In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today – we return to the mountain. Today – we are charged, like the disciples with “the Great Commission.”
We call it the great commission, because it’s a core part of who we are – because Jesus is commissioning us to go out into the world – together – and change it.
To share the good news.
To include everyone we meet – everyone we know – in the kingdom of God.
And to teach and work – for this kingdom.
The Great Commission.
Yesterday, your Vestry and I went up to Camp Washington for the day.
To talk a bit about their great commission.
And before we go any further – I’d like the Vestry members here to please stand. So that you can be seen.
To be a Vestry person – in a changing church – in a changing world – can be daunting if we take the commitment seriously.
It is the Vestry that is responsible for the legal representation of the parish – sure – so for the business side of things.
But it is also the Vestry that is called to minister to the parish.
The Vestry is the body that works most closely with the Rector to discern, maintain, and support the mission of the parish.
To encourage evangelism and outreach – and to build others up in their own ministry – on their own journey to Christ.
And in order to do this well, Vestry members need to commit themselves to their own faith journeys – and to that of the parish. Considering how to offer their gifts in a variety of ways. Committing to a life of prayer. Committing to the work of living in community.
Committing to the support of the parish financially, spiritually, logistically, socially…you get it.
It’s a tall order.
So yesterday – we started small.
We started by talking about how the Vestry is called to work together.
What cultural norms – what expectations – what behaviors – would allow the Vestry to work together in this sacred and wonderful ministry.
And we began to create a covenant.
Covenant is a word we often talk about in the church – and yet – it’s often misused.
We often think of a covenant as a contract – but this simply isn’t true.
In a contract – when someone doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain – the contract is null and void. Over. No more relationship.
A covenant – however – especially when it is the covenant that God makes with us – this bond can never be dissolved.
Consider the people of Israel. Who fell away – and repented – fell away again – and repented again – over and over for thousands of years.
Covenant is the story of salvation.
Which means – it is God who acts first and waits for us to respond. It is God who is always there.
God covenants with us in a very real and permanent way.
And when we fall away – God waits – and hopes – and loves us – until we repent and return.
This is a covenant that can never be broken – because God’s love can never be broken.
As a Christian community – we are in covenant with God.
But covenants – by nature – are not individual things.
They’re bonds that are also created in the context of community.
Meaning that we – together – are covenanted with God. And so are thus bound to each other in this covenant as well.
As the one, united, Body of Christ.
On Trinity Sunday, we think a lot about “Unity” – and we think specifically of the unity – and community – enjoyed by the three persons of the Trinity.
God, as we understand God, is one being – one substance – shared by three persons.
We call them a variety of things – perhaps most commonly, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
And we experience God differently in each expression of this one Being – but God – is united, One.
This is the kind of community that God wants for us.
It is the story of salvation – the coming together – the bringing together – of God’s people – all throughout the world.
God wants us to experience this peace – this comfort – that is found in community…and in unity.
This desire is for us – first and foremost, I think – so that we can experience what it’s like to live in peace with one another.
And second – it’s so that when others come in contact with us – they can experience this peace – they can experience the divine that lives within us.
So that through us – they can experience God – and community – and covenant with God.
Each one of us will express this divine differently.
We will share our gifts – and the truth about God – in different ways.
Different words. Different actions.
And that’s good. That diversity – like the diversity in the creation story – is God-given. It’s created by God – and God calls it good.
This diversity shows us the richness – the wonders of creation – all of which is brought together in this one, same God.
But – there are to be, also – things that we do that are alike.
Things that we do that are the same.
Characteristics of our fellowship – of our discipleship – of our community that are lived out – and practiced – in the same way – by all of us.
Actions – and beliefs – and commitments that unite us.
Actions – and beliefs – that we commit to do and to follow – that help us to do the work that God has given us to do.
That help us to share the good news. And help to unite all people in the peace and love of God.
Yesterday – your Vestry began to write a covenant like this.
Commitments that they make to God – and to each other – to you – and to this parish – that will enable them to live into their ministry.
That will enable them to follow Christ better – and offer him more fully to the people around them.
As a parish – we, too, should be thinking about this work.
We, too, should make these kinds of commitments.
Commitments to love and honor each other.
Commitments to honesty – and integrity – and respect.
When we talk about living in Christian community – this is the goal.
To treat each other so well that we can begin to know better the sacred – and blessed Unity of the Trinity.
A community where every expression of God is honored.
A community where love is perfect. And complete.
And a community that is so solid internally – so connected – so bonded – that it is able to be inherently focused outward.
Turning this love out – in order to share it with the world.
This is the perfect love of the Trinity – that is so complete – so perfect in itself – that it cannot help but spill out – to live in us, to envelop us – to hold us.
And so in this living out of community – we return to the great commission.
God – first covenanted with us – with people.
Promising to love us. To be with us. To save us.
And God – being God – is faithful to this promise – to the point of sending Jesus Christ – to love us – to be literally and physically with us – and to die to save us.
Each one of us.
And in so doing – each of us is made part of the kingdom – each called to play a role – to commit to the work – to labor for the common good.
To labor for Christ together.
Covenant is the gateway to community.
Covenant opens the door to relationship. To understanding. To shared work – and shared vision.
But those relationships – that understanding – the shared work and shared vision – doesn’t go anywhere – unless we commit to it. And then maintain our commitments.
We only get to the great commission – by means of these three Cs.
Covenant. Community. Commitments made and honored.
Then – and only then – are we able to do the Spirit-led work God calls us to do.
Then – and only then – bonded to God and to each other – sure of our commitments to each other – sure of true unity – and perfect love – only then are we able to actually go
And make disciples of all nations.
Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.