|Ash Wednesday||March 1, 2017||Ash Wednesday, Year A||Matthew 4:1-11|
|Last Sunday after the Epiphany||February 26, 2017||Last Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 17:1-9|
|Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany||February 19, 2017||Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Leviticus 19:1-2, I Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5:38-48|
|Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 12, 2017||Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 5, 2017||Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Isaiah 58:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20|
|Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany – Reflections on Annual Convention, Susan Tilt||January 29, 2017||4th Sunday after the Epiphany||Matthew 5:1-12|
|Third Sunday after the Epiphany||January 22, 2017||Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Psalm 27:1, 5-13, Matthew 4:12-23|
|Second Sunday after the Epiphany||January 15, 2017||Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-12, John 1:29-42|
|First Sunday after the Epiphany, Baptism of Jesus||January 8, 2017||The Baptism of our Lord, Year A||The Book of Common Prayer|
|Epiphany||January 6, 2017||Epiphany 2017||Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12|
|Christmas Day, Year A||December 25, 2016||Christmas Day, 2016||Isaiah 52:7-10, Hebrews 1:1-4, Psalm 98, John 1:1-14|
|The Eve of the Nativity||December 24, 2016||Christmas Eve||Isaiah 9:2-7, Luke 2: 1-20|
|Third Sunday in Advent, Year A||December 11, 2016||Third Sunday of Advent, Year A||Psalm 146:4-9, Matthew 11:2-11|
|Second Sunday in Advent, Year A||December 4, 2016||Second Sunday of Advent, Year A||Matthew 3:1-12|
|First Sunday in Advent, Year A||November 27, 2016||First Sunday of Advent, Year A||Isaiah 2:1-5, Ps 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44|
Easter 7, Year A
Sermon Date:May 28, 2017
Scripture: John 17:1-11; 1 Peter 4;12-14; 5:6-11; Acts 1:6-14
Liturgy Calendar: Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year A
June 16, 1858.
Abraham Lincoln stood in the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield to accept the Illinois Republican Party’s nomination for the United States Senate.
Quoting the Bible, Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
He went on to say that “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.”
Lincoln went on to lose the Senate election to Stephen A. Douglas, who advocated for the right of each territory or state to decide whether to be a free state or a slave state.
But Lincoln ultimately became the president of the nation, and his prophetic words played out in the long Civil War, a war which determined that this country would no longer be divided, at least legally, over the issue of slavery.
In 1892, Francis Bellamy wrote The Pledge of Allegiance, which in its original form read, "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Additions to the Pledge in 1932 and 1954 gave us the Pledge of Allegiance we say today, but in each of the three versions, the word “indivisible” shapes the meaning and the value of the Pledge.
And even though we all know that this nation is full of divisions that could tear us apart, we still, as one nation, say this pledge with hope.
This is Memorial Day weekend, a time when people remember and celebrate those who have served this country in the hope that we will continue to be one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Unity is essential to the life and well-being of a nation.
Jesus, who first said that “A house divided against itself cannot stand” in third chapter of the gospel according to Mark, knew that unity is essential, not just to human institutions like nations, but to life itself.
After all, he is One with his Father.
And so in today’s gospel, Jesus, deep in conversation with God on behalf of the disciples, asks God to protect the disciples so that they too might be one, as Jesus and God are one.
Unity is essential to the life of the Church.
In fact, in this season of deep polarization in our nation, in a time when divisions are encouraged by the open distain that many people have for those with whom they differ, one of the Church’s greatest witnesses to the world is its witness of unity with God and with one another.
We are the Body of Jesus Christ on this earth, and the Holy Spirit empowers us to be One in the Spirit and One in the Lord, even though we too have our differences and the potential, often acted on, for open division.
Unity in the church begins with agreeing that we are the Lord’s, and we put NOTHING in the place of the Lord, especially not ourselves and our own longings for power and control.
Our witness to our unity in God out in the world is through demonstrating love—our love for one another so expansive that our love expands out to our neighbors.
The desire to love God and to love one another is the desire that binds us together and makes possible our witness to the world.
Today’s reading from the first letter that Peter wrote to the churches acknowledges the danger of division both within the individual people and in the church itself.
Paul tells the people to resist the devil who prowls around us like a roaring lion. In the current climate in this nation, that lion is the temptation to let our differing political viewpoints and worldviews divide us, even within the church.
So what can we do to avoid being devoured by our differences?
First of all, act humbly, remembering that God is in control.
Second, be on the watch—divisions can break us apart quickly and unexpectedly, if we are not vigilant.
Third, act faithfully, following the example of Jesus—faithful to his disciples to the end—interceding for them.
How important for us to intercede not only for our beloved friends in prayer, but also to lift to God those with whom we disagree.
Jesus even told us to pray for our enemies as part of what we do as faithful disciples.
Acting humbly, acting watchfully and acting faithfully keeps us centered on God and helps us to serve as witnesses and to strive for unity in our polarized nation. Along with remembering those who have served so that the unity of this country may prevail, may we also serve one another and this nation as we make a habit of acting humbly, watchfully and faithfully, beginning this Memorial Day weekend.
Next Sunday we celebrate The Day of Pentecost, the day of the birth of the church, born out of and empowered by the dramatic arrival of the Holy Spirit.
And in this week ahead as we wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit, may we, as the disciples did, devote ourselves to prayer—praying that we will continue to strive to be One, united in our love for God, for one another, for our neighbors, for our nation and for the world.
And may we give to God all the glory, for God alone can restore, support, strengthen and establish us as the people, Church, and the nation God calls us to be. Amen