Project Canterbury




Preached at



The Reverend Gordon Wadhams





Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2011

"All Power is given unto Me in Heaven and on Earth:
go ye, therefore, and make disciples of all nations."

[2] A Christian's opportunity today in this Church of ours is measured in terms of Power. For when the Lord Christ gave the command to "go, teach and make disciples," He gave also the necessary means. For us in this Church those means are comprehended in a Faith—a body of Truth that has withstood, and will in future meet, every conceivable test; in an Authority—an Institution governed by our Lord's successors, against which and against whom not even the imposing gates of Hell shall prevail; in a Life and Fellowship nourished by a constant outpouring of Divine Power of which we are all recipients, and with the Source of which we are in direct and immediate contact. Faith, Authority, Fellowship: it is in and through and by means of these that a Christian receives and in turn transmits the very Omnipotence of God!

How a Christian chooses to exercise this Power that is given him is, of course, another matter altogether. A man may do one of three things with his power: he may possess it and at the same time be ignorant of it; he may waste it through misuse or abuse; or he may exercise it to the glory of Him Who gave it, to his own immeasurable profit and to the welfare of the society in which he lives.


We are wont to think ourselves, even as we like to be called, members of the Church Militant of Christ. The Church Militant—that is to say, a body of men and women, set in the midst of a chaotic and confused world, called of God to resist evil and overcome the same with good, and armed with every necessary piece of spiritual armour. That is what we profess to be,—it is that that we became at our Baptism, it was to put on this whole and entire armour of God that we were confirmed: thus, while we undertook certain responsibilities at Confirmation, there were extended to us at the same time certain opportunities far exceeding those offered to other men and women—an opportunity to know, to worship, and to come in direct, immediate contact with Divine Power; an opportunity to work out our spiritual destiny, with every means thereto; an opportunity to bring salvation and peace to the world of our day and generation. Such, I take it, is what it means to be a member of the Church Militant.

[3] More than that, it means also to have inherited a glorious past; to have been made inheritors of a mighty tradition; to have been given a family name of which to be most jealous and proud—the name "Christian;" it means, too, a record of past achievements such as no other family under heaven, no other institution or society on earth can claim. Perhaps it is not amiss at this point to look into that record. We shall examine but three aspects of it.

First, the Church's culture and Her contribution to education: do we sufficiently realize the fact (or do we not rather today take it for granted) that it is the Religion of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church at work in the world which have given us our standards—our standards both moral and cultural; that it is the Church and the Christian Religion which purified pagan manners and Christianized pagan customs; that it is the Church which was responsible for preserving knowledge and for establishing, with her scholars and her money, the schools and colleges which have in the past given that knowledge to the world? That is one service the Church Militant has rendered.

Again do we sufficiently realize—or do we take for granted—the fact that it is the Religion of Jesus Christ and His Church which first brought to the world what we call Social Service? That it was in the name of Jesus Christ that hospitals, asylums, sanitoria, institutions of social reform and the like were established—established in the belief that God has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell upon this earth and that inasmuch as we do it unto the least of these, we do it unto Him?

Finally, "That's all very well," men will tell you, as they say to me now and again. "That's all very well, but the State does that now."

Yes, but what State? For there are states and states today, and well you know it! You know, too, that there are men who are dying rather than have some states take care of them. To what sort of state, then, shall we surrender the privilege of so ministering in Christ's name?

Of course, you say, a Christian State: or at the very least a State—like our own—that owes its liberties, its concepts of goodness and integrity, its ideals of freedom, to the Religion of Jesus Christ and His [3/4] Church! Of course, you do! For when the shoe pinches as it is beginning to pinch—we are reminded somewhat of our debt for the transmission of Christian ideals through the agency, not of individuals—for individuals do not and can not guarantee such a transmission—but of a Society, an Institution, in short, a Church: the Church Militant of Jesus Christ! And not alone of our debt are we reminded, but I should think also of our own opportunities and responsibilities for carrying the great tradition on!


For we, brethren, are the Church of our day and generation. I dare not say the Church Militant, except in the technical sense, for it does not altogether appear that we are militant these days. Not that her Founder and Head has withdrawn either His Presence or His Leadership from us! Not that She—His Church—is lacking in any essential respect the Powers with which he endowed Her and sent Her Out into the world. Not that She has forgotten either His Sacrifice or those of the countless Saints and Heroes and Martyrs and Doctors and Confessors whose memorial we are making at this Season of All Saints! But rather that She is wanting sadly these days in men and material resources. (But why indeed should we gloss over the word! Why should we say "material resources" when what we mean is money!) Men She needs who are committed to Her Faith; men who are glad and free in their obedience to Her Authority, recognizing in that obedience "the service which is perfect freedom;" men who are empowered by Her common life in Sacrament and Christian Fellowship; men who are strengthened in the bearing of one another's burdens; men who are mindful of Her physical and material needs, who are careful to set aside a generous portion of their goods for her maintenance, Her safe-keeping, and Her extension in this sorry and bewildered world. The Church of God lacks men, money and arms, and yet, weakened though She is, She has confronting Her today the mightiest spiritual conflict, the most frightful spiritual warfare, the greatest battle of Love, that She has yet waged in this world. Her campaigns are yet to be fought on three "fronts"—the front bounded by Her world-wide Missions, for She is convinced that all men are of one blood in Christ; the front bounded by her domestic missions through the length and breadth of our land; the front established in this community of ours where She seeks [4/5] to carry on for you and yours, and for those to come after you, the Great Tradition of the Lord's Christ and His Church!

