I am going to discuss the past few months at St. Michael’s
as compared to what we hear today concerning God and Faith by many who say “faith is about “God and Me”
The secular world says “who needs the church – it about my friend – you know – Jesus and me; however, we just experienced the opposite.
In Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians today he speaks “concerning spiritual gifts.”
Paul speaks of the Spirit /
as giving different gifts, of differing levels, to differing people.
The Holy Ghost is a divine person of the Trinity,
so His works can have divine effects
and He divides His divine gifts as He wills, by His own power,
and according to His own pleasure, without any dependence or control.
Though He distributes these gifts freely and uncontrolled by human minds or human interference,
These gifts are intended by Him, not for our personal gain, or our private honour or any advantage,
but they are for the public benefit, they are for
for the edification of His Body, The Church.
The Gospel of Luke this morning (St. Luke xix. 41) speaks of Jesus
as He wept over the desolation of Jerusalem,
and listen to His words
“If thou hadst known,
EVEN THOU, AT LEAST IN THIS / THY DAY,
THE THINGS WHICH BELONG UNTO THY PEACE.
Jesus is crying over His People because of the days that lay before them…
all because they knewest not the time of their visitation…
which was standing there, speaking unto them, and yet; many knew Him not.
The Spiritual gifts of the Epistle, if used properly, brings others to Jesus and His visitation, that we / and they / may know.
Let me reflect this morning upon the recent Synod which we hosted.
We had over fifty people, from our little church of St. Michael’s, participating in the preparation, operation, and closing of the Synod…
people were working on the events, even from their home, those events that were held at the Hotel (giving of their talents and time)
as another group of people (with different talents) were at work at the Church.
Some working longer hours / and with more labor / than others,
and yet without all giving of their talents, the event would not have gone as well as it did.
You see, we turned over / whatever talents we had to God,
it was He who lead us to do whatever duties we assumed.
By offering our talents to God, to be used as He saw fit,
he gave us something that we so often overlook and neglect,
and it is of upmost importance….
as the Gospel tells us this morning He gives
“the things which belong unto our (thy) peace.”
So many of you, totally exhausted, came up to me, I mean totally worn out, and yet
with a smile on your face,
you told me of your exhaustion and how your feet, legs, and all ached…
and yet so many told me about your relationship with your Lord…and I heard this many times
“I am now closer to my God.”
It is the closeness to your God, my friends, that brings THY PEACE of which our Lord speaks of this morning.
All of you, I pray, received something that is beyond things of this world and received
(and this term I use in honor for those who worked the Hospitality Suite and the “Happy Hour” at the hotel) – yes I pray that all of you received
a “double shot” of your Lords Love. And I believe many did.
You see my friends, this is what being a Christian does.
A true and good Christian, is not one who shows up on Sundays to get “this or that” –
maybe a good sermon or a bad one, or a good emotional rush of “Happiness”;
but no, it is about showing up as often as you can
and giving yourself to your God.
He has already giving each of you – His Grace (His Love) and yes, even His only begotten Son, the giving that He has done,
is complete and total.
It is now up to us, to give ourselves to Him.
In giving the circle is completed, as He has given you his love and you have returned that Love unto Him
by giving of yourself and your talents, to Him, through His Church.
Those of you who worked so hard; have received your reward –
look upon Him and smile because as you have given Him,
yes His Church, your all.
It feels pretty good — — doesn’t it?
I also know that many of you could not participate for many different reasons,
and yet at night when I prayed during the synod, I felt comfort because I knew that although some of you were not here,
yet prayers were ascending to God for all that were doing.
My friends, those prayers blessed the work we were doing
(and they even gave us good weather for the Consecration of Bishop Haines.)
All of your prayers were there with us…
and were as important as our manual labor –
you see you were giving of your Talent of Prayer.
And as your Rector, I know the power of your prayers as I have seen and experienced them – you are an amazing people…
This is what forms the Body of Christ – all of our talents coming together – prayers, devotions, and labor – for one cause.
I pray for those who did not experience the wonderful gifts which were given and received.
And I pray for the next opportunity to come, that will challenge each of us to become “all in” (A term used by Bishop Perkins during his sermon)
in order that we may all grow mature as followers of Christ.
We all must be “all in” in order that no sheep is left behind nor standing in a ditch of “little or no faith,”
By being together in “that peace” we will do the work which our Lord lays before us.
I want to wrap up by returning to the current thought promoted by many Christians:
when they say “it is all about my friend – Jesus, my buddy and me…”
The profession of our faith can be found in the Apostles Creed,
which took shape during the second and third centuries as it was connected with the ceremony of Baptism,
and it stands before us today, in its primitive form, the context of a profession of Faith.
Its purpose was to turn-about our human existence into a new direction of life in Christ.
As Pope Benedict wrote in his earlier years (before he was Pope,)
(and I do summarize) Christian belief does not exist in the form of discrete propositions
but in unity of the symbolun (meaning “a coming together”), so yes; in the “unity of coming together.”
Faith forms a mutual recognition and unity between God and His people –
to form a unity of spirit in the one Word.
The primary purpose of the Apostles Creed was, and is, the uniting of people in a community, confessing the Word,
not in the form of doctrine / standing isolated and for itself,
but in the form of our worship of God,
the form of our conversion,
which is not only a turn to God
but also a turn to one another in the glorification of God…
for it is only within this context that Christian doctrine assumes its proper place and position within our lives.
A Faith has to be something beyond itself
as it must press forward, as man’s continual effort
to go beyond himself / by the reaching up and coming in unity and together as one body in Christ.
Christ’s Church is something other than an insti tutional ization of ideas – for it is not just a system of knowledge
but it is “a way” – it is “the” way.
Instead of just idea’s, it is a fellowship in a reality
which lies on a different plain than that of mere “doctrines”.
Christian belief in unity of the Body of Christ offers / “truth” a way,
and only by becoming a “way” does it become man’s “truth.”
Christianity is beyond a body of ideas, but it is life itself
In which we give ourselves to Christ – yes, His Body and His Church.
Faith lies not in the mysticism of self-identification / of our mind with that of God,
but it lies in the obedience and the service: of going beyond oneself,
thus, freeing the self precisely
through being taken into the service of something
not made, or thought-out by oneself,
but it is in the liberation of being taken into the service for the whole of His Church.
Bottom line – the greatness and sweetness of what so many of you experience
came to you within the unity of being and working (the giving of talents) with others within the magnificence and glory of His Church.
As you become more involved within the Church, your faith will mature and you will grow as you give of yourself (your talents) to your Lord and Saviour.
The hour cometh and now is when true….
Ratzinger, Cardinal: introduction to Christianity, English translation Ignatius 1969. Pages 96-99.