Go On Mission (A Sermon for Trinity Sunday – Year A)

Go On Mission (A Sermon for Trinity Sunday – Year A)
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (Cypress, Texas)
Matthew 28:16-20
June 10, 2017

This is Trinity Sunday, and you’ll notice that both Rev. Beth and Deacon Russ aren’t here. They’ve left me to try and explain the unexplainable.

The thing about the Trinity is that it can be an interesting intellectual exercise, but for some, that may seem frivolous, a luxury. People who are struggling with cancer probably do not care about understanding the doctrine of the Trinity right now. The family dealing with the wayward teenager, the couple headed for divorce, the person who has lost a job, they do not care right now either. Does it really matter to them that we argue over how exactly God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all at once? We just want to know that God is God and that God somehow knows who we are, where we are, what we are doing, and what we need. It’s Divine mystery, right?

So we’re not going to talk about the Trinity. At least not in any way that tries to explain this mystery. Instead we’re going to talk about the basics. We’re going to talk about the foundation of Christianity. We’re going to talk about mission.

Jesus is on an unnamed mountain in backwater Galilee with a congregation of eleven, down from twelve the week before, and even some of them are doubtful and not so sure why they have come to worship this day.

But notice what Jesus does. He meets the disciples where they are, in their worship and their uncertainty. And he offers them something completely unexpected. He doesn’t say, “Oh ye of little faith.” He doesn’t reprimand them or tell them to go get their doubts figured out and come back later. He sends them with a charge so powerful we now call it the Great Commission.

Jesus gives five commands. Go. Make. Baptize. Teach. Remember.

Go. Make. Baptize. Teach. Remember.

Don’t worry, we’re not going to talk about all of those today.

The first one…go…underlines all the rest. Go make. Go baptize. Go teach. Go remember.

Go.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” “Nations,” by the way, does not mean “nations” in the modern sense of nation-states, but something more like “foreigners,” “tribes of people who are not at all like you,” “Gentiles.” Or to put it another way, people who don’t look or act like us.

These disciples were Jews, and they knew the Scripture. God had promised Abraham that all the tribes of the earth would one day be brought into the family of God, that even the alien Gentiles would bow before God; but like a lot of things in the Bible, this was a truth easier to swallow when it was a nice thought in the prayer book, rather than something you were expected to actually do.

The same is true for us. That is a nice idea, “going to ALL people,” when we think about folks who are missionaries, or folks going on mission trips, or folks that aren’t us. It’s nice to know that other people are out there doing that.

But what do we, as Christians, actually believe about mission? About “going”? If you’ve ever had a question about what the Episcopal Church thinks about something, The Book of Common Prayer is a good place to start. In the back is the catechism, or a question-and-answer style rundown of basic beliefs. Grab that prayer book in your pew back and turn to page 854.

I’m going to ask the questions, and feel free to read the answers back to me.

Q. Why is the Church described as apostolic?
A. The Church is apostolic, because it continues in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles and is sent to carry out Christ’s mission to all people.

Q. What is the mission of the Church?
A. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.

Q. How does the Church pursue its mission?
A. The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.

Q. Through whom does the Church carry out its mission?
A. The church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.

So this whole section of the catechism deals with what we, as a Church, say about mission. Let’s start with the last part. Who does the prayer book say carries out God’s mission? Does it say the clergy do that? The youth? The people who sign up to fly to another country?

No, it says everyone. All of us. It’s the job of all of us.

So we know we’re all on the hook for this job, right? We all are missionaries.

Now back to the first question we read. This connects the mission of the Church to the apostles…to the ones who were sent. That’s what our Gospel reading is about…”Go!” The apostles were sent into the world…not just the big global world of different countries and different peoples, but to the world around them. They were sent to their neighbors, and even to their enemies.

They went from being disciples, those who learn, to being apostles…those who are sent. Those who go.

Jesus says, “Go forth into the world.” Go out into the streets, hit the blocks, every underpass, every city, every suburb; every coffee shop; every office building, every subdivision, every shopping center.

Rev. Beth asked us last week to start thinking about what we…all of us…St. Mary’s…might be called to do next. She invited us to pray, to really pray, about what God is calling us to do. I’m now asking us to add to that a prayer for “where.” Where is God calling us, as a community, to go? Where is God calling us to serve?

We don’t have to figure everything out right now. All we have to do is pray. All we have to do is start. All we have to do is go.

Amen.

 

Go On Mission (A Sermon for Trinity Sunday – Year A)