Invited to Write a Homily

Discussion in 'Pastoral Resources' started by PotterMcKinney, May 17, 2017.

  1. PotterMcKinney

    PotterMcKinney Active Member Typist Anglican

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    Hi, everyone!
    I was invited to write and preach a homily for my parishes "Youth Sunday," and I wanted to share my very, very rough draft with you to see what you think.

    The readings are the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A, of the RCL.


    “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.”

    I am confident that all of us wish, to some extent, that we were in the sandals of the original disciples of Jesus, that we were men and women who could see our Lord and our God with our own eyes and feel him with our own hands. Of course, such a thing isn’t possible now, because Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven. In the wake of Christ’s warnings of going to a place that they could not find or go to, the Apostles had many questions and concerns about what a time without Jesus would be like. To ease them, Jesus made a promise, which was most evidently fulfilled at Pentecost. Because Pentecost is rapidly approaching, it is an appropriate time to ponder upon that promise.

    Jesus promises us another Advocate from the Father to abide with us after his ascension. The word translated here as “advocate” is written in Greek as Paraclete, a word translated elsewhere as Helper, Comforter, Counselor, or various other related things, and in Greek is often used to convey an idea much like a defense lawyer. Jesus is very much our Advocate in these senses, which John makes clear in his first Epistle, and he is promising another Advocate in his bodily absence that will fulfill the same duties that he does. This Advocate is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, and God himself. The Holy Spirit is not merely a substitute for Jesus, however; the Trinity doctrine explains that the Father, Son, and Spirit are all within each other completely. Therefore, Jesus is himself present when the Spirit is present, and Jesus is in us as he promises to be when the Spirit is in us. It is in this sense that Jesus is “coming to us” and how we will see him as he promises.

    The Holy Spirit is promised to be with the Church, and it is through the Church that we most reliably experience the Spirit. More specifically, it is through the written and spoken word of God and the sacraments, the hallmarks of the visible Church, that we experience the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit, we would have no Church, which is why the birthday of the Church is considered to be Pentecost. In our Gospel reading, Jesus does not specify the media through which we experience the Holy Spirit, though divine intervention in ecclesial affairs is promised or implied elsewhere. The other two readings, however, provide examples.

    In our first reading, St. Paul is on his Mediterranean tour and is in Athens. He is pretty agitated when he sees all the idols around him, and he starts arguing with the local synagogue about the matter. Gentile philosophers hear him and become very curious about what he is talking about. As the Athenians were accustomed to do, they took him into the Aeropagus, a forum where Athenians discussed ideas and philosophy. He then begins his sermon in front of the philosophers there.

    While there are many profound statements made in that sermon, I would like to step back and examine the profundity of the statements itself. St. Paul was certainly a very intelligent man. However, this sermon was given very spontaneously. He did not have the opportunity to write it ahead of time or prepare at all. Yet, he spoke a sermon that we now consider having Scriptural authority. As intelligent as he was, no person could speak in such a way without some sort of divine intervention. It had to have been the power of the Holy Spirit that inspired him in that way to, ultimately, write Scripture, as the Spirit compelled the authors of all the biblical works. Also, not only did the Holy Spirit guide St. Paul’s words, but he deliberately acted through them. In the verses immediately after our Acts reading, we are told that some of the listeners converted. Paul is not the author of salvation, of course, and his words have no intrinsic ability to convert fallen people, so it is clear that the Holy Spirit acted through Paul’s words to affect the conversion of his listeners. From this, we can know that the Holy Spirit guides the writing of Scripture and acts through its words, whether we read them, hear them, or have them explained from the pulpit. Certainly, I am comforted at this moment that the Holy Spirit is helping me out in this endeavor.

    We can also be certain that the Spirit will be with us in the sacraments, working to fulfill the promises made to us in the Scriptures that they are appointed to fulfill. St. Peter, in his first Epistle, describes Baptism briefly, discussing how it was prefigured in the story of Noah. He also states that it has an effect beyond what the water itself achieves, namely that it saves people as an appeal to God through the life, death, and life-again of Jesus. Much like human words, St. Peter explains that the water used in Baptism has no intrinsic salvific power. We know that it must be the power of the Holy Spirit because God alone can author one’s salvation. For me, the Holy Spirit acts as my Advocate and Comforter in this regard, as I contemplate my recent Baptism and the place in the Kingdom of God it has assured me is there for me.

    This principle is true of the Holy Eucharist as well. Jesus states in the Gospels that the bread is his body and the wine is his blood, but if we were to investigate the elements you would find that they are, in fact, bread and wine. If there is no physical change in the elements, then in what way are the elements the body and blood of Christ? Just because the presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not physical does not mean it is not very, very real. Rather than the elements changing into different materials, the Holy Spirit comes upon them and brings the spiritual presence of Christ to them. When we partake of the Eucharist, we, therefore, partake of the Body and Blood of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. This is why Fr. Boyd, after finishing the words of institution, prays an epiclesis, an appeal to the Holy Spirit to sanctify the elements and make them the Body and Blood.

    I mention all of these things to bring to your minds the special presence of the Spirit in what is going on before us, in preparation for the birthday of the Church at Pentecost. We should be reminded that when we read the Bible in private study, the Holy Spirit is there. When the readers come to the front here and read the lessons, the Holy Spirit is there. At this moment, assuming I’m doing this right, the Holy Spirit is here in what I am speaking concerning those lessons. In a moment, when Fr. Boyd prays the words of institution and the epiclesis, the Holy Spirit will be there in the elements. Until the end of days, the Holy Spirit will be with the Church, bringing us into eternal communion with it and the life, death, and life-again of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Our God.
     
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  2. Philip Barrington

    Philip Barrington Well-Known Member

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    Good solid reflection, well done.
     
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  3. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I agree with Philip, very well done.
     
  4. PotterMcKinney

    PotterMcKinney Active Member Typist Anglican

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    Quick update: The homily went well and was very well received by the congregation. Awesome.
     
  5. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Congrats!!
     
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  6. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

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    Well done Potter
     
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  7. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Woohoo!
     
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