Skip to comments.SERMON ON ECUMENICAL SUNDAY
Posted on 01/16/2006 7:05:53 AM PST by Huber
OLLA AND URANIA UNITED METHODIST CHURCHES
Propers: RCL - 1 Samuel 3:1-20, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, and John 1:43-51
It is good to be with you all for the second time on Ecumenical Sunday, and I am glad that Brother Curtis asked me to come to preach a sermon and worship with you all again. To start us off, I’d like to bring to mind what the word “ecumenical” is. The word is used to describe something of worldwide scope or applicability, and, in the Christian context, describes the world-wide Christian Church. The early councils of the church, including the council of Nicea from which we get our common creed that is used by Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, and others, are described as ecumenical councils, meaning they were councils of the universal and undivided church. This is a church in which we claim our belief in the Nicene Creed, believing in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. We, as Christians with a creedal faith, are to believe what has been believed by all Christians, at all times, and at all places.
This is a Sunday in which we are called out of our comfortable denominational Christianity into an awareness of the Church, with a capital C, all around the world and even right next door. Much as we heard in our lesson today, we are as Samuel, the prophet, in a world when the word of the Lord had become rare, and visions were not widespread. In our increasingly secularized and busy world, where going to church and living a Christian life can easily get lost in the shuffle or sometimes deliberately ignored are we hearing the Lord calling us? Do we mistake that call for something else, as Samuel did at first? Will we answer, speak, Lord, for your servant is listening?
The problem is that we might not like what we hear. For the Lord calls us all outside of our comfort zones, to reach out to others, and speak the truth in love to others, as uncomfortable as that may be. Samuel was asked to tell Eli, his worldly master, of God’s displeasure with him for not restraining his sons from blasphemy. From the reading, we can tell Samuel wasn’t comfortable with this, as Eli had to practically force him to tell him God’s word. But, Samuel did it - he said what God had told him to say to Eli, “no holds barred.”
Are there times when we, as the Church, are called to convey God’s Word, despite how uncomfortable it may be to convey the message or for people to receive it? Yes, indeed. Such times are ever present in various denominations being worn from strife between liberals and conservatives over homosexuality and other sex scandals, over scripture, over women’s ordination, over politics, you name it. Now, I am not saying that God is calling us to add our voices to the throng of those arguing over these issues and trying to gain power and position within the church. There are plenty of those voices. God is asking us to say something else. Like Samuel, we have to speak the true Word, and that is the continued ripping apart of the body of Christ is not what the Lord wants. He wants us to be one, as Jesus and the Father are one. Jesus prayed this prayer on the night before He died. We know this. But, how few protest this ripping asunder of Christ’s body?
Perhaps Christian Unity is its most difficult when trying to make it happen from the top, where people hold to structures of church governance and sacraments like sacred cows. But, real Christian unity can take place on the ground, between us, brothers and sisters in Christ, when we set aside our differences and agree to minister to a broken and hurting world as one. In our own state, many of the churches have banded together to minister to victims of hurricanes, including yours and mine. I’m also sure Curtis has shared with you about our Kairos prison ministry. There are many other ministries like this.
St. Paul gave us the anology and indeed a word to describe the reality of the church - the Body of Christ. He says this again to us this morning in the passage from Corinthians - “Do you not know that your bodies are members of the Christ?” Indeed, we are. “…anyone united in the Lord becomes one spirit with him…” - God the father.
But, I wouldn’t be doing the lesson from Paul this morning any justice if I didn’t address what is plainly there. He is taking about sin. Sexual sin. Fornication. Sexual sins are sins against the body itself - we hurt ourselves when we engage or condone such sins. As Paul said, “Should I therefore take members of the Christ and make them members of a prostitute?” Clearly not!
We live in a country today dominated by sex, and not the good kind either. Sex with anyone you want, any time you want, and sex has become our most important preoccupation. As Paul says, all things are lawful, but not all things are beneficial. We shouldn’t be dominated by anything - we shouldn’t be obsessed with anything. We should be for the Lord.
I ask this question - where is the universal Church’s witness? Again, like Samuel, we are called to speak the truth in love. God is not pleased with our forsaking of Him by standing idly by as we let our society become overly sexualized and completely ignoring the Christian morality on the subject, that sex belongs within the bounds of Christian marriage. The church is not here to embrace the culture of today, just as it didn’t embrace the culture of yesterday. The Church is here to stand for God, for his Word found in the Holy Bible. We, as the Church, have to make an honest effort to present the Truth as contained in the Bible to a world that doesn’t want to hear it. But, as Slats Slanton, an Episcopal layman once wrote: “Accepting such a thing will not make you a fanatic, nor will it rob you of your compassion. The acceptance of biblical truth can only end our wandering - and bring us each face to face with the one, true, Living God.” Further, if we do this, we can become like Samuel, and the Lord will let none of our words fall to the ground, and all will know that we are trustworthy servants of the Lord.
