June 11, 2017
Carter Leer, Intern
St. Paul’s Within the Walls
So obviously I am not Father Austin. For those of you who do not know me my name is Carter Leer and I am the Administrative Intern here at St. Paul’s. You have most likely seen me as an acolyte or a reader, and even as an organist from time to time.
The job of intern here at St. Paul’s has been held by many great people who have gone on to do amazing things within the Episcopal Church. Many of our former interns have had the privilege of addressing the congregation as I am now, and have gone on to attend Seminary. Just last week one of our former interns Charles Graves IV was ordained as a Deacon in Cincinnati.
I am not trying to suggest that this the road I am headed down as well: Let’s see how this goes first…
Today is a pretty big day in a couple of ways. It is Trinity Sunday, so we are honoring the Holy Trinity. Also our Gospel today is commonly known as the Great Commission, or as I have been calling it the past few weeks Jesus’s “Prime Directive,” in which Jesus charges the 11 disciples to go out and spread the good news to all.
For the non-Star Trek fans out there, the Prime Directive is a law in the Star Trek series that prohibits interference with planets that are not below a certain level of development. Now I am not trying say that the Prime Directive and the Great Commission are the same because they definitely are not.
The Prime Directive explicitly states not to interfere with the development of a planet, whereas the Great Commission is Jesus telling his disciples that he has finished teaching them, now go and teach others in the name of the Trinity. For the purposes of this sermon, the Prime Directive says not to involve oneself while Jesus says get your hands dirty.
Although the two commands differ, I couldn’t shake that there was a connection between them. It wasn’t until I began thinking back to our shared conversation at the latest Bibles and Beer that I found what I was looking for.
At Bibles and Beer we discussed Part 2 of the book Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault. Some stories were shared about seeing something that we know we should do something about and doing nothing. One story was shared about how there is a woman who is often seen drinking coffee and having a conversation with a homeless person.
The discussion that ensued revolved around if we were capable of doing something similar. Could we go out of our way to help someone in need? Does it make us bad Christians if we can’t?
It may be hard for us in general to openly help those less fortunate than us. We have our own “Prime Directive” that keeps us from doing things that are for the benefit of others and not ourselves, whether it be for selfish reasons or because previous experiences had a negative affect. Personally I have trouble helping those with whom I don’t have a personal relationship. Part of it is me selfishly protecting myself, but there is also the powerful memory of negative past experiences that prevents me from trusting people that I don’t know.
Alternatively, there is the fear of not understanding the bigger picture and the fear that my actions may have a negative effect because of that.
It is important to acknowledge that seeing and doing nothing doesn’t make us bad people. Being aware is the first step towards one day doing something.
Jesus’s charge to the disciples to go out and baptize others in the name of the Trinity is the same goal we have today. It is challenging, yes, but looking past our own “Prime Directive” and following Jesus’s commission is the ultimate goal.
Although it may seem like a daunting task, it is comforting to remember the last line of todays Gospel. “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Now obviously this doesn’t mean that Jesus will be by our side, holding our hand as we attempt to transition from our “Prime Directive” to Jesus’s. His presence can be seen in plenty of things in our daily life though, whether it be in our jobs or among our family and friends. Often we just need to look at what is right in front of us to see Him.
It should be our mission to carry out Jesus’s Great Commission in as many ways as we can. That can be anything from inviting a friend to church on Sunday, to buying a coffee for someone on the street.
No matter how big or small, it is important that we look at the Great Commission as Jesus’s “Prime Directive” in that we go forth and help those all around us.