Transforming Unjust Structures: The Fourth Mark of Mission
For the past several weeks we have been considering the Mission of God in the world by looking at the Anglican Communion’s “Five Marks of Mission.” We have been asking ourselves, “What is it that God is doing, in our lives and in the world? What is God’s mission and purpose? What does God care about most passionately?” This evening we examine the Fourth Mark of Mission, which is “to seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind, and to pursue peace and reconciliation.” Continue reading
Throughout Lent and Easter tide this year, I’ve been praying with literature devoted to the Five Wounds of Christ. The meditative remembrance of Christ’s Passion was a profoundly meaningful practice in the spiritual lives of Medieval Christians, especially in England, and by the fourteenth century the visions and writings of saints steeped in such meditation concentrated with special intensity on the Five Wounds inflicted upon Christ’s Body: the nail holes in his right and left wrists, both of his feet, and the spear-wound in his side. These holy men and women saw the wounds of Jesus not as repugnant scars but as precious insignia testifying to the depths of God’s Love,as floodgates of Christ’s healing lifeblood, and as portals into the mysteries of Heaven. The seeds of such imagery are found in the Resurrection appearances in the gospels of Luke and John. When Jesus appears in the upper room, the disciple’s natural response is shock and fear, confusion and disbelief. Amid this rush of complex emotions, these distinctive marks clarify their vision and melt their hearts as they recognize the impossible: this is their Teacher, Friend, and Lord, crucified-and-risen. Continue reading
“The word of God continued to advance and gain adherents.” (Acts 12:24) With these words the Apostles began to look westward to take the Gospel message into the rest of the world. (Cf. Acts 13:1)
Up to this point the spread of the Gospel had been limited to Judea and Israel. Antioch was a stepping stone for taking the Gospel message on into Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. As we all know, at least most of us do, the Gospel message continued to spread into the world. First it spread around the Mediterranean Sea, then into Northern Europe, primarily there through the missionary work of Christian monks. Continue reading
Sometimes when I hear a confession or when I’m leading a retreat I ask people to do something that nearly always results in head-scratching—sometimes even some resistance. I suggest doing a kind of examen, that is, a review of conscience, or consciousness. When we do this in preparing for confession, what we usually do is make a list of our sins. That we sin is, of course, true. But it is only part of the truth about us. If we were to confess the whole truth we would have to say more. We would also need to acknowledge, or confess, the ways in which God’s love has indeed been active in and through us. So I will ask people to confess their goodness to others, their kindness and generosity, to confess the ways in which God’s love has been manifest in and through them. It’s looking through the other end of the telescope. Continue reading
Welcome to Church! Do you know why you’re here? Do you understand what we’re meant to beand to do when we gather to worship and then disperse into the world?
Let me see if I can describe it for you. Let’s start on the biggest possible scale: let’s think about GOD. God is at work in the world. God has a mission and a purpose. In the beginning God created the world, but the people whom God created to inhabit God’s world have spoiled it and now it doesn’t look much like the world God intended it to be. God is working on that. In fact, God is reclaiming the world, renewing the world, reconciling the world and its people. In the words of N.T. Wright, God is “putting the world back to rights.” God has in mind a world in which each person is honored and treated with dignity and respect, simply because he or she bears the image of God; a world in which there is no hatred, oppression or violence, no suffering or deprivation, where people live peaceably with one another,and with all the creatures that inhabit the earth. God has in mind a peaceable kingdom, where God reigns in love, and where all may share in the abundance of the Divine Life. This is the eschatological vision of God, the way things were meant to be and the way God intends them to be once more. This is God’s work, the missio Deior “mission of God”: to renew and restore the creation. Continue reading
I was raised as a Baptist in Alabama, and spent my late childhood and early teens falling in love with Jesus and his Gospel. Years later, during my studies at Harvard Divinity School, I would discover a call to follow Jesus as an Episcopalian. The eight years or so in between I found myself on a prolonged hiatus from Church and from Christianity, zealously studying and practicing Buddhist meditation. I think my exposure to these practices was a providential preparation for my later encounter with Christian contemplative prayer, and the compassionate, joyful presence of the Buddhist monks who befriended and taught me may have planted the first seeds of the Christian monastic vocation I am living into today. Continue reading
