Sunday, August 05, 2018

Sermon: The Third Letter to the Holy Ones

I write this letter to you as the Lord’s prisoner
I write it to you the Holy Ones who continue in the faith of Jesus Christ.

          In case you’ve not heard me yet, I am imprisoned for your sake, and for your sake I plead that you walk in a way worthy of your calling—walk the way of Jesus.
My siblings, see that our Savior’s path encompasses our whole life. The Way is a gift that has been so good to me and the Church, and all of the Cosmos. Walking the way of Jesus is to be like a surfer, propelled by the wave of God’s grace and goodness.
          It is a journey we take after Jesus, but one we do not take alone—we go together, us Christians, we people of the Way.

          And I know, when we start talking about doing things together, being united in the great goal of our God found in his Son, it is easy to hop from unity to uniformity…
and if we were Pagans, surely that would be our goal—conforming and forcing everyone to fit in one mold and model,
but it is not so among us, we do not conform,
but confirm our relationship with Christ and with one another!
Our unity is the unity of a reconciled people, a people who can see difference and not jump to division… I hear there is a church in your denomination that has as its mission statement “Created in Diversity, one in Christ” that’s getting there, getting to my point!
          Our unity is not of blood or border, country or race
—and that means we have to hang in there with each other in moments of awkwardness and doubt
—we have to be humble and gentle and magnanimous
—I guess what I’m saying is that we have to love one another, and I’m talking about more than feeling, we have to love one another in an active, aware, intentional, forgiving and merciful way—that’s the kind of love that can bridge any barrier—that’s the kind of love and kind of community that finds its unity in Christ.
          Yes, there are many things that make us different one from another in Christian community (at least the kind I’m talking about) but we are all centered on the Christ, whom we follow…

          We are one body bound together by one Spirit,
just as we are called to the one hope of our calling,
one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
 one God and Father of all;
He is over all, through all and in all.
          I swear this will be the last time I talk about captivity, about being a prisoner… we’ve all been given gifts by Christ—in a sense we’re captured by those gifts—I imagine that is why I can’t help but evangelize—tell people about God’s love found in Christ Jesus—I was captured by the gift of the Evangelist.
          And we were given these gifts for a reason—so that the love of God found in Jesus might fill all things,
that all of creation might be what it is, good,
that the church might be what it is, the body of Christ,
that each of us might be who we are in Christ.

          Some will find they are apostles, some prophets, some evangelist, some pastors and teachers (poor saps). All of these gifts are meant to restore us to the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
so that there will be a unity of the faith,
so that we shall know the Son of God,
so that we will be little Christs and together fill the world with his Love!
          Let me make it plain, your wacky pastor does his thing with Glasses, Map, Hammer
—let’s just look at the map part of things for a moment…the goal, the “Map”—the destination! is a New Creation!
We have a variety of gifts, but one goal, all the world resurrected, renewed, built up in love!

          And as you live in this old world, even as you strive toward the goal of the world as it truly is in Christ, do not be misled…
the way of Jesus Christ is truly a unique way of life, and there are many other ways that seem easier or more in vogue or more successful…
          There are many pagan virtues practiced by your society that can knock you off balance, that will try to pry you from Christ—let it not be so… be on the watch and look out:
-you shall be tempted to slouch toward unfeeling acquisitiveness
-you will be tempted to hate instead of love, or even cease to care at all
-you will be tempted to see acquiring things as the greatest goal of life
-you will be tempted to be so stultified that only greed will move you
-you will be tempted to give up sensitivity for stimulation.

          But hold fast to that compass you have, Christ Jesus is your north star, navigate knowing that the center of compassion is Christ, that feeling for another person, and even more importantly acting in love for the sake of another person—is Christ working through you.
          Truly, be renewed—shed those temptations, let go of the old creature that you might be part of the new creation—put on the new person, the one created by God, the one being made right and holy by Christ Jesus.
Be the people this letter is addressed to, the Holy Ones who continue in the faith of Jesus Christ. Amen.