Thursday, March 15, 2018

Bishop’s Note: March 15, 2018 – the Great Commission

Bishop Eric Menees
On Sunday I had the honor of installing Fr. Ron Ryan as the new vicar for St. Peter’s, Kernville. For this occasion the Gospel lesson was from Matthew 28 – The Great Commission. There is no more iconic scripture that speaks to the heart of discipleship than the Great Commission:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19)

There are several key points to notice in this action packed sentence:

Go therefore… “Therefore” referrers to what happened just before… meaning when we go out to the nations – or the neighborhoods – or the workplaces, we do not go based on our own initiative and authority! Whose initiative and authority do we go out with? The resurrected Jesus’! Notice, also, that this going out is not a suggestion – this is an imperative!

Make disciples… This isn’t simply belief in Jesus – lots of people believe that Jesus was a great man; a great philosopher; a great religious leader. Rather, to be a disciple is to submit to Jesus as Lord and Master!

Baptizing… This is more than the sprinkling of water; it is entering into a believing community! Each of our congregations should be a place where disciples of Jesus are baptized and then supported as they, in turn, disciple others, lead them to baptism, and support them as they, in turn….the cycle repeating over and over again.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… Jesus calls us to do this under his authority and in the name of the Triune God. In other words, it’s not simply “believe in whatever, or whomever,  you want;” what we believe does, indeed, matter!  Jesus makes this clear in the next clause:

“teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:20)  This means that we must, all of us, be both Student and Teacher. We cannot teach people to observe all that Jesus commanded without knowing what Jesus commanded! And the best way to really learn is to teach. Never forget that you - each of you - are called to always be a student of the Word of God, as well as a teacher of the Word of God! So, teach your friends! Teach your family!

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Lastly -  and equally important to everything that has gone before - when we dare to be obedient to the call of Jesus, his promise is that he’ll never leave us. Therefore, we cannot fail! Whatever we give up to the Lord in service or devotion, he turns towards his glory! Oops, wait a moment - there is one way to fail: you can choose NOT to share the gospel; not to talk about Jesus; not to love others; not to be obedient to Jesus’ call on your life.

My prayer for each and every member of the Diocese is that we will all step out in faith as disciples of Jesus Christ, secure in the knowledge that, with Jesus at our side, we cannot fail!

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