Homily for the Third Sunday after Trinity—28 June 2020
The Reverend Gene Packwood
is the first of two words I have for you today—as in Jesus Christ our Lord—The One in whom God’s free gift of eternal life comes to us according to St Paul in today’s reading from Romans (Ro6.23). The only one through whom that gift comes, as it happens. St Peter makes it clear in Acts chapter 4—not one of our readings for today, but to the point—when he wrote
there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men and women by which we must be saved.Acts 4.12
No other name. No one else, but Jesus only.
Well that’s not very open and inclusive someone might say—and people do. So, George Carey, three Archbishops of Canterbury ago, once wrote that
This is the scandal of particularity with which we must live. Christians cannot yield this un-negotiable element in their faith. We believe that the God of the universe longs to reveal Himself and He does in many different ways and forms, through religion, through reason, art, and human intelligence, but each and every one of these ways is limited. Only in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can God be fully known, worshipped, and obeyed.The Most Reverend George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, “Archbishop’s Voice,” The Anglican Digest, Pentecost 1992, p63
So—more from Archbishop Carey:
Let’s not have any truck with bland theology, that Jesus is just one option among many. Dialogue with other faiths is very important, but I can respect another faith and a believer of that faith by saying I believe that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. Do with that truth what you may, but my job is to say that to you.Ibid.
It’s our job, too, and just as the Archbishop wrote, Jesus, however scandalously particular, must always be the first, the most important, the defining Word on our lips and in the things we do and the places we go.
Which leads me to the second word for today. It appears six times in our Gospel reading. It’s closely associated with Jesus. The word is WELCOME. Jesus is God’s Word of welcome into the eternal life we read about in Romans this morning. Just as Archbishop Carey wrote, our job as Anglican Christians is to say, in all our words and deeds, in our relationships and consumption, in the way we live, as winsomely as we can, that we believe Jesus is the only way of salvation— welcome! Come on in. Come with us. Taste and see how good He is (Ps34.8). Welcome to the freedom and relief of a forgiven life—in Jesus (Lk1.77). Welcome to the richest, most satisfying, most challenging, fullest abundant life there is—in Jesus (John10.10).
As you live your welcoming life—welcoming Jesus into your own life and welcoming others into His—do it with absolute confidence that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere2Cor2.14
Always. Sweet smelling. Welcoming. Even across the social distances visited upon us these days—perhaps especially across those “distances”—spreading the heady, heart-warming, heavenly fragrance of the knowledge of our unique and scandalously particular Lord and Saviour.
Two words which go together for today. Welcome, and