Sermon for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

Today at the 9 am service the subject of the Children’s Homily is the Great Commission found in Matthew’s gospel (Chapter 28.18-20):

Jesus tells the core disciples: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age.

Compare our Lord’s intent that the faithful should go into all the world making disciples, baptizing and teaching, with the attitude of the circumcised believers who challenge Peter for going to Gentiles and daring to eat with them.

Sadly one finds many human organizations which place higher value on being different or special than they do on welcoming. Churches are no exception.

Far too many people have experienced a lukewarm welcome or indifference regarding their coming to a worship service. We do a pretty good job of welcoming others but all of us need to bear in mind that people are often prompted by the Spirit to come and worship. We need to pay attention.

The mission of the church according to the Outline of Faith in the back of the Prayer Book is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. This is done through the ongoing work of reconciliation which stems from Christ.

One of the challenges I see in this church and suspect for many others is that we don’t do a very good job of reconciling when there has been conflict or an unrealized expectation.

They say that time heals all wounds; for some it seems despite the strenuous efforts of clergy and lay leadership that the healing will only come at the fulfillment of time—the time that John reports at the close of the Revelation.

But it seems to me that God has already planted a home among us, one made possible by our Lord Jesus Christ and in this home God looks to us to be agents of support and reconciliation.

It is not within our power to banish death, crying, pain or mourning but it is in our power to be present and support those who have been devastated. It is in our power to help wipe away the tears from their eyes.

What powers this power in us is the love that God has for us expressed by Jesus in his farewell to the core disciples—I give you a new commandment –that you love one another.

There are times I despair because what I see the headline capturing Christians showing the world is mean-spiritedness, arrogance, and small-mindedness.

Christianity is not about being better than everyone else, by acting superior, but by showing a humbleness born of our knowledge that we are loved by God and, though sinners and imperfect, we do our best to express God’s love through prayer and action.

Each day we need to ask ourselves—have our actions shown the love of God or something else. My prayer is that all of us will show forth the love of God, however, imperfectly. It is what we are commanded to do.

Amen.