July 17, 2016

Trinity 8 Sermon 2016

Series: ,
Passage: Romans 8:16
Service Type:

In his strange and extraordinary novel, Descent into Hell, Charles Williams tells the story of a young woman named Pauline who has a series of encounters with what seems to be an apparition of her double, an identical twin, walking the streets of the town where she lives. The encounters – indeed, even the prospect of an encounter – leave Pauline filled with a fear and dread that she cannot manage on her own. When a poet named Peter Stanhope learns of Pauline’s troubles, he suggests to her that we all have burdens we cannot carry on our own. These burdens, he says, must be shared, must be given away to another to carry for us. Likewise, the poet says, we must at some point take upon ourselves the burden of another that they cannot carry on their own. “You must give your burden up to someone else,” says the poet, “and you must carry someone else's burden... this is a law of the universe.” As St Paul writes: Bear ye one another burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

I begin with this novel this morning simply because the suggestion that we are to live in this life a kind of symphony of burden sharing – you carrying the burdens that I cannot manage and I carrying the burdens that you cannot – is key to understanding the exhortation at the end of this morning’s Epistle lesson for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit,” we have read, “that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.” For Williams, as for the Christian tradition generally, the cross of Christ is a mystery of burden-bearing. ...

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