Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2018
Sermon of Rev. Patrick Bamber during a liturgy for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on 25th January 2018 in the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, Sligo
Bishop Kevin is pictured with Canon Edward Yendall, Rev. David Clarke, Rev. Alan Wooderson, Dean Afron Williams, Canon Patrick Bamber,
Rev. Jeremy Nicoll, Fr Declan Boyce, Rev. Ann Wooderson, Fr Patrick Lombard and Arch Deacon Isaac Hanna
Exodus 15.1-17; Romans 8.12-27 & Mark 5.21-43
Are you a tongue roller… or not?
It’s not something you can do anything about. You are, or you aren’t.
Maybe our various church traditions are somehow similar to that. You can’t do anything about it. You just belong to one tradition or another. It’s what divides us.
But if we have learnt nothing else in the ecumenical movement it must be that there is only one church on earth, only one body of Christ, only one people of God. It must not be seen as a divided body.
Yet, there are still divisions and I think always will be, only they will not be along the traditional fault lines of denominations. Rather, the divide will be between those who truly belong to God’s people and those who do not. On this day when we remember the conversion of St Paul I quote something else that he wrote:
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. (2 Cor 13.5)
He doesn’t ask us to examine others and jump to conclusions about their faith but he tells his readers who were members of the church in Corinth that each should test themselves.
In the passages of Scripture we have heard this evening we discover God’s passionate desire that his people, whoever they are, should be free, or to put it another way, that they should be saved.
- The Lord is a warrior who cares deeply that his people should be saved from all that oppresses them. (Exodus 15)
eg Fr Pat working in Kolkata. But the oppressed are also close at hand, here in Sligo too.
- His people cannot save themselves (Mark 5)
Eg of the sick woman and the dead child. This stands for those who are sick in sin and unable to heal themselves and even spiritually dead and unable to raise themselves to life.
- His people know that they know they are saved. (Romans 8) It’s hard to express other than to say that they know in the core of their beings that they are the Lord’s.
‘His Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.’
- It isn’t finished yet. ‘For in hope we were saved… we wait for it with patience.’ (Romans 8)
I have been saved. I am being saved. I will be saved. It is a process, but one that will be completed.
- His people join him in fighting that others may be free.
If we are his children then we will bear similarities to our Father. That must be that we too are passionate for freedom from oppression. As we work shoulder to shoulder, side by side that the oppressed go free.