Sermon for Society of Catholic Priests Chapter Mass: Friday of Ordinary 15

Text: Matthew 12:1-8

“Here, I tell you, is something greater than the Temple”

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son,and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

You might be forgiven for thinking that by the time you get around to opening today’s Church Times, it might be all over.  If you read Bishop Tom Wright’s article in the Times this week, responding to the decision of the Episcopal Church of the USA to recognize that God calls men and women, young and old, black and white, straight, gay, lesbian or transgendered, in fact that God calls everyone to enter into a relationship with him, if you read about his description of the “Train Crash”, then you might be fooled into thinking that this was the end of days…

That the Temple of Anglicanism was finished. Done. Over.

And surprisingly, it is still here. The world has not yet slid into ruin, and even as the Americans find the right words to bless same-sex relationships (rather than just let us make the words up when we gather in secret to perform these rites), the Church remains. Anglicanism, that broad collection of constantly disagreeing and dysfunctional party lines, is still with us.

…and the reason is because the Church, the ekklesia, the people of God have far more to do in the Mission of the Gospel than to sit around arguing about sex and sexuality. My day (and I know yours too) is filled not with diatribes on who can sleep with who, but with schools, and families, and the elderly, the isolated, the alone, the disaffected and the distanced-from-God.

The proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord does not hinge on these matters, these distractions. Our purpose in this society is to look beyond these arguments, rise above the carping of FCA and their ilk, Anglican Mainstream and the Stand Firm blog, go far beyond the threats of schism and concentrate on our purpose here, away from the hurley burley of political churchmanship and get on with the main task of evangelizing, of baptizing and administering the sacraments to the people here who love the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today’s Gospel challenges all that churchliness that we are so fond of as Clergy, challenges all those Pharisaical tendencies which haunt us always and call us to see something greater than the temple of the Church of England.

My dear friends, Christ is indeed in our midst, on this altar in a few minutes, at the hands of the body of concelebrating clergy and made known in broken bread and wine outpoured. Something greater than the institution is present in the most holy sacrament of the altar.

They might split the church I love, they might throw the likes of me out because of my progressive views, they might finally legislate against Blesséd and it’s wildly inclusive, administer-the-sacrament-to-everyone-and-leave-it-to-God subversiveness and yet, because Christ is here, on this altar, doing his saving work, I will not worry.

None of us need worry – worry that the evangelicals and the spikes want us and ECUSA out, because Christ will see us through this, and will heal division, unite factionalism, overcome politics, because Jesus Christ is bigger than all that, and he is present. Here. Now.