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Posted on Sep 3, 2017

The shared world—sermon for 03 September 2017

The shared world


“Wonders are still able to be done in the city by our hands of compassion, mercy, humility, and justice.” — photography by Len Matthews. Unidentified. Wonders by Their Hands, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved August 31, 2017]. Original source:

September 3, Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 17):

Exodus 3:1-15 & Psalm 105:1-6,23-26,45c
Romans 12:9-21Matthew 16:21-28

Draft text of the homily, it may vary considerably from the recorded version. Please pardon any typos, and do not cite without permission.

I want to do something I don’t normally do. I want to tell you a story. It’s a story we sometimes use in our Geography of Grace series that starts next Saturday (and there’s still time to sign up).

It’s a piece by Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye, called Gate 4-A. So, sit back and listen.


Gate 4-A, by Naomi Shihab Nye

This is the world I want to live in. The shared world. This is the world Paul describes in his letter today. The kind of communities he strove to build across the Mediterranean. Communities that rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Who live in harmony, rejoicing in hope, patient in suffering, persevering in prayer.

This is the world I think a lot of us want to live in…the shared world. It’s the world we experience and point to each time we gather around the altar for the Sacrament…

It’s the world that we see often when disasters hit…people rallying to help…sending donations…sacrificing for the good of others…and as one wise woman here at All Saints said on social media this week, “I keep wishing that we’d remember that we’re all people the rest of the time too, and not just during disasters.”

That’s what Paul, and Jesus are encouraging us to remember, too. That we’re all people the rest of the time too…and if people are hungry they should be fed, if they’re thirsty they should be given something to drink…doesn’t matter if we consider them friends or not.

Of course, they also remind us that living this way is not easy. Following Jesus will demand things of us…Living this way requires that we respond to the call…whether it’s a call from a burning bush, or a call over an airport PA system. It requires that we “hold fast to what is good,” while always naming evil for what it is, while still responding to it with a greater good. It’s not easy. But then, Jesus never promises that it will be easy…just that he will be with us…and lead the way.

But that’s the world that I want to live in…the world that I want to live and work for…the shared world. And I do believe that it can still happen anywhere…and not everything is lost. How about you?