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Saint Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church

An Episcopal Church in the Anglo-Catholic Tradition Where All Are Welcome

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
12 July 2009

A Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Dr Andrew C. Blume

O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people who call upon thee, and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfill the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Amos 7:7-15
Psalm 85
Ephesians 1:1-14
Mark 6:7-13.

Although God calls us to be messengers, we can’t control how others will hear the message. Our message is the Gospel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ that says God sent his son Jesus into the world so that everyone may be sheltered within his all-encompassing embrace; and that that embrace is nothing less that love, unconditional love. And in thanksgiving for the gift of that love we are made messengers, ministers of that Gospel of Love.

It is our job to preach this Gospel at all times and, to quote an old saying attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, if necessary to use words. As out Baptismal Covenant say, we are to proclaim this Gospel by word and example. Indeed, I am not suggesting you go off and make a sandwich board, inscribing upon it some phrase like “REPENT!” and head up to Broadway to make yourselves known. I am suggesting, as I have done often from this “pulpit,” that how we live, what we do with our lives and in our work, and what we tell people about it can be the most powerful expressions of our life as Christians, our life as the Baptised, our life as the Body of Christ.

This is what God does, he is constantly calling to his people, constantly sending forth his love. And send out Love he does. He stands ready to embrace us. This is what Jesus did in his ministry, this is what Jesus showed us from the Cross, this is what Jesus gives us in the Resurrection

In Baptism, in that share in Jesus life, death, and resurrection, we are given the power to incarnate and imitate this love. We are called to go out into the world and preach the Gospel at all times. We are called to do the work of healing, of reconciliation, of making peace wherever we are, whether people get it or not. The more Love the world experiences, the more people will respond in Love. We do this where we are and in the ways we know best. We come to understand this work and hone our skills through careful discernment, work that all Christians are called to do.

Having been nourished by the Sacraments, we are called to be ministers of the Gospel of Love and yet, as I said at the outset, we can’t control how others will hear the message. Not everyone gets it. There is much happening in this world that seems inimical to embracing the love of God. In our own city we experience poverty, racism and sexism, and other forms of injustice; how much more in other parts of the world? Those who perpetuate these evils may not be ready to hear or see how God’s love can turn hearts and use these evils for the Good. Some will not recognise our work as that of the Christian life, others will belittle it and say it has no meaning or impact, others still will simply not know what to do when confronted by manifestations of unconditional love out there in the world. Even those of us who think we get it don’t always see that love when it comes. Nevertheless, our job is to stand firm for that Gospel of Love and make its message and impact known. This is hard work and this is why we never do it alone. Jesus sent his disciples in pairs and they all returned back to Jesus to share with him the stories of their work. We all have the love and support of our brothers and sisters in Christ, here in this place and also around the world. In this place, all gathered together, we receive the sacrament that regenerates us each time as the Body of Christ. We must never forget how much we are loved and how much support we have.

As Jesus said to his disciples, so I say unto you, “Where you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them.” If we do these things, do them using our unique gifts and talents, if you “preached that men should repent,” that is turn their lives towards God, towards Love, you too, will, in your way, a way that has great meaning to God, “cast out many demons, and anoint with oil many that were sick and heal them.”

Andrew C. Blume+
New York City
Benedict of Nursia, 11 July 2009

©2009 Andrew Charles Blume