Sermon Summary for Sunday, August 20th, 2017 | Respectfully Submitted by Brenda Worley
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3-10
The above passage is called the Beatitudes and it was the basis for Father Rich Pocalyco’s homily this Sunday. He spoke to us of two kingdoms…the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Earth. We are subjects of both kingdoms. Though we live in the kingdom of Earth, we are to follow Jesus into wholeness in the kingdom of God.
Father Rich shared the story of the shaping of the topic and guidelines for his doctoral thesis at Princeton Theological Seminary. His guiding professor, Russell Nichols, was a Presbyterian minister. The original proposal submitted was a study of whether the core values of the kingdom of God could be found in the local church. Father Rich picked this topic because many Vestry meetings he attended as a priest were like “soap operas…poorly written and badly acted.” He felt that little that went on there had anything to do with the kingdom of God. He planned to determine this through surveys and interviews.
Father Rich’s proposal was denied because Dr. Nichols felt that no one could measure this because no one had ever defined the kingdom of God. Pointing to the Beatitudes and an extensive body of literature, Father Rich maintained the Jesus taught us the core values of his father’s kingdom. He feels that the Beatitudes are like the Constitution or the Bill of Rights for Christians. Professor Nichols declared Father Rich an “evangelical Anglican,” and required him to resubmit his proposal removing the “kingdom of God” and replacing it with secular terms. Father Rich felt this was an indication of lost faith.
The point of his message is that Jesus lived in the kingdom of Earth to teach us a new way of living. This kingdom is driven by fear. The tyrannical leaders on Earth have been driven by fear…the fear of losing control. Jesus tells us to forget fear and live in perfect love. Perfect love drives out fear. Stepping out is scary, but we are called to move toward a higher plane…the kingdom of God.
In closing, Father Rich shared this quote from author Madeline L’Engle.
“We have much to be judged on when Jesus comes…the result of our failures in love. In the evening of life we shall be judged on love, and not one of us is going to come off very well, and were it not for my absolute faith in the loving forgiveness of the Lord, I could call on him to come. But his love is greater than all our hated, and he will not rest until Judas has turned to him, until Satan has turned to him, until dark has turned to him; until we all, all of us without exception, freely return his look of love with love in our own eyes and hearts. And then, healed, whole, complete but not finished, we will know the joy of being with the one to whom we call.”