Rev. Alex Wilson
February 24, 2019
Rev. Alex Wilson

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Luke 6:27-38

You’re not invited. This very important meeting of the international body to which we all belong is coming up and spouses from all around the world are coming to support those who have hard decisions ahead of them. But your not invited. This is what the Archbishop of Canterbury through the General Secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council, told a colleague of mine, now Bishop, in the Diocese of Toronto regarding his husband’s invitation to the upcoming, once a decade Lambeth Conference in 2020. Practically speaking, when we throw the party we get to invite the guests. However this goes deeper than that. As the church, we enjoy rules because it makes membership clear, it explains the cost of baptism, and helps us regulate and grow our communities. It is also how we as humans understand the world. However arbitrary rules and invites, do nothing to bring about the reign of the Kingdom, something that our continuation this week of the sermon on the plain in Luke’s Gospel deepens for us today

Just before this passage from Luke, we heard of the four ways of living, with the four warning of woe, and just how much these warnings of woe were for us, when we fail to live into our call as Christians, and not just the others around us. Living in the way of love, which is the Jesus way of life given to us in the gospels is fraught with comfort and challenge in the ministries we are called to. As humans, we like to know when we have arrived at the goal of our destination, yet as Christians it’s all about the continual refinement and listening to where God is moving us next which is often more questions than answers. This makes declarations hard, both to make and to say. We are graced that in our tradition, the Creeds- the unshakable expression of the foundation of our faith- which is Christ- require us to listen and wrestle with the reality of living within its precepts. We can't just choose what parts of that creed we ascribe to. Making declarations which change depending on the circumstances, as the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion has done, challenges the very nature of who we are.

As Anglicans we hold four instruments of communion/unity foundational to our polity and identity, the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Anglican Consultative Council, Lambeth Conference where all the bishops of the globe come together, and the primates meeting, the heads of national churches. The only one which can set policy for the communion is the Anglican Consultative Council because that is where the laity and clerical states come together as one to listen for and discern a way forward on how we are to be together as church. This means, no one body can act alone, which often feels like we drag behind the world in making real world decisions about how we are to live. However, to truly live the Via-Media- or middle way- of our ethos as a faith community means we actively listen to the movement of the spirit in our midst, a movement which is heard within the familial tension of the four instruments of our unity, which is why no one of them can act alone. And this is exactly what Luke reminds us of today.

Listen again to what is being said. Love, do good, bless, pray, offer, give, do. This is the way of love my friends. Love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us- we are called to respond to the pressures of this world and its varied disinvitations because of who and what we are in love. This is not blind love, where we just walk up and hug the person who robbed, racially profiled, or discriminated against us. No, we don’t just walk up and thank them for what they did. We speak truth in love to them, as Christ does in the gospel to us today, reminding them and us that we can all do better in this work of the kingdom because we share a humanity. We all have the capacity for creating great Joy and incredible pain. But, if we fail to see ourselves in the other then we are missing the point, because as Christians our life is about constantly learning and deepening ourselves into the nature of Christ, which is reflected all around us. And that takes a whole life.

But what does any of this have to do with us, in this place? Everything because what we hear this morning is the kingdom is what's at stake, so we are called to respond with our lives. But how? Shortly, we will have a direct opportunity to practice this way of love, this kingdom life for ourselves, as we gather for our annual vestry. We will dream, wonder and pray, in thanksgiving for all the incredible ministry that has taken place, and listen for the direction we are to move in the year ahead. Like the instruments of communion for us as Anglicans, we can’t act in isolation as a community, we do this work together which starts with our presence and voice at Vestry to listen for where the Spirit is leading us, to turn our can'ts into cans to enable a church and world where all are truly welcome in the freedom of Christ. And that means everyone.

Come my friends, the table is set, the candles lit, wine and bread abound for everyone, there is room for all. We are called to live the radical challenge of the simple rules of Jesus’ way of love in our lives, which starts again today. The kingdom is here. How will you respond?