Sermons 2003-2004

The Lambeth Commission Windsor Report, the Pharisee, and the tax collector, Proper 25C, 24 Oct 2004
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

Proper 25C 2004 Luke 18:9-14

There is a modern parable about a young man who, once filled with religious fervor, decided that he wanted to enter a monastery. So he went to the nearest monastery and asked to speak to the abbot. Filled with excitement he knocked on the door to the abbot’s office and living quarters. “Come in,’ said the abbot, “and take tea with me.” The first thing the young man noticed was that there was a small horse on the dining room table where the tea service was laid out. It was a very small horse, and it lay curled up on the table sleeping quietly.

The old abbot and the young man took tea without any mention of the hose on the dining room table. And they talked for several hours without anything said by either about the horse on the dining room table. At the end of two hours, when the tea was finished, the abbot said to the young man, “It is time for you to go and seek your life in the world. You are not yet ready to enter the monastery. When you are ready – and you will know when – come back and take tea with me and we will talk some more.” The young man was shocked at this, and he left with a heavy heart.

This past Monday, the Lambeth Commission, chaired by the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland, the Most Reverend Robin Eames, released the Windsor Report. The Lambeth Commission was established by the Archbishop of Canterbury about a year ago to “examine and report to him by 30th September 2004, in preparation for the ensuing meetings of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, on the legal and theological implications flowing from the decisions of the Episcopal Church (USA) to appoint a priest in a committed same sex
relationship as one of its bishops, and of the Diocese of New Westminster [in the Anglican Church of Canada] to authorise services for use in connection with same sex unions, and [--here is the key part--] specifically on the canonical understandings of communion, impaired and broken communion, and the ways in which provinces of the Anglican Communion may relate to one another in situations where the ecclesiastical authorities of one province feel unable to maintain the fullness of communion with another part of the Anglican Communion.”

I have read the complete Windsor Report. It reflects the practical wisdom of the Archbishop of Armagh whose see includes troubled Northern Ireland and the spiritual and theological wisdom of the Archbishop of Canterbury himself. American Episcopalians have nothing to fear from it, if it is accepted in the spirit of humility in which it was written. And let us be clear – humility and humiliation – are not the same thing. In our gospel for today, it was the hated tax collector who was humble, filled with humility, pleading, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” It was the respected Pharisee who was arrogant, seeking to humiliate the tax collector with his self-righteous comparison.

Those archbishops, bishops, and primates who felt that they had a right to intervene in the dioceses and provinces of the Episcopal Church were taken to task severely by the Windsor. They were sharply asked to stop it, express their regrets for the consequences of their unauthorized and precipitate meddling, and cease and desist. The message was that in the parable for today: walk humbly before the Lord and your fellow humans.

The Episcopal Church was asked to express regrets for the turmoil caused by the action of General Convention – this will mean that a full response cannot be given until General Convention acts upon it in 2006. We were also asked to refrain from further action with regard to consecrations of bishops living in same sex unions and to place a moratorium on development of rites for blessing same sex relationships.

At the same time we were asked to prepare exegetical and interpretive documents on those two subjects as a way to open discussions within the Anglican Communion without eliciting the angry and visceral responses we have witnessed to date, for and against, throughout the Anglican Communion. The Lambeth Commission put it this way:

We particularly request a contribution from the Episcopal Church (USA) which explains, from within the sources of authority that we as Anglicans have received in scripture, the apostolic tradition and reasoned reflection, how a person living in a same gender union may be considered eligible to lead the flock of Christ. As we see it, such a reasoned response, following up the work of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA), and taken with recent work undertaken by the Church of England and other provinces of the Communion, will have an important contribution to make to the ongoing discussion.

In its concluding paragraphs, the Windsor report asked everyone to respond to each other in a spirit of generosity and charity. This may be difficult to achieve if the angry response from the Archbishop of Nigeria, who has been the leader of the hue and cry from the African bishops, on the day the Report was made public is any example.

Yet the lesson from Jesus’ parable for today instructs the American Church: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” We need to walk humbly before the Lord, always reminding ourselves that we can not be self righteous, we must not be judgemental toward those who revile us and interfere in our business, constantly reminding ourselves that we as Episcopalians, each and every one of us alone, and all of us together as the Episcopal Church and its institutions, stand in need of God’s grace and mercy and love. Love God and love our neighbors, Jesus told us. And in this global village, the Archbishops of Uganda and Nigeria are surely our neighbors.

So the horse is on the dining room table now, with the Windsor Report, which we ignore at the cost of our inclusion in the Anglican Communion. As for the rest of the story: Twenty years later, the same man, no longer so young, who had wanted to ether monastery and had been told to return to the world had had a successful career in the world and had achieved wealth and fame. But he knew that he was now ready to leave all that behind and enter the monastery. So he climbed the hill to the monastery and asked to speak to the abbot again.

He knocked on the door and the same abbot, also older, invited him to enter and take tea. As the abbot served the first cup of tea, the young man looked over to the dining room table and said, “I see you still have the horse on the dining room table.” At this the abbot picked up the horse and set it outside the room. Turning to the once young man, he said, “Now we don’t need the horse on the dining room table any more. Welcome to the monastery.”