Sunday, 13 May 2012

God’s grace freely poured out for all ... without distinction or exclusion

At the baptism of Megertu Tina Gladney with Father Seán Mac Giollarnath, O.Carm, in Knocklyon this afternoon

Patrick Comerford

The General Synod of the Church of Ireland was a bruising encounter for many last week. We met for three days in Christ Church Cathedral, and it appears we have come away having abandoned all the moves we had made a few weeks ago in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, to reach understanding and acceptance.

But it was refreshing to back in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, this morning, to hear a sermon from Canon George Butler on the love of God.

The setting for this morning’s Choral Eucharist was the Missa Bell’ Amfitrit’ altera by Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594), and the Communion Motet was Ego sum panis vivus (‘I am the living bread’) by Juan Esquivel.

At the beginning of his sermon, George said listening to the Choir he felt as though he was in heaven, while listening to some of the things said in the cathedral over the previous three days he felt like being somewhere else. He said that when we baptise children we baptise them without distinctions based on gender, colour, ethnicity, national background or sexual orientation – indeed, how could we possibly know the future sexual orientation of a small child? Yet we baptise all to share with Christ who is priest, prophet and king, to be living branches on the true vine.

His sermon was a true antidote to some of the more depressing things I heard in the same cathedral in the previous days.
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I was invited to robe as deacon at the Eucharist, reading the Gospel (John 15: 9-17), and to assist with the chalice at the administration of the Holy Communion.

If only in the past week we could have all reminded ourselves, time and again, of the words in this morning’s Gospel: “Love one another.”

Later this afternoon, I was privileged to take part in the baptism of Megertu Tina Gladney in Saint Colmcille’s Parish Church in Knocklyon, and read the same Gospel passage.

‘Love one another.”

Today’s Eucharist and Baptism were heart-warming sacramental reminders that God’s grace is freely poured out for all ... and without distinction or exclusion.