|Christ the King, Year A||November 26, 2017||Christ the King Year A||Matthew 25:31-46|
|Thanksgiving, Year A||November 22, 2017||Thanksgiving, Year A||Psalm 65|
|Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||November 19, 2017||Proper 24, Year A||Matthew 25:36-37|
|Twenty Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||November 12, 2017||Proper 27, Year A||Matthew 25:1-13|
|All Saints, Year A||November 5, 2017||All Saints’ Day, Year A||Matthew 5:1-12|
|Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||October 29, 2017||Proper 25, Year A||Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18; Matthew 22:34-46|
|Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||October 22, 2017||Proper 24, Year A||Isaiah 45:1-7, Psalm 96, I Thessalonians 1:1-10, Matthew 22:15-22|
|Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||October 15, 2017||Proper 23, Year A||Isaiah 25:1-9, Psalm 23, Philippians 4:1-9, Matthew 22:1-14|
|Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||October 8, 2017||Proper 22, Year A||Isaiah 5:1-7, Matthew 21:33-46|
|The Season of Creation, Week 5, Year A||October 1, 2017||The Season of Creation, Week 5, Year A||Matthew 6:25-33|
|The Season of Creation, Week 4, Year A||September 24, 2017||The Season of Creation, Week 4, Year A||Leviticus 25:1-7, Hebrews 4:1-11, John 6:1-15|
|The Season of Creation, Week 3, Year A||September 17, 2017||The Season of Creation, Year A, Week 3||Deuteronomy 28:1-14, Psalm 65, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Matthew 6:19-24|
|The Season of Creation, Week 2, Year A||September 10, 2017||The Season of Creation, Year A, Week 2||Job 38:1-18, Psalm 139, Romans 1:18-25, Matthew 5:13-16|
|The Season of Creation, Week 1, Year A||September 3, 2017||Season of Creation 1, Year A||Job 37:14-24,Psalm 130,Revelation 4,Matthew 8:23-27|
|Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||August 27, 2017||Proper 16, Year A 2017||Isaiah 51:1-6, Romans 12:1-8, Matthew 16:13-20|
Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year A
Sermon Date:June 18, 2017
Scripture: Exodus 9:2-8a; Romans 5:1-8, Matthew 9:35-10:23
Liturgy Calendar: Second Sunday after Pentecost
When I was growing up, a large family with five children lived next door to us. The oldest girl was named Hope, and her sisters were named Faith, Charity and Prudence. And then came the long awaited son, whose name, disappointingly to me, anyway, was Dirk. I was hoping his name would have some deep Biblical meaning too—at least his parents could have named him after one of the disciples—they would have had twelve names to choose from after all–But Dirk won out, and so the family was complete.
Our lives as Christians come closer to completion—that is, living in the kingdom of God here and now—when we live as people of faith, hope and love, and we’ll throw in prudence for good measure.
In today’s collect, we prayed these words. “Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love.”
And Paul opens his fifth chapter to the Romans with the following statement that we heard read today. “Since we are justified by faith,” Paul writes, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.”
So today, I’d like to talk about faith.
The writer of Hebrews gives us a great working definition of faith.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In other words, we live as faithful people of hope because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. As people of faith, we can go through the challenges of this life knowing that God is with us and will carry us through every danger, just as God brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, as if they had been borne on eagles’ wings to safety.
God’s great love, compassion and concern for us, however, does not exempt us from suffering in this life.
We live with the faith that God sees inside us, and knows our every sorrow, just as Jesus, in today’s gospel reading, did not just glance at the people in the crowds around him, but truly looked at them. No matter how well they looked on the outside, Jesus could see that inside they were harassed and helpless, as sheep without a shepherd.
