May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be always acceptable in thy sight, O Lord my strength and my redeemer. Amen
Hello Everyone, and good morning. It is really an honor to have the opportunity to speak with you today, and I will try not to squander it.
On April 25, this Monday, while we were doing house programming, churches around the world honored Saint Mark, the Evangelist. For those who know very little about him, I'll give you the greatest hits. First, he is the founder of the Church in Africa and first bishop of Alexandria, second that he is the all time winner of the coolest mascot award. Of the four gospel writers, Matthew has an angel, John has an eagle, poor Luke has an ox, but Mark has a lion ... with wings! It really seems unfair.
On top of this, he is further honored as being the only New Testament writer who is assigned as reading to SAS seniors in religion. We know Mark well, and if there is one thing you should know about this gospel, it is it's interesting, hurried kind of writing style. He writes like a small child talks, with such immeasurable excitement it is almost annoying to read: And this, and then this, and suddenly this and immediately that. He's excited! He's happy, "awesome, now tell the story", you feel like saying to him.
But maybe we seniors can relate to this feeling of excitement. It is a time of transition for all of us, of all grade levels: A new headmaster, a new dean, a new set of teachers, and a new chapel. It's hard to imagine what the school is going to be like, and it's hard for me knowing that I won't know what this changed St. Andrew's-Sewanee is like, that I won't be here to see the changes take effect.
And so here is where today's readings become relevant. The first is from Paul's letter to the Ephesians. It, rather harshly, bids us "no longer to be children", and to stand steady instead of being "tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of ...trickery." This charge is not a comforting one, because (I don't know about you), but it has been kind of nice being a child. I'll admit that total freedom is not something I can even imagine, so I can't quantify how great it will be, but I can admit that it is nice to be worried about. But Paul says no! Go out, be apostles, prophets, teachers, be what God has called you to be. And he assures us that by doing so we will not grow apart from one another, but instead together, into one Body, "joined and knit." His assertion is that even if we are apart, so long as we work for goodness and love, we will be together.
This morning I encourage you to heed Paul's message. Seek out the Almighty, in whatever form. Be athletes, artists, chemists, physicists, priests, art history majors, if that's what you're into. Be English teachers, politicians, agro businessmen, mountain women, Wendell Berry enthusiasts, propagators of holistic medicine. Lead expeditions through the words, climb mountains, document in film and art everyday scenes that are commonplace yet incredibly profound. Do whatever it is that makes you as fulfilled and excited as St. Mark. And, whatever you do, everything you do, do it for justice, for love, for peace, for advancement, and through that join this One Body, a body of the faithful, of the secular, a body of the One.
So here is my charge to you: Through this time of transition, in every decision you make, be conscious, that is awake! And when we sin, when we miss that sacred mark, apologize, and mean it. Whether we are forgiven or not, we can rest easy knowing we've tried, and make tomorrow a better day. Appreciate what is being given to you, whether it is a new experience at a new school, maybe a new country, or a new teacher, or a refurbished pew on which to nap on Monday mornings. And every time you sit in one of these communal places, know you join, not just each other, but a line of communities from those first mountain boys to our incoming sixth graders. This is what makes these places special, this is what makes us holy.