St. Augustine of Hippo


Episcopal Church

 


Time for Resurrection


Easter Sunday

April 16, 2017


The Reverend Nathanael Saint-Pierre 



During the whole season of Lent, I have made an invitation to stand up for something the center of my messages. I am convinced that being enrolled in the Jesus Movement cannot be a passive act, something we do with no conviction, no goal, no objective. During this Lent, I must admit that certain issues and the way I’ve seen a few acting on behalf of the church, have shaken me. I’ve seen, inside of the church and outside in the world, evil triumph over good, corruption triumph over rectitude, power triumph over resilience, abuse triumph over integrity. But, as long as evil is resurrecting, I believe Good must resurrect to fight it. Easter for me this year, becomes not just a time to commemorate an event that happened two thousand years ago. It is a time for those enrolled in the Jesus Movement to stand still and resurrect. The Jesus Movement shouldn’t be a nice theory a good theologian put on paper for us to have a nice and comforting reading time. We must resuscitate to stand against those evil forces we thought were dead but are here again in our midst to spread division, create second class citizens, put the blame on others, destroy the environment, and create wars and chaos. Whoever our theoreticians/theologians might be, primate or lay, we cannot be approving/not denouncing the wrong around us for the sake of promoting reconciliation and peace. Humankind has an opportunity for rebirth and I pray we take it. 

It is for this rebirth that four children are presented to the church today and they will be initiated into our movement. Often, we point a finger at the parents and godparents, putting the blame on them because they don’t show up at church and baptism is a “one day stand”. It is important for us also to realize that we are an integrative part of this initiation. Important for us to know that an initiation is the first step in a process. At the end of the examination, when it is asked of the congregation “Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support this person in his life in Christ?” and you answer: “We will”, you also take a commitment to make sure that those who are baptized here are fully integrated into this movement. It means they die with us to resuscitate with us in Christ. 


What is crucifying us nowadays, is not a foreign power occupying our territory and willing to set an example so that no resistance is formulated or demonstrated. It is not colonialism as we knew it. It is a new form that is dominating the world. It is a force with no physical presence. It can easily go unnoticed. This silent but virulent crucifier (person who crucifies people), is present in every moment of our lives to monitor our weaknesses and find a way to enter and steal our souls. Just look around and see how the world cannot find peace. When it is not a dictator killing his own people, it is a churchman abusing a young woman (in certain cases two or more) who could have been his daughter. We preach the word of God, a word of love, peace and respect of the dignity of every human being. But we practice not what we preach. 

 

Jesus, during his many years of ministry in his community, did not set boundaries to go after evil. His life was in itself a stand against all that corrupts. He fought against lameness, blindness, leprosy, injustice, oppression; he invited those managing public funds to do it with integrity; he invited the rich to care for the less fortunate, and the sinners to repent. Jesus told us stories in which we see what love can accomplish; he himself forgave even those who were hammering the nails through his hands. He fed those who were hungry and gave water to the thirsty. Jesus was not a theory writer; he was a practitioner.  


The fight against the silent killer is not over. It needs to continue as long as necessary. Corruption is everywhere and in different shapes and forms. And when the church is not standing against it, who should? Who will? When instead of openly condoning it, always afraid of the consequences and playing it safe, we tolerate this ongoing venom, I guess we should not be surprised that it kills us. This Easter I want to invite you to get involved. You will meet Judas, Peter, John and James, sons of Zebedee; you will be buddy-buddy with Thomas, people who are in your life to betray, deny, seek for position, and doubt you. But you also should focus on the Ruth, Esther, John the divine, Mary the God bearer, Abraham, David, Elijah, Samuel, who fought against evil in themselves and around. 


Our world is in need of people like you, people who are not perfect, but who can find that the cause of standing against what can kill the soul a perfect enough cause to embrace it. The church needs people who are down to earth (real), people who can look at injustices and feel called to act, people who cannot be sitting in our pews just to keep it warm. Our world needs a living church, a church that moves and proclaims that life given back to us by Christ. Of course, some will say it is not our culture. What is our culture? I ask. Is it our culture to be in the tomb and lay dead?  Our inheritance is to give death a purpose, to see death as a transition toward something greater. Jesus did. We also can resurrect. The same way we are alive but are like dead. Can we also be alive and be doing what we are called to do? Folks, it is time for resurrection, time to wake up, time for the rock in front of our tomb to explode, for us to be free and released from mental death. Whatever it is that enslaves us must let us go and let us be. We have embraced our cross with open arms, let us also embrace this new life with wide open hearts, so that we can chase from it what corrupts and makes us mortal.