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Proper 13

Pentecost   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:12:18
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Making Peace before breaking bread

March 8, 2020 was the last Sunday that Concordia had the sharing of the peace. For some of us this is a good thing- either because it was an interruption in the service, or for you it was an introverts nightmare. Still others disliked it for the exact reason why we haven’t had it these last 511 days - humans are minds, bodies and souls but also bags of viral death.
Lastly- and most disconcerting. We like the Israelites grumble. We grumble against God, our neighbors, our pants that don’t fit quite right, the heat in the sanctuary and our peers on social media.
Yet, we are regularly encouraged by the scriptures, by both Paul and Peter to greet one another with a kiss. Paul calls it a holy kiss Peter calls it a kiss of love. So before you all start smooching, today’s readings call for us to consider something.
Are we at peace with one another?
Anyone in a committed relationship knows that time that you kissed your beloved and they did not want it. My older son, to this day ‘wipes’ my smooches.
This also means that you know the sheer joy of someone desiring your affection. I’ve got the unique status in the room as being the one who lurks oddly in the back of many a wedding photo after a first marital kiss- where a couple deeply embraces each other for the first time after plunging into the depths of commitment. We’ve all had a child beg for us to hold them either because they were scared, hurt, lonely, or just wanted nuggles.
Intimacy, and emotional vulnerability have been co-opted for mere physical pleasure and gratification. Today’s readings should cause you to restore an aspect of physical relationships with physical beings - Peace Making.
Ephesians 4:3 ESV
eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Maintain the Union

I’ve made this point before, and its a bit of a truism, but unity does not require uniformity. In most cases unity is accentuated and more apparent when diversity is present.
Unity is about harmony. This is how St. Ignatius describes it in his letter to the Ephesian church - around 70 AD - just to be clear this is a different Ignatius than the one that started the Jesuits.
Ante-Nicene Fathers 1: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (Chapter IV)
Therefore in your concord and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung. And do ye, man by man, become a choir, that being harmonious in love, and taking up the song of God in unison, ye may with one voice sing to the Father through Jesus Christ, so that He may both hear you, and perceive by your works that ye are indeed the members of His Son.
What I appreciate about this idea of unity through the terms of music, is that unity in music grants such beauty beyond uniformity.
You can sing in harmony as Ignatius encourages
You can sing in multiple rhythms (like singing in a round)
Musical harmony also allows for tremendous diversity in the history of tunes and lyrics
In any given service there is a chance that you could be singing something from the US, Europe, Africa- Eastern Orthodoxy and any number of eras.
Our Kyrie is from at least the 300’s and was spoken by a Canannite woman.
Our Psalm was written in 1000 BC by a shepherd King
Our closing hymn is reformation era.
The unity of the Holy Christian church is not confined to one stylistic preference but is meant to reflect that in Jesus we - the church across time and space- are all one.
You and I were brought into this faith, this body in Baptism.
I remember in college I saw an interview with a man who was petitioning to have the Vatican annul his baptism. That’s not how baptism works. God’s gifts to His people are irrevocable. He wills us to be one.
That’s not how it works for us because we have no authority. Christ does:
Romans 11:29 ESV
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
In Baptism God has claimed you, washed you, and made you His own. Your old self has died, the new self- the Christian arises. All your sins, are removed because God has that power. He is Lord.
Ephesians 4:5 ESV
one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
See- it’s never been about us or our preference. It’s always been about God’s choice. When we make peace with one another what we are doing is re-affirming that our God- the triune God is one.
Ephesians 4:6 ESV
one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
This God who was once far off has now come near. I love the way that Paul parallels this idea, that God so earnestly desires to be with His people that Paul also models His life after our God’s generous self giving:
1 Thessalonians 2:1–8 ESV
For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
Did you catch that last part ‘We were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves because you had become very dear to us.’
Church when we greet one another before communion we are reenacting the gospel. We demonstrate real affection and kindness towards one another because when we partake of this holy meal we are publicly demonstrating that there is nothing dividing us.
In a world of continued division and self promotion, we are one in Christ.
What if this was the radical message that we with our sons and daughters lived in this place? Here, at this rail - there are no grumbles with our God or our neighbors.
With these people and our God- Sins are forgiven, the dead live, and Peace is realized.
God Himself is present - He gave Himself over to you. Will you do the same?
Make peace.
Amen.
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