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“What Then will This Church Become?” – A Question with an Answer to Anticipate!

June 30, 2012

Our Gospel Reading for today has the words spoken of John the Baptist, “What will this child become?” They speak about potential, and joyful anticipation of what is in store, as the Lord works in and through him.

I pray that this is how we look at ourselves here at St. Paul’s. I pray that we have the same joyful anticipation of the Lord’s making something wonderful in and through us! On the DVD we have just watched together, our Bishop-elect Greg, when asked what legacy he would hope to leave the Diocese, replied:

If I was going to have to name something about a legacy, I would say … have people have a sense that they have been drawn deeper into their walk as disciples of Jesus, in a way that allows them to express that in a fresh way in their community; and have some confidence and boldness and confidence in being able to live that in their neighbourhood, in the workplace, before their friends in a way that is generous, that is kind, and is humble, but at the same time clear and confident about the Gospel message.  

This confidence starts with the words expressed in today’s reading from Isaiah 40. “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God” (verse 1), it begins, and then continues throughout the passage to speak of God’s love for us. We need to be grounded in God’s love for us. Then we can bear witness of this love to others: “Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength” (verse 9). And the message is one of love: “Do not fear … Here is your God … coming as a shepherd … (and, as The Message translation says so beautifully) hugging the lambs to his heart.”

In Mark Buchanan’s latest book, Your Church is Too Safe (pages 16 and 23), he says these words:

Question: Is the love in your church such that people in the world and of the world would be willing to forsake all other loves just to know this love? Would they give up their addictions, their diversions, their compromises, their resentments, because the love your church has is better and truer and deeper than anything they’ve found anywhere else?

If yes, your church is relevant to the world.

If no, it’s irrelevant …

[W]ithout extravagant love, the church will never turn the world on its head. It won’t even turn the world’s head. Without love, the church will leave the world exactly how we found it. We’ll be no better than a priest of a Levite walking past a man in a ditch, leaving him to die. [See Luke 10:25-37.]

So, “What then will this church become?” May we at St. Paul’s be filled with anticipation that the answer is a people in whom and through whom God’s extravagant love will be so outpoured, that we, like John the Baptist, will prepare the way for Jesus to come in power and compassion in people’s lives. Thanks be to God! Amen.

(This is adapted from the homily at our 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. Services on June 24.)

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Emdedded below is a video of the song “We are the Church,” which we sang at our 10:00 Service. This song and the picture at the top of this posting remind us that “the church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is a people;” and that we all ARE the Church, called to reach out with Jesus’ love and serve the world. This passion for the Lord to work in us and through us to touch people with his love and light is expressed in the other song embedded below, “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light.”

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