In the adult forum, we are reading Tom Ferguson (AKA Crusty Old Dean)’s overview of Episcopal Church History. I have really enjoyed this, and I believe the congregation has as well. In my experience, learning about Church History is both comforting (see? All these current fights are nothing new!) and upsetting (OMG! The Church has always been fighting and political!). But in all cases, learning our history helps us to make fuller sense of where we are now.
A reoccurring topic of discussion has been how to locate God in what feels like a series of bad decisions made throughout history. When religious wars began to be fought in the name of the Prince of Peace–where was God in that? When we discussed the Crusades, several people remarked that they had never heard of the sacking of Constantinople, or the Children’s Crusade, or how badly awry the whole endeavor had gone, and they were (rightly and justly) appalled that such things were perpetrated in the name of Jesus Christ. How can we make sense of such atrocities within our history?
I tried to address that partially on the First Sunday after Christmas. This is another sermon in note-form, but it is more coherent than Christmas morning’s notes were, so I’m posting it. Enjoy!
Christian History: the good, the bad, the confusing.
How do we find God in this mess?
How do we decide?
Jesus, according to John 1, is the window through which we see God— the yardstick by which we measure God.
God, after all, is immense! Impossible to know, or define, or even to experience.
But we have seen Jesus. Jesus we know. And what we claim is that Jesus is the best and truest interpretation of God’s nature we have.
This is how we evaluate whether a claim is true or not, is godly or not. Does it sound like Jesus?
Jesus, who lived a life among the poor and outcast, who gathered the lost, and wept with his grieving friends. Who raged against hypocrisy, and critiqued his own faith, and taught his disciples to hold themselves to
a higher standard. That’s what we know of Jesus so that’s what we know of God.
Molly Tibbets’ mom who took in an undocumented Mexican kid, after his parents fled the blacklash her murder had caused.
That is of God. That’s how Christ calls us. This small miracle in Iowa. Sparks like this shining in the darkness through all of history, even when louder voices claim to be speaking for God, leading to powerful astray–Christ’s light still shines in the darkness .
Voices like this all through out history. We just have to listen. For the light in the darkness which is not overcome. For the Word made flesh among us.