The Second Sunday after Pentecost

The Second Sunday after Pentecost

June 14, 2020

Morning Prayer – 8:00 AM

Holy Eucharist – 10:00 AM

Evening Prayer – 5:00 PM

The Sunday service sheet is found HERE

Click here to hear “Old 100th” at Westminster Abbey

When it is important enough to do right, the Church of England will usually find her way to Westminster Abbey.  When it is important enough to evangelize the world, we are more often than not invited to join our collective voices to Psalm 100 sung to Ralph Vaughan Williams’s hymn tune Old 100th.  The Nave and chancel are filled to their absolute capacity.  Full organ, tympani, and military trumpets are employed, as people from all tongues and continents raise their collective voice to the heavens, all to the glory of God.   

For why? the Lord our God is good, his mercy is for ever sure;

his truth at all times firmly stood, and shall from age to age endure.

The tune is at once simple and elegant; bold, and yet respectful.  The collective voices stand firmly upon their faith while the tune itself appears to fill the four corners of the earth rather than simply the confines of an ancient abbey church.  The boy choristers sing a descant that not only sends a chill up our spines but joins our voices with angels and archangels soaring high above a sea of beautiful hats.  This, all to the glory of God while pushing the vaulted ceiling higher and higher toward the heavens. 

In that moment, as the redeemed of Christ turn their hearts heavenward, we are given assurance of our favored place in the coming kingdom of God.  For a moment in time, the temporal passes away and the High King of Heaven commandeers us, our souls and bodies for His particular use in this time, in this place, and under His own priority.

Although by our own choice we at times separate ourselves from such heavenly encounters, we thirst for those moments when only our best will do and we are being expected to appear in dress military uniform with ceremonial sabers strapped to our side.  These liturgical expressions of heaven having come down to earth actually do serve a necessary purpose.  They put the world on notice: Touch not mine anointed* and do my prophets no harm (Psalm 105:15).

Yet, before we are gathered in that celebrated manner we are called.  We are called to have authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity.  We are called to go forth in the name of Christ.  I would argue that this is where we find ourselves today.  We actually are living under battle conditions in which the trumpets are needed to sound and the sabers are intended to rattle. 

As the most experienced among us can testify, these are the conditions in which a certain battle fatigue and fog of war sets in.  We don’t have to look very far beyond our beautiful oak doors to identify where it is the healing touch of Christ is needed and expected.   These are exigent times.  Which brings us to the point of the gospel reading today.  Currently, the world is ablaze with disease, discord, disunity, and fear.  There is no better time for the Body of Christ to not only act but be present in the fray.  The mission of the Church and the very reason for our existence is the salvation of souls. 

I intend only for this written homily to encourage you and to strengthen your Christian resolve in the commission entrusted to you.  Let it be said of us that during a world-wide pandemic we concerned ourselves with the salvation of souls.   And on that last great day, when Christ’s kingdom comes down to earth as it is in heaven, we are found to be in battle fatigues with dirty hands but clean hearts.  Let it also be said that although we concerned ourselves with advancing the cross of Christ through these turbulent times, we left not one man or woman on the battle field to fend for themselves.  That we, too, preached as we went along, saying “The kingdom of God is at hand.”

St. Joan of Arc, Mystic and Soldier, 1431

Please know that during their regular June meeting, Vestry approved the plan for inviting the return of public worship  while following State and Diocesan guidelines for social distancing and contact tracing.   The plan was forwarded to a Diocesan task force today for their review and approval.  As soon as we hear of our Diocesan’s approval to the plan, we will send out an Invitation to Public Worship at Christ Church brochure that articulates the exact manner in which we will invite the making of our Holy Communion while maintaining safe distancing under Governor Murphy’s Phase I reentry orders.  You may be assured that every recommendation was taken quite seriously by your rector, wardens and Vestry.  We look forward to sharing that invitation with you.

Holy Eucharist is the manner in which we ask God to change ordinary bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.  It is how we ask God to change us into the Body and Blood of Christ.  My concern as your priest reaches much farther than the protection of your body, it rest firmly on the salvation of your souls.  There is a state of grace that we are all invited to traverse, inhabit, and remain within as the battle rages on.   May we stand firm in our faith and may we never again allow the secular to define the reach of the sacred.

In the peace of God, which passeth all understanding;

Fr. Brian K. Burgess