Don't repeat the mistake on page 847 of The Prayer Book .  Here is what God really requires from the chosen people:

Do justice

A series of essays towards General Convention in 2003


Breaking God's Heart

BREAKING GOD’S HEART

A Sermon Preached by
The Rev. Ellen A. Donnelly
St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Wayne, NJ
August 10, 2003

Usually, I prefer to ignore church politics, but this past week it was hard to do. Just as an informal poll, how many of you saw, heard, or read news about the Episcopal Church this week? [Every hand was raised.] The General Convention of the Episcopal Church met, as it does every 3 years, and on the agenda were 2 highly controversial items – approval of the election of an openly gay priest to be the Bishop of New Hampshire, and the creation of a special service for the blessing of same-sex unions (i.e., gay marriage). Both measures passed.

What were some of the feelings you had as you heard this news? [Anger, betrayal, sadness, disgust, fear, despair, outrage, forgiveness, frustration were mentioned.] I’d like to share some of my feelings, as well. I felt sadness & dismay that our denomination has so clearly departed from Scriptural teaching that homosexual behavior is sinful; anger & embarrassment at the public spectacle General Convention made of all Episcopalians. As an aside, last week at the grocery store I ran into a woman I knew slightly from years ago; she looked at me and said, “Aren’t you an Episcopalian?” I wanted to say “NO, I’m a Baptist!” I also felt disgust at the unkind, uncharitable, self-righteous way that many individuals on both sides of issue (liberals and conservatives alike) spoke of each other; horror that many of our leaders (especially  conservatives, who should know better) are treating their opponents as if THEY were the Enemy, consequently allowing Satan fertile ground for sowing hatred, paranoia, and confusion; outrage at the pride and arrogance of those who consider themselves too “pure” and “holy” to be in the same church with other sinners who happen to be homosexuals; (and by the way, the only “perfect” church is the one that has no members yet; the minute you or I join sin comes in the door);  fear that our denomination can’t survive many more of these catfights and resultant splits & schisms.

My personal opinion is that God doesn’t really care about the Episcopal Church, or any other denomination. I suspect that God looks on denominations as mere delivery systems for the Gospel. It’s kind of like the pipes that bring water into your house. You wouldn’t have any water without the pipes, but the pipes themselves are of no interest to you. When a guest comes to your house, do you take them on a guided tour of your plumbing, pointing out how beautiful the pipes are, how intricately decorated, how OLD they are? Of course not. You turn on the tap and offer your guest a glass of water. THAT’S WHAT PIPES ARE FOR – DELIVERING THE WATER. And when your plumbing ceases to deliver water – becomes rusted, corroded, or clogged up – and the plumber delivers the dread sentence “I’m sorry m’am, but you gotta replace those pipes,” do you refuse to let them go? No – what you’re after is water, not pipes. Likewise, I suspect that if any denomination ceases to be a clear pipe which can deliver the life-giving water of the Gospel to people who are dying of thirst (like you and me) – God will say………REPLACE IT.

But I’ve digressed. We were thinking about our own feelings about the Episcopal Church last week. The more important question is…  what do you suppose God is feeling? Fortunately, we don’t have to just speculate about God’s feelings: in Scripture He holds up a mirror in which we can see our own behavior, and He tells us exactly how He feels about it. In today’s reading from Ephesians,  Paul is talking about how Christians are to treat each other. He contrasts 2 very different ways of life: the old way, just doing what comes naturally to our self-centered human nature; and the new way, living out of the spiritual center of our life-changing relationship with Jesus.

Here’s what Paul says about the old way of life. It involves following the ways of the world; not thinking for ourselves; taking our standing with God for granted (“Hey, I’m an Episcopalian!); doing whatever we please without feeling guilty. It leads, Paul says, to being obsessed with sex, and addicted to sexual perversions. (Sound familiar? Following the news last week, you’d think sex was the single most important topic to Episcopalians!) In the old ways of life we nurse anger at others and are out for revenge. We use our words to hurt others – lies, deception, hateful words; backbiting, cruel, judgmental talk. The bottom line is that the old way of life gives the Devil a foothold – to pursue his mission of confusing, dividing, trashing, and destroying the Body of Christ, by convincing factions that their opponents are the true Enemy of their souls. It almost sounds like St. Paul was there at General Convention last week! And how does God feel about all this? The Bible says it grieves Him; in fact it breaks His heart. What a terrible picture: the Father heart of God breaking because His children refuse the riches of His grace and instead lay themselves open to the ravages of Satan.

1.    But there IS another way, & here’s what Paul says about new way of life:  overhead
2.    One time I saw the church living out this new way of life was on our Youth Group Retreat last year; 20-some teenagers & 10 very dedicated adults spent the weekend being the church for each other = being Christ for others

3.    Alas, I have no aswers about what to do about sad state of Episcopal Church; but I do know that it is possible for Xns –even bunch of teenagers - to live together in a better, more Christlike way than so-called leaders of our denomination seem to be able to do; I do know that, as Paul says, that we don’t have excuse of ignorance to explain our sinful behavior; we KNOW how we should behave; we just need to do it.




You are welcome to submit your essays for consideration for this series. Send them to lcrew@newark.rutgers.edu Identify yourself by name, snail address, parish, and other connections to the Episcopal Church. Please encourage others to do the same.

------------------------------------

Please sign my guestbook and view it.


My site has been accessed times since February 14, 1996.

Statistics courtesy of WebCounter.