Decade after decade we go on trying to perfect the church or perhaps trying to protect the church. Decade after decade, we find various people caught up in all kinds of movements which will ensure the church you find in the Yellow Pages is the Real Church, the True Church.
If right thinking were all it took to get the Gospel proclaimed to the world, that would have been discovered years ago. It is about right action, not right thinking.
The task of the church and its clergy in not to tell you what to think. It is rather to teach you how to think theologically – how to think with the heart of Christ.
The responsibility of the church is to help you develop an informed conscience so you may go about the task of right action in your life. This informed conscience is not a single thing. It is a product of the Anglican sources of authority – Scripture, Tradition and Reason. It is frighteningly personal and individual, and it has great consequences.
The church is not about being mad, all of the empirical evidence to the contrary not withstanding. It is not about getting your needs met or making you happy – or mad for that matter. It is about one thing. It is about what we call The Great Commission.
Matthew 28:19-20. (From The Message for clear understanding) "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I will be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age."
Jesus said: Teach them to do as I have commanded you. This carries with it the implication that you are already obedient and that you can teach what you already do.
This is not that hard to understand. His command to the disciples, to you and to me is direct, clear and immediate. His command is that we love one another.
The Scripture contains many ways of applying the principle of love to life. The Gospels are filled with them. We need to be filled with that command so that it is indisputable in the way we live our lives.
Hear This! It is God's church. It is not your church or my church. It is God's church and it is in disrepair. It is always in disrepair. It has always been in disrepair. You and I are are the church. We are in disrepair. We have always been in disrepair.
This is about asking us to be reborn. It will be untidy. We will not all agree on the process or the outcomes, but we are all called to a life of progressive conversion. It is not something to accomplish and put away. It is a call to your whole life for all of your life.
There is Hope. You know what to do. Let us begin – again. Amen.