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The Hyacinth Bucket Church

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Sermon for the fifteenth Sunday after Trinity


(Hyacinth Bucket as played by the brilliant Patricia Routledge)

You do know that many people look at us and say that we are just play acting. You do know that, because we’re not part of the “main church” many say that we’re not real and just keeping up appearances. There are many who would call the Anglican Catholic Church a “Hyacinth Bucket” Church after that rather snobbish television character who pretended that she was “better” than she was and that she was better than anyone else. Why else would she pronounce “Bucket” as “Bouquet”?

Are we Anglican Catholics just a bunch of Hyacinth Buckets?

[PAUSE]

The Church in Galatia seems to be suffering a similar problem. A group of vocal Jewish Christians are putting pressure on the non-Jewish Christians to get circumcised just to keep up an air of respectability. It means that they can live a life in the Church without getting ridiculed by Jews and Romans alike. In their eyes, it’s okay to be Jewish, but being outed as a Christian is something to be laughed at, or even persecuted.
And then St Paul takes one look at them and shows them up for who they are.
St Paul is the quintessential Jew with an impeccable history, and he makes it quite clear that his circumcision means nothing to him in comparison to the cross of Christ.

 Remember, to die upon a cross is the ultimate in humiliation as well as barbarically cruel. People who die on crosses die slowly over a course of days with people laughing and jeering all the time. You can still hear the Scribes and Pharisees mocking Jesus on the Cross as they say “He saved others; himself he cannot save . If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” 

It is this that St Paul finds the greatest pride, not the fact that he is Jewish. His Jewishness will die with his body for both the circumcised and the uncircumcised will die alike.  It is the Cross that matters because it becomes the vehicle for his salvation. It is the Cross that is the vehicle for our salvation. Humiliation and mockery may hurt now like the beatings and whippings that St Paul bears on his body for the sake of Our Lord, but they stop at death. The Cross proves that life goes beyond death.

[PAUSE]

It’s interesting that Hyacinth Bucket never notices the reputation that she has with those who encounter her. She thinks that everyone looks up to her, others just run away not wanting to get caught up in her self-satisfaction. Yet, when she dies her reputation and what she thinks of herself die with her.

This is where we Anglican Catholics differ. What we do, we do not for our respectability but for our devotion to the Truth of God. Our liturgy, our vestments, our ceremonies may be elaborate and, to some, archaic; our Doctrine might be outdated and even offensive,  but that’s because they mean something and that meaning is utterly bound up with Christ throughout endless ages. Our Parishes will rise and fall, our vestments will corrode, and our people will pass on to God. 

What we have, though, is what Christ gives us of His own self. What we have is utter Faith in God that goes beyond our material world. What we have is Hope that allows us to be certain in a world of uncertainty. What we have is Charity which we receive from God to give to others so that they, too, may find life beyond reputation, fashion, and whim that this world can only ever give us.

[PAUSE]

We are a real Church precisely because we aren’t mainstream or going with the flow.  We are a real Church precisely because we are prepared for mockery from the World. We have left Babylon and its glory in things that make life comfortable for its inhabitants before they go hence and are no more seen. 

Our glory can only be in the Cross on which we are to be crucified with Our Lord and from which we will rise with Him to Life beyond life, and Glory beyond glory.

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