Easter 3 2018: Fr. Michael Cawthon
The Collect speaks of a: “fellowship of (yes, within) Christ’s Religion”
And the epistle reading refers to: “servants of God”
And in this morning’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of a time that: “I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice…..
- Christ’s Religion. 2) Servants of God. 3) Till; He will see us again.
How does this all work?
How did God intend for it to work, what say the Scripture?
This is an important discussion:
for today – if we are in “fellowship of Christ’s Religion”, then how can we become something other than given by Christ,
“as servants” how can we make ourselves “the masters” of this new faith as it evolves into something “other” than “Christian,”
as defined by the church itself.
He “that will see us again” is not the “he” who promotes changes to His religion.
Col 1:18 tell us: ‘And he is the head of the body, the church’’
Satan often works in small degree’s as a slight turn, of just a degree or two, and in the short term remains small but as time passes,
these small changes take on their own life, and identity.
A one percent change in direction, after 10 yards, may appear not as not much, but if continued;
the slight change, over the miles (or years), grows and becomes greater and greater.
For this reason, the church early in its history, agreed that important matters should not be decided by this individual or that individual –
or even by this jurisdiction or that jurisdiction,
but by the Body of Christ (His Church) as it assemble’ s together, under the direction and guidance of the Holy Ghost.
Matters of “Christ Church” must be decided by “Christ Church.”
Hebrews 8:2-3 tells us: We have such an high priest …
A minister of the sanctuary … which the Lord pitched, and not man.”
And in 9:11 … Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands…
Who are we to evolve and change His word?
The first Christian Church assembly, in scripture, occurs in The Acts of the Apostles, 15th chapter,
as it describes a church council held in Jerusalem.
As questions arose concerning circumcision,
Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to visit with
“the Apostles and elders of the Church.”
This meeting is the first in a line of tradition:
In which the Church gathers together to address not only important doctrinal issues,
but to establish fellowship within the Church and to maintain the Church itself.
In a few months, in July, St. Michael the Archangel will be hosting our Diocese Synod this year;
so, I want to discuss with you
“what this synod thing actually is.”
The word Synod is taken from the Greek word σύνοδος (sunodos) meaning ‘assembly’ or ‘meeting,’
and it is synonymous with the Latin word concilium, meaning ‘council.’
The word Synod literally means ‘to journey with’ or ‘the way together.’
No better description of the annual meeting, of the Church’s authorized representatives of lay and clergy, could possibly be offered!
Synod is not just a business meeting, an ecclesiastical legislative body, or even a social event, although it is all of these things;
it is the Church herself gathered,
the Church at worship,
in service and ministry,
the Church in movement together.
A synod should demonstrate the unity of the Body of Christ.
In short, a Synod is the Church of one in heart, mind, and soul.
Christian life is described in Apostolic Tradition as being a pilgrimage:
we are on a pilgrimage / through this mortal world, toward our true and heavenly homeland.
We are the Pilgrim People of God, the Church,
making our way – as belonging to God,
His ‘called-out ones’,
through this world into the next.
Everything we do, pray, say and think, as Christians,
should orientate us towards the ultimate and final goal;
which is eternal life in Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the heavenly Jerusalem.
If the vocation of a Christian – is a pilgrimage, the wayfaring journey through this valley of tears to heaven,
then the gathering of the Church – in Synod, journeying together,
should be seen as an example of what the whole of Christian life genuinely entails.
Pilgrimage is an essential part of life and living.
Christians, filtering their existence through the words of Holy Scriptures, often see life itself in terms of a journey,
of coming from God and returning to God.
In her earthly state, the Church needs places, where her sacred society can gather together.
Our visible churches, our holy places, are images of the holy city, the heavenly Jerusalem.
Ours is a daily pilgrimage, in Word and Sacrament, within His Church.
Our Holy Mother, the Church, is for us a Sign of the Kingdom, and is the Sacrament (outwardly and inwardly) of our pilgrimage to Jesus Christ.
He is the Mystery lived out – upon our Altars,
Eucharistically, day by day.
The Synod is thus an – intensification, a focusing, of that Sign and Mystery, which is Our Blessed Lord in His Church.
A Church given to us by the Apostle’s,
Therefore; this duty of hosting a synod is an honor and a privilege,
and is a means through which we receive “His Peace.”
Let us therefore; recognize in the Synod of the Church;
a kind of sanctuary,
a holy place and a holy time,
in which is revealed anew to us the Family of God,
the journey of the Christian life from earth to heaven.
A foretaste of our future arrival in unity into the Kingdom of God,
where we shall live and reign in Christ for ever and ever.
All this, thus fulfills the words of today’s reading:
Of “fellowship within Christ’s Religion”
As “servants of God”
Til “He” will see us again.
All of this is worthy of honor and duty, in hosting the Synod.
And let me add one final thought:
I commend all of you, and there are many, who have stepped forward.
I asked Deaconess Tina Jenkins and she agreed to “Chair” this event and has put in many hours, and will put in many more –
and all has been done for “HIS CHURCH” in Thanksgiving for His Love and Grace….
I could go down a long list listing many people who are volunteering to do the many tasks required…I want all of you to know that your efforts are a blessing and greatly appreciated.
If you are not able to participate physically, you can always participate spiritually through your prayers,
and believe me, we all need your prayers.
St. Michael’s is such a wonderful place and is so blessed by our Lord, and by each one of you.
It is you, the Body of Christ, which will shine as our guests arrive.
Use this time of serving our Lord within His Synod, as a time of growth of Love between you and He and He and you.
Become one with Him as we become one, with one another, as we work together to His Glory
and the benefit of His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostlic Church.
Go forth in the Name of the Lord…
Serve Him, not out of obligation, but out of Love…
For the greatest of all Love is to be found within His family.