Sermons 2003-2004

Jesus, the Archbishop, and Annual Council The Dark Abyss of Schism
Home | Christmas Eve A, "Are we really ready?", Luke 2: 1-20, 24 December 2004 | "Finally! Well, almost...." Advent 4A , 19 December 2004, Matthew 1:18-25 | Faith and Doubts, Advent 3A, 12 December 2004, Matthew 11:2-11 | John the Baptist, Advent 2A, 5 December 2004, Matthew 3:1-12 | Left Behind? Advent 1A, 28 Nov 2004, Matthew 24:37-44 | Some King of kings! Proper 29C, 21 November 2004, Luke 23:35-43 | "Not one thrown down", Proper 28C, 14 November 2004, Luke 21:5-19 | All Saints and for all the saints, 2004C, 31 October 2004, Luke 6:20-36 | The Lambeth Commission Windsor Report, the Pharisee, and the tax collector, Proper 25C, 24 Oct 2004 | "Lord, teach us to pray." Proper 20C, 17 October 2004, Genesis 32:3-8, 22-30; Luke 18:1-8a | "It's all in the choosing", Proper 23C, 10 October 2004, Ruth 1:1-19a; Luke 17:11-19 | "Increase our faith", Proper 22C, Luke 17:5-10, 3 October 2004 | Proper 21C 2004, 26 September 2004, "R&R: Response and Relationships", Luke 16:19-31 | Proper 19C 2004, 12 September 2004, "Lost and Found", Luke 15:1-10 | Proper 18C 2004, 5 September 2004, "Preaching or Meddling", Luke 14:25-33 | Proper 16C 2004, 22 August 2004, "The Narrow Gate ", Luke 13:22-30 | Proper 15C, 15 August 2004 | Proper 14C, 8 August 2004 | Proper 13C, 1 August 2004 | Shrinemont: "Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses", Proper 15c, 15 August 2004 | "Lord, teach us how to pray," Proper 12C, 25 July 2004, Genesis 18:20-33; Luke 11:1-13 | The Summary of the Law and the Good Samaritan: "Go and do likewise" Luke 10:25-37, 11 July 2004 | Independence Day 2004. "The Creative Tension of the Church: Who is to be included?" | "Now! Now! Now!", Proper 8C, 27 June 2004, Luke 9:51-62 | "Star Throwers", Proper 7C, 20 June 2004, Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 9:18-24 | The more things change the more they remain the same, Pentecost 2C, 13 June 2004 | "O Holy Triune God, most Holy Trinity; here are we. Send us." Trinity C, 6 June 2004 | "Come, Holy Spirit", Pentecost C , 30 May 2004 | "That they all may be one", Easter 7C, 23 May 2004 | The Holy Spirit: Paraclete, Pneuma, Ruach, Easter 6C 2004 | Agapate Allelous: Love beyond each other, Easter 5C 2004, 9 May 2004 | The Good Shepherd and the five people you meet in heaven, Easter 4C 2004 | "The God of the Second Chance -- and of many chances", Easter 3C, 25 April 2004 | Baptizatus Sum: I am baptized, Easter 2C 2004 | It is NOT an Idle Tale: Easter Sunday, 18 April 2004 | Palm Sunday-Passion Sunday Roller Coaster: What We Want or What We Need? | Who are the Wicked Tenants, Lent 5C 2004 | The Prodigal Son -- and so much more | God, the Gardener, and the Fig Tree | "The Hen and the Fox", Lent 2C | The Comfortable Rut of Ordinary Temptation | "Getting from Uh-oh to Aha", Luke 9:28-36, Epiphany Last C, 22 February 2004 | Jesus, Jeremiah, and the Beatitudes: What to Make of it All | The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon: God working in the world | Jesus, the Archbishop, and Annual Council The Dark Abyss of Schism | The Nature of Revelation: Jesus' Sermon at Nazareth | The Miracle at the Wedding in Cana | The King of kings and the Lion King | "The Magnificat, Watching, and Waiting" | "Gaudete in Domino semper: Rejoice in the Lord always" | A Voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord." | "Standing in the Day of Battle: Isabel and the Gospel" | Dogma, Doctrine, and the Theological Enterprise | The Little Apocalypse | Jesus and theWidow's Mite | One Priest's Response to the Election of Gene Robinson | The Great Commandment: Jesus Meant What He said | Who is blind? | Eyes on Jesus and minds on mission! | Tradition or Traditionalism? | Credo: Be doers of the Word and not hearers only." | Who do YOU say that I am? | "It's about Power and Winning" | Contact Wicomico Parish Church
Epiphany 4 C 2004 Luke 4:21-32 (Note: Some punctuation marks were unsupported by the web program and have been removed)

We have just returned from the 209th annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia. The theme of the Councils deliberations and worship was the magnificent creedal summation and formulation: One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism.

It was a joy and delight to have a very special guest as our chaplain at the 209th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia. He was and is the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Robin Eames, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. Archbishop Eames is the Senior Primate of the Anglican Communion and is a close friend to both the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and to our own Bishop of Virginia, Peter James Lee. I occasionally had the pleasure of talking with him during his visits to the Seminary during his time as chair pf the Anglican Consultative Committee of the Anglican Communion. I came to admire him greatly and do so even more now as a result of his time among us at Council.

