a priest's musings on the journey

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sermonette: Proper 10B - 16 July 2006

Ephesians 1:1-14; Mark 6:7-13

This weeks Gospel reading tells the story of Jesus sending his disciples out into the world in ministry. He gives them some very clear and specific instructions as to what they are to take with them and how they are to behave- instructions, parenthetically that were bound in both the cultural codes of hospitality and the spiritual understandings of a hierarchy of spiritual powers and authorities. This story appears in Mark, Matthew and Luke- which is a signal to us of its importance. The underlying message is that those who follow Christ and live life as he taught us to live, are entrusted and empowered by Christ to carry on his mission in the world. The work of Christ does not end with him; it is to be taken up, owned and carried on by all who would follow him. Mark does not at this point go into great detail as to what that mission looks like for Christs disciples, other than to mention that they too have the authority to heal the sick and cast out unclean spirits (which for the people during the time of Christ would have meant essentially the same thing). The other Gospels, however, do commission the disciples to take up Jesus proclamation of the in-breaking of the Reign of God and to continue his ministry of reconciling all the world to God. Their acts of healing will serve as signs that God is among us.

In the Epistle reading from Ephesians, we see how some of the earliest Christians had owned Christs mission of reconciling the world to God. The author of this letter uses a baptismal hymn, which we hear in todays reading, to show how the ultimate reconciliation and unity of all things is taking place through Christs work in the community of the baptized who surrender to the divine will in Christ, and bear witness to Gods transforming love. The author of Ephesians most likely changed the hymn to celebrate the unity of Jews and Gentiles in the Body of Christ as a sign of their call to continue Christs work of reconciling all things to God. The baptismal imagery used would have been familiar to the original hearers, as well as the message that through their baptisms they have been incorporated into the one Body of Christ in order to complete His work in the world.

This commission to continue Christs work of reconciliation remains an important part of our own baptismal liturgy. In the baptismal covenant, we promise to take on certain behaviors and practices that will enable us find our own ministries in Christs mission of reconciliation. At every baptism that we witness, we renew our own commitment and call to share in the ministry of Christ, and work towards the unity of all things in God.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 8:04 AM


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