Sermons

XXIII Pentecost

October 28, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.

“And when (Bartimaeus) heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’  And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’”

How good are we at being the Church?  How good is the Church as a whole at being the Body of Christ in the world?  Remember the words of the old folk/hymn song:

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they'll know we are Christians by our love

They'll know we are Christians by our love.  You know that one of the biggest reasons that people who identify themselves as “Spiritual but not religious” give for not being a part of a Church is that they think we are hypocrites.  

It upsets me to think that the way in which we fall short of the Christian life is the cause of people not becoming a Christian or not being active in a Church. 

We are humans.  We are fallible.  We are sinners and we will always fall short of the way of Jesus.  But, it upsets me to think that our sinfulness becomes a stumbling block to people coming to Jesus.

“And when (Bartimaeus) heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’  And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’”

It is sad to think that the way in which we live could rebuke someone to silence -- Someone who needs Jesus.  Let me be clear.  I think that we as individuals can do our best at trying to live the life that Jesus wants us to live.  We as a Parish Family can do well at trying to live this way.

But we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.  If we think of the Church as a Body – the Body of Christ – and we are perhaps a fingernail or a hair follicle.  And perhaps we as a fingernail or hair follicle are healthy.  We are doing our best.  But if there is an illness in the rest of the Body, the fingernail or hair follicle does not stand a chance.

What I am getting at is that we need to examine our lives and see ways in which we as individuals and as a Parish Family may become a stumbling block to others who need Jesus.  What are ways in which we silence the cries of those who need Jesus?

But, I think that we also need to work as the Body of Christ – the full Body of Christ – to live as Jesus wants us to live.  Not individual denominations, but the full Body of Christ.  The problem is that so often we seem to be in disagreement about things.  How can we serve the Lord and be the Body of Christ?

One of the most important ways is to get beyond our disagreements and to work together to live by these words found in the Gospel of St. Matthew:

“…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,   I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'  Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?   And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?   And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?'   And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'”

My concern is that we do not live as the Body of Christ.  We – the Church as a whole – do not serve the world as we should.  And, if we look back at the lesson for a minute, another point needs to be made.

“And when (Bartimaeus) heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’  And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’”

Did you see what happened?  They tried to get Bartimaeus to be silent.  But he persisted.  My concern is that in our failing to live up to being the Body of Christ, those who are in need will be silenced, and that many of them will not be persistent – like Bartimaeus.  And the world will continue to ignore them, and the Church, instead of serving them, will – by our actions and inactions – silence them.

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they'll know we are Christians by our love.

May the world know that we are Christians by the way in which we live.  May those who are in need be served.  And may no one be silenced.  AMEN.