To Her accomplishments and responsibilities of the past there are added two others of especial moment in our time. To Her work of education, to Her offices of Christian social service, to Her responsibility for the ideals of political integrity and individual freedom, the Church adds Her personal commitment to and Her responsibility for the determination of world Peace and of Christian Reunion. It is as though God had spoken to us in this wise: "Christians of generations have done this—and this—and this thing; it is on you, my sons, that I lay this burden; it is of you, my children, that I ask this service in My Name: this is your opportunity for your time; your children will stand or fall in theirs according as you heed My call and do the work I have entrusted to you. And so, all power in heaven and earth is given you—Go and teach and make disciples!"


But there is yet another aspect of which we do well not to lose sight. The Church of God is obliged to ask much—indeed to beg much—of you these days. But She is not wholly impoverished: She has more to give back to us than you and I can ever give Her! Indeed Her treasures are inexhaustible: the more you draw on Her Power, the more Power there is on which to draw.

That Power is transmitted to you through and in terms of a strengthening Fellowship. The Christian Religion is essentially a social religion, demanding for its true effectiveness a visible institution—a corporation, if you like—and never can we fully understand Jesus Christ, nor appreciate the nature of His Church, nor yet derive the benefits He longs to confer on us, unless and until we live in terms of Christian Fellowship. Human Reason and the plain facts of history—not to say the Divine Will itself—make this truth abundantly plain. Where Christianity is most potentially effective in the world, there you will find institutional Christianity.

I believe that all men of goodwill—whatever may be their present understanding, whatever may have been their past experience, of the Church—want today what only that Church can give. They want the Truth; they want a godly Authority; they are searching [5/6] once more for valid moral and ethical standards; they want security—which is another and modern word for Salvation; above all, they seek some means of securing a right and permanent Peace; peace of mind and, then, peace among men. The Church can give, is all the time giving, these things: but she could give them sooner, in greater abundance, with more evidence of power, if she had the willing and selfless and generous assistance of all men and women who as yet have not caught the Vision of what She with their help might accomplish.

Accordingly, on this first Sunday in November we are beginning, here in this church, a campaign. It is, frankly, a campaign to secure funds for the coming year. It has to be that, quite obviously, for no institution can function or even merely maintain itself without the assurance of money with which to run. I am asking you to take with you this morning, a copy of the budget for the coming year together with a pledge card. I am asking you to be good enough to return the card with an indication of how much and how regularly you will commit yourself to give money for the work of the Church of Christ this next year, and to return it not later than November 26th—three weeks from today.

But that is only one aspect of the campaign. It is, you might say, the outward and visible sign of your inward and spiritual conviction. To the end that that inward and spiritual conviction may be strengthened, we are inviting you to attend at least one of three meetings, the dates and hours of which you already know. These meetings have a threefold purpose: the first is to secure an outward expression of our parish fellowship—in many ways I look upon this as the most important of them; then, we are seeking to acquaint you further with the work which the Episcopal Church is doing (and could do) on each of her three "fronts;" finally, I want to be there to invite you personally and sincerely into a more active and consecrated participation in our common life and work. I want to tell you what the opportunities here are: for Christian education, for learning how to say your prayers, how to worship God, how to sweeten and strengthen your family life, how to find solace in the midst of trouble and fellowship in the midst of solitude: in short, how to draw upon the inexhaustible power of God as He means you to have and to use it. If I could know that each [6/7] one of you would—from this day on—offer himself and herself with a whole and entire heart, with an inquiring mind, with a true fervour for the triumph of righteousness—that you would give yourselves, lend yourselves for a time, to this spiritual enterprise: I would never print a pledge card, or say one word about money. For there would be no need. Not money is it that we need but MEN: men and women of high and holy purpose, of complete and entire commitment!

Let me ask you to consider a not by any means remote possibility: let us suppose that one Sunday morning you learned that all the Churches in this country had been closed, their property confiscated, their clergy imprisoned—that you could not meet and worship with the Christian fellowship even if you wanted to. Let us suppose that as a consequence all religious instruction in schools and elsewhere were proscribed; all mention of Jesus Christ made punishable by law; all allusions to His Life made acts of treason; all Christian standards of truth, freedom, and personal integrity repudiated;—in short, that the Christian Religion had been officially driven out of the land. For this has happened, is indeed happening, in our day: it could conceivably happen here!

What would that mean to us?

It would mean that never had Sunday taken on quite the significance it would have for us then!

But it would mean more than that: it would mean the utter desecration of moral and spiritual beauty; the utter overthrow of Truth; the denial of Goodness as the one sure standard of human behaviour; the end of moral and political Freedom; the futility of Justice and Peace as ideals for men and nations. It would mean that Darkness had indeed fallen over the whole earth. It would mean the settling down upon the earth of a gigantic Pall of Terror and of Ignorance and human Bestiality.

In conclusion, let me speak to you, the Faithful: to you who have always given of your best to this our common spiritual enterprise. For I know how loyally and generously you have championed the cause of our Lord and His Church, and how you will continue so to do. I choose, therefore, to address you not in my own words but in those of St. Paul, taken from the Epistle for the day: [7/8] "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart. . . And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."

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