We are given the "Great Commission" in Matthew's Gospel today. Jesus tells his disciples Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..... I think the inclusivity and openness of this command (and invitation) is lost on a number of individuals in our Church structure. This Great Commission goes hand-in-hand with part of our Baptismal Covenant (which so many of us renewed this past Saturday night at our Great Easter Vigil) where we are asked: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being? And we reply I will, with God's help. This also dovetails with the ending of The Nicene Creed where we say We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. When we say "catholic" we are not talking RC, we are saying "catholic" as in "all embracing," being open to and reaching out to everyone, not a select few who agree with us.
This is a work of a lifetime, as summed up in our Collect for today: Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. That middle part I have bolded jumps out at me today: this living into our faith and showing it in what we do, indicates an understanding that we are imperfect and have to continually work at this thing called Church. We can't walk away because we disagree, we can't sit idly by not actively questioning and expect to grow in our faith. And we cannot exclude someone because there is something about them we dislike or disagree with.
We are the Body of Christ in the world. A good reminder today of a hard challenge which is worth the effort.
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.