Sunday, May 17, 2015

those who are not of this world

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

I think if I were to tell you that there are creatures who walk this earth – creatures who look just like everyday, ordinary human being – but who were not of this world, you might think I was telling you the premise of a science fiction movie. After all, there have been many famous Hollywood films that have exactly that theme. Some of you may recall the classic 'The invasion of the body snatchers,' where aliens were able to copy and replace human beings so exactly that their own nearest and dearest found it difficult to tell the difference. Something similar happens in 'The Thing' where a group of researchers in the Antarctic come across an ancient life-form from outer-space that kills and copies them one by one, so that soon no one knows who is real or who they should trust.

So, as I said, if you think that the idea that there are people on earth who are not of this world and yet look like regular, normal people sounds a bit like science fiction, it is not surprising. And yet, I am not making this up – it is in fact true. The people of whom I speak look no different from anyone around them. In fact, there is no test devised by science that could distinguish them from everyone else. No check of their blood or DNA or scan by X-ray, ultra-sound, or MRI will reveal the slightest difference; a medical exam by a team of the greatest doctors in the world will find nothing; and if one were to die and the most detailed autopsy were to be carried out everything found would conform to the most precise detail with everything found in the standard medical texts.

So how do I know such creatures exist? I know, because I am one. And all here, as it happens, are one also, as far as I am aware. I speak, of course, of the fact that I am a Christian, and that you are Christians, and Christians, while we live in this world, are not of this world. Consider carefully the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in our Gospel reading today: 'I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.'

We do not belong to the world: that is what Christ tells us. More, we do not belong to the world just as he does not belong to the world. It may be readily apparent to all here why Christ should be able to say that he does not belong to the world. After all, he is the Son of God, the Second person of the Blessed Trinity. He existed before all worlds; and through him everything was made. Quite naturally the Person who existed before even so much as a speck of dust existed can say with absolute truth that he is not of this world; but how can he say that we, his disciples and followers, are also not of this world? Our bodies are made up of the dust, the earth, the ashes of this place; it is here that we live out our lives and where we take every breath. And it is to that dust, earth, and ashes we will return when we die. So how can Christ say what he does?

It is because we are more than the dust of the earth. We are creatures made in the image of God; and, most importantly, at our baptism we were baptised into Christ, even as we are fed by his body and blood when we partake of the Blessed Sacrament in the Holy Eucharist. Christ is in us and we in him; and this is what the One who is all Truth means that we, like he, do not belong to this world.

Because of that, we belong to the place where he belongs, the place from which he came from and returned, the heavenly courts of his Father and our Father. There is the place we were created to be; and is the place that we will be welcomed into on that great and terrible day when he comes again at the end of the ages, when time itself shall cease, and this world shall be no more. We shall be welcomed in – but I must say that no one will be forced in. To gain entry we must answer Christ's call to us to love him and to show that love to him through obedience to the Word he gave us – the word the world hates us for. And why should the world not hate his word? For it is not of the world. And why should we not love his word? For we, like he, are not of the world. 

And so I pray that you will indeed hear and obey his word, so that on the day when you leave this world, this place to which you do not belong, you will enter into the place where you do belong, your eternal home with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

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