Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dispossessed

The sermon at ECOOS today was delivered by Mary Cat who used today's reading, Mark 10:17-31 as her source.

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.” ’ He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money* to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’


I think she did a good job handling this lesson, although the last sentence,
"For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible," should have been expounded upon.

Of all the disputes in the Episcopal church, the hardest for me to get my mind around has got to be the pursuit of litigation, church vs church, Diocese vs congregation, 815 vs Diocese. All the legal arguments aside, the fight over possessions is something which if it does not narrow the eye of the needle, it must certainly tie people up in such a knot that neither party will ever pass through that eye.

While I can fully appreciate the injustice of having an apostate national "church" lay claim to church properties through the ruse of the unilaterally adopted Dennis canon, sham "rump" Dioceses, appointed "bishops," and a $4,000,000 litigation fund set aside in 815's triennial budget, our Lord makes clear that these possessions may actually be encumbrances to whomever lays claim to them. Indeed, the process of making a claim goes against the spirit of today's lesson. Now, I risk getting into the arguments for and against fighting for what is rightfully yours versus "walking away." I have read strong opinions on the matter, and again, I reiterate, the risk in fighting these things out in court is that the eye of the needle might close itself shut. The alternative, walking away from the church of your fathers will cause shock and grief at first, but if it is done for the love of the Lord, the newness of life such a Church will have in the Lord must be an unimaginable thing. Walking away, by the way applies to either side in these disputes.

As the legal battles continue, grieve over the loss of the Episcopal church you thought of as your own. It is gone, but it was merely a possession, an encumbrance. Instead, gladly follow the Lord with the rest of His dispossessed.

4 comments:

  1. Query whether the courts would even intervene. Normally, once a court determines an issue to be purely ecclesiastical in nature, the First Amendment precludes interference. The only exceptions are crimes against persons.

    Cheers.

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  2. Randall,

    The SC Supreme court recently sided in favor of the congregation and parish in a long standing dispute.

    The courts have been heavily involved because of the issues of property, titling, and deeds. See the Anglican Curmudgeon's pages for more legal insight than I could ever hope to provide.

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  3. "...it was merely a possession, an encumbrance. Instead, gladly follow the Lord with the rest of His dispossessed."

    Well said, Pewster. Foxes have holes, birds have nests... Reminds one of this:

    Therefore, let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Hebrews 13:13-14

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  4. Interesting. Missouri Courts have refused to get involved in these sorts of disputes, citing the Missouri Constitution's prohibition regarding State interference with religious belief and practice.

    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete