Material From The 2013 Diocesan Convention
A Sermon Given By The Reverend Canon Dr. Clark M. Sherman
Rector, Saint James Episcopal Church
At The 2013 Diocesan Convention
In Kalispell, Montana
On Saturday, October 12, 2013
She died 25 years ago, but I can remember her like it was yesterday. I loved her greeting me at the door and giving me a kiss. I could feel the little whiskers on her upper lip and I could smell the Noxzema she used that morning to wash her face. I love my grandmother no less today than I did then; perhaps even more.
Being the first grandchild, I was severely spoiled and she was most guilty. I was her pride and joy. She often said, "Clark, you're so much like your father". Perhaps this explains why she often called me Leroy. "You're so much like your father". My mom often said the same thing, only in a different way. "You're so much like your father"...exasperated to the point of throwing up her hands. In any case, at a young age, I was reminding people of my dad. When they looked at me, they saw my father.
When people look at you...when they look at the Church...what do they see? Or should I say, "Who do they see?" I wonder.
I was the first of the family to be born in a hospital and the first not to grow up on a farm. But I can remember working at my uncles' farm. I learned to drive an old Ford tractor long before I learned to drive a car. I'd work hard for my uncles, Johnny and Lester. Milking cows, feeding pigs, picking apples. I remember once eating so many apples that it made my stomach sick.
They, of course could remember my dad when he was young. He, too, was a hard worker. I can remember, after a particularly hard day, Lester saying to Johnny, "Who's this kid remind you of?" And Johnny replied, "The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree".
One morning at breakfast, I told my dad what they said, he looked up from his Cream of Wheat and said, "I assume this fruit wasn't rotten". Regardless, those days on the farm, my uncles looked at me and saw my dad.
When people look at you...look at the Church...what...or who do they see?
"I am the vine and you are the branches." Jesus speaks of the importance of bearing good fruit. He said that people are known by their fruits. Notice he didn't say "belief". He said fruits. But that's another sermon.
He also said that an apple tree produces apples, not pears and that bad trees don't produce good fruit. Now things get a bit more serious. What kind of fruit are our lives producing?
Does it really matter? Evidently so. Jesus said that by bearing good fruit we prove ourselves to be his disciples and that we bring glory to God.
You know, people look at us and they often look at us in the context of our faith. I assume, then, that you understand the importance of their being able to see Christ in you. "You're just like your Savior, I look at you and see the presence of God." That would be a nice compliment, wouldn't it..
When people look at us...when they look at the Church...what and who do they see?
Studies in social anthropology suggest that by the age of 32, we have become like our parents. To what extent that is true...I don't know. I do know, though, that as Christians, we are to become like Jesus. And seeing how most of us in this room are 32 or over, there's no excuse for us not to look like him. When people look at us...look at the Church, they darn well better see Jesus!
Because He is the vine and we are the branches and it does matter what kind of fruit our lives are producing. If we're going to call ourselves His disciples, then it matters. It really does matter.