|Proper 10, Seventh Sunday After Pentecost||July 15, 2012||Proper 10, Seventh Sunday After Pentecost||Ephesians 1:3-14, Mark 6:1-13|
|Proper 9, Sixth Sunday After Pentecost||July 8, 2012||Sermon, Proper 9, Year B||2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13|
|Proper 8, Fifth Sunday After Pentecost||July 1, 2012||Sermon, Proper 8, Year B||Lamentations 3:21-33; Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Mark 5:21-43|
|Proper 7, Fourth Sunday in Pentecost||June 24, 2012||Sermon, Proper 7, Year B||Job 38:1-11, Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32; Mark 4:35-41|
|Proper 5, Second Sunday in Pentecost||June 10, 2012||Sermon, Proper 5, Year B (Second Sunday of Pentecost)||Psalm 130, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1|
|Trinity Sunday, Year B||June 3, 2012||Trinity Sunday, Year B||Isaiah 6:1-8; Ps 29; Romans 8:12-17;John 3:1-17|
|Day of Pentecost, Year B||May 27, 2012||Day of Pentecost, Year B||Acts 2:1-21; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15|
|➤Sixth Sunday in Easter, Year B||May 13, 2012||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B||Psalm 98, 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17|
|Fifth Sunday in Easter, Year B||May 6, 2012||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B||Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:24-30; I John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8|
|Fourth Sunday in Easter, Year B||April 29, 2012||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B||Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18|
|Third Sunday in Easter, Year B||April 22, 2012||Second Sunday of Easter, Year B||Luke 24:36b-48|
|Second Sunday in Easter, Year B||April 15, 2012||Second Sunday of Easter, Year B||John 20:19-31|
|Easter, April 8, 2012||April 8, 2012||Sermon, Easter Sunday, Year B||Mark 16:1-8|
|Good Friday, April 6, 2012||April 6, 2012||Good Friday||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday, April 5, 2012||April 5, 2012||Maundy Thursday||John 13:1-35|
Sixth Sunday in Easter, Year B
Sermon Date:May 13, 2012
Scripture: Psalm 98, 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17
Liturgy Calendar: Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B
Dealing with conflict is tough.
Almost all of us have had a relationship at home or at work shatter into so many pieces that we’re cut into shreds as these relationships disintegrate. All the parties are so injured that we can’t even begin to repair these relationships.
We stay so busy trying to manage our own conflicts—so busy putting our faith in the gods we have made of material things, of our particular mindsets, of our own worldviews—
In fact, in our society, where individual rights rule—I’d go so far as to say that we make gods of ourselves.
And making gods of ourselves brings disastrous results—
On a day to day basis, I’d say that in this country there is little evidence of the lived out belief that today’s Psalm expresses so beautifully — that God alone is God—the creator of the universe who has done marvelous things.
Look at the broken political relationships in our country right now—everyone at odds with one another to such a degree that the very way our government works has been compromised.
We have seen these shattered relationships in our own Diocese as well. Several years ago, seven churches withdrew from the Diocese as a result of conflicts over theology, which manifested themselves in conflicts over property, which then ended up being settled in court, to the detriment of our collective commitment as Christians to Christ’s work in this broken world.
Our passages today have some solutions to these seemingly intractable problems that revolve around conflict.
These passages go to the very heart of who we are to be as Christians.
These passages help us clear the way for God to break through the messes we’ve made and go to work in the world.
The words sound easy.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
But loving someone that you have a conflict with is hard to do, in fact, sometimes downright impossible to do.
But like it or not, if we want to be his disciples, Jesus calls on us to love one another, even our enemies.
So where do we start?
As disciples, the first thing we have to do is to remember a simple thing. In a fight, we have to remember who we believe the victor already is.
And that victor is God.
The psalmist says, “With his right hand and his holy arm, God has won for himself the victory. The Lord has made known his victory, his righteousness has he openly shown in the sight of the nations.”
Now the tricky thing about the fact that God is the victor is that we want to claim God for our own side, and we’ve seen how this thinking plays out disastrously in our conflicts.
Religious wars are horrible—and these wars come up time and time again in conversations with atheists and agnostics who argue against religion. “Look at how dangerous religion is,” they’ll say. “Look at all the wars religion has caused,” they’ll say.
And they’re right, but the problem is that people misguidedly claim God for their own side, and then they find themselves free to commit all sorts of violence against others because they believe that God is on their side.
We’d do well to keep Abraham Lincoln’s words in mind—
“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
And this God who IS always right tells us to “Love one another as I have loved you,” the second thing we need to keep in mind when dealing with conflict.
Now I want to tell you about two men who would be considered enemies in the eyes of the world, and yes, these two men have found themselves on opposite sides in the ongoing conflict we have experienced in our Diocese over the past several years.
But both of these men are disciples of Christ who arecommitted to following God’s commandment to us—that we love one another as God has loved us.
One of these men is The Rev. Tory Baucum (left), who is the rector of Truro Anglican Church. The other one of these men is The Right Rev. Shannon Johnston, the Bishop of Virginia (right).
These two men, finding themselves on opposite sides in a messy religious conflict, finding their respective sides facing off repeatedly in court over the past several years, made a decision about how to approach this conflict together.
They made the radical decision to meet together on a regular basis to pray with one another for God’s guidance.
They claimed for themselves the most important thing to remember when dealing with conflict— that God is the victor, and knowing that, they were free to come together before the ultimate victor, God Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, trusting in God to lead them through this conflict.
The result of this consistent meeting and prayer and conversation between these two men of differing theological viewpoints has been astounding.
They have both publicly said that in this process they have become friends–because each one of them took to heart the words that Jesus said to his disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I command you—that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Their own friendships with Jesus have given them the ability to become friends with one another, even in their differences.
And that witness is a powerful and encouraging witness.
As the Diocese continues to settle the issues over property with each of the churches who left the diocese, out of the settlement with Truro comes the following joint statement from Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax, and the Episcopal Diocese in Virginia.
“An important feature of this settlement is that both sides have agreed to enter into a covenant of mutual charity and respect. This document will frame the way the Diocese and Truro Anglican will deal with one another and speak of one another. The covenant is being drafted by the Rev. Baucum and Bishop Johnston.
“‘This is an important step for the Diocese of Virginia and Truro Anglican,’said Bishop Johnston. ‘What the Diocese has sought since the court’s ruling has been a ‘witness’ and not merely an ‘outcome.’ The parties have carried on a public dispute for five years and it is important that we publicly begin to make peace.’
“Bishop Johnston and the Rev. Baucum have been meeting together for prayer and conversation for over a year. “Bishop Johnston and I have become friends,” said the Rev. Baucum. “In spite of our significant theological differences, we care for and are committed to each other as brothers in Christ. “
The witness of these two men has borne the fruit of revealing God’s reconciling love, God’s victory, in spite of conflict.
Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.”
God chose us to love one another as God has loved us.
So knowing that God is the victor in all things, let this commandment, to love one another as God loved us, be our joyful call to act decisively and hopefully and faithfully to carry out this commandment to love one another, rooted in God’s love, even in, and especially in our conflicts.