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Monday, April 17, 2017

"Jesus went through suffering and death and rose from the dead to bring heaven to earth, and so God’s will be done here. Earth is important. Earth is not a place to escape from, but a place to take care of and nurture."... "Everyone and everything is to be valued and cared for." The Reverend John Smith

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Fix Your Minds

Go into the whole world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

          This is the Great Commission given by Jesus to the Church.  The Church, an assembly of people called out, finds its deepest purpose in bringing others into relationship with God in Jesus Christ.  By the Grace of the Holy Spirit, the St. Alban community has brought Jenny Christofferson into the Church of God and a relationship with Jesus Christ.  This is a great joy for us who also renew our commitment to Jesus with Jenny on this Easter Sunday.

          I’ve entitled this sermon “Fix Your Mind,” inspired by the Colossians reading because it can have a double meaning:  Fix your mind on the things that are above, and, “fix your mind” meaning repent and change our thinking about some important things.

          In the reading from Acts this morning we have a great example of what I’m talking about.  Peter is struggling to change his own thinking.  Even though Peter had been with Jesus for some years and been a witness to the Risen Jesus, his thinking was still fixated on worldly distinctions:  what was profane and what was holy, who was pure and who was impure, what foods were clean and what foods were unclean, etc. Peter’s mind was set on distinctions that people make in this world and not from the viewpoint of heaven.

          How can heaven come to earth, as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, if we persist in making these judgments and distinctions?  To think from “above,” a heavenly viewpoint, is to learn how not to call anyone profane or impure.  In God there are no impure or profane people.  All people are children of the Father.  Human beings declared Jesus guilty and executed him, and, at that very instant God declared Jesus innocent and raised him from the dead.
 
With the Resurrection of Jesus a new culture is being established. Death, and the fear that flows from death, that skews all human interaction, is conquered once and for all.  There is a new basis for people gathering together, not depending on having common enemies or pitting one group against another.  Jesus, the victim hated without cause, forgave his executioners, and gave us an example to live by.  Forgiveness of enemies is now possible.

Fix your mind on the things that are above for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

We know that our human culture still has a long way to go before God’s heavenly culture takes root in this world.  It remains “hidden with Christ in God.” We get a glimpse of heaven coming to earth whenever we experience new life, light, joy, peace, reconciliation, and love.  Every baptism, like Jenny’s today, brings us into that experience. Jenny, and we who renewed our commitment to Jesus, are not seeking to “go” to heaven, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, bring heaven’s ways to the earth.

          Jesus, who we follow, died forgiving all those who put him on the cross, and when he rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples, he called for no retaliation.  Jesus went through suffering and death and rose from the dead to bring heaven to earth, and so God’s will be done here.  Earth is important.  Earth is not a place to escape from, but a place to take care of and nurture.  It’s where our bodies will rest until the resurrection of the dead.  To devalue the earth, not taking care of it or its resources, is to make the earth a victim of the sacrificial system that uses people and resources, not for the common good, but to be scapegoated and exploited for the few.  Everyone and everything is to be valued and cared for.  The Resurrection of Jesus and our own baptism into his death and resurrection in Him makes this possible.  Our minds fixed on things above, this new culture, hidden in Christ, can fix our minds here and now, and lead us to peace.  

Amen!
John+

St. Alban


Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English, Anglican Communion) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.

The Reverend John Smith, Vicar

5235-6674 cell telephone (502 country code)

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH WELCOMES EVERYONE

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