Bishop Eric Menees
This past Sunday we entered into “Ordinary” time but, of course, there is absolutely nothing ordinary about Christ or his Church. Sunday’s gospel is a wonderful example: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Mt. 9:37-38)
What struck me as so extra-ordinary is the context in which Jesus makes this outlandish claim. If we go back just 8 verses, we see that Jesus restores sight to two blind men, and he casts out a demon from a demon-possessed man. These three men would have been seen by the upstanding people of the First Century as sinners of the first magnitude; clearly God would not strike them blind or allow a demon possession if they were not being punished for their sin. (We, of course, no longer understand God’s reaction to sin in the same way. While there are, indeed, consequences for our sin, God does not strike us blind or allow demon possession as punishment for our sin.)
How amazing then that Jesus says that the harvest is plentiful. The plentiful harvest is those who are lost, broken, looked down upon. The plentiful harvest is made up of sinners in need of a savior! In other words the harvest is ALL OF US!
How wonderfully extra-ordinary that Jesus calls for laborers to go into this harvest. We can no longer say: “Well, he’s talking about others as the laborers… surely he’s not speaking of me.” But he is speaking of you, and he’s speaking of me and everyone of us who are baptized and confirmed, anointed and filled with the Holy Spirit! It is when we step up and step out into the fields of God’s harvest that we are most fully the church, and when we are most fully blessed.
My prayer for this diocese is that we will, all of us, recognize that we are all called to be the laborers in the harvest, and that we will trust God the Holy Spirit enough to step out in faith and trust that He’ll use us.
I pray you all a very blessed week!
Thirty-nine Articles of Religion
XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church
It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the Traditions and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren.
Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish, Ceremonies or Rites of the Church ordained only by man's authority, so that all things be done to edifying.