Sunday, April 19, 2009

Today's Sermon and a powerful quote from Archbishop Oscar Romero

Sermon for the Second Sunday of Easter
Fr. Timothy Fountain

Why does Jesus show up for Thomas? Why did John write letters and Luke record the Acts of the Apostles? John tells us the motive in his Gospel:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

The best proof that Easter is true is in lives filled with Christ. This has been true from the first moments of what we now call “the church.” The living Christ is recognized where people live for Him.

We hear this in The First Letter of John:
…this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us-- we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ….if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

We see it demonstrated in The Acts of the Apostles:
With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them…

I’ve been touched by Easter truth in recent weeks here at Good Shepherd:

I recognized Jesus when members of this congregation brought dinners to my family, to lighten my load as I preached through Holy Week.

I recognized Jesus when the many folks who worshipped on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday shared a deep silence as they left the services.

I recognized Jesus at the Great Vigil of Easter when the people boomed out their first “Alleluias” with volume worthy of a sporting event.

I recognized Jesus Tuesday night when the Vestry got more energetic the later it got in a very long meeting – they gained joy and enthusiasm as they took on specific work to help us all “put Jesus first”.

I recognize Jesus every time our home Bible study participants share how much they’ve come to appreciate one another and how much they look forward to their times together.

This witness – your witness – is so important today. Our world, our nation and even our churches are polarized. People cannot find unity and peace. Consider these quotes from the amazingly, painfully honest State of the Church report, published by The Episcopal Church in preparation for this summer’s General Convention:

"64% of Episcopal congregations acknowledge having some kind of conflict over the ordination of gay clergy. And most of that conflict was of a serious nature… 40% indicated that some people left…"

"…the patience and the ability to understand clearly (are) diminished… the concept of herding into particular groups, for or against a particular descriptor, is a common result."

"We often struggle with the ability to articulate our identity. We often struggle with our relationships with each other."

"…under 20% of our congregations report active evangelism programs…"

Do you hear that? Where we live for things that are less than Christ, we don't have the living Christ to share.

The church needs congregations like you. The world needs people like you who put Jesus first, in word and deed. Church and world need the proof of Easter, because only in the supernatural truth of Easter can they be saved from all that seeks their destruction.

I give thanks for you in this Easter season. The problems of the wider church have gotten the best of it, but Christ is greater than all the problems, and I recognize Christ in you and in congregations like you. The institutional church, as we know it today, will die. But Christ is the one who comes out of the tomb, with new life to share.
May we all give thanks that the One who lives forever chooses to share His life with us, and may we share His life with others.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
"If we are worth anything, it is not because we have more money or more talent, or more human qualities. Insofar as we are worth anything, it is because we are grafted on to Christ's life, his cross and resurrection. That is a person's measure." --Archbishop Oscar Romero, March 4 1979
He was assassinated a year later.


Anonymous said...

Great sermon. Good points can't be repeated enough.

Castanea_d said...

I have enjoyed your sermons through Holy Week and beyond; it is a busy time for all of us who work for the church and I haven't had time to comment. But I will now: Thank you! Your good words have been a help and encouragement to me.

TLF+ said...

Thank you, Castanea_d. I don't post most of my sermons but for some reason God moved me to post these. It was a very rich and real Holy Week for our congregation, and Easter is joyful and hopeful. His grace is abundant - may it be so for you!