Sermon at MCC European Network Gathering 31st August 2018
Reading – The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Gospel – Mark 1: 1 – 8
The theme of our gathering this weekend is
“All Paths are one”
Sometimes in life, things just happen to us – illness, bereavement,
redundancy, Brexit. Things we didn’t choose and don’t necessarily want. How we
respond to these situations is sometimes our only choice. Our attitude is the
only thing that we can control. Do we act with dignity, with fury, with calm
submission? Do we look for blessing or further calamity? Do we see a dead end
or the beginning of a new opportunity? It is perfectly possible to feel all of
these things all at once!
Perhaps these are the situations where the
path is towards us. There are events and activities elsewhere in the world that
collide on our doorstep and cause the situation that we are currently facing.
Many of us came into MCC like that. External events and other peoples’ attitude
or behaviour brought us to the point where we needed to make a choice about
which path to follow.
In our gospel reading from Mark, we hear the
story of John the Baptist. Luke’s gospel describes how John was called into
being and given his role as the herald of the Messiah before he was even born.
Many of us can recall embarrassing moments
when our parents or others have repeated endless childhood stories about us.
Just imagine what it must have been like for John. Everyone in the temple knew
how his father, Zechariah, had been rendered speechless. Everyone knew that
Elizabeth was too old to conceive, and the rumours there – well! Ooooh, the gossips must have had a field day!
And poor old John. What if he secretly really wanted to be an accountant or a
tax collector, or a drag queen? But this particular path, the angel’s prophecy,
led straight to him.
Somehow or another, he grew into the role
that was assigned to him before he was born:
16 He will
bring back many of the people of Israel to their God. 17 And he will
go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of
the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the
righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:16 – 17)
The path led towards him and people
travelled along it. They came because they needed to hear something new and
different. They needed to be given hope, a chance for a new start. There were some who were just after the latest
thing, the newest craze, the most “on trend” guru. Some would have faked their
conversion and just gone back to their ordinary life, untouched and unchanged.
For others though, the path leading to John
was transformational. They lived in a new way and didn’t need anything else.
Others may have transferred their allegiance to Jesus, once they had the
approval of John to do so. John’s role was to prepare a path, but he was also a
I love the poem that we heard as our other
reading tonight. The title of the poem is “The Road Not Taken”. Many people get
the title wrong, as they focus in on a key part of the poem “the road less
travelled by”. The poet, Robert Frost apparently wrote this poem to poke fun at
his friend Edward Thomas, who he would go walking with in England. Thomas would
choose a path and then spend the rest of the walk regretting his decision and
wondering if the other path would have been better.
The two paths in the poem are pretty much
the same. The traveller makes an almost random choice, and then years later,
weaves a tale about how that choice unfolded in the traveller’s life.
I think that anyone who is part of MCC has
chosen the road less travelled by. How many church buildings do you pass on the
way to worship each week?
What have you given up in order to be part
of this amazing, unlikely God movement?
What are the circumstances that led to you
being part of MCC and being here today?
For many of us, the two roads we had to
choose between were very different.
But, like the traveller in the poem, we probably couldn’t see very far down the
road when we started on our MCC journey.
What have been the surprises, the challenges
and the blessings?
What stories are you going to tell this
weekend about your journey along the road less travelled by?
Just as John walked out into the desert and
became the destination at the end of the path, we too also have that role.
People seek us out, because, like John, we have a new and different message
that offers hope and a fresh start.
When I talk about life in MCC, I say that
people might arrive on the doorstep because of their sexuality, but they stay
because of all the other things that we offer.
For me, these powerful gifts include:
- Empowerment of laity and of women
- Inclusive ways of worshipping and living our
- Our commitment to social action and social justice
- The powerful and lifechanging spiritual
transformation that so many of us experience in this place which we call our
- That sense of being family or community together
I expect many of us could add to that list.
I have been in MCC for half my life. Experiencing my faith and serving through
ministry here has made me the person that I am today, and I will always be
profoundly grateful for that.
This church that I love, God’s church, this little
bit of heaven on earth, is going through a time of change and transition, which
may be unnerving or unsettling for us. The future is unclear, and the path is
yet untravelled. But I believe that God is still calling us on. There are so
many communities, so many countries, so many people who still need us to be a
destination, a safe place to come into, a light in the darkness.
Many of us are involved in supporting LGBT
refugees and we know how it is in other countries. People with scars inside and
out come along the path to find us, to seek safe shelter, to be home. There are
people in our own countries who are hurting too. We know about suicides rates
amongst our youth, violence against our trans siblings, and those of us who
still feel unsafe where we live or work.
There are many churches where women do not
have a voice, are not permitted to answer their call to serve or to fully use
their gifts. There are churches where leadership is confined to the elite few
and where language in worship is used to uphold the status quo, rather than
open up new understandings of the Divine. There are still places where human
laws, rather than Jesus, get to decide who gets invited to the feast of bread
I believe that MCC is still called to take
the road less travelled by. I believe that we are called to be a destination, a
path towards wholeness and health in Christ. We walk along this path guided by
the Holy Spirit, with Jesus as our example and God as our north star, endlessly
offering us opportunities for growth and renewal. My prayer for us this weekend
is that we are affirmed in our journey – individually, as faith communities and
as a global movement. I pray that the path we are to take becomes a little
clearer, and that, like John, we can prepare a way for the Lord.