The scriptural centre piece of today's service was The Great Commissioning spoken by Jesus: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The Great Commissioning speaks to our obligation to be outward looking and to engage with the world. That obligation was highlighted by two important events this morning. We enjoyed the visit of Dr. George Sabra from the Near East School of Theology in Beirut. The situation of Christians throughout the Middle East and especially in Syria has been much on our minds. Several years ago St. Andrew's undertook a special Summer Appeal for funds to help our brothers and sisters in Homs Syria. As well, we are just completing the refugee sponsorship of a family of Iraqi Christians, and are about to sponsor a family of Syrian Christians now living in refuge in Beirut.
We also marked the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools. An impressive parade of native and non-native people passed by on Wellington Street as we rang our church bell in support. During a six week series on aboriginal issues this past winter at St. Andrew's, we heard time and again that the way to reconcile with our aboriginal brothers and sisters is simply to be open to them and to listen to what they have to say. This week in Ottawa presents the best possible listening opportunity for all of us.
In her sermon, Karen said that "God is self-giving love poured out for the other." We thank Christ for giving us his Church where, working together, we can meet our responsibility to be engaged with the world and express our own love. And we thank God for our Church bell, that recalls for us the famous poem by John Donne, "For Whom the Bell Tolls." May we always remember at St. Andrew's that when those outside our walls are in need, it tolls for us.