Monday, November 15, 2010

What it Means to be a Christian

Pentecost 26, Proper 29, November 21, 2010, St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, Rev. Paul Moore

What it Means to be a Christian at St. Christopher's

It is often asked of you, and it makes sense that I answer the question for me as well. What does being a good steward do for me? It might be easy to say it pays my salary, but I'm a Christian before I am a priest. Being a priest is the best way I can be a Christian, and being a priest at St. Christopher's is what God has me doing right now. My priesthood, then, is part and parcel with my stewardship.

Stewardship does three things for me:

First, it gives me a sense of purpose in life. This morning we baptize two adults and two children. Baptism officially marks a person's walk with Christ in the context of the church. It's not that God has not already been active in these peoples' lives, of course that is true, but this marks the moment when the relationship between the person and God as we Christians know Him in Jesus Christ takes official form. It is a covenant, an agreement between God and a person. In every covenant God promises to do something, and so does the person. What a person does because he or she is baptized is called stewardship. I am a steward because I am a baptized person.

Therefore, my service in the church is a function of my baptism: I work because I belong. What I actually do is a function of who I am as a person. I have a particular history and a particular sense of myself. These particularities fit into the great scheme of the world, and the best fit between myself and the world is priesthood, a bridge-builder between God and people, between people and people, and between people and the rest of creation. Exercising my gifts in the context of the Church gives life to my baptismal covenant and purpose to my living.

Second, it challenges me to grow: My greatest challenge as a priest is to be an example. My first example to you is the sincerity of my confession. Confession is at the heart of baptism. Ongoing Christian confession is an extension of our baptism. It is only as I confess with an honest and sincere heart that I can call you all to honest and sincere confession. My second example is in my humanity. In Jesus we see what humanity is supposed to be like. The closer we get to Christ the more human we become. The less human we are the further we are from God. It is a Christian thing, then to strive toward a healthy, balanced human life. The healthier my body, soul and spirit are, the better my example of Christian living.

Finally, it calls me to share what I have. I have studied what many of you have not. I continue to do so, as you probably know, as I pursue a Master's Degree in Spiritual Formation at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin. I seek to integrate what I have come to know over the years and what I am learning now into what I teach you all. You need to get it, and I seem to have brainer.

A good friend of mine, and one-time preacher at our Guadalupe Event one year is the Rt. Rev. Bob Hibbs. He has on his office wall a big frame that contains all his religious certifications. At the very bottom is his baptismal certificate, small and unassuming. Above that is his confirmation certificate, a little more elaborate. Above this are his ordination certificates, to the deaconate, then to the priesthood, and finally to the order of Bishops, the largest and most ostentatious of them all. But he explains it like this: Baptism, though the certificate may be unassuming in appearance, is really the foundation for the rest. All of what he does in the church constitutes an effort to live into the fullness of his baptismal covenant.

Who, here, is baptized? YOU are a minister of the Gospel here, YOU have gifts to give and work to do. YOU matter, you're important to the work of the Kingdom, right here, right now, at St. Christopher's, Killeen. The Holy Spirit is counting you YOU!

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