John situates this teaching on the Bread of Life in a very specific place, which you can visit: the synagogue at Capernaum (we read this a few verses later). What you see today is a partial reconstruction of an elegant Greco-Roman style building of imported stone dating from just after Jesus’ day. This synagogue re-uses the foundation of an earlier synagogue built with the local black basalt, which is where Jesus would have taught. Continue reading
The long-time religion editor of Publisher’s Weekly, Phyllis Tickle, wrote in her book The Great Emergence that every five hundred years or so, the Christian faith holds a “rummage sale.” The church sifts and sorts through beliefs and practices that have grown old, decayed, or died, to make space for what wants to emerge. That’s every five hundred years. This sifting and sorting process occurred with the Great Collapse of the Roman Empire (around year 500 ce), the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western Churches (around year 1000), and the Great Reformation (around year 1500). Now, she proposed, we are in the Great Emergence. What is emerging? This is a crucial question when it comes to our topic for this evening – Teaching, Baptizing, and Nurturing Believers – not only because it is “politic” to know our constituency; it is also a faithful response to the work of God’s Spirit, whom Jesus says will teach us everything and remind us of all that [Jesus] said to us.”[i] What are we being taught and reminded through God’s Spirit, and where do we look? Continue reading
Luke 1:26-38, 29-56
For the next few weeks, we brothers are presenting a sermon series based on the “Five Marks of Mission” of the Anglican Communion. The Five Marks of Mission are:
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptize and nurture believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To transform unjust structures, challenge violence of every kind, and pursue peace and reconciliation
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth
In this series you will actually hear two different brothers preach on each mark. My brother Nicholas (who preached on Tuesday evening) and I were given the first mark: To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom. Continue reading
We read in the Acts of the Apostles that Jesus’ apostles have become very active. They who, not long ago, were cowering with fear, seem now fearless as they give witness “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” We also give witness to Jesus in our respective vocations, to our own “end of the earth.” It’s worthwhile remembering how Jesus went about giving witness and doing ministry.[i] He was very active, clearly; he counterbalanced his activity by regularly making retreats, the very thing you, our guests, are doing here with us.
In Jesus’ ministry, the multitudes are desperate to hear Jesus and to experience his help and healing. The crowds’ expectations only grow. And what does Jesus do? It’s quite revealing. He withdraws quite regularly. Jesus would minister mightily, and then the Gospels say he would withdraw to deserted places. Note the plural – deserted places – and he would pray.[ii] The cry is not the call. The cry for help is not one-in-the-same with our call to respond. It certainly was not for Jesus. There was always more to do. Jesus shows his truly-human side, without infinite resources, and he practices a kind of “life rhythm” clearly knowing when he must withdraw to rest and pray. Continue reading
This is the first of a series of sermons on the five marks of mission, five aspects of the mission that Christians are called to in the world. This list was developed by the Anglican Communion and endorsed by the Episcopal Church as a helpful framework within which we can better understand our calling to the mission of Christ. The five marks of mission are: 1) To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom; 2) To teach, baptize and nurture new believers; 3) To respond to human need by loving service; 4) To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation; and 5) To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth. Continue reading
Second Sunday of Easter
Acts 5: 27-32
Revelation 1: 4-8
John 20: 19-31
Something strange is happening.
Something strange is happening. A band of terrified, grieving women and men who spend most of their time behind locked doors in fear, are changing. Their fear is changing into faith. Their terror is changing into courage. Their grief is changing into joy. And soon, no door could keep them in, and no door would be able to keep them,or their message out.
Something strange is happening, and it begins with the resurrection greeting: Peace be with you! Continue reading
The time was several days after Jesus’ second appearance to his disciples in that upper room in Jerusalem. The Place was somewhere on the Western Shore of the Sea of Galilee. Seven of Jesus’ disciples were gathered there, waiting to see what would happen next.
Peter said to the others, “I’m going fishing”. It was only natural that he should think of doing what he had done before Jesus called him. Continue reading