Sermon excepts delivered on The Seventh Sunday of Easter
& The Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury
May 24, 2020
Acts 1: 6-14 & John 17:1-11
The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
“You Can’t Keep Us Down”
“Well, you can’t keep a good man down.”
Have you heard that saying before? And today we might add, or a good woman! Why is that? Why can't you keep a good person down? What is there in the nature of genuine goodness that's irrepressible and unsinkable?
Maybe this is something to think about on this Seventh Sunday of Easter. If there was ever a supreme example of the indestructible nature of true manhood it was Jesus. For though he was the Son of God, the incarnate Christ, he was also the Son of man.
He knew the pains of the body, felt the heartaches and longings of the human heart. He drank fully of the cup his Father gave him. On him the full weight of the world's hatred fell, yet he bore it - and triumphed! And his triumph was not only for himself but for every human being who would ever live.
Because Jesus has ascended into the place and reality where life will always triumph over death, and so can we.
Because Jesus has overcome the things that try to keep life tied down and tied up and so can we.
The truth is that there is a lot that does try to hold us down in our lives, in the church, and in the world.
There is violence and war in this world, in our own cities, and in the human heart. There are oppressive systems that keep people tied down in grinding poverty and hopelessness. There is sickness, sin, and sadness in our own experience and lives.
There is dissension and dissonance on every level, in every sector, even in the Church of God. And these things connive and plot to keep us down, just as they tried to keep Jesus down.
"But you can't keep a good man or woman down."
That is the message of Christ's resurrection and that is the meaning of this remarkable story of Christ's ascension. Try as you will, try as you might, you simply can't keep a good person down.
There is a lot to keep human beings down. But the questions for this day go like this. Are we going to settle for being tied down to the ground? Are we going to settle for the grave and gravity of being held down to the ground?
No, we are not tied down any more, but that has a consequence for us.
We are the bearers of the message and reality of God's love and life. We are called to witness to it and grow it in the world and in our own lives.
God has made us partners in the mission and victory of life itself.
You know, I’ve seen this power at play through the tireless work of the man we honor today. A man who has earned the respect of those in this church, in our larger Oklahoma City community, in our state and yes, even in our nation.
A man who has made it his life’s goal to help lift up those who have been tied down to the things that kept them dispirited, declining, and despairing.
We are all witnesses to a man who has acknowledged that the challenges we face are real, yet has been able to infuse within our community a sense of new hope, energy and vision.
Why and how?
Because dare I say David Fuller Holt believes in the power beyond himself and decided to "go for it," He was released for something new, something higher, something that draws him into the life and power of God.
That’s why on this Seventh Sunday of Easter and Feast of patron saint—St. Augustine, I award him the 2020 St. Augustine of Canterbury Award.
~ Fr. Joseph C. Alsay