Sermon for August 12, 2018 focusing on Paul's letter to the Ephesians


Fear and honour,
praise and bless,
give thanks and adore
the Lord God Almighty in Trinity and in Unity,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
the Creator of all.
(From the Rnb XXI, 2) St. Francis of Assisi

Our Church’s patron, St. Augustine, once said: “Hope has two beautiful daughters.  Their names are Anger and Courage.”

Truly it seems like an odd thing to say about the Christian concept of hope.  Odd that that anger can be an important element of faith.  The reason why I mention this quote is you may have noticed that St. Paul begins his letter by affirming anger and I quote: “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…”

Paul allows for anger within the community with the condition to lay it to rest before you sleep.  However, later in his letter he states: “Put away from you… anger…” in order to allow for the way of forgiveness, and God’s love.  You might have noticed that S. Paul seems to be talking about two different kinds of anger.  On the one hand, anger can be the roots of a tree that cultivates branches of hate and produce seeds of discord.  Our culture today is fighting such horticulture.

We all know and have experienced this kind of anger.  For example, all you have to do is log onto Facebook and read the comment section of a news feed.  It doesn’t take long to find and read impulsively written illogical syllogisms that stoke the fire of hate and intolerance faster than a someone is able to make a phone call.  

Millions of tweets fueling destructive views that is literally tearing our global community apart within seconds of them going viral.  Sadly, a good number of those twitter accounts come from politicians who should know better and to hold their tongue before they speak their views.  These angry views only seek to divide communities and hurt people.  

Some people are angry, and they don’t know why they are angry.  They have forgotten the root cause of their anger which makes them angrier and the vicious cycle continues senselessly for years and even decades.  I have heard of siblings who can’t remember why they hate each other and they are now on year thirty of refusing to even speak to each other.
Paul is right, do not go to bed with such anger lest the devil be allowed to make a home within our heart.

… “Hope has two beautiful daughters.  Their names are Anger and Courage.”

So how can anger be good, how can it be okay?  Well St. Augustine and St. Paul are right, not all anger is the fuel that will destroy the person harboring it and the communities that are affected.  St. Augustine goes on to say, and I quote: “Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” 

You see context is everything. S. Augustine is saying that we should be upset with the injustices within our world that oppress our brothers and sisters.  That when we pray and think about our loved ones and those we don’t know, especially like tragedies that we heard about in New Brunswick, we should feel angry.  

But we must be cautious about allowing our anger to develop into something unproductive and anti-gospel; a rage filled hate that bears no fruit.  So, we must use anger righteously, by speaking the gospel of Christ in way that will change laws, policies and demand that our world lives in a more forgiving and peaceful way. 

Righteous anger can lead to social change when manifested properly.  Such an example is the #metoo movement.  That movement has brought the voices of women across our planet, cross culturally and even religiously to speak with one united voice against the sexual violence that has been perpetrated against them.  In some cases, justice has been finally served.  It is a movement that is causing men to reflect on themselves and to change their attitudes and behaviors. 

But as S. Paul reminds us, don’t hold onto anger, not even into the night—stop it! Don’t even think about it.  Don’t allow anger to cultivate into something that will bury you in a grave of resentment and guilt.  An anger that may lead us to do more harm and leads us to hurt others, instead of building up each other up for God’s kingdom.  It is important then to, harness, our righteous anger with forgiving hearts and a willingness to help others mature in the love of Christ.  In other words, it is an anger that does no harm to others or to us.
Thus, that is where we need courage.  It is one thing to speak about God’s truth to the world to change what is wrong with it, but it is another thing to have the courage to allow those who do know Christ to experience God’s forgiveness and love.  Courage is about creating opportunity for those to discover Jesus in the darkest corners of the world and even cyberspace—to change that darkness into light.  Jesus, the bread of life, is our teacher and faithful friend who will help us to change the world, if we place our courage in him. 

In our world that is challenged with darkness and needs hope, our Christian hope, I leave you once again with St. Augustine’s words: “Hope has two beautiful daughters.  Their names are Anger and Courage.” Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”

Amen.


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