I’m sure I’ve shared this video on this blog before, but as I reflect on the lessons for Sunday, I’m enamoured with the idea that this Sunday is an Acts 8 Sunday, even if the New Testament lesson isn’t from Acts at all.
My dream for the Church, as you hopefully saw, was a Church that is not ashamed to proclaim Jesus. (Seriously, if you haven’t watched this video, do it now.) This is still my dream for the Church, and it is one that I think falls in line with both my sermon from a few weeks ago on True Religion and works especially well for this Sunday’s Gospel lesson.
Standing in the midst of Philip’s Caesartown, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter wastes no time. He is prepared to give an account of the hope that is in him. He is ready, willing and able to proclaim that Jesus is the Messiah, even if he hasn’t a lick of a clue what that really means. Peter is not ashamed to proclaim Jesus.
Of course, proclaiming Jesus in word is one thing. The rest of Sunday’s story is about how that word become action – how we move from students to followers – and it involves nothing less than denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Jesus. It means losing our lives for the sake of the Gospel. It means giving up our luxuries so that everyone might come within the reach of Christ’s saving embrace. It means personal morality with corporate consequences.
It also means, and here’s the kicker for Acts 8, corporate morality with personal consequences. What does it mean for The Episcopal Church to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah? How do we act in light of that good news? How do we structure ourselves? Govern ourselves? Budget ourselves? How do we communicate? How do we share? How do we grow?
If, as the original creed says, Jesus Christ is Lord, where do we go from here?