July 2017 Convocation Newsletter
Bishop Pierre's Sermons
I have been to 14 conventions of the CECE; this is the fourteenth. The closing Eucharist, to me, has always been a mixture of gladness and happiness...happiness that Convention is over, and sadness, as well, that it is over, because Convention is the only time when others who belong to our scattered jurisdiction can see what I, as Bishop, get to see on a regular basis: the energy, the vitality, the intelligence...and the sheer talent that our churches are blessed with. Faithfulness, outstanding outreach ministries…it is all here, and yet, the Convocation is still very much under construction, and it always will be. But today is a day to celebrate who we are, and to celebrate that we are able to be with our brother and colleague, Bishop Jorge Cabral, bishop of the Lustianian Church – the Portuguese-Anglican church, and with all of the clergy assembled here.
It is a great pleasure and privilege to preach the Gospel here with you today, and to share in this wonderful celebration of the Holy Eucharist. As I was thinking about this --I was told that I had nine minutes maximum -- I thought that I would preach on something that I have never preached on before today. In the middle of the Gospel, Jesus says to his disciples, ‘Truly, I say to you, what you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and what you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ We normally call this the power of the keys – remember St. Peter was given the power of the keys – and every bishop’s shield, including mine, has a pair of crossed keys in it. It is the power to loose and to bind.
[The American Cathedral] The baptism of Karim and Isabella. Baptism is, of course, is always a new beginning – a new creation, in fact. Paul says, "If anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation." "The old has passed away, behold the new has come," he wrote to the Corinthians. Looking at today’s Epistle from the Romans, if you will look right in the middle of the text, you will see this quotation from Psalm 44. "We are as sheep being led to the slaughter. We are being killed all the day long"…and so, on this day of baptism, there is a new creation at the same time that there is killing going on.
The Gospel According to Mark. It is only in the 20th Century that the church really began to pay attention to this gospel. it used to be thought that Matthew was the first gospel, and then Mark, which was a sort of a précis - a summary of the first gospel. It was then followed by the great Gospel of Luke, and then the mystical Gospel of St. John. But it became very clear, that as people did more research, that Mark was written first, sometime in the year 65-70 AD...right after the emperor Nero began to persecute Christians. Notice how it begins, the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You notice that it starts with John the Baptist.
When we preach on Trinity Sunday, of course, for the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity...we have to clear some things away. We have the four relations, the three persons, the two processions, the One God. What does that mean? We look in the catechism, it does not provide much help. "What is the Holy Trinity? The Trinity is One God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit." And we continue to look for meaning in various other places. For instance, in the historical documents (pg. 864 BCP) there is an excerpt of a creed we used to use all of the time -- the creed of Athanasius. It is normally called the Quicunque Vult.
It is a great pleasure and privilege to be here today at the Church of the Ascension in Munich, one of the crown jewels of the Episcopal Churches in Europe. It wonderful thing, in particular, to confirm these six excellent young people and to watch them as they make their profession of faith, accepting their vows of baptism on their own behalf, and sending them forth in the power of the Holy Spirit to love and to serve God, and people for the rest of their lives.
[Christ Church, Greenwich, CT] "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers." Anyone who has attended an Episcopal Church, whether here or in Italy or in Taiwan, recognizes this quote from the Book of Acts. In the liturgy for Baptism, it appears right after the Apostles' Creed in what is called "the Baptismal Covenant." This Covenant is practically unique to our Church — though the Church of England added it as an option in their new rite of Baptism found in Common Worship. We repeat it at every Baptism and Confirmation, as well.
Most people know the story of the Road to Emmaus. Here in France there is a homeless ministry called Emmaus, and its founder, Abbé Pierre, was considered the most popular man in the country. So much for secular France…One of the attractions of today's gospel story is that Luke uses a favorite literary device of mystery novels and films. We know it’s Jesus walking with Cleopas and What’s-His-Name, but they don’t.
I didn't pay a lot of attention to St. Thomas, a.k.a., Didymus or the Twin, a.k.a., “doubting”, until I was ordained to the priesthood on his feast day, December 21, twenty-nine years ago. After my trip to Iraq just before the war, and later, as we helped to provide asylum for 1300 Iraqis threatened with death for reasons of their faith, I got to know a lot more about Thomas. The story goes that he went to the east, where he founded churches, including the Chaldean Church in what is now Iraq, and the Mar Thoma Church in India. Thomas is said to...
Easter 2014, The Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity. We have come to the culmination of what the Church calls “Holy Week,” which is actually the beginning of a second week, “Easter Week.” We have reenacted in real time the betrayal, death, and entombment of Jesus. Perhaps you were able to be with us as all of us helped strip the altar down to the bare wood on Thursday night, or Friday when we prayed in the shadow of death that Christ would put his cross between us and judgment. Or last night...