Sunday, 9 June 2013

Ministry in Transit: on the Wheels on the Bus Going Round and Round-—a Homily for the Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year C

In the the OT passage from 1 Kings 17, the widow of Zarephath was twice headed down a hard road: first, to starvation, then to the unutterable grief over the death of her only son. Then Elijah came along and her life was headed in a new direction.

In Galations (1:14) this morning, we heard how Paul was “advanced in Judaism” and moving along “violently persecuting the church of God” and “trying to destroy it.” (v13). Then he found himself headed in a new direction; instead of Damascas, to Arabia first and, eventually, Jerusalem, Syria and Cilicia—proclaiming Jesus.

In Luke, another widow, of Nain, was on her way to the cemetery with a large crowd, grieving the death of her only son. Then Jesus came on the scene and their destination changed. Instead of death, the cemetery and grief, to new life and celebration.

That makes me think of destinations.

As some of you know I’ve bought a bus pass and plan to ride Medicine Hat Transit for most of my work this month. I'll be blogging about it as I go.

Why following Jesus at StB is like riding the bus—Medicine Hat Transit:

Sings: The wheels on the bus go round and round…

1. There is a schedule and you have to know what it is or where to look it up.

2. You have to go to a bus stop to catch one. You have to go to it, it usually doesn’t come to you. However, if you’re sick or disabled, there are special transit buses that will come to your home. Just so, we have to come to church to get on this bus.

3. You don’t get to pick your fellow passengers and the seating is not assigned— Sings: The babies on the bus go, whaa whaa whaa…

4. There is a fare.

The city has bought, set up and subsidizes the system as a public service for the welfare of the community. Jesus paid for ours and set it up and subsidizes it, too, for welfare of the city and the world. We passengers are required to contribute. On the bus your fare. In a church, your tithes and offerings. To pay for the vehicle and its maintenance.

5. You need a ticket

Our baptismal certificate.

Sings: The driver on the bus says move on back, move on back, move on back…

6. There is a driver. But he does’nt say that on this bus. I think Jesus is our driver. I’m more like a conductor. I make sure people have tickets, although I don’t sell them.

7. This bus is going somewhere. If I don’t get on the bus, I won’t be going anywhere. Eventually, you have to get off and live ministry.

8. There is a route plan. The driver doesn’t get to drive wherever she wants. The passengers get on the bus because they want to go somewhere specific. These are not tour buses, neither is StB.

Where is our route map? The Bible and the prayer books, our Bishop and diocese. Being Anglican is especially like travelling by bus. Not like driving our own cars where we can get in and head off to wherever we like, whenever we like. We are under authority.

Where is this bus, St BarnaBUS, headed?

From our Parish Council Retreat and the three areas upon which they've decided God is calling us to focus:

1. Where is our mission field—a new route or destination for St BarnaBUS?

2. Community building—ways of building relationship and making it possible for new passengers to get the best seats

3. Communication—promote our routes, destination and schedule.

One thing for sure, on the way: although things may be lean, like for the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings; and there will be sadness, like for her and the widow of Nain; and there may be even be some persecution like that which Saul doled out to the early Christians in Galations; and death like for Saul’s victims and the widows’ sons; as we take good care of this bus and one another and, above all—love, follow and proclaim Jesus—our destination will be resurrection, new and eternal life and endless joy and celebration.

Sings: The wheels on the bus go round and round…