This homily was given by James Leigh, a first year ordinand, at OPTET Evening Prayer on Monday 28th February 2011;
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Tonight’s second reading from the second letter of Paul to Timothy is a fitting one as we gather here tonight, from across the denominations and traditions, to worship and pray together. As Christians it is often perceived that we are divided by our diversity – Catholic and Protestant, high and low, influenced by differing spiritualities and theologies. But as this gathering represents, and as S. Paul reminds us in this reading, we are united by a ‘sound doctrine’ – that is a fundamental belief in the God who has revealed himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. The God who became incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was made man and who, for our sake, was crucified, died, was raised and will return in glory to be our judge so that we might be raised to new life in him. Our aesthetic differences may appear divisive, our theologies may cause conflict, but our proclamation is, and must be, of this same fundamental truth.
As Christians it is our vocation, whether seeking ordination or not, to follow S. Paul’s dictum to Timothy: “proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2). We are all called to be bold witnesses to the truth of Christ crucified, we, the body of Christ – the Church, are the proclaimers of a timeless message, a message of truth which Our Lord has commanded us to share with the whole world. We, like the first disciples, are sent out and commissioned for the task of proclamation. It is the Church who is the guardian of that sound doctrine which Paul talks about in verse 3 of our reading, and, it is we, the Disciples of Christ who are called to proclaim that sound doctrine which the Church embodies in her teachings and witness. At times we will fail, false teachings will prevail but the endurance of the Church is a testimony to the reality of the incarnate truth of Jesus Christ.
As S. Paul teaches us in his letter to the Galatians, by virtue of our baptism we are all one in Christ and it is as one body, the body of Christ – the Church, that we proclaim his message to the world. Gathered here tonight we are one in Christ and one in his truth. It is our duty to ensure that we place God’s kingdom before our own needs and desires and that we work together, setting aside our surface differences, so that God may be glorified and all may come to know the salvation offered by Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross. As Christ prayed for the unity of his Church so may our prayer be joined with his and all the Saints, that Christians everywhere may be united in love for him who is the way, the truth and the life.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed that your church should be one in you as you and he are one and upon the disciple Peter he built the Church, a beacon of light and hope in a world which cries out for truth. May our vocation always be to your truth, the proclamation of your love and a bold witness to your Gospel, and may all Christian people be united by unwavering belief and a deep love for you. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.