Sermon for the Third Sunday after Trinity
7th Jul 2019
Sermon for the Third Sunday after Trinity Year C
The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead.
In the gospel of today we witness the sending out of the seventy two disciples. This is very unique happening in this Gospel. All the gospels mention the twelve disciples and their being commissioned by Jesus to continue his mission. However it is only Luke who makes specific reference to the sending out of the seventy two. There must be a reason for this. Jesus reminds us that the harvest is rich and the labourers few - there are never enough respondents to do the necessary work. In the same manner Luke wants to tell us that the mission of Jesus is carried forward both by those who have experienced a calling as well as the sure responsibility of every Christian believer. Here we can see that the emerging Christian community existed not only as ‘ecclesia’ or structured, hierarchical church but also as koinonia or fellowship of men and women each empowering and reinforcing the Christian discipleship in one another in the power of the Holy Spirit of the continuing work of witness in the one Faith. In Galatians, Paul refers to such koinonia when he reminds the church to ‘bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ’ (Galatians 6.3)
How are we in the Church to equip ourselves to do this? Very often I have heard people say that they feel that they have not the proper qualifications to be missioners of Jesus. There has been for them only a partial and even small realization that the work of Jesus does not require a specialized set of skills before first it requires a heart that is rested on God and which is confident and compassionate enough to share with others what it has in fact already experienced in Him. The mission of Jesus is also accomplished by ordinary people doing ordinary things and being faithful to their responsibilities. But the ordinariness is fed by the extraordinary gift of faith and its outpouring in and through the source which is Jesus Christ.
‘Deacon’ is a name which from earliest Christian times has been the name assigned to a concentrated form of Christian witness and a specific ministry. In the Church of England all candidates for priesthood are first ordained deacon, and to a first year of ordained ministry which is focused on practical service. The focus for this service is of the Christ who washes the disciple’s feet at the Last Supper. It is always good for priests and especially bishops to be reminded that they have also been ordained to the diaconate, whose call to service is perhaps the most simple and direct expression of Christian witness. Their ordination to a higher sphere does not make their diaconate less indelible. But as members of Christ’s body, The Church, we too are called to spend our time and energy in diaconal service for the physical care and well-being of our neighbour. This is a different kind of spending to the one which associates itself with consumerism. This is a spending of the heart and the will in active response to the love of God that we experience in this Eucharist. This is a spending of the heart that introduces the idea of a new kind of economy, based not on money or calculation but in response to the Christian call in a life of active and radical compassion. Its effects will be seen in lives and communities which have experienced the healing power of the Christian faith and the outpouring of human gifts in the one fellowship or koinonia. This is a Christian ministry called to actions which speak louder than words. This is what makes the Church known to those who would stand outside – for by the fruits of the Christian Faith are we to be known. (Matthew 7.16)
What are the fruits that we are speaking of? Jesus shows us that to listen carefully to someone’s story, to go out of your way to give someone comfort, to give of your time, especially when you have other things to do, to hold your temper, to serve and to offer yourself and your loving, to show kindness under pressure, to give and not to mind the cost, to feel helpless and vulnerable – these are the responses of faith which speak louder than words. It is by these means that God is seen and felt and known.
In this Church we have a Mission Action Plan (or MAP for short). This is a document which can be periodically worked out and added to and which sets out for this parish our basic missionary intention. It outlines what we do best and of how we do it, it explores the shifts and changes in our congregational expression and also looks at the challenges that face us. But this MAP is more than a document. It will involve all of us in taking a stronger and more committed pledge to serve this church more effectively and to act upon this pledge. It will involve giving ourselves and our time. We, like the seventy-two, recognize that the growing of a church like ours is both God inspired and also a proper job of work. It cannot happen accidentally. We hope to explore and establish new ways in which we can be fed in smaller groups and in which we can better equip ourselves to serve God and our neighbour in this place.
This is an opportunity for us all to make Holy Cross Church a mission station in King’s Cross every bit as real as the Judaean towns were for the seventy-two. The original Christian witness became broader and broader in its scope and more daring in its endeavor because its strong fixed point was Jesus Christ and the possession of a Gospel of unparalleled integrity and influence. We here at Holy Cross are being called to exercise that same passion and daring in the service of King’s Cross and those who have visited us from across the whole world and to respond more fully to the need to grow in stature and in ever deeper koinonia.
The words of the great Chinese prophet Confucius come down to us from the centuries:
“Where so ever you go” he says “…go with all your heart”.
Thanks be to God.