Sermon at St. Paulâs Episcopal Church in Daphne, AL
âEncourage one another and build each other up.â Weâre here because youâve been building up, and this new building is going to encourage you to keep building each other up, and not just each other, but many, many others.
As beautiful as this is, itâs just the shell of what is to come. The foundation was laid long ago, and youâre going to continue to build this community into a spiritual house by the way you love each other. Thatâs what the letter to the Thessalonians is talking about. The building is merely a tool, a resource. The real work happens as you hammer and saw on each other, and how you respond to that shaping.
On Thursday, I spent some time visiting with Henri and Mugisa Isingoma. Theyâre friends and Anglicans from
Last year during the diocesan convention, the war intensified and people were stuck in Bunia and couldnât get home for weeks. The road was literally reopened when Bp Henri led a caravan through, talking to and negotiating with soldiers on the way. He gets safe passage because the soldiers on both sides know he is concerned about their welfare, not fomenting further violence. He and Mugisa told me about his arrest shortly after he became bishop ten years ago, because the government thought he was a Rwandan. He succeeded Emmanuel Kolini, who went back to
Mugisa told me of her work with women in the diocese, and not just Anglican women. She is helping to lead reconciliation work, and teaching peacemaking. One of the women in a recent meeting recognized another one as the killer of her son. Mugisa said they kept on working, telling their stories, and that it took many days, but the two women finally found some measure of peace with each other.
The Isingomas are building up the people of
You can do equally powerful things right here, one person at a time. The children who spend time with you during Episcopal Bay Camp will discover what it means to love each other, and to care for Godâs creation. They will learn something about making peace when they struggle over toys or being first in line or how to steward the riches of this earth.
The people of this congregation, those already here and those yet to arrive, will be built up into lovers of more of Godâs children. Youâre going to strengthen feeble knees to stand tall and confront the pain and suffering in this world, build up tentative voices to offer good news about Jesus, and put helping hands to work to demonstrate love for those who need actual houses, or a healing hand in Guatemala or the Dominican Republic or next door.
This coast has seen lots of houses and churches and other buildings wash away. Some of them were built on sand, and some of them built too close to the beach, and many built of materials that couldnât stand the onslaught of wind and water. But where have they been rebuilt? Some of them have gone right back up in those dangerous places, and some in safer places have languished, forgotten. The new building has happened only where thereâs hope. Thatâs the gift you have to share. Hope for a new life, for a renewed community, for a healed world. You are meant to build in dangerous places, even places like
Thatâs your task. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks at all times. For we are constructed of hope, and weâre redeemed in hope, and weâre built up for