Summary: A sermon preached at the local thriving Roman Catholic church as part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Preached at St Peter’s RC church as a pulpit swap during the week of prayer for Christian unity. Sun 23rd Jan 2005
Lectionary texts: I Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
Matthew 4: 12-23
George loves the race track. One day he was there betting on the ponies
and nearly losing his shirt when he noticed a priest who stepped out
onto the track and blessed the forehead of one of the horses lining up
for the fourth race. Lo and behold, this horse -- a very long shot -
won the race.
George was most interested to see what the priest did in the next race.
Sure enough, he watched the priest step out onto the track as the horses
for the fifth race lined up, and placed his blessing on the forehead of
one of the horses. George made a beeline for the window and placed a
small bet on the horse. Again, even though another long shot, the horse the priest had blessed won the race.
George collected his winnings and anxiously waited to see which horse
the priest bestowed his blessing on for the sixth race. The priest
stepped out, blessed a horse, George bet on it, and won! George was
As the day went on, the priest continued blessing one of the horses, and
it always came in first. George began to pull in some serious money,
and by the last race, he knew his wildest dreams were going to come
true. He made a quick stop at the ATM and withdrew every penny he
owned, and awaited the priest’s blessing that would tell him which horse to place the bet on.
True to his pattern, the priest stepped out onto the track before the
last race and blessed the forehead, eyes, ears and hooves of one of the
horses. George placed his bet -- every cent he owned -- and watched the horse come in dead last.
George was dumbfounded. He made his way to the track, and when he found
the priest, he demanded, "What happened, Father? All day you blessed horses and they won. Then the last race, you bless a horse and he loses. Now I’ve lost my life savings, thanks to you!!"
The priest nodded wisely and said, "That’s the problem with you
Protestants... you can’t tell the difference between a simple blessing
and the Last Rites."
UNITY NOT UNIFORMITY
Well- we are certainly not the same!
But, you see- that is not what matters!
- God never wanted us to be all the same. Uniform
- You don’t have to be like me for me to like you or respect you
Like this passage from Paul about divisions in the church
- we find ourselves more attached to… or influenced by… some more than others
- it might be Paul. It might be Apollos. Peter. David. Ewen. Howard.
But here’s the thing: we might be influenced by them- but we don’t follow them!
- we follow Jesus!
- He is/was God in the flesh who was crucified for you/me
o (as Paul says. Was Paul crucified for you? No!)
Like Peter and John, James and Andrew (in the gospel passage)- we are trying to follow the Master
- and that is what matters
- and we do it in different ways… because we are different people
o and that’s okay. The Lord is looking for Unity not uniformity!
Are you trying to follow Jesus? Do you love Him as Lord
- then you are my brother/sister
KNOW YOUR CALLING
And something else struck me from the Corinthian passage:
- Paul knew what he was called to. The part he was to play
o “God did not send me to baptise but preach the gospel”
And I want to thank you for the role you have played in the unity of the body of Christ in this city. One of them in particular (as you do a number)
- it’s the food you provide when we come together at Peterhouse
- now, I;m not just saying this because I like food (though I do! Ask any of the clergy, Sarah or Eileen!)
It’s because THIS has played a major part in uniting the leadership of the city
- as we have eaten together and chatted we have
o seen the Lord in each other
o realised, afresh, that we are about the same tasks
o forged some very deep friendships
o (and got sermon help! Best sermon!)
It has been so glorifying to God!
- and I’m serious when I say it would not have happened without you hearing the call to ‘feed us’
o maybe it is true: God has not called you to baptise like us- but what YOU have done has built the body of Chris
There are all kinds of things God has not called me to, as well