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North Port Community
United Church of Christ

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
--John 3:16

Weekly Sermons ofRev. Evan Farrar

On this page you will see the latest sermon and under that sermon, you will see a listing of past sermons that you will be able to read again and again just by clicking on the sermon date.

 

A Sermon from North Port Community United Church of Christ

Delivered on August 7, 2005 by Rev. Evan Farrar 
 No Greater Love:  Remembering Oscar Romero
Scripture:  John 15:12-17

I want to talk a little bit about communion today. But truthfully, for those of us who attended our Vacation Bible School (VBS), it feels like we’ve already had communion this week.  Not with wine and bread.  But with each other as the elements of God’s holy meal.  Child and adult.  Communing together right here in our sanctuary-with God’s spirit every day last week. So the view from VBS this Sunday looks a lot different, I’m sure, from the view of folks who didn’t attend VBS.  This is why we encourage people so much to find a way to participate in some ministry of the church.  Not simply because of what it means to the church.  But because of what it will mean to you!

Oscar Romero knew something about the power of communing with God and others.  Romero was the Catholic archbishop of El Salvador’s capital city of San Salvador from 1977-1980.  He was murdered in San Salvador’s cathedral while serving Holy Communion.  His assassins came from those in El Salvador who opposed his mission to stand with the poor in his society.

Who was Oscar Romero?  He was a lot like us.  He was a man, with some faith, and some talents, and some intelligence, and some success in life who was suddenly thrust by God into a new role and had to adapt quickly.  As ironic as it is that Romero was assassinated while serving communion, it is equally ironic that the folks who ordered his assassination were previously thrilled with the choice of Romero to be the new Archbishop.  Prior to his appointment as archbishop, Romero had been a relatively conservative and mild priest.  He seemed a safe religious and political choice for those who opposed more economic and political equality for the poor. 

Everyone was wrong about Oscar Romero.  We’ve talked before about how God’s Spirit cannot be controlled.  And a new movement of the Spirit began in Romero’s life when Rutilio Grande, a fellow priest, was murdered by members of a paramilitary right-wing group.  Grande had participated in Romero’s installation as archbishop just weeks before his death.  Romero took Grande’s assassination very personally.  Not just for himself, but for the body of Christ.  He declared in his next sermon, “Whoever touches one of my priest, touches me.”[1][1]

Now that is a profound understanding of the body of Christ.  We are all in this together!  We cannot sacrifice another for our own safety.  We cannot stay silent on something that matters to the body in order to protect ourselves.  We cannot casually disregard another member of the body of Christ.  What comes around goes around, we could say.  And then Romero did what any great spiritual leader does.  He began to listen.  To those he served.  He wanted to figure out why someone would hate so much that they would want to murder a priest.  And the more he listened, the more he realized the Body of Christ was under attack.  Because of, in Romero’s understanding, the church’s Christ mandated obligation to stand with the poor.  Romero said:

Let this be clear:  when the church preaches social justice, equality, and the dignity of people, defending those who suffer and those who are assaulted, this is not subversion; this is not Marxism.  This is the authentic teaching of the church.[2][2]

Poor people were being cast aside in order to gain riches for the military, government officials, the wealthy, and even the church itself.  Romero found his voice when he began listening to the forgotten voices of his nation.  And Christ came alive in him.  Christ communed with him.  And so Romero was transformed by his communion, in and with, the body of Christ. He was transformed into a powerful and courageous advocate for those the wealthy and powerful sought to discriminate against or even eliminate.  Romero preached, “The church cannot remain silent before injustice; to remain silent it so be an accomplice.”   And Romero’s starting point was always Christ.  Always.  He was not a politician.  He was a priest.  A servant of God.

So, what does this brief story have to teach us about Christ and communion?

First, we are all welcome at Christ’s table.  But be careful about accepting the invitation because you never know where the spirit of Christ will lead you!  Seriously.  I’ve experienced it in my own life.

Second, feasting at this table means you are going to do your very best. Your very best!  To love unconditionally all others who share this meal with you-here and across the world. Not in theory, but in practice.  Are you ready for the challenge?  Oscar Romero doubted he could meet the challenges of being an archbishop.  He was afraid.  Felt unqualified.  Didn’t think he could stand up for Christ in the world.  And yet, there he was, just a short time later holding up the bread and body of Christ in the face of a hail of assassin’s bullets.  Unafraid.

Through Christ, he had conquered his fear.  Through Christ, he had become a new creation.  Through Christ laying down his life for another became possible.  Romero said:

I want to reaffirm my conviction as a person of hope that a new ray of salvation will come.  I want to encourage those who have the good will to hear me.  Nobody has the right to sink themselves into despair; all of us have the duty to search together for new paths and to actively hope as Christians.[3][3]

It starts today.  At this table.  Amen.


[1][1] N. Rose, “Remembering Romero”, Tikkun Magazine, July/August, 2005, p. 43

[2][2] Rose, p. 42.

[3][3] Rose, p. 44


Below are listing of past Sermons, just click on the date to read the sermons of your choice.


 
Faithfully Living With Differences
An American Freedom Story
Don't Sweat the Details
The Power of Prayer
Spiritual Lessons from a Storm
August 29, 2004
Entertaining Angels
 
Is Our God Too Safe?
Suit Yourself
 
Sermon Delivered by
Rev. Lyman Farrar
O' Beautiful for Spacious Skies
On What Really Matters
A Rich Young Man
Living Salvation

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