*knock knock, knock*
Who is it, and what do you want? I am the Right Rev. Dr. Richard Anselm, by divine permission Bishop of St. Albans, chief pastor, teacher and defender of the faith, appointed by royal warrant of HM the Queen.”
*knock, knock, knock*
Who is it, and what do you want? I am Richard Anselm of St. Albans, appointed Bishop in this place.
*knock, knock, knock*
Who is it, and what do you want? I am Bishop Anselm.
*knock, knock, knock*
Who is it, and what do you want? I am Richard, baptised and beloved of God.
To the thunder of trumpets and an organ fanfare, swung the great western doors of the cathedral to welcome its new bishop. While the name is not real, the content is from an actual seating of a Bishop in the United Kingdom. When we seat a new bishop in their cathedral, which comes to us from the latin Cathedra, meaning seat, we ask the new person who they claim to be- a tie over from apostolic times when we needed proof this was the person we were expecting, and why they are knocking at our door. We like the bishop, coming to their new diocese with all the pomp of their position, is given access to this kingdom way of life in the level field which is our baptism- rather than their title or position. Our baptism makes us all the same. And Luke shares with us just how important that level field is for this kingdom work we share this morning.
This kingdom way of life feels far away, and in reality that’s what the writer of Luke/Acts is setting us up for. The immediacy of this life has come and gone, because we have been proclaiming the imminence of God’s second coming for generations now, only to still be waiting. And it’s getting a bit frustrating because life is hard and full of examples of incredible inequality, that this kingdom is meant to fix.. This is the context in which Luke writes to us, preparing us for the duality of the work, which takes place here and in the world to come. These phrases we hear this morning from Luke, which point to the way in which we are called to respond to life, called the beatitudes, happen in two places in scripture. Matthew and Luke. Matthew has the whole of them together, Luke breaks them up for us today, four beatitudes and four warnings. So it's easy for us to take the beatitudes as a checklist, and see others as needing the woe statements, however that misses the point because Matthew has them together for a reason.
Hearing Jesus use the term “blessed” so often inflates our safety because we are indeed blessed. We’ve worked hard, we live well, we do good works, we donate to charity, so we are blessed. And indeed we are, yet blessed holds a deeper meaning. Blessed in the beatitudes is about being aware of our role and place in the work of the kingdom in our midst. And that role is given to us at Baptism. In it we are called to move beyond the singular and into the community of the kingdom, seeing our unique humanity, money, and talents as instruments for God's kingdom, rather than just our comfort alone. Which is more than just selling everything and following God in absolute poverty, it’s a way of life which I believe is about advocacy and presence.
We gather this morning to begin the work of Vestry. Now before everyone bolts for the door, hear me out. Finances are uncomfortable for many to talk about, for a myriad of reasons, and church finances are even more uncomfortable because they rarely layout who we are and where we are going. And in reality, finances never do that, it's what we do with it that does- how we advocate with them for God’s Kingdom in our midst, and as a community we are making choices about our finances which are kingdom focused. Ready for us this year is our 2019 Narrative Budget, which puts flesh on the bones of our wonderfully crafted budget presented to vestry by our leadership team and outstanding treasurer. Now don't let the title fool you, it's not just a budget, it's a missional statement telling the world and those who come to our community how we are ready to live and serve the Kingdom in our time and place. We have incredible things to celebrate, but letting them rest within a line item delivers the warning of woe to us, for being complacent in the face of the immentent kingdom. Why complacent? Because this mission is not a bill, but a way of life which calls us to invite others into its work because of how it transforms the world in the name of Jesus. This mission of ours from God, to go and Make Disciples of all peoples, is a transformative call to community in which we are fed, nurtured, and welcomed as whoever we are. This is an amazing community of real honest welcome, hospitality and God’s glory- Why wouldn't we want more people to experience that with us?
We are called this morning, to articulate, motivate, and engage with the work of our baptism, which makes us all equal in our vocation to make missional disciples, ready for the kingdom, making disciples in our world through our gifts, money, and talents. Linger here today and share your stories with each other, and be caught up in the greatest movement in human history, for blessed are the disciple makers, for today is a kingdom day. How will you respond?