Pentecost 3

 June 10, 2018
2 Corinthians 4: 13-5:1 ~ Psalm 138 ~ Mark 3: 20-35

Love is the Way

Jesus is tired and hungry. He hasn’t had much of a break since he started his public ministry of teaching and healing and critiquing some religious leaders.  Just prior to this morning’s reading, he picks twelve of the most unlikely people to be his disciples, including four fishermen, a tax collector and a political zealot. Twelve people who would never normally hang out with each other.  That’s the thing about Jesus, he brings unlikely people together.

Maybe a tired and hungry Jesus is a little edgier than usual because, as the crowds around him grow, the religious leaders become more and more uncomfortable.  Some think he’s taken leave of his senses.  Others suggest his power and charisma come from the devil himself.  As tensions rise, his family arrive on scene. Worried about his safety and well being, they try to restrain him, but to no avail.

Now, I have to say, of all the possible gospels for our last Sunday together, I would not have chosen this one. But we are Anglican, and we follow the lectionary. And -as my homiletics professor used to say,  If you can’t find something relevant in the day’s gospel, you’re not looking hard enough.

And so one message that stands out for us today is a reminder of the importance of working together as a community. Because a house divided against itself will not be able to stand.

When you read through the letters of St. Paul to his various communities, you will see a common theme of encouraging people to work together for the glory of God and the good of the community.  We are to build up not tear apart.

Paul reminds the church in every age that we all have the same spirit of faith. That is what unites us. He also reminds us that we should never lose heart but continue to look beyond any momentary afflictions and keep pulling together toward what lies ahead.

Well, the people of St. Paul’s have been faithfully travelling together through some unsettling and unchartered territory.  As Brian McLaren says, we have been making the road by walking. And it’s taken both faith and courage to keep on going, especially when patience was wearing thin and some folk thought we might have taken leave of our senses.

But as we walked together in faith and in love, we learned that even in the midst of our differing ideas about worship, there is more that unites than divides us.  We care about one another and we care about the wider community.  Just like that motley crew of early disciples, together we have been able to accomplish far more than anyone might have imagined.  Beginning with a bell tower and upstairs washroom to a parish house repurposed for ministry, we have achieved quite a bit together. And in the midst of it all came a three-year-long tsunami of deaths, and a painful struggle around finances, music and worship.

But now, St. Paul’s is in its resurrection phase.  New finances, new people, new life, new ministry all are flowing here once again.

This morning I feel a little bit like Moses standing on the edge of the land of promise: excited for the people because of the possibilities in your new tomorrow, albeit under a new leader.

God has been faithful and it easy to join the psalmist and say, We will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all our hearts, and we will sing your praise. We will bow down and praise your name, because of your love and faithfulness. Your love endures forever and you do not abandon the work of your hand.
(Ps 138) What’s important now is how we live into the tomorrow we have been given.

Two weeks ago, we pondered my favourite questions of Who is God for you? and Who are you in relations to that God?  Scripture tells us that God is love and that we are called to live into the power of that love by loving God and each other and caring for all creation.

God is love and, as Bishop Michael Curry so recently said, There so much power in the love of God shown to us in Jesus; power enough to change the world.

We live in a world that has more than enough anger, hate, envy, narcissism,  apathy and greed. What it needs for healing and wellness is and to experience communities that practice patience, compassion and love; an unconditional concern for the well being of all creation.

People need to experience communities where folk treat one another like a healthy, caring family, children of the one God. I believe that our churches are meant to be such communities and St Paul’s is well on its way to becoming such a place.

In 1994 Marty Haugen wrote a hymn about the church as such a place, as a house where love can dwell and all can safely live… that is a rock of faith and vault of grace … where the love of God in Jesus is revealed in time and space … creating holy ground where peace and justice meet … and division are healed… and all are welcome in this place.  (©Marty Haugen. All Are Welcome. GIA Publications, Inc., 1994).

That vision of the church sounds a whole lot like pockets of the kingdom of God on earth. And it seems to me that Jesus mentioned the importance of seeking that kingdom, that commonwealth of God, a time or two.

God grant us all the courage and faith to pursue it, where ever we find ourselves.

And, in the days to come, I expect to hear good news of how the commonwealth of God is flourishing here in Almonte. God be with you as you grow.

Pat Martin +

On the occasion of her retirement from full-time ministry.