Sermon Archives

Sunday, September 10, 2017
Fall Homecoming Sunday
The Reverend Andrew Van Culin, Rector
The Heart of our Relationship

Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ! 
For by his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  (1 Peter 1:3)

Lifting up his hands, he blessed them.  While he blessed them, . . .
they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. (Luke 24:52)

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.  And I’m not talking about Christ Church, not directly, anyway.  I’m talking about life – home and family, work, church, community activities, social and civic engagements . . . it all adds up and seldom “let’s up.” 

So, summer’s not even over, and I’m already exhausted.  And I’m pretty sure, you feel it, too.  Every week, if not every day, there is something urgent to attend to, some project or task that weighs up on mind and heart. 

In our household it’s been preparing for the first day of school – getting all the stuff in order and re-setting the daily routine, all while trying to take full advantage of the last free days of summer.  Cedar Point any one?  And that’s all in the midst of the ordinary, near daily, stuff:  grocery shopping, vacuuming, washing-drying-folding the laundry, dishes, feeding and walking the dog, and the list goes on.  Did I mention the worry of aging parents?  Then there’s work, of course; which doesn’t stop either.  For me, it’s Christ Church and all that our ministry demands:  Homecoming, Wednesdays at Christ Church, Church School and Children’s ministry, Sunday sermons and Annual Giving, and on-and-on it goes.

That’s just the beginning of my list – my list of all those things that weigh on my heart and mind, and consume my time and energy each day.

You, no doubt, have your own list.  Some of us are in the midst of the back-to-school rush, while others are working through the off-to-college loss.  Others are facing an upcoming surgery or a failing spouse, while others, are worrying about an uncertain job.  Others still are grappling with addiction – their own or a loved one’s -- while others are fighting desperately to hold a marriage or family together . . . all while holding down our jobs and putting a few square meals on the table.

And I’ve said nothing of Harvey or Irma or wildfires that threaten not only our nation, but loved ones who live “impact zone.”

Sometimes, it’s all we can do to get it done, to get through the day.  Breakfast, appointment, urgent task, lunch, urgent task, important phone call, supper, worrying news, update tomorrow’s task list, sleep [repeat].

Do this often enough, and we begin to think that this is all there is – the stuff, the tasks of human life and survival.  Live this way for long enough, and we begin to think that the output of our lives is what matters most as if we were simply poorly crafted robots on an assembly line – produce more, accomplish more, with increasing efficiency so that you can accomplish more tomorrow. 

So it’s worth noting that, as Jesus and his disciples are preparing to depart from one another, they don’t sit down and make a great task list.  Jesus doesn’t ask, “Who will be responsible for the healing ministry?” or “Who will take up the food collection to serve the masses?” or “Who is set for preaching next week?”  And the disciples don’t ask, “How do we properly cast out demons?” or “What’s the right order:  bread first then the wine, or does the wine come first?”

Rather, here at this critical moment, as dear friends are saying good-bye to one another, all the tasks that they have been about these past years fall away and they return to the heart of their relationship:  blessing and worship.  For Jesus, it has always been about blessing the world; proclaiming to all whom he encounters the grace and favor of God.  For Jesus, however, these were not simply comforting words to offer.  They were words coupled with real action and tangible meaning.  For some this blessing meant feeding their worldly hunger – because God wishes for no one to suffer hunger.  For others, this blessing meant physical healing because God desires for all to enjoy the fullness of his creation on human life.  For others still, this blessing meant forgiveness because God wants to free us from all that binds us up.  And for others this blessing meant liberation from demons that consume from within – addiction and depression, to name but two – for God wants us all to know the joy of his light and salvation.  And for others still, this blessing meant a peace which surpasses understanding, as God wants us all to be free of those anxieties that weighs us down.  For children, and women, and Jews, and Gentiles, for soldiers and priests and disciples, Jesus has always offered one thing:  blessing in all its forms.

Friends, God wants this for you as well.  Know that you are blessed.  In a little while you will hear the words you hear every week:  The Blessing of God almighty be upon you . . . . but hear them for what they are:  forgiveness, grace, liberation, welcome, peace.

The same was true for those first disciples.  Gathered on that hilltop outside of Bethany, as their friend and teacher departed, they offered the one thing that mattered:  worship.  In this critical moment, the disciples returned to the heart of their relationship with Jesus the Christ – worship and adoration.  All that would come after, all that would follow in the days, weeks, years, and centuries to come, the healing of the sick, the feeding of the hungry, the care for the widow and orphan, the proclamation of the Good News, the formation of churches through the ages such as ours, all of it was an expression, a realization, of this last exchange; of their worship of Christ the King. 

All our life as disciples is simply this, worship.  Worship of the God created the heavens and earth:  therefore, we tend to God’s creation with careful attention.  Worship of the One who gives life and breath to every living creature under the sun:  therefore, we care for the needs of our neighbor.  Worship of She who binds up all our wounds and breaks the chains that bind us:  therefore, we work for the healing of the sick and wounded and liberation of who are bowed down.  Worship of the One who proclaims forgiveness and life to the world:  therefore, we forgive one another and work to create life in the lives of others.

Friends, we will do countless things today and in the weeks and months to come – we will climb rock walls and enjoy meals together, we will serve the hungry and support the poor and down-trodden, we will study God’s word and practice acts of sacrifice love – but it all finds it’s root in this moment of blessing and worship.  Hear God’s blessing.  And proclaim your praise.  Today and all days.