Sermon Summary for Sunday, October 16th | Respectfully Submitted by Mal Underwood
Sunday was the celebration of Consecration Sunday, the culmination of our annual operating commitment drive. In previous weeks we have heard Mother Mary preach a stewardship sermon and inspirational personal stories of faith and commitment to God’s kingdom through Ascension by four of our parish family members. Consecration Sunday brought our guest leader Tammy Pallot, chair of the Diocesan Commission on Stewardship, to deliver the homily and complete the program for 2016. The theme for Tammy’s message was “the struggle is real,” that we are to be persistent in our relationship with God and our work for His kingdom. Drawing from the lectionary readings, she structured her homily as if it were a three act play.
ACT I – From Genesis comes the story of Jacob who finds himself in difficult circumstances with his uncle Laban pursuing him from behind and his brother Esau waiting ahead to settle his dispute with Jacob over the theft of his inheritance. One night, while awaiting the dire confrontations, a stranger (representing God) comes to him and begins to wrestle. This goes on all night until Jacob can fight no more and finally surrenders. Only in his surrender does Jacob come to live into a completely unexpected blessing of reconciliation and reunion with Esau. He finds that in his darkest hour, after struggling to handle the situation on his own, he surrenders to God and is blessed beyond his expectations. Jacob must remember to be persistent in surrendering his will to God’s.
ACT II – From II Timothy comes the lesson that we are to persist in studying scripture and working for the Kingdom, upholding the traditions and teachings passed down to us from Jesus’ ministry through the current time. Paul writes “As for you, continue in what you have learned and known your whole life. All scripture is…useful for teaching, training so that everyone who belongs to God may be equipped for every good work. I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable... As for you, always be sober; endure suffering...carry out your ministry fully.”
ACT III – From the gospel of Luke comes the parable of the judge who had no respect for God or people. However, a widow seeking justice repeatedly implored him to grant her justice against her opponent. The judge finally relents just to remove her from his presence. Jesus tells his listeners that the story is designed to teach them to pray always and not to lose heart. Tammy also offered this for our consideration – perhaps persistence in prayer is also a call to persist in love for our neighbor and care for those around us in need. Injustice and suffering are always with us, but praying for the guidance and strength to be Jesus’ hands and feet in the world can further relief, reconciliation, and justice for those who suffer.