Archbishop Eames is also the head of the recently appointed Commission of the Anglican Communion to find a way to recommend to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion ways of finding our way through the current crisis and still staying together.

As an aside I am heartened by the recent statements of the Plano people that they intend to remain within the Episcopal Church even though their confidential plans, discovered by the Diocese of Western Tennessee, seem to suggest that their ultimate goal is a fundamentalist takeover and the destruction of the Episcopal Church as we know it. They would then replace the Church that has nurtured us with Gods love with a religious organization that conforms only to their particular orthodoxies.

Although the message that Archbishop Eames brought to our Council was based on his lifelong reflection on the 17th chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John, the Fourth Gospel, it has great relevance to the scripture lessons for today. Let me first read the particular verses from which he drew his meditations. The context is Jesus great high priestly prayer in his final discourses to his followers. In it he is praying for them:

Father.14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

20 I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Archbishop Eames pointed out that Jesus words rarely cause us comfort; that our Lord speaks to us across the centuries beyond time and space to challenge us. Jesus challenges us to remember who we are as Christians and what it is we have been given to do. That when there is turmoil, uneasiness, and fierce disagreement in the Church of Jesus Christ we are in danger of playing into the hands of the Evil One if we forget who it is we serve Jesus and what it is we are about mission. That was Archbishop Eames first major point.

Mission. What is our mission? Our mission is to go into all the world, telling and spreading the Good News and showing the world by what we do that we love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our minds, and with all strength and that we love our neighbors as ourselves. It is in the Gospels, the heart and core of our faith, that we find this in the words of God himself, in the words of Jesus.

Look at todays lessons: Jeremiah did not want to obey the word of the Lord. And God said this to him: You SHALL go to all to whom I send you and you shall speak whatever I command you. (Jer 1:7)

And Saint Paul warns us of the danger from those who dont use their gifts to build up the Church. And indeed the subtext is that a greater danger is from those who use their gifts of position and power to go even farther, to tear down the church actively. The result of that is to take our eyes off of Jesus and take our minds off of mission. Archbishop Eames stressed time and again that if that happens we cease to exist as a Church.

We can see a hint of this in todays gospel when Jesus is speaking in his home church the synagogue in Nazareth where he learned Torah Law and the prophets and writings that were extant in that place. As long as Jesus only read from the scroll of the prophets Isaiah, they loved him. But when he began to interpret it and to tell them what it meant in terms of himself, that he had fulfilled the prophecy the Greek term has some connotations of completion they were enraged. It was more than a psychological rejection of his words; the congregation turned into a lynch mob intent on his death and destruction.

What Archbishop Eames taught us as his second major point, made during his sermon for Friday Nights Holy Communion, is that Jesus speaks truths that are almost impossible for his followers to bear. It was true of his inner circle, the Twelve, it was true of the rest of his disciples, and it is true of his disciples today. For us today it is almost impossible for us to bear in a world largely indifferent to the Good News Jesus asked us to proclaim about Gods love: This truth that Jesus spoke: so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

What this means is the truth of One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, the truth that we are to take to an indifferent world that views Christians largely as irrelevant. Said Robin Eames, we may be irrelevant but dont forget, Jesus chose us we havent chosen him. And this truth shall set us free.

His final point, made during his reflection Saturday morning, was this: Jesus high priestly prayer in John 17 was not just a praying; it was a doing. It was a doing to the God of pure unadulterated love for us seen through a servant Christ. We must guard against losing a sense of the humanity of Christ be cause Christs humanity is at the center of our experience of God and provides our only way of possibly understanding God. The prayer Jesus taught us, the Lords Prayer, is a very human prayer. And his own desperate prayer in the garden of Gethsemane is a very human prayer.

The good Archbishop closed with this threefold admonition about prayer as the one cementing, healing factor of every difference of opinion, interpretation, position, or stand. But we are first called to prayer to glorify the God who loves us. Second we are called to prayer to accept the salvation brought to us and offered by Christ. And finally we are called to turn our very lives into prayers of doing.

Those of us who were part of this annual council arrived there with some awareness that in recent months we had looked into the abyss of schism and we didnt like what we saw. The resolutions in our hands before Saturday would certainly have led to that.

Most of us at Council were of the center. We did not wish to be dominated by the radical liberals with their fuzzy vision, flabby theologies, and feel good social theories as yet unproven by fact, science, or test of time. Nor did we wish to be dominated by radical fundamentalists with their limited vision, narrow and inadequate theologies, and severe judgmentalism.

We believed that the truth lay somewhere between these two extremes but that much scriptural exegetical work, time testing, and scientific endeavor needed to be done before we had more answers to the questions of human sexuality which were the presenting cause of our view into the dark abyss of schism. Sounds like the classical Anglican work of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason, does it not? And the actual resolutions passed at Council spoke to this and to reconciliation among all of us in the diocese. We seek to be a model to the whole Episcopal Church and the world on how with Gods grace this can be done.

Council has given us the time to begin the work that needed to be done before the last General Convention, and it will be underway shortly. I thank God for the calm steadfastness of the Bishop of Virginia in the face of insult and abuse over the past several months. And in bringing Robin Eames to us to give us the spiritual foundation and strength to close the abyss at least for now.