Through the Glass Doors

Sermons

Preached by The Reverend Paul D. Allick on 6th Sunday of Easter (Sunday, May 21, 2017)

 

Acts 17:22-3; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21

 

 

We all have faith in something. Each morning I have faith that my alarm will go off and that the electricity will work and the water will run. I have faith the sun will rise and set each day. I have a strange kind of faith that each morning at about 5 a.m. I will awake to a cat politely staring at me about 4 inches from my face waiting for her breakfast.

 

As I travel around the neighborhood in my collar, or stroll through the open garden or stand out on the side walk in my vestments after daily Mass I encounter questions, observations, body language and requests for prayer that tell me people around here have faith in some kind of “god.” In our hyper-secularized culture there still seems to be some vague notion of faith among our neighbors.

 

You may remember the Pew Study on religious attitudes that came out a few years ago. The number of religiously unaffiliated adults has increased. As of 2015 there were approximately 56 million of them.  This is larger than either the Catholic or mainline Protestant population. It is second only to evangelical Protestants.

 

This is my hope. Just because they are unaffiliated does not mean they do not believe in God or even Jesus. It means that they have been turned off or away from how the institution has presented the message. Or maybe we in the institutional Church have organized our schedules and expectations in a way that does not cotton to modern life anymore.

 

St. Paul while in Athens saw a religiously diverse population. There were many gods to choose from. Paul says to Athenians, “I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it.”

 

He calls them away from venerating the creatures to worshipping the Creator. He cautions them, “While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

My personal, and offensive view, is that all religions are a foreshadowing of the truth found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Or maybe, less intolerant of me, maybe each religion is a unique reflection of that Truth which finds it ultimate fulfilment in the Incarnation of God in Christ. Whatever the case, Paul is telling the Athenians, “All your religion up until now has served a purpose but now I have the Good News that brings it all together.”

 

St. Peter tells us that the flood during Noah’s time was a foreshadowing of baptism. He also tells us that during those three days when Jesus was dead he “went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey.” Jesus descended to all the departed, of all religious traditions, and proclaimed to them, “What you’ve known until now has not redeemed you…I am here to offer you freedom.”

 

In all the gospel accounts of the Resurrected Christ, Jesus calls us out into world to proclaim this Good News. We are to offer the one faith to all people. This is what makes us Apostolic (sent) and Catholic (whole, or universal). Jesus didn’t die and rise again simply for us to keep that to ourselves.

 

Jesus not only calls on this mission he also empowers us to do it. The Father sends us an Advocate, a helper, the Spirit of truth. We cannot bring this news to others without calling on the Holy Spirit. We would not know what to say or how to say it.  

 

At Advent, we simply cannot avoid the world. It is right there in front of our doors. There is no grand entry way, no long staircase. You walk out our doors and boom there is God’s world waiting to hear the Good News. Every time I stand at the altar and we celebrate the Holy Mysteries I see the world through those glass doors. I see the church and the world always before me.

 

Let’s keep those doors open as much as possible. Let’s open those garden gates a bit more. Let’s invite our neighbors, in a dozen different ways, with words and without, to get a little closer to the One Living God. As we have for over 158 years let’s help our neighbors see that there is a God who loves and knows them. We do not preach a vague notion of something nice and good and politically correct. We preach the Good News that the fulfilment of the Creator’s purposes has become fully known in Christ Jesus!