SERMON BY THE REV. NATALIE BLAKE ASSISTANT CURATE, ST. MARK’S CHURCH, MANDEVILLE AT THE CATHEDRAL OF ST. JAGO DE LA VEGA, SPANISH TOWN AT THE ANNUAL CATHEDRAL SUNDAY SERVICE ON THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING NOVEMBER 26, 2017

Let us pray:

O holy God as we gather, we pray that your spirit may be with us, light the way O Lord and show us where we are to follow, open our hearts and pour your wisdom in and through us to the world. Amen.

It is the end of another liturgical year, Christ the King, and we have gathered once more, to celebrate another Cathedral Sunday. Our journey, started last Advent – when we awaited the coming of the baby Jesus, celebrated his birth, death and resurrection and then reflected on how to live out his example in our everyday lives.

We return to our Mother Church each year – to sing together and celebrate Jesus Christ as King over heaven and earth in anticipation of a last day- when all the world will sing one song of praise to God.

There is a song that the world is desirous to hear. It is a song of hope, but how will others hear that song without someone to teach them, someone who has heard the song that Christ has taught?

We who have sat at the feet of Christ all year long, having been filled with the word of God, having been enriched with our fellowship, are sent to teach the song that we learned.

When we look around us we see beautiful faces inside here, but on the outside, there is a pressure of a Jamaica desirous of this song of hope.

Listen!

Do you hear it?

Our world, our nation, if you listen to the news and read the papers – we have an undeclared war- there is a void that is waiting to be filled with the song of hope.

We live in a world where we are divided by our limited perspectives of everything, even the things that we are sure we know, because everyone has their own take on the truth.

Like the blind men, we have all heard about this thing called elephant.

Each of us only touched a part of the animal, but from that experience – we are sure that we know all about it.

Like the group of blind men, we go away certain that the strange animal called elephant is like a snake, because we touched the tail, or – like a fan, because we touched the ear or – like a wall because we touched its side. We are convinced because we have touched it with our hands. But we were not able to see the entirety of it – and there lies the problem.

Imagine all of us seeking to understand God. We experience God in our own way, each going away with a different perspective of God.

Rather that coming together to put those together to make a complete sentence, perhaps even a paragraph and then the song, we each go away with our word and then say that we have the full story.

But we are yet to experience the fullness of God, to see God face to face, to know God as we are known by God.

We need someone – the story of the Indians and elephant – usually also includes a prophet – someone who will gather all the Indians together, and allow them all to voice their perspective – then through that they all come to a better understanding of their experience.

Who is the prophet – to put together all the various perspectives of God that we have?

We have such a prophet – more than a prophet – we have the Son of God, to put together all the different ways we have come to understand God. He reflected that for his own people and through those teachings, we have a better understanding – not complete, but better understanding of who God is.

Even with Jesus as our sighted prophet – we are still each convinced that we have the truth. How we voice our opinions of the truth indicate that we are still divided.

After listening to the word of God all year long, now at the end when we are to put together the song of hope, what comes out of us?

If you had a choice of what song to sing today perhaps some would say – I love Jesus, or a traditional hymn – or someone else would say – God is lively, let us bring in some clapping and some steel pans – each reflecting how we desire to worship God. We all have different ideas about worship and rather than putting them all together – ever so often we choose to go our own way.

When we elect a leader, that person has their idea, and we have our own. We are pulling to the left and they to the right. It is not that we have different ideas, just different perspectives of the same idea.

I thought of Paul writing one last plea to the Roman church. As he got to the end of his letter he wrote:

May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all.

Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus! Romans 15: 5-6

According to Isaiah – The Egyptians, the Assyrians, all will be offering worship to God on a day to come. For us who seek God, who seek to know more about God – it is we who will bring that into reality, where those who do not yet know God – will know God, so that at the end of all time the world will indeed sing one song of harmony. The song of hope that we are looking for today.

