Sermon Reflection for Sunday, July 14, 2019 | Respectfully Submitted by Mal Underwood
On this Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, we were blessed to have much to ponder and celebrate among our amazing family of Christ at Ascension. Prior to the service we heard Fr. Frank Baltz deliver a summary of the results of our congregational assessment survey recently undertaken to help determine strengths, weaknesses, triumphs and opportunities in our mission and ministries. We were pleased to hear Fr. Frank opine that we hit a “grand slam home run” with the results. We had superior participation with extremely positive results. In short we are a vibrant, happy, and optimistic place overall while always having room for further reflection as to how we can grow and serve the kingdom more and more.
The Gospel for the day was the parable of the Good Samaritan. It is a rich lesson in which Jesus calls us to act with mercy and grace toward those in need whom God puts in our path regardless of their personal circumstances. It is the very embodiment of the second greatest commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. A man who is beaten, robbed and left by the roadside is ignored by a priest and a Levite passing by before a Samaritan, the half-Jew, half-Gentile outcasts shunned by the religious establishment leadership, came to his aid to assist and save him. Jesus ends the parable by confirming the Samaritan as the one who loved his neighbor and says to us to “go and do likewise”, a direct commandment to act in faith.
Mo. Mary’s message recognized the many neighborly acts of faith she has witnessed and personally experienced in our church family. She expressed her deep gratitude for the works so many do in so many ways. In order for the faithful to respond to need, we the aspiring good neighbors must see the need. This is why our Bishop Wright has identified that the church is political (see the need and identify a way to meet the need) without being partisan. Mo. Mary gave an example of the outstanding work of our Food Pantry as one of the many ways the Ascension family follows that tradition. We meet a desperate need in our community in a significant way without regard to the characteristics or circumstances of those who come to us. She reminded us of the beautiful life to which God calls us – to see need, respond to need, and receive help with our own needs when necessary. All of us have needs at times, and it is good for us to recognize and acknowledge them. It is difficult to recognize and respond to the needs of others if we are unable to see our own. It is a holy circle of the stewardship of our lives to give, receive, and grow as we minister to our parish family members and those in our community.
As we see in our survey results, we are a blessed community of followers of Christ. We embody God’s call to act in faith with joy and hope for our future. We must be wary of and resist falling into complacency, something I cannot imagine happening among our grand legion of Christian soldiers. Let us continue to do those works of the kingdom and to grow in love and service as we are called to do.