SERVICES & SERMONS

 

Sunday Worship

Holy Eucharist Rite II 9:30 am Virtual Service

The Eucharist we are using is adapted for a special need in a special time. It draws on the wisdom and creative path of Tielhard de Chardin’s Mass on the World, which begins, “Since once again, Lord…I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself; I, your priest, will make the whole world my altar and on it will offer you all the labors and sufferings of the world.” As we cannot physically share bread and wine due to the global pandemic, we share the Word and a spiritual communion. 

 

 

Family Worship 10:00 am In-person Gathering

A short prayer service for families of preschool and elementary age children. Come as you are (no sign up required) and bring your own blanket for the lawn and shaker for music!

Young Child Friendly Service Service

at 8:30 am

THIS SERVICE IS SUSPENDED UNTIL

WE CAN SAFELY MEET IN PERSON

 

We gather for a Rite II Eucharist where all are always welcome.  Children join in the worship and will find activity boxes with art supplies and work sheets having to do with the day's themes.  Everyone gathers around the altar for the Eucharistic Prayer and Children of all ages take part in the final hymn by joining in with shakers and rhythm instruments.  At all of our services, dress tends to be pretty casual and we observe what some of our people call a relaxed reverence.  

 
Sermons

 

Sermon for Christ the King Sunday, November 22, 2020

Matthew 25:31-46

Rev. Dr. Rosemary Beales

Interim Rector

“Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.”

 

In the winter of 1839, an unlikely procession wound its way up

          a bitterly cold mountain in Afghanistan. 

                     Two thousand horsemen of many tribes followed behind…

                               of all things…an elephant,

                                         and cheered as its rider planted his standard in the ice.

Six cannons roared their salute, and the commander gloried in his accomplishment:

          After 20 years trekking across Central Asia,

                     he could almost touch the only prize he ever wanted.

                               Days later, a desperate people signed

                                         a treaty that crowned him their king.

 

The story of Josiah Harlan, a Pennsylvania boy,

          became a matter of legend, and then

                     a short story by Rudyard Kipling, and then

                               a film by John Huston.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know that it ended badly for Sean Connery and Michael Caine.

So, it would, too, for Josiah Harlan—

          but that winter, he was savoring victory:

                     he’s immortalized today as

                    The Man Who Would Be King.[1]

 

Josiah’s story has captured the imagination of generations

          because it plucks that little string inside many of us

                     that hates playing second fiddle.

 

Maybe that’s why we need Christ the King Sunday today.

          Though it sounds like an ancient feast, it dates only to the last century

                     after the rulers of this world had nearly annihilated the world.          

Created by the Roman church in 1925,

          the feast quickly spread to other denominations,

          because it satisfies a hunger deeper even than the desire to rule:

                     the longing to surrender our lives to

                               one worthy of our trust.      

                                                                        

 

Something in the American psyche rebels against the notion of any king at all,

          so, let’s establish right away that, apart from any earthly governance,

          we DO have ruler we can trust.                                   

         

Not one interested in his own glorification – though his glory is obvious to all –

But one concerned with the least glorious of his people,

          those who are hungry, thirsty, ragged, imprisoned,

                     sick and powerless and hopeless.

 

Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison?

 

In today’s gospel, Jesus is preparing his disciples to live without him,

at least without his familiar, human presence.

This is his final parable in Matthew’s narrative, his parting lesson

in a gospel that depicts Jesus as the ultimate Teacher.[2]

 

Jesus knows that he will soon be going away — to his death —

          And coming again — in his resurrection —

                     And going away again — ascending to his Father —

                               And coming again — at the end of time, something

we in our scientific age can scarcely imagine.

But here we have one vision of that time,

And more importantly, a lesson in how to live faithfully today.

                    

When all the nations of earth are gathered before his throne, Jesus tells us, our king will “separate people one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”

 

The sheep—those gathered to his right hand and commended for their works of mercy—are invited into God’s kingdom. Because whether they knew it or not, in serving people in need, they were serving Christ himself.

          The goats—those he places on his left and condemns for their neglect¾

                     are destined for eternal punishment.

 

It’s little wonder that, when we hear it, we hear also the question that Jesus,

and Matthew,

intended us to ask:

          Am I a sheep, or am I a goat?

 

          The answer, of course, is YES.

 

 

All of us are both sheep and goats.

                     All of us have been instruments of God’s mercy to those in need.

                               All of us have been indifferent to the suffering around us,

                                         or at least incapable of responding to it all.

 

Whenever I hear someone divide people into groups – say, liberals and conservatives, or mask-wearers and mask-avoiders – I see an invisible “vs.” hanging in the air.

There’s an assumption that whatever the groups are, they are opposed to one another. But Mariann Budde, bishop of the Diocese of Washington, says, “Whenever I come across passages of Scripture that divide people into two groups, I see myself in both.”

She recently wrote about the differences between John 3:16 Christians --

          “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that

           all who believe in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

           and Matthew 25 Christians, those who follow today’s parable:

           “Just as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.”

 

One group seems to rely on faith – all who BELIEVE – and the other on works – what they DO  – when in reality both faith and action make us

whole Christians, driven BY our belief to DO in Jesus’ name.

 

On Friday, I heard a conversation that brought two potentially “versus” sides together. Moderated by Krista Tippett, of the “On Being” radio program, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Dr. Russell Moore, chief ethicist for the Southern Baptist Convention, pondered “Faith, Compassion and Healing Our National Divides.”[3]

 

In this webinar, Dr. Moore and Bishop Curry agreed on far more than they differed on. It would be easy to categorize the Baptist as one of the

white evangelicals we have heard so much about in this election cycle, and Bishop Curry as a progressive advocate for justice and Black Lives Matter. So they are, of course, but they are each also much more.

 

Despite political and theological differences, Dr. Moore says, he tries to look at others in the same way he sees himself – as a sinner who needs reconciliation -- and not as opponents.  Both he and Bishop Curry cited the words of Micah (6:8) as words they try to live by, that Jesus of Nazareth also taught and lived: What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God?

 

Bishop Curry – and this should surprise no one who’s ever heard him speak – told a few stories. I think it was his father, also an Episcopal priest, who pointed out to young Michael the lettering on an old tombstone. There was the person’s name; the date of birth; a dash; and the date of

death.  And the most important element? That inconspicuous bit of punctuation.

 

“What will you do with your dash?” Bishop Curry asked. “I hope my dash will say, ‘he wasn’t perfect, he made mistakes, but he tried to live a life of love.’”

And love, of course, is what this gospel is all about.

The Way of Love that led Jesus, soon after today’s parable, to surrender his life

          in the ultimate act of mercy, on the cross,

                     because he so loved he world.

 

That is the kind of king we have.

The one who left his heavenly throne to show us how to live, how to love,

How to be human.

In other words,

The King who would be Man,

Planting as his symbol not a proud pennant, like Josiah Harlan,

But an emblem of suffering and shame,

the Cross that, to Christians, is the ultimate mark of LOVE.

 

This is the king in whom we trust

And whose example we follow,

in acts of self-giving love for those who are

hungry, thirsty, ragged, imprisoned, sick and powerless and hopeless.

This is our king,

This Christ the King Sunday

And always.

 

Amen.

 

[1][1] Macintyre, Ben.  The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan (New York: Macintyre Books, Inc., 2004).

[2] Tom Long, Matthew (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997), p. 284

[3] https://goldenrule2020.org/faith-compassion-healing-national-divides/

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