“Sunday Morning Coming Down”
(Song by Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson)
My Albertville Adventure, Part Three
After a wonderful Friday and Saturday with friends, both new and old, I arose early on Sunday to have another great breakfast with my mother before heading off to Christ Episcopal Church to preach and officiate at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Christ Church is a wonderful group of people (yes the church is the people) who meet in a beautiful new and holy building which was built to replace the one destroyed in the April 24, 2010 tornado which devastated East Main Street as well as other parts of Albertville.
It is truly an honor to be asked to preach and lead worship in one’s home town, despite Jesus’ words “that a prophet is not without honor except in his own home town.” The Epistle reading for that Sunday was from Ephesians 4:1-16.
"I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearingwith one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in thebond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the onhope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, whois above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift.
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.
As I read these lessons earlier in the week, I had a real sense, without knowing why, that this message of bearing with one another in love within the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace was very important for this congregation. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church had ended ten days earlier and the church had approved a trial liturgy for the blessing of same sex unions. Our Bishop, Kee Sloan, had voted in favor of the measure and had also said that he did not believe Alabama was ready to institute this measure. I had no idea as I was writing my sermon how the people who are Christ Church had reacted to these decisions on the part of the church and our Bishop, but I have been around long enough to know that there would at least be differences of opinion. I also knew that the convergence of the Epistle lesson and the life experience of General Convention and its aftermath brought an opportunity for all of us to reflect on God’s call to us in our present day.
As I spent time with members of the church in preparation for the morning worship I found that indeed there were differing opinions and that unfortunately some had decided to leave Christ Church and the Episcopal Church. My sermon from that day is included in another post on this blog and I invite you to read it. I will simply say at this point that we focused in the sermon on, “to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” and on the many different gifts God has giving each of us, “for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.”
It was a wonderful morning and many of us spent time in prayerful conversation after worship, not in condemnation but in asking each other and God to lead us and guide is into a way to bring the whole flock of Christ Church back into that “unity of the spirit that will bring them back into those bonds of peace.”
What a blessing to be of “one body and one spirit” and to know that we are united by “one Lord, one faith and one baptism.”