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Eucharist Sermon from 2015 Synod Assembly

May 30, 2015

Isaiah 5:15-24


That reading from Isaiah is something, right?


Not the friendliest word from God

as we draw near to the end of assembly.

The Prophet Isaiah says there are some

"who call evil good and good evil,

who put darkness for light and light for darkness,

bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."

Not the friendliest word.


One of the most amazing things about the Bible is that it’s honest.

Nothing is hidden.

Nothing is covered over.

Nothing is too embarrassing to report.

Just like it has been here among us at this assembly.

Our mutual conversation and consolation,

our indaba,

has been at times difficult,

at times joyful,

because there is nothing romantic,


or overly sentimental in the call to genuine community.

The Bible tells it like it is

and sometimes we do it very well

and sometimes very badly.


But I like being here.

I like Synod Assembly.

I like the indaba we have had.

I like the tough questions we have asked each other.

I like our commitment to tell one another

all that God has done for us, and with us.


Still, I look at you and I realize that

I really don’t know much about any of you,

and you don’t know much about me,

at least not what I think about things,

what’s important to me,

what makes me laugh,

what hurts me,

what makes me cry other than ordinations

and when Ellen gives things to people

out of the blue.

You don’t know much of importance about me

and I don’t know much about you.

So, I wonder about how determined you are

about continuing these holy conversations,

about the causes we have spoken of and acted on,

what sorts of things will make you take a stand.

I wonder where your courage lies,

and where your vulnerability.

I even wonder, looking back at our time together,

what are the things at which you take offense.


Jesus clearly was an offense to many.

The real offense was the threat Jesus posed.

The threat he still opposes.

The question for us is,

at what points in our lives does Jesus cause offense,

cause us problems.

I suggest those points may be

where we are closest to finding what it really means

to be followers of Christ.


We tend to think exactly the opposite.


We engage in our searches for an appropriate "spirituality,"

whatever that may be,

by thinking we need to find ways to discover our true selves,

to call up love, peace, and goodwill within us.

Yet, it is often at the point of greatest offense

where who this Jesus is,

is made known to us.


The issue for us is:

what are we willing to do with the offense,

how willing are we to hear our Lord Jesus in it,

this powerful Lamb of God.

If Jesus’ admonition to love one another means anything at all,

it must surely mean that

we are called to embrace those with whom we most disagree.

That is what our holy conversations have been about.

That is what mutual conversation and consolation is about.

That is why we move forward

to a deeper, richer understanding of reconciliation.


The Holy Spirit – the paraclete promised by Jesus –

the advocate, counselor, comforter we know as the Holy Spirit,

is what we need for walking together as a synod.

The Advocate will come to complete Christ’s mission,

witness to Christ’s resurrection,

give glory to Christ.


It is an empty victory

if one wins a cause by defeating a person.


The key for people of the Lamb is to win both.


A rabbi once asked his pupils,

"How can you tell when night has ended

and day is about to begin?"

The pupils pondered for a while,


and finally one of them said,

"Could it be when you look off in the distance and see two trees,

and you are able to tell that one is a fig tree

and one a palm tree?"

The rabbi answered, "No."


So the pupils argued a bit longer,

until another brave student offered an answer,

"Could it be when you look off in the distance,

and seeing two animals,

are able to distinguish that one is a dog and one a sheep?"

Again, the rabbi answered, "No."

Finally, exasperated by their arguing, the students said,

"All right then, Rabbi,

tell us, how do you know when night has ended

and the day is about to begin?"

The rabbi slowly looked each of them in the eye and said,

"When you look on the face of any woman or any man

and see there a sister or brother.

Because if you cannot do that,

then no matter what the time of day is,

it is still night."


We thank God for letting us see the light

          in one another,

sisters and brothers.


Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo




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