Sermon: Lois Wiggins
Sermon: Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost
Let Us PrayGracious God,Fill us with the wisdom, knowledge and understandingWe need for everything we face everyday.May we understand that we are never aloneBecause you, our awesome God are with us through it all.Amen
In our Epistle today I have three questions for the Christian community: Who is wise and understanding among us? From what do conflicts and disputes arise? And, What does God want? how can these three questions be lived out in our Faith Community. Who Is Wise and Understanding among us? We may think that the answer to this question would be the clergy and Vestry of our congregation. Isn’t this how they attained their important positions within the life of the church? We would hope that wisdom and maturity of faith would be criteria for such decisions, but this is not what our Epistle tells us. In this passage, James lifts up a number of markers of the evidence of God-given wisdom in the life of individuals. These include: gentle or humble, pure, peaceable, willing to yield, full of mercy. These are difficult traits to live into. We see members of our parish who embody these traits in our total ministry gifts and persons who provide them. The missions ministry- those who contribute to it, and those who distribute the benefits. The prayer square ministry, our visiting ministry, our phone call ministry, serving at Crossroads soup kitchen, contributions to Episcopal Relief and Development, being a part of S.P.O.O.L. (St Patrick’s offering our Love), Dresses without borders. These gifts and practices/habits help us to live into God’s wisdom? There are so many opportunities that can be applied to the life we share in our faith community? From What Do Conflicts and Disputes Arise? Within any relationship, family, or community, there will be times of disagreement. In our Epistle, James looks at these conflicts and sees at their core the attitude of envy. He may call it different things—selfish ambition, cravings, coveting, but it really comes down to desiring what another has. We see the results of these things building up anxiety and anger and escalating into violence until the actions end in death. So many conflicts in our country and around the world (Masks, Vaccines, wars, politics) these are based on the want of freedoms or something that someone else has, and not seeking humility, or looking for peace. The only want and desire is for oneself. When we look at our society, we see this “earthly, unspiritual, evil” wisdom all around us. We crave the latest in tech toys so we can communicate and promote the self 24–7. We look for the greatest car, house, and job that will promote the lifestyle that we believe will bring happiness & fulfillment. Marketing capitalizes on these attitudes. We see in social media and commercials that we can be happy if we just use a particular product. We envy others who appear to embody or have what we want. There was a commercial out a while back promoting a family vehicle. In this commercial the father arrives with excitement, having just completed a tree house for his children. He finds his young sons playing cards in the vehicle. When the father invites the boys to come play in his carefully crafted treehouse, the boys respond with a series of questions, asking if the tree house has leather seats, a DVD player, and amazing speakers, among other things. Is this what commercialism/marketing has become, simply a weighing of the attributes of different products? What Does God Want? The Epistle today encourages us to submit ourselves to God. This implies that we, turn away from these worldly lifestyles that lead to violence. the blessing of this third question is when we are asked who will be our authority? God is yearning and searching for the human spirit that was made in God’s own image. Therefore, in choosing to draw near to God, we throw off the power that earthly wisdom has over us. What then does life look like in the faith community that lives by God’s wisdom? Here are some of the marks of a wise faith community that this passage provokes: — Worship leadership is not just handled by the ordained staff, but is shared among the whole Faith Community** This is what makes St Patrick’s a Total Ministry parish, we not only have ordained clergy, but licensed lay worship leaders, Acolytes, altar guild, Lay readers – and so many other opportunities to serve.— Stewardship becomes not just a season of pledge collection, but a yearlong spiritual discipline taught and lived by the community. ** This has been exemplified during the pandemic, when our parish sanctuary had to be closed but our parish stewardship continued in giving of time talents and money to keep St Patrick’s moving forward. — Prayer is not selfish, asking for what will feed individual desires, but seeks the good fruits that will meet the needs of all. ** St Patrick’s healing prayer ministry (Order of St Luke’s)and our weekly Prayers of the people. We offer up prayers for the church, the world, and all that are in it.— Peacemaking and social-justice ministries become ways of addressing the earthly wisdom that surrounds us. ** one of St Patricks 2021 – 2022 goals is to Work towards Dismantling Systemic Racism – being educated and willing to serve in action to help produce peace within our cultures. — Our primary identity is measured by our closeness to God rather than the possessions we accumulate. **this last expression of Christian identity can be enacted is in the words that I heard during a baptism. As the minister performed the baptism, he told the congregation that the world will give us many messages about who we are to be, but our primary calling is as children of God, and we are to remind each other of this wisdom. **Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,make your peace our daily goal, Grant us Wisdom, Grant us courageFor your work of ministryAmen
References:St Patrick’s gifts & talentsKATHY L. DAWSONFeasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 4: Season after Pentecost 2 (Propers 17-Reign of Christ) (Feasting on the Word: Year B volume) (p. 229). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.