Sermon Notes 7EasterC
My friends in Christ, the story is told of an elderly woman who had just returned to her home from an evening of church services when she was startled by an intruder. She caught the man in the act of robbing her home of its valuables and yelled, “Stop! Acts 2:38!” “Repent and be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven.” The burglar stopped in his tracks. The woman calmly called the police and explained what she had done. As the officer cuffed the man to take him in, he was curious and asked the burglar, “Why did you just stand there? All the old lady did was yell scripture to you.” “Scripture”? replied the burglar. “She said she had an ax and two 38s!”
That is a made up story. A joke. What I tell you now is a true story….(Bishop Michael Curry story)
My friends in Christ, as we mend, we must remember that we are one. We must reject being a congregation of TEAPOT people. Do you know any TEAPOT people? Are you a TEAPOT person? I hope not. We tend to find TEAPOT people in places that matter to us. Places like our nation. Places like our politics. Sadly, too, we even find TEAPOT people in church. We shouldn’t have TEAPOT people in our lives. It is wrong, wrong, wrong.
TEAPOT is an acronym. The letters that form the word TEAPOT stand for Those Evil Awful People Over There. Sometimes having TEAPOT people in our lives places us in heresy. Most people think heresy is a thing of days gone by. A thing of very early church history. A thing of the inquisition. A thing of the reformation.
There’s an ancient heresy that’s still around. It’s called donatism. Donatism arose in 4th century North Africa. How and why it began is fascinating to a church nerd like me, but I shall spare you the details. Basically, donatism was the error taught by Donatus, a bishop of North Africa who believed that the effectiveness of the sacraments depends on the moral character of the minister. In other words, if a minister who was involved in a serious enough sin were to baptize a person, that baptism would be considered invalid.
In the Episcopal Church of the 1970s, the latest round of heresy arose when we started ordaining women. The first “irregular” ordinations were done by a retired bishop named Ed Welles. Bishop Welles’ own father was bishop of Milwaukee in the 19th century and was the first bishop in the American succession to wear a cope and miter. Bishop Welles wore his father’s cope and miter when he “irregularly” ordained thos first women priests. Bishop Wells was the retired bishop of this diocese and one of the women he priested was his daughter Katrina Swanson. Both Ed and Katrina are in Heaven now, but Bishop Welles said that he was certain that ordaining those women was the most correct and appropriate thing he ever did in his life.
The donatists of the 1970s said that the simple state of being a woman was enough to prevent someone from becoming ordained to the priesthood, and that their sacraments were invalid. This church was torn apart by the simple act of recognizing that women could be ordained to the diaconate, the priesthood, and the episcopate.
Our Gospel today from John is the last part of what are known as John’s farewell discourse, chapters 13 through 17. This farewell discourse took place on what we now call Maundy Thursday. I like to think of the farewell discourse in this way: If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you want those you love to know? Probably really important things. Listen to the transliteration from The Message Bible, one of my favorites. Listen carefully; Jesus is talking about us…addressing God, Jesus says:
Those who will believe. That’s us. Right now. It goes on:
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
so they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
so they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
and give the godless world evidence
that you’ve sent me and loved them
in the same way you’ve loved me.
Father, I want those you gave me
to be with me, right where I am,
so they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
having loved me
long before there ever was a world.
Righteous Father, the world has never known you,
but I have known you, and these disciples know
that you sent me on this mission.
I have made your very being known to them—
who you are and what you do—
and continue to make it known,
so that your love for me
might be in them
exactly as I am in them.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, as YOU begin this new period in your life as the “be group”, Fr. Russ and I will walk with you. We will talk with you. We will laugh with you. We will cry with you. We will pray with you and yes, there will be times when we will carry you. I know I speak for Russ when I say that we know, given the recent unpleasantness, you may distrust your clergy. We will be here to help you regain that trust. We will be here as an example of what honesty means and what our Holy Orders mean to us.
With that in our minds and with Christ in our hearts, let the church say AMEN!