At the same time, however, we can’t afford to ignore Samuel’s humility in presenting God’s word to others. We aren’t called to judge anyone, but to share what God has judged, in a humble, servant-like manner. To be a trustworthy servant of the Lord, we have to speak the truth, but also speak it from a heart of love, and of care, rather than one of hate and judgment. That, my brothers and sisters, is exactly what Jesus did. That is what He did with the prostitute at the well, that is what He did with the tax collectors who were considered traitors of the worst kind when Jesus walked the earth, that is what he did with any and all sinners that he ran into. He embraced them, he ate with them, he associated with them. He didn’t run away, or call them evil, or berate them. He truly and lovingly ministered to them. He shared the truth with them. He loved them, as he loves us - where we are, but loves us enough not to leave us there. That, my brothers and sisters, is exactly what He asks us to do, today.
It is this to which the Lord calls us. Just as we heard from the Gospel this morning, Jesus is saying to us “Follow me.” If we can come together as Christians, and follow Christ together, than indeed we will see what Jesus promised us - heaven will be opened, and the angels of God will ascend and descend upon the Son of Man.
I wonder if you intended to post this in the Religion forum, rather than here, in News/Activism.
Thank you. My error!
My church is not into compromise on our doctrines for some kind of unity, so Sunday our sermon was on the anniversary of Roe Vs Wade and the person hood of the unborn.
There is no more important moral issue for our society than abortion, but it would be unfortunate to dismiss progress toward Christian unity. Compromise of doctrine should only occur when doctrine is shown to be insufficient through revelation or inspiration. In the interim the point of dialog between Christian denominations is to strengthen our community and lead to better understanding of Biblical Truth.
As an evangelic and Calvinist I have little use for the ecumenical movement. Phase one seemed to be to merge our doctrines and return to a pre reformation position and even include those that deny the nicene creed like univeralists and unitarians , phase 2 , now in effect in our area includes those that deny Christ in the mix like Hindus and Muslims with whom we absolutely no fellowship .
I have no issue with sharing actions on major social issues with others that affirm Christ. But you will find few Calvinists or evangelicals that will return to Catholic doctrines or share "worship" with those that have other gods .
Sigh... You Calvinists are nothing if not strident.
Strident , interesting word. How willing are you to change your doctrine of purgatory, real presence and salvation by faith and works in the name of unity?
Of interest, in the "Can't we all just get along" sort of way.
"The problem is that we might not like what we hear. For the Lord calls us all outside of our comfort zones, to reach out to others, and speak the truth in love to others, as uncomfortable as that may be."
Abortion will never be solved until Christians get their doctrinal act together. If we do not speak right about God why do you think He will bother to bless us? If 50% of the people in churches are having abortions do you honestly think this makes the church a credible witness?
Let's go beyond the strawman arguments. 50% of Americans voted for Algore, but this does not mean that Americans as a group are environmentalist wackos. If you wish to debate the RC catechism, that's fine, but those who sin and are in conflict with the teaching of the church should not be taken to represent the church or its teaching.
First, please accept my complements on your use of Latin in your tag line, although I am not certain that the Council at Nicea actually used the term "sola scriptura". Second, I am Anglican, not RC, so some of the doctrines you listed are NA. Third, in answer to your question, I would sacrifice false doctrine for the truth. We have wonderful discussions with our Calvinist friends, and have come to a deeper understanding of many areas of scripture as a result. However in other areas, Calvin seems to be overreaching and reactionary, and we are unconvinced on these points.
This isn't a strawman's argument. People somehow feel that God favors Christians and really want the very best for us. The Jews during Jeremiah's time felt the same way. If we want God's help we should look to our churches first. Paul didn't lead the Corinthians in social causes nor did Elijah tell the priest of Baal that their faith in Baal was the same as faith in God.
If we can't clean up our churches how the heck do we suppose sinners will every be stopped. In fact, if every single "Christian" in church were to vote against abortion then abortion would be abolished. As Barry McGuire aptly put it in one of his songs...
"We have million dollar churches and no one's on their knees."
I believe that these quotes from Pope Benedict XVI reflect Catholic teaching. Wouldn't even a Calvinist find common ground for ecumenism on the basis of teaching such as this?
"Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. There may be legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not... with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
"Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church is often labeled today as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and swept along by every wind of teaching, look like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards."
"The wrath of God is a way of saying that I have been living in a way that is contrary to the love that is God. Anyone who begins to live and grow away from God, who lives away from what is good, is turning his life toward wrath."
"We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires."
Ahhh But I will not sacrifice truth for an untruth, that is what the ecumenical movement requires of us.
You know of course the roots of the Anglican Church are Calvinist.Indeed, some list the Anglican 39 Articles as descending from Calvin's work.
from those articles :
VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation. Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
This sounds like sola scriptura to me Nicea or not :)
Actually the roots are somewhat bipolar, alternating between Catholic and Swiss influences with a few burnings at the stake in between!
Your 39 articles affirm Calvinism ...
Ecumenicalism is simply a sham to lead us into a social gospel. It takes our worship of God and reduces it down to the lowest common denominator-or worst. We are willing to "partner" with others of all sorts of beliefs (some not even Christian) to try to affect some type of cause "for God". Excuse me but whatever happened to praying to God that He would bring about change?
The church was never called to fight abortion, alcohol, poverty, the death penalty, etc. The church's Great Commission is to preach the gospel. This doesn't mean we shouldn't be involved in moral issues. James rightfully tells us what good is preaching the gospel if those your preaching to are hungry so as a side issue we are to feed the poor. But that shouldn't distract for our main objective-preach the gospel.
We have simply lost our first love.
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