In marking those out of bounds things — like personal, interpersonal, specific racism as well as systemic racism — the Church cares enough about the cruelness that is abandoning ourselves to sin and the compassionate reprimand calling us back from its path…Life in community is messy. It’s particularly messy when we’ve vowed in our baptisms to live a certain standard and proclaim Jesus’ truths. This passage from Matthew gives us opportunity to heed the call of repentance and intend to lead a new life following God’s commandments.
The Rev. Joseph Peters-Mathews is the vicar of St. Hilda St. Patrick. The sermon for Sunday, August 30th, was preached extemporaneously . The gospel text was Matthew 16.21-28.
The Rev. Joseph Peters-Mathews is the vicar of St. Hilda St. Patrick. The sermon for Sunday, August 30th, was preached extemporaneously. The gospel text was Matthew 16.21-28.
Jesus the resurrected Christ has
command over death. In Marcos’ baptism — as we’ll be reminded shortly in our prayers — he was joined to that resurrection. Marcos has died, but death has been defeated. He has gone on ahead with Jesus to that place Jesus prepared for him and for us. In Jesus’ Father’s house are many dwelling places. Many mansion is how the King James version puts it. And we’re here tonight, praying for Marcos as he moves closer to God.
Look around. From gathering to pray for the dead even if on Zoom to planned pizza parties and ice cream socials, the church stands. We’ll never find a savior at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue. We don’t need to, either.
If we’re like the people in the boat, struggling to have faith, Jesus reaches out a hand to save us. If we’re like this woman: wrong and not supposed to do something but desperate for help Jesus reaches out a hand to save us. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more or less.
Outside is chaos. Listening to the news is chaos. Having no idea what’s going to happen any time in the near future nothing being predictable — is chaos. Here comes Jesus, in the dark when things are terrifying, to rescue us. Here comes Jesus saying, Hey, it’s me. Calm down. Don’t be afraid.
In God’s reign, everyone has enough, and God hears the prayer to “Give us today our daily bread.” From the midst of his grief, Jesus makes sure the crowds whose cheers will soon enough turn to jeers have enough. In his compassion Jesus directs his true followers to care for those around him. Sending them away is practical. Feeding them is God’s reign made manifest.
We don’t see yeast as it works its microbial magic and makes dough rise. We can’t see with our naked eyes how a plant — any plant — grows at the cellular level from a seed to be a large bush. This is what God’s reign is like…God’s reign is creeping all around us, started by God becoming human in the person of Jesus who defeated death and the grave, opening eternal life to us all. In God’s own time there’s so much bread that it has to be a party.
Paying attention to the news, we may find ourselves (regardless of what media we consume!) counting off: child of the evil one, child of the evil one, child of the evil one. I heard those sermons growing up and I hope this isn’t one of them! It’s Jesus who sends the angels to do the collecting, not us.