Sermon for Solemn Evensong & Benediction Sunday 20 January 2013
In the Church, the society founded by Jesus, people of all race, classes and nationalities find citizenship. We are to be one in Christ even though we are dispersed throughout the nations. For we consider ourselves to be part of the body of Christ, as Blessed Paul writes to the Church in Ephesus, that weighs upon us a responsibility that: “we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ...”
We are, to live lives deeply connected with one another as a community of faith, but more so, we are to be completely and utterly dependent on Christ, both for our identity and for his life to articulate and dictate our purpose.
Through him who we worship, we are to find a longing for true life and unity with God, for he has ransomed his life for us, irrespective of our race, class or nationality, gender, sexuality or political allegiances. So in response to the love of God revealed in our Lord Jesus, we are to find a common life together in him, and be united as followers of Christ.
From the Christian viewpoint, we find our underlying unity in “the one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”. God is a personal God who uniquely revealed through his Son, our Saviour Jesus allows us to see him face to face.
We know that Jesus stands in a unique relationship to God. He is Saviour, because through his life, death and resurrection he has brought to the world the assurance of God’s love and favour and made access to him possible. So Jesus Christ is the focal point where all and everything in the world are to find their meeting-point with God. Jesus is our meeting point in which we find God and I believe through who we are to find our common life together and unity.
As part of the body of Christ, we are instruments of the divine providence of God, yet we more often seem happy with mediocrity and foolishness so that we prosper our own ambition rather than one another in Christ. St John writes, “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son,* who is close to the Father’s heart,* who has made him known”. Like so, no one has ever seen unity in the church, but we might just see a long hoped for unity, if we genuinely follow “him who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”
What unity for the Global church looks like, I am not sure, but unity in Christ I suspect requires us to ditch that which defines us, and embrace that which defines God. Jesus does it, he denies his own life so that he can reveal God’s almighty purpose to us all. He has the courage of the Son of God, we are in turn to have the courage as the body of Christ.
Perhaps until we can be freed from our own desires and hope for the church which affirms us rather than Christ, the unity of the church can be best demonstrated through us having a devotion to humankind inspired through Christ Jesus our Lord; a devotion which honours the society founded by Jesus where irrespective of race, class or nationality, gender, sexuality or political allegiances we are citizens of the household of God, serving God and serving one another. “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all”; best revealed in our Lord Jesus, we come and worship and adore. Amen
Sermon preached by Fr. John Pritchard