We cannot hide our sorrows and our struggles and our troubles from God. But when we live with faith in God’s mercy, compassion, and love for us, and in faith that Jesus Christ is our good shepherd, then we know that even the roughest parts of life on this earth will not ever defeat us—because God’s love has been poured into us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
When we live in faith, we can claim our sorrows and our struggles and our troubles because we know that God’s love is healing and restoring, and that God’s love is lifting us up on eagles’ wings, to bring us in to safety through every danger of this life, to life in God.
God’s love is the source of hope, even in the most hopeless situations in which we find ourselves, even in the face of death.
The journey through suffering may feel more like stumbling in the dark on a rocky crooked road than being borne on eagles’ wings, but faith provides us with the knowledge that no matter how rough the path, God is there right alongside us.
As the psalmist says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me”—in the toughest reality, we have perfect protection, perfect companionship and perfect comfort because God, our good shepherd, is with us.
John Robinson, who was consecrated as the Bishop of Woolrich in England in 1959 and also served as the Dean of Trinity College in Cambridge until he died of cancer in 1983, preached about living as a faithful Christian in the face of certain death after he had received his diagnosis of an incurable cancer.
Bishop Robinson said that “the Christian takes his (or her) stand not on optimism, but on hope. This hope is based not on a rosy prognosis, but as St Paul says, on suffering. For suffering, Paul says, trains us to endure, and endurance brings proof that we have stood the test, and this proof is the ground of hope—hope in the God that can bring resurrection out and through the other side of death. That is why St Paul says that though we carry death with us in our bodies, (all of us) we Christians never cease to be confident. St Paul’s prayer is that ‘always the greatness of Christ will shine out clearly in my person whether through my life or through my death.” And Paul could speak with power because “Paul had passed beyond time and its calculations. He had risen with Christ.”
To have faith in this life is already to live a risen life here and now—to live knowing that God was already with us before we were born, that God has always traveled alongside us, even when we haven’t been able to see God or to feel God, through the best and worst times of our lives, that God is here with us now, in this very moment, and that God has always and is always bearing us on eagle’s wings to Godself, and that in the end, God will bring each one of us into the fullness of our everlasting resurrection lives.
So no matter how sick or disabled or discouraged we are, we know that we have never been lost, and that even when we’ve tried to hide from God, God keeps on seeking us and finding us and then sending us, God’s people of faith, to the lost in this world,—to those who have lost their way, to God’s lost sheep.
God sends us, the hopeful, to the hopeless.
And just as Jesus gave to the disciples when he sent them out, God provides us with what we need to witness to God’s power and to God’s glory when God sends us out to the lost.
God gives us the power of the Holy Spirit to be people of compassion, love, and justice in this world.
God sends us out, not alone, but as the Church, to be healing people, to be people who bring new life to hopeless situations, to be people who clean away the injustices of this world that block God’s love, to be people who cast out the demons of violence, hate and evil that run loose and cause destruction all around us.
God sends us out in peace, God’s peace, the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that keeps our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
And as people of faith, we go out to those who are lost because we know that the power of the Holy Spirit is with us, even when our hearts are heavy with grief, and our eyes are full of tears, and our bodies are betraying us. And we can go out in the power of the Holy Spirit even when we are caught up in joy and gladness.
So may these petitions be our prayer today—in The Book of Common Prayer, the prayer for those about to be baptized and for all of us who are constantly renewing our lives in Christ, that ongoing process of renewal that never ends for us, the people of faith.
Let us pray.
Deliver us, O Lord, from the way of sin and death.
Open our hearts to your grace and truth.
Fill us with your holy and life-giving spirit.
Keep us in the faith and communion of your Holy Church.
Teach us to love others in the power of the Spirit.
Send us out into the world in witness to your love.
And at the end, bring us to the fullness of your peace and your glory.
“Robinson, John Arthur Thomas,” pages 722-730, in Love’s Redeeming Work: The Anglican Quest for Holiness. Compiled by Geoffrey Rowell, Kenneth Stevenson and Rowan Williams. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2001.
The Book of Common Prayer, pages 305-306.