May 14, 2006

Ekklesiastes: The Bible and the Church

I've just posted my sermon for today (Easter 5) over at my sermon blog. It's called The Bible and the Church and may be of some interest in light of present discussions concerning Scriptural authority. It concludes:

Ultimately, as Philip showed the Ethiopian, the heart of the Scripture lies in how it points to Christ. He is the living Word of God to whom the written Word of God — the Scripture — leads us in the Way into the Truth, and the Scripture is useful to us only to the extent that it performs that task, a task for which we are assured it is, as the Anglican tradition puts it, sufficient. For its ultimate purpose is to bring us to the new Life of faith — as it did the Ethiopian, who, when once on his Way the Truth was opened to him by the Spirit’s guidance and Philip’s teaching, immediately asked to be baptized into the new Life, to become himself the newest member of Christ’s body, the church.

Most of the tension in the present life of the Anglican Communion would vanish in a flash as sudden as Philip’s disappearance if we would simply take Jesus the Word of God at his word! The Scripture is not hard to understand in this respect, though we find it hard to put it into practice. He has told us mortals what is asked of us — it is amply stated in John’s teaching to us today in both epistle and gospel: the commandment of God is to believe in Christ and to love one another. Got that?

When Jesus summarized the law in his commandment to love God and neighbor, when he taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to do unto others as we would be done by, he meant what he said, and he gave us both a task and a promise. Those in Christ who love their sisters and brothers in this way — doing for them as they would be done by — have observed God’s commandment. All the rest is commentary.

My sisters and brothers, as I prepare for the General Convention this summer, where I will serve as a deputy from this diocese, along with three other priests, four lay persons, and the three bishops who serve New York, this is what I will keep in mind and heart. The Scripture is sufficient to salvation, for it has told me the truth that is so simple a little child can sing it: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. This simple truth is my armor against doubt, against judgment, against those who seek division and domination, against bigotry and ignorance, against pride and power, against all who would diminish human dignity or deny human worth.

So, as Christ taught us in his Word, “Let us love one another, not in word or speech but in truth,” neither condemned by our hearts nor dismayed by those who would demean us or deny us. God is love, beloved sisters and brothers, and we follow his commandments when we love him and each other.Against this the Scripture records neither law nor prophet, but rather the voice of the Lord himself to affirm us in our faith in the power of the Spirit, now and to the end of the ages.+

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that. I like this: "All the rest is commentary." We do need to take Jesus' words seriously.

pax et bonum