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FIRST SERMON IN MY NEW CURES

I preached the following on Rogation Sunday, 2012 at St. Bartholomew’s, Granite City and St. Thomas’ Glen Carbon, IL

 

SERMON FOR EASTER SIX

 

 

 

I begin on a busy Sunday.  Of course it’s Mothers’ Day according to St. Hallmark.  It’s also Rogation Sunday, and it’s the Sixth Sunday in the Easter season. Fortunately for me, there’s a common theme running through the lessons which link up these themes.

 

When I was a boy, this was an exciting Sunday. A plough was brought into church, and blessed. After Mass we all climbed onto a farm cart, servers, choir and priest still vested, and we began our journey around the boundaries of the parish, stopping to bless fields and farms, treated to mugs of beer, so that when we arrived back at the church we were a merry bunch.

 

In the Church of England a parish is a geographical area, containing all the dwellings and people who live in the village. Of course not all come to church or are Anglicans, but the vicar is available to all and is charged to care for all. It’s all about the church being something to do with community and not just about those who attend on Sunday. If you will, the community is family.

 

Those who attend church, together with the priest, represent that greater family to God and God’s love and care to the community. That’s a concept to which we will return often.

 

Rogation Sunday marks the beginning of the agricultural season. Winter is over, crops are being planted, and so we ask God to bless “all good things around us” and to remember that they are “sent from heaven above” as the old hymn puts it.

 

We tend to forget that truth as we shop in the grocery store and supermarket. God gets left out of frozen foods and cans of vegetables.

 

In the Gospel today Jesus tells his chosen followers that they are his friends. Friendship has something to do with the wider family. A true friendship is a relationship of care and trust. One knows that friends stick around even when we seem unlovable and we stick with them even when they disappoint us.

 

You and I became friends of Jesus – more than friends – when we were baptized. In baptism we were made adopted children of God, not because we are good, but because God made us and loves us. In this Resurrection season we cling to the great truth that because Jesus died and rose again, we have died to sin and risen to a new life. The Resurrection means that God has re-claimed this world, the fields in which the crops grow and the people of the earth, including those in the communities in which we live.

 

If you will there are two types of relationship, of family, involved. All people, whoever they are, are part of us because we are all created by God.

 

Among these created people are the baptized. Those who have been through the holy water, you and me, are not better than the rest of the human race, or kinder, or more moral even. No the thing is that we have been called to serve the God who made us and all other people and the world which belongs to God. Start thinking that you are better than others, and you will very soon become useless to God.

 

Well, you may think, aren’t we God’s friends in order to get into Heaven?  That would be sort of selfish don’t you think?  Being “saved” means being called into God’s Kingdom. Getting into heaven, or the new heaven and earth which God is going to make, is God’s gift. You can’t earn a gift or buy one. It is given.  All you can do is say thank you.

 

So we gather here today as God’s family, the friends of Jesus, to meet with Jesus in this holy meal, to be strengthened for service, bound together in unity, forgiven corporately and individually and then sent into the world to love and serve the Lord.

 

And as we give thanks for our mother’s and the mothers and grandmothers here today, we can give thanks for the Mother of Jesus and all the saints who are part of the family and friends of Jesus, including our own mothers who we sometimes call dead, but who are alive and surround us with their perfect prayers and love.  That is what we mean by the Communion of Saints when we recite the Creed.  The boundaries of God’s Kingdom are far wider than these church walls, or of the town in which we live, or the nation, or the world.  God’s territory is as wide as all creation and his love shines through the planets and the stars and the universes.

 

So we begin together today. Pray for me as I will pray for you. Let us work together to be worthy of our status; friends of Jesus and members of God’s family called to serve God in the communities where we live and where this church building is planted..

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