Today is the last Sunday in the church year. WE have journeyed with the people of God as they waited for the coming of Messiah, we have travelled to Bethlehem to see a babe in a manger, we have Sat with the disciples as they were taught by our Lord, we have mourned his crucifixion, celebrated the resurrection and been encouraged by the Holy Spirit since Pentecost as we have remembered Jesus teachings. Now, today, we celebrate the feast of Christ the King.
Throughout the last year we have also celebrated the Golden Jubillee of Elizabeth II. There are monarchs and there are monarchs… and then there is Jesus. George III of England, America’s enemy in the Revolutionary War, felt terrible about the loss of the colonies. It was said, in fact, that for the rest of his life, he could not say the word “independence” without tripping over it. He was an odd duck in many ways, but he had good insights. When the fighting in America stopped, King George and all his royal cronies in Europe were sure that George Washington would have himself crowned “Emperor of the New World.” That’s what they would have done. When he was told, on the contrary, that Washington planned to surrender his military commission and return to farming at Mt. Vernon, George III said, “Well, if he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.” There is power in giving up power, in emptying oneself. Jesus knew it, Pilate didn’t.
This week we come together as one congregation, to give thanks to God for our many blessings, to remember the Saints and to celebrate with Miranda as she confirms the promises made for her at her Baptism. We come with joy tempered with a certain sadness as this will be our last gathering with Bishop Geoff Smith as our Regional Bishop, prior to taking up his new appointment.
We gather in unity, yet we are a community of two different congregations because we have varying worship styles and needs. Some move easily between the services… while some like to stay within their comfort zone. We are a parish with a diversity of ideas and theologies. So, what are the bonds that hold us together?
For many a shared history is the glue that binds. Many amongst us have grown up in the area, attending schools together, remembering the Bayside when it was farmland and small villages. While there is a diversity of theological understandings, an essential love for God and a desire to follow the way of faith is a strong, uniting force. The diversity itself lends an identity to our parish that attracts and retains people who like to mix with people of other viewpoints. There is a history of diversity, which is not simply tolerated but has been encouraged through study and discussion groups… Relationships and a sense of affinity in faith are key factors in creating a sense of community and togetherness. These are the ties that bind us to each other and to God. We are not the same but we are “the Body of Christ, Thanks be to God!”
How can our living and our giving embody our pledges to one another and to God?