We believe in an apostolic church

We believe in an apostolic church

This is the text of the sermon preached by Bishop Andy Doyle at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Fort Worth, TX, on Sunday, January 7, 2024. The audio of the sermon will be posted  here.

We believe in an apostolic church
#19 in the Nicene Creed Series
Preached at All Saints Church, Fort Worth
By C. Andrew Doyle

This Sunday
After the Epiphany
Is a baptism and confirmation Sunday
In which we celebrate
the Holy Spirit’s grace
by bringing into the fold
of the church
new members of the body of Christ
the holy apostolic church

we are also on this day
beginning to take our
first steps together
in a process to call
the next rector of
the Episcopal Church
here at All Saint’s

so it is good to remember
for these two reasons
(if not more)
That we are part of a

An apostolic church
That stretches
Out behind us
And before us

That we
You and I
Like Chris
And other clergy
And lay leaders
Only say
Grace over this
Work for a short time
In the great span
Of God’s
Alpha and Omega
God’s beginning and God’s end

So what does this mean?
To be apostolic?
To proclaim
That we are apostolic
And will continue to be apostolic

There are three parts
I offer you

The first is that
To be apostolic is
To recognize
That the church is
First a gift of the Holy Spirit
It is part of the work
Of the Holy Spirit
As outlined in our Creed

As such,
This means that
We must work together
To discern what the Holy Spirit
Is saying to the church

In an apostolic church
We recognize we are not
Individuals alone reading the scripture
And discerning that which is true
We cannot and do not discern
The Holy Spirit alone

The wider church is always
At work with us

That the wider church
Is not us at council today

But rather
The councils of the whole
Church dating back to the
First years after Christ

And that we are taught
Through their discernment
That we are to depend upon scripture
And the reason of our forebearers
And the reason of the church as it has come before
It is only from this vantage point
May we locate the Holy Spirit
And the Holy Spirit’s invitation to ministry
Today in our context

We do not begin with where we are
And look back
In order to prooftext our desired outcomes

So we are an apostolic church
Because of how we listen
To the Holy Spirit.

Second, we are an apostolic church
Because we participate in the
Episcopal Laying on of hands
And prayers for the Holy Spirit
From one generation to the next

This means that the priests and deacons
Who serve
Here in this place
And within our wider Episcopal Church
And Global Anglican communion
had hands laid upon
Their heads
Were prayed over that
The Holy Spirit would act
Making some bishops
Some priests, some deacons
And in turn
Baptize and
Celebrate the sacraments
As part of the work of ministry

In short to be an apostolic church
Means we are people who
Believe in the laying on of hands
And praying for the Holy Spirit
To enliven us for God’s ministry

Not our ministry
But God’s ministry
In the here and now

The third part of being
An apostolic church
Is handing the church off
to the next generation
Of leaders
To the next generation of
Clergy and baptized Episcopalians

We primarily do this by
Undertaking the following

We commit to
Continue our lives
And to raise others up
To understand the importanc
Of the apostolic teachings
Which I mentioned above
This means the scripture and tradition
Of the church and its councils

That does not happen naturally
But requires older generations
To share this with younger ones
And with new members

As we grow in faith together

  • It is not the clergy’s job alone to form the community

It also means that we remain
In fellowship together
Staying together
In thick and thin
When we agree and don’t
Is key to remaining
Within an apostolic fellowship

The culture may teach you
That you
And go your own way
(that is a Fleetwood Mac lyric
And not biblical)
But the church
The apostolic Episcopal Church
Teaches that you
Lean in to the table
Win or loose
And stay together

Key to this is
Regular worship
Regular worship of
God almighty
Regular giving thanks to God
Regular offering what we have to God
And regular breaking of bread

We glorify God
We give thanks to God
And we call upon God’s name

This also means
That we continue
In prayers
To be apostolic
Is to pray for each other
And to God for our own needs

This is what it means
To be proclaim and be
A holy and apostolic church
To participate with all the saints
Those who have come before
Those in our midst
And those yet to come

Finally, it is in this way
That we may say thank you to Chris Jambor
A priest of this apostolic church
Who has served you pastorally
Over many years

But who also has taught you
How to be an apostolic church
And that there is much more to it
Than any one person’s belief
He has been a faithful teacher
And a wise counselor

He has baptized you
Blessed your marriages
Celebrated your victories
And labored with you in the trenches
While burying your dead

He has preached the gospel
And celebrated the sacraments faithfully

Our celebrations do not do justice
To the gift Chris has been to this church
And to All Saint’s, Fort Worth
We cannot do justice for his family’s own
Sacrificial acts over these many years
Or the burden carried upon their shoulders
When Chris came home

It is also true
Though difficult
To come to terms
With the fact our ministries
In any one place have beginnings and endings
As this is indeed an ending for his apostolic leadership in this place – All Saints

God intends more for him
To be sure
And he now begins that discernment

As the author of Ecclesiastes points out
As they bemoan the seasons and times
For there is a season to toil
And a season to rest
They remark

“So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?”

Our hope
Springs from an apostolic church
A church that continues to move
And have life and breath
And do ministry in the name of Jesus

So as Christ goes,
As I will go someday
As we all will make our way
We rest in the assurance
Of an apostolic church
Ever making its way to God
And the saints

So it is
As every day
In the apostolic church
We celebrate
And break bread
We baptize
We confirm
And recognize
There is a new generation
Yet before us
Who will in time
Become the new face
Of a very ancient
Yet ever faithful
Apostolic church