St. George’s Church here in Georgetown has been around for almost 160 years now. It is very humbling to to look back over those many years and think of all the people for whom this church has being a place central to their faith and a place from which they have proclaimed the gospel and made more disciples. What is really awesome is when you realise that, in fact, it has been over two thousand years that followers of Christ have been passing on the gospel message and making disciples.
The first disciples, newly filled with Spirit from Pentecost, began to travel around to communities and cities preaching the good news and being examples of God’s love. These early Christians faced times of persecution and the early communities often had to meet in secretly in people’s homes. Still they made disciples and the early church spread. When the Roman Empire made Christianity the state religion, churches and monasteries were built and they became important centers continuing the work Jesus commissioned his followers to do. Disciples were made in a different way. Even after the fall of the Roman Empire and as new nations were born, the faithful found ways to continue the mission Jesus had charged his disciples with. In the time of the reformation, when a spirit of renewal transformed Jesus followers and our Anglican Church was born and it was in the language of the people that disciples were made. It was from those reformation churches that Christianity was brought to the place that we now call Canada. There, by canoe and on horseback, preachers moved among the people and communities of our budding country, all the while making disciples. And one hundred and fifty years ago, in the community of Georgetown, a group of Jesus’ followers built the Parish Church of St. George and in the surrounding area, disciples were made.
In the 160 years that St. George’s has been here there have been a huge cloud of witness. Families with names like Corry, Beaumont, Cook, Harding, Phillips, Bradley, Wheeler, Edwards, Collier, McNally, Eason, Parry, Armstrong, Gorth, and Johnston. There have been leaders among them with names like Marsh, Thompson, Dade, Boultbee, Wallace, Thompson, Richardson, McMulkin, Mills, and Gallagher. All played an important role in making disciples in this community.
I hold up to you today this awesome timeline of faith, because I wanted to point out that we enjoy the blessings of our faith today because so many before have faced adversity, war, and changing culture ensured that the mission that Jesus given to them was continued and passed on. When you lift up your prayers to God each day and find comfort and guidance, when you worship God in a church and find joy and fulfillment, when you receive the sacraments and are strengthen, these are the blessings of your faith, the gifts of the holy triune God. I need you to hear that these blessings of faith are yours because a follower of Christ, a person of faith, in your life did as Jesus called his followers to do in Mathhew’s Gospel chapter 28:18-20. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”
In celebrating the faith of those good Christians who have gone before us, we are also reminded that their mission is our mission. Every one of us who is baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity has a part to play in making new disciples. Our faith brings us peace, strengthens us, and helps to guide us, but, and this is the challenge that I want to hold up for you today, to be fully Christian, we are all called to make a really difference in the lives of others by pointing them to Christ. This is what Jesus expects from us. This is what God through Christ has equipped us for.
“See, I love God, I go to church.”
I think that sometimes we feel that being a Christian is about just doing our duty and going to church. We feel like we can say, “See, I love God, I go to church.” Worshiping God in church on a Sunday, can be an important part of how we demonstrate our love of God, but remember that Jesus summed up all the law and prophets with two commandments. Spending time in prayer and praise of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, does help us fulfill that first of his commandments in our day to day living, but the second commandment given by Jesus is just as important and just as necessary. “Loving our neighbour as we love our self” is a call to action outside our self. It directs us to reach out the people around us. This is how you and I begin to make disciples and more fully receive our faith. For our faith to be true, we must go beyond just something we do for ourselves but by acting in faith we fully enter into our faith.