What We Share

Mark 1:14-20

The Rev. Jon Roberts

25 January

2009

Good Shepherd Episcopal

Venice, FL

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” 16 And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zeb′edee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zeb′edee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.

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Apostolic Succession by Claude Bassot (1580-1630)

There was Andrew and Simon Peter; The sons of thunder, James and John. Later came Philip and Bartholemew, Thomas and Matthew, James and Thaddeus, Simon the Cananian and Judas Iscariot. Twelve disciples were taught how to be fishers of men.

Today, we combine our strengths from both the eight o’clock and the ten o’clock services, to be a witness to this ongoing development of leadership within the Church. In our tradition as Anglicans, we claim to be part of what is known as the Apostolic Succession. As we look back on the year two thousand eight, our reflection today, will ask the question, “What do we share with the Apostles?”

First, let us look at Holy Orders. Each one of the disciples were sent out by Christ. They were ordained, as Jesus laid His hands upon them. He told them to go out and fulfill the mission, to all corners of the earth. The mission was to share the good news that God the Father can be seen in God the Son. When sent out, they became Apostles. Spread out over all the land, and with succession of their teachings over the generations, they began to simply build churches. Although they didn’t look like what we have today, nor did they mass the number of people, they were the grassroots of the ancient church.

I recollect that this body of people, twenty years ago, planted a church. I recall that this body of people a year and a half ago, witnessed the ordination of a Deacon, and later a Priest, but does the planting of a church and the ordination of one into Holy Orders contain the essence of the Apostolic Succession? The answer lies in our definition of a “Sacrament.” They are outward and visible signs, of an inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive grace. It is the inward and spiritual grace through these outward and visible signs, that connects Good Shepherd with the Apostoles in true succession. Therefore, our success is based on this thing we call the sacrament.

All of our vestry members: Larry and Al, Roy and Anita, Mike and Jim, and those being nominated today, are acutely aware of this truth. All of our commissions: Finance and Property, Outreach and Missions, Pastoral Care and Christian Education, Liturgy, Fellowship and Communications, can not exist without this. As always, nothing transpires in this parish without us knowing the source of all grace that renews our mission. We are sacramental folks. We take the body and blood of our Savior, because it is the precious life-giving source of our strength. Let us combine our strengths through Him. Today, you will receive the sacrament, and afterwards, you will be dismissed and go out into the parish hall. There will be the inviting smell of eggs and bacon. You’re going to perhaps find a table to sit with your family and friends. On that table, look at the food. Look at the building around you. Look at the Commission reports provided to see all the happenings of our parish last year. Look at each other. What brings all of this together, is nothing less than God’s complete love for His creation. He is simply doing what He does best. He’s loving us.
Let us end with this glorious statistic that reaffirms this belief. In 2007 we had 10,306 people partake of the body and blood of Christ at the Eucharistic feast. In 2008 we gave the sacrament to 11,398. Over one thousand hands reached out for that piece of bread we know as the body of Christ. Over one thousand mouths took hold of the chalice, guiding themselves to sip the wine we know as the blood of Jesus. Are you surprised? I’m not.
God is, and will continue to do amazing things here at Good Shepherd through the succession of his body and blood to those who remain faithful in Him. God shares with us His life so that we may share it with others. By the sacrament of His Body and Blood; by the nourishment of His Word, ask yourselves today, “What will I share with others?”

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