• The Rector

Sermon for the 3rd Sunday After Pentecost

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

Sermon for the 3rd Sunday After Pentecost (Year A) June 20th, 2020

“Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in the newness of life.”

In today's Epistle lesson, St. Paul speaks of becoming a Christian -- being baptized into Christ -- as a participation in Jesus' death and resurrection.

Becoming a Christian is a dying and a rising again: putting off an old life, an old way of being and putting on a new spiritual life: " We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.”

But what is that old self of which the Apostle speaks?  What is that old self that must die when we "put on Christ"?  It is a different way of being and a different way of acting which sees nothing beyond our own selves. That loves most of all the things of this world, and judges, and acts only according to what the world tells us or what we tell ourselves.

I think if we search our minds we may know people who behave in such ways, or we at least know the behaviour.

But this sort of thing leads us nowhere, in the end, it all comes to nothing and offers us no ultimate hope.

When we become Christians at our Baptism, says St. Paul, that old self that we were and could continue to be is put to death so that the sinful parts of us – the most selfish parts, the parts that can hate or hurt – can be destroyed. Not so that we can suffer, but so that something new might come from it.

What I mean is – in the dying and the rising of Jesus, a new way is shown and opened to us, a new and living way not like the ways of the rest of the world, ways that are dead because they will lead nowhere. We are given, Paul says, a way that allows us to, “walk in the newness of life.”

And walking in the newness of life is what the upcoming Trinity Season, this time after Pentecost, is all about. I said last week that the first sixth months of our Christian year focus on the saving work of Jesus, and the latter six focus on our life as Christians – the nitty-gritty, daily work of living in that new life, walking that new and different path, and loving in this new and different way.

The Gospel for today tells us something perhaps a bit jarring about love.

Jesus says, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

It is not peace, he has come to bring, Jesus says, but a sword, “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's foes will be members of one's own household.”

In another Gospel Jesus says such things about love as, “Love your enemies; do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, pray for them which despitefully use you.”

In the times in which we live now, so charged and fraught with hatred, blame, and anger – the call to love your enemy and even those who hate you is perhaps the most counter-cultural and radical thing one could do.

And the easy response to this is simply to say, “Sure. But the world just doesn’t work this way,” and you wouldn’t be wrong for thinking that, but the lessons are actually about setting out a new and better way of being and living and working than the world offers.

No the world doesn’t work like that, but imagine if it did – imagine if everyone loved even their worst enemy with the love they have for themselves, what might our lives look like then?

All of this requires us to expand our imaginations when it comes to love.

Some of us might say that we love our car or our new laptop and that we love our spouse – yet we know that in our heart these loves are prioritized, we don’t love our car, or lawnmower, or garden the same as we love our spouse or children. We often confuse love with affection.

When Jesus is talking about love he’s not talking about the way I feel about fly fishing on a quiet river on a calm bugless summer evening, he’s talking about something far more radical.

Love, in the context of the Gospel means willing the eternal Good of all things and of all people, including those who hate us and wish to hurt us.

Why? Because that is how God loves us. A love that was shown to us in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. That sacrifice is love, and Jesus died even for those who killed him.

There was a beautiful image over the past week from protests in London, England. Far-Right counter-protestors were protesting the Black Lives Matter protest where various fights between the two groups broke out. At one point one of the alleged far-right white protestors was beaten to the ground and was being surrounded.

Seeing that the man’s life was in danger, Patrick Hutchinson, a black member of the very protest the beaten white man was there to counter picked the injured man up and carried him to safety.

This is a moving moment, though only a small glimpse at the kind of love is demanded of those who walk in this newness of life. This life in Jesus is the new and radical and different way we are to walk as his disciples.

And as we prepare ourselves to come together next week to share once again in the Holy Eucharist, it’s good for us to remember that when we come here, when we come to receive communion, we come into the presence of that sacrifice and love of Jesus. It empowers us and it strengthens us to go out once more and live that new life.

And it is a reminder to us of what God is doing with us.

Because what is the Eucharist but ordinary and worldly things, imperfect things – bread and wine – which are brought forward in faith and transformed by the word of the Lord to become our spiritual food.

“Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in the newness of life.”

#pentecost #OrdinaryTime #3rdSundayAfterPentecost #Anglican #Sermon #TrinitySeason #BeingChristian #GodLovesUs #WhatisGodDoingWithUs

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