St. Mark's Episcopal Church

124 North Sylvia Street - Montesano, WA, 98563

Pentecost 16

Civility and Christianity.


When do the two blend together and when do they part ways?


Jesus has some harsh words for his friends this morning, and I guess, for us as well.


“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”  “For those who want to save their life will lose it and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”


For the disciples, this meant literally, to give up their old lives, leaving it behind and walking beside their Lord.


But what does this passage mean for us?  Are we to pick up and leave our families and jobs?  For some people, this has been a chosen path, but for the rest of us, like myself, I have chosen to and try to live a Christian lifestyle while very much living in a secular world.


At times and especially now, this has proven to be very difficult.


This is where for me Civility and Christianity become sparring partners.  Do I keep my mouth shut and just let the ignorance and stupidity flow right over me?  Or do I stand my moral high ground, and stand up for what I know is true and right? 


Tough decisions and often in the heat of the moment, words simply spew forth from my lips driven by emotion rather than civility.


James in our Epistle this morning, reminds us that not everyone is meant to be Teacher.  I interpret being a teacher in this case, not in the literal sense, but in the sense that a teacher would be a learned, dedicated Christian, who would live and teach the Gospel of our Lord to others.   These teachers are often looked on with hatred and contempt.  They are spat upon with hurtful words and laughed at through ignorant eyes.


As such, Teachers must remain Civil and use their tongues wisely but still standing firm in the groundings of the Gospel.  This is where Civility and Christianity blend together. 


Personally, at times it has been hard for me to remain civil especially on social media.  There is so much misinformation flying all over the place.


My Superintendent has even addressed the need to give each other grace and understanding and not to be part of personal arguments or judgmental statements concerning our present state of Covid. But it has  been hard for me not to engage in these heated debates with some of work colleagues about vaccinations, for example.  My tongue wants to be divisive and confrontational, clearly an example where Civility and Christianity are at odds with each other.


So what do we do when faced with the grim realities that we are living in right now?  Do we like Christ, call it what it is?  Sticking to the facts. Or do we stick our head in the sand like Peter and not accept the facts?


Do we address sensitive issues with firm, yet kind steadfastness?  Or do we turn away from Civility and become cruel and mean spirited?


Are you a Teacher?  Are you a person who is willing to stick their neck out to take a stand? 


There is way too much division in our society today.  We’ve made Health issues become Political issues.  We’ve made Civil Rights issues become race issues.  For crying out, we’ve made masking up a Constitutional matter. 


I believe that Christ would want us to take it back to basics.  We are all children of God.  Jesus died on the cross, not just for me and you, but for every human being on this planet.  God asks us to see the face of Christ in every person, warts, differing opinions and all.


My hope and prayer is that when faced with such division, that the Holy Spirit will direct our hearts and tongues back to Civility and to the grounding ideas of our Christian Faith...To Love one another as we so love the Lord, blending Civility and Christianity into one.