The Rev’d Carlos de la Torre
Christ Church, New Haven, Conn.
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 7, 2018

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to attend a friend’s wedding in Northern Virginia. As are all things in Anglican worship, it was beautiful, solemn, and joyous. If you’ve ever witnessed a wedding in the Episcopal Church you know that at one point in the liturgy, the Celebrant joins the hands of the couple, and praying over them concludes the prayer with these words – “Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder.”


These words remind us that in the Sacrament of Marriage, like in all the Sacraments of the Church, while officiated by the couple, administer by the priest, and affirmed by the gathered body, the primary actor in this and all holy unions, the architect of all things, is God himself. God has joined together all those in loving relationships, whether romantic or platonic. God has brought those closest to us not by mistake, but by God’s desire that we, his people, may be in unity.


Our own love and affection towards one another, like the love of a married couple, is a mere shadow of God’s love for us. Our unions of love are a reflection of God’s desire to be in union with us. And God’s desire to be in union with us as we are with others is made tangible and visible in the life of the Church and in her sacraments. In the sacraments we come in union with God and with his earthly body, the Church — through the sacraments we are affirm our identity as children of God through the waters of baptism, we partake in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ through bread and wine, we are restored, healed, and reconciled in the name of Christ, and we come intimate with with God.


In his conversation with the Pharisees, Jesus ends his dialogue by proclaiming, “What God has joined together, let no one separate.”


What God in Christ has joined together is us unto himself. In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus all of creation is reconciled and restored into union with God.


In Christ, God has brought us closer not only to himself, but with one another. Just look around this Church, really look around. What you see around you are not mere strangers, friends, or family, but the Body of Christ. We are the very object, and the subject which God in Christ came to join together with himself – our humanity with his divinity, our suffering with his passion, our capacity to overcome the darkest forces with his resurrection.


What God has joined together cannot be tarnished or defeated. Even if our own relationships which attempt to embody and live out God’s love come to an end, God’s desire for divine union with all of creation continues. Not only does God’s love and grace continue to be present for us, but God’s love and grace surpasses our human separation, and our own limitations and understanding.


Remember our Gospel passage this morning. As the people brought forward their children to Jesus, hoping that he may lay his hands on them, we’re told that the disciples spoke sternly to them. This isn’t simply the story of twelve men who hate children getting upset at annoying parents. Rather, Jesus exposes to the disciples and us, centuries apart and thousands of miles apart, how the deep and radical is God’s love and grace.


In the first century Mediterranean world, the characteristic feature of children was not their innocence, but their lack of status and legal rights.[1] Who Jesus is welcoming, who God has joined together to himself and us, are those with no status, those who are nameless, those whose stories go unheard.


Jesus’ pronouncement that children as such belong to God’s kingdom meant that inclusion in God’s kingdom is not a matter of status or attainment of any kind; it is a matter of unconditional acceptance.[2]


God’s unconditional acceptance is at the heart of what Christ came to reveal and offer. We have been given ways to experience and share God’s love and grace, and even when our wells have run dry and our capacity to share in love may dissipate, God’s love is capable to join us together and offers us the strength to persevere.


What God has joined together, let no one separate.


God has joined us together, and we are the people of God; the Body of Christ; the Church. God has joined us to himself, and there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ.


Thanks be to God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

[1] Eugene Boring. Mark: A Commentary (The New Testament Library). Westminster John Knox Press, 2006. 281.

[2] Ibid, 289.