It is Jesus who teaches us the song.

It is a rhythm of life, love, forgiveness, peace. It is obedience and patient waiting.

It is carrying our brother or sister – not just tolerating them and their ideas – but bearing their different perspectives of God and worship with our own and offering them all to God.

We are the ones given that rhythm of life by Jesus. When we signed on as Christians, we were given the mission to go out and to make disciples, and to share the Good News that Jesus taught us.

This rhythm of life, love, forgiveness, and peace is not just shared in our words, but especially in our lives.

Some will draw many – others will draw one. What of the rest who are yet to share the word of God with anyone?

Have we taken it, wrapped it up in the cloth and kept it to ourselves?

We do not need to go far to share the word of God. There are many within our homes, who no longer want to hear a word about God.

We don’t have to search the highways and the byways for them, they are right beside us at work. We see them and the struggles that they are enduring. We know that the song of hope could bring light to their lives, but we often say, let someone else do it.

However, if we do not share the song of light, life, and hope, who will?

The world is still hungry to hear the word of God.

I am stationed in Mandeville – but I am from Kingston – St. Georges East Street. I recall the mission in Kingston, we were sent out with the flyers. We did not really want to go, because it was in the heart of Downtown Kingston. We were afraid to go but our Assistant Curate – uncle Tony said – come, let us all go together.

We saw a group of men on the corner – minding their own business, doing their thing. “A weh unuh come from,” we were asked. We identified ourselves as the people who worshipped at 83 East Street. We were told that they hoped we were not the group that wanted people to pay for everything. We said we were not that group. We worshipped on Sunday mornings. One man asked if we had the girls’ school; we said yes. He immediately asserted that we were okay – because he had a daughter at the school. He knew us through our witness on our corner on East Street.

Inside our church, we might have had our own divisions, but outside – on the corner – they were convinced that we had the truth, and that we were the ones they wanted to hear the message of Christ from. Others, they did not trust or want – but we were alright.

While we are busy, convinced of our little perspectives of God that we use to divide ourselves, the rest of the world is convinced that we know the truth of Jesus Christ. The rest of the world is convinced that we have got the song right.

Now we need to convince ourselves, pray for the courage, and get out onto every single corner. Let us unwrap the word of God, wherever we have it hidden, and share it with someone, because the world still wants to hear it.

We have been blessed, we have been given the truth of God; Jesus asks only that we share it with someone. We have many families with members who are not sharing in the word of God. Too few of our families are sharing in morning devotions. We send out our children – only with a lunch money – they need the word more.

Our young people are not rushing around churches looking for excitement – they are looking for meaning for their lives- to be inspired for a lifetime, not just for the moment.

Some go for the excitement – but have nothing to take them through the week. That is not our experience.

If we focus on the word that the messenger has brought, then we will have something to take us through the week.

We do not need to have theological education or be a preacher to share the word of God because once it has struck us, then we yearn to share it with somebody who God will put in our way.

But we must first hear the word of God.

Therefore, when we gather for worship, we must do that – worship. When we gather to hear the word of God – we must listen for it – putting aside all the distractions of our own perspectives – and allowing Jesus to speak to us.

The world is still waiting to hear the song of hope.

We who have sat at the feet of Jesus all year, we have something to share.

We have heard about the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ. We have heard how Christ forgives, heals, and nurtures.

We can go out and teach what we know about Jesus Christ – share the word so that others can ketch the riddim.

It is not for us to keep the song to ourselves, that is not why we became Christians.

We have a mission, we must ensure that those with whom we come in contact hear the word of God.

We must pray for God’s courage to go out and share the word. The world, our nation is seeking this song of hope. We who have experienced Jesus – we must share him.

I pray that God will strengthen us for this good work, use us to bring others to him, so that we and those we will bring – through Christ’s enablement, will sing God’s song of love, hope and peace at the end of the age. That our voices will be united in this song, this rhythm of Christ. Amen.