around this fundamental sacrament of the Church???  This is not a sermon primarily about baptism, but it does lay the foundation for mission!  One thing is crystal clear: the Christian mission is two-fold both beginning at baptism..  First, to minister to the Body of Christ, Secondly, to minister to those who are not yet a part of that Body.

 

I.                   In the gospel for today, Jesus' second Commissioning was the Commissioning of the 70.

A.                They were sent to the surrounding areasCWith very basic instructions

1.                  The harvest is plentiful, laborers few: pray the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers...but don=t stop thereCGoCas lambs among wolves

B.                 What?  Doesn't Jesus know anything about advertizing? You know something catchy like: "be all you can be." This isn=t going to be an easy, nice experience, not necessarily. People who are sick are not always pleased to be told that they have a fatal illness. Self assured and determined people, even if they have an inner sense of need don=t necessarily like to be told that only God can fill it.

1.                  Don=t make a lot of plans or provisionsCtrust Me to supply what you will need. Can we live by that much faith?

2.                  It is the image of the Church on the move.  Not a settler mentality but pioneer mentality.  Not the farm and city but the covered wagon living off the land. 

a.                   When the institutional church becomes the Asettler@ church, it nearly always forgets MISSION!

(1)               Jesus said "travel lightly, don=t accumulate a lot of things you will  have to carry with you! That takes effort and stops mission. Paul wrote to the Colossian Church " God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.:"

Who me? Christ in ME? the hope of glory? Yes YOU!

 

II.                There are a number of things to digest for St Thomas Parish this morning..

  1. There is an urgency about communicating the Kingdom of God to people.  Life is very uncertain.  What may be as Paul said from God: "For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation." 2 Corinthians 6:2

A.                God the Spirit is the bringer of souls but we need to show up so he can work through us.! That's the plan!

a.                   Christianity is hopelessly incarnational.

(1)               This means God uses us for Divine purposes.

2.                  God will provide for our mission.

a.                   The greatest sin is rejection of the Kingdom messageCmessengerCJesus and GodCall in one package.

B.                 One commentator wroteCAthe eager witness and service of all of the Lord=s disciples is needed before those to whom they are being sent will believe that there is a Kingdom of God that could draw near to anyone.

1.                  It is our duty to get preparedCto be prepared to fight for God with the weapons God gives. Love, faith, listening, praying, reaching out to let God love others through us.

 

III.               God calls on each of us to bear one another=s burdensCto bear the world=s burdens. Galatians 6 says in the earlier verse in this chapter: "bear one another's burdens and fulfill the law of Christ."

A.                John Wesley saidCAthe world is my parish.@

B.                 God has established a law of sowing and reaping. You reap what seed you plant.

1.                  What seed do you sow?  Seed that satisfies me for now?  Seed that reaps a spiritual harvest? The temporary or the eternal?

2.                  We cannot expect any kind of relationship with God any kind of growth  toward Christ likeness to serve without continuously sowing in order to grow.

C.                 Do you remember  the words of Cain to God in Genesis, Aam I my brother=s keeper?@  That is exactly what we are on Christ=s behalf and for Jesus= sake.

1.                                      One of our missions is to support others as God enables us. 

a.                   Have you ever wanted to help someone carry some heavy problem but they wouldn't let you?

b.                  How many persons have wanted to help us deal with something but we refused to share that burden with them?

(1)               Maybe you=ve offered to help someone carry something and they=ve responded a @tough guy@: Anope, I=ve got it@ and oops! 

2.                  For most of us the problem isn't finding someone to help us carry our burdens, it's our willingness to SHARE our burdens so they can help carry them.

a.                   Many of us find it easier to help bear the burdens of others than to share our own with others. For then we are operating from a position of strength. We are not the person in need. We're not the weak one. We're the strong one. It makes us feel good to be able to help.

3.                  But Paul wrote: "for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong"( 2 Corinthians 12:10)

a.                   Was he nuts? No!  It's very much like the AA idiom: "let go and let God."  Release your need to be the co-pilot!

 

We are called become focused about our vocationCwe are Christians.  Christianity is costly first to Jesus then to us! We are called to become skilled at our faith.  Only the person who runs to the end can claim to finish the marathon.  What if we don=t know the right way or words or afraid of failure? Writer Cheryl Faber said: Asomehow we never see God in failure but only in successCa strange attitude for people who have the cross at the center of their faith.@  But we want Pentecost without a cost!  We want Easter without Good Friday!  We want Christmas without leaving the throne in heaven!  What costs nothing to us is worth little.  Perhaps that is why we can so rarely speak as St. Paul does of  Athis great salvation@.  Grace is freeCbut it isn't cheap!  Do we want to glory in the cross? Then the hard part, we willing to do the work to which we are called. 

 

  1. All to Jesus I surrender;
    All to Him I freely give;
    I will ever love and trust Him,
    In His presence daily live.
    • Refrain:
      I surrender all,
      I surrender all;
      All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
      I surrender all.
    •  

2.      All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

    • Refrain:
      I surrender all,
      I surrender all;
      All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
      I surrender all.

And God asks: "do we? do we really?"

 

 

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