Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is a staggering work of genius, and I have no doubt that it could only have been written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
For in just 11 verses - Chapter 2:11-22 - Paul manages to explain the cosmic scheme of reconciliation put into place by God in Christ, which is unfolding still- under which all broken relationships, all enmity, all division, all estrangement and all alienation are healed.
In the reconciliation of all things which have come untied, Christ is at work putting the power of God’s love upon the broken, the alone, the unforgiven, the forgotten, the afraid, the abandoned, the mocked, the ridiculed - and they are restored into the holy and living stones from which God is building his true temple; the abode of God and those whom he loves and who love him and each other.
Brothers and sisters, if you want to be healed eternally, and reconciled - retied to God and what’s His - then this is Good News for you. Healing now, and healing forever.
Once you recognize your need for this healing and reconciliation, and who can meet it - Jesus - then your life in the Kingdom begins. It begins with the baby steps of mortal faith and continues beyond to grow fully.
Do you recognize your need for this healing? This reconciliation?
In Mark 6, we see that Jesus and the disciples are recognized and mobbed by large groups of people who all have something in common. They are all sick or lost. They are all in need of leadership, love, compassion, protection and healing - and they know it.
In the Gospel, it doesn’t say that “well” people recognize and follow after Jesus. There is little mention of large numbers of “‘well, perfect or satisfied” people recognizing Jesus.
No, in fact, very often what we see is that the typical reaction to Jesus by folks who think they are “well’ is one of un-recognition or rejection. As Jesus taught, those who laugh now cannot be blessed. Those who are satisfied, self-absorbed and scoffing at the message of God cannot recognize their need or that Jesus is the one to call about it.
Now, to be sure, Christians and churches have made lots of mistakes over the years. There has been, is now, and will always be great turmoil in the world, and even in the Church.
In the Anglican/Episcopal tradition, there has been turmoil, threat and reality of schism for our 500-year history since we broke ties with Rome. In that five- century period, there have been roughly three categories of argument.
The first is over how and what it means to be “catholic.” How can we be catholic without Rome leading us? How can we be catholic without Constantinople leading us? How can we be catholic with so much autonomy, too?
The second is over what it means to be protestant or “reformed,” which is a better word for me. How can we learn from Calvin and Luther, without abandoning the catholic tradition? What is the most authoritative structure for us - the Bible, the church order? What are the sacraments and what means of Grace are there? How independent should churches be?
The third big debate is about how modern we can be. What do science, reason and faith have to do with one another? What effect does modern reason have on our vision of Scripture, etc.?
These three categories all fit under the question of “How can we be faithful to Christ, AND, be Catholic, Reformed, And/Or Modern?”
And for five centuries, these three categorical concerns have captivated many good Anglican/Episcopal minds - and led to much controversy and even schism. And they still are. Today’s question over what to do with gay Christians touches on all three. Today, as historically, there is likely to be a lasting legacy of schism from our current controversies. Just as the Baptist, Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Methodist groups of churches are the legacies of previous controversy and schism within Anglicanism.
I believe that all of these controversies and schisms remain ongoing - and unsolved. Yet, in my view, none of them makes a dent in the core proclamation of the main thing that Christians need to be all about.
And this core proclamation is this: God wants to reconcile a world that comes untied. We who are in the world, quite obviously, are hell-bent on coming untied from God and each other, and five centuries of Anglican history alone is sufficient to prove it.
For we who must recognize our illness and sin, and that we are untied, we must focus on the gracious gift of the loving God who sent Jesus to reconcile us, to bring peace, to end alienation, and to fix all that’s wrong.
This is the sure foundation of my faith, and I believe of this Church, broken and ill as it is. Jesus Christ is the sure foundation, and only in Him will all things be united that have come untied.