Verse of the Day

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Second Sunday after the Epiphany


The Propers are found on Page 111-112 with the Collect first:

The Second Sunday after The Epiphany.
The Collect.

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LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth; Mercifully hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ryan Hopkins read the Epistle for today, which came from the Twelfth Chapter of Paul’s  letter to the Romans beginning at the Sixth Verse.   As Paul often does, he gives guidance on what God would have us do.  He notes that each of us have differing talents, skills and resources.  What God wants us to do is use all of what He gave us to further His will and His way, so that we might be truly happy here on earth.  To be gracious and hospitable to those around us, to remember each of us are equal in God’s eye.

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AVING then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.

Deacon Striker Jack Arnold read the Holy Gospel for today which came from the  beginning of the Gospel according to St. Mark, the First Chapter, beginning at the First Verse.  This is the very first of the New Testament, a New Covenant or agreement with God.  It tells the story of “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”  It talks of John the Baptist, who God sends as His “messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”  And the people came to John “and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.”  But, as a harbinger the One to come, John told them of the One coming “ the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.”  He told them of the Holy Ghost.  When Jesus, in His submission as a man to God came to John for baptism, as he came out of the water, “the heavens opened, and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him: and there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

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HE beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Jud├Ža, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; and preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him: and there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Sermon – Time and Action
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

 Consider these words from the Collect:

… hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace …

In the Collect, we are asking God to listen to us and give us His peace in our hearts.  God is perfect.  He hears us when we pray, God hears us when we call Him.  This Collect is really to remind us that when we pray to Him, we need to listen to Him.  To often we ask Him what to do, when He tells us what He wants us to do, it is not what we want, so we don’t hear.  After all, there are none so deaf as those who will not hear.  So, the question is not, Does God hear our supplication?  Rather the question is, Do we hear His answer and abide by it?  Do we listen when His answer is not what we want but what we need?  

We all have some talent; each has something they do better than others.  Paul reminds us for the church, on any organization for that matter, to succeed, we must do what needs to be done, working hard, honestly, cheerfully, looking for no public praise, being kind to all.  Sometimes, we fail to remember that for the team to be successful, each person needs to do the job they do best to the best of their ability; not necessarily the one they like best the way they want to do it at the pace they enjoy.  The reward of a job well done in and of itself should be sufficient.  We should not be giving of ourselves to God, so that we can get praise and recognition.  That is not giving, it is selling.

At the same time, though we should not look for praise for our work, we should look for reasons to praise.  We need to recognize hard work, sacrifice, thoughtfulness and talent in others, remark on it and praise the use thereof!  That which is rewarded is that which grows.

Even God Himself, looking on His Son’s baptism remarked for all to hear, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

How oft do we praise the actions of others?  To often we are quick to criticize the failings of others.  We must understand that while it is valuable to know when we fall short, people strive the most for praise of those whose opinion they value.

When you hear those words, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” remember to use them yourself.  Lead others to God, don’t point the way.
Bishop Dennis Campbell’s Sunday Sermon
As is oft the case, we are honored to present Bishop Dennis’ Sunday sermon presented to his parish.  Dennis has an excellent command of scripture and is able to present it in a manner which is completely understandable to the rest of us.  This year’s sermons are drawn from the book of Psalms, or, as it is known by Anglicans, "The Psalter" which begins on page 343 of the Book of Common Prayer.

A Call to Faith
Psalm 29
Second Sunday after Epiphany
15 January 2012

Psalm 29. Afferte Domino.

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SCRIBE unto the Lord, O ye mighty, * ascribe unto the Lord worship and strength.

2 Ascribe unto the Lord the honour due unto his Name; * worship the Lord with holy worship.

3 The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; * it is the glorious God that maketh the thunder.

4 It is the Lord that ruleth the sea; the voice of the Lord is mighty in operation; * the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice.

5 The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedar trees; * yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

6 He maketh them also to skip like a calf; * Lebanon also, and Sirion, like a young unicorn.

7 The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire; the voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; * yea, the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.

8 The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to bring forth young, and strippeth bare the forests: * in his temple doth every thing speak of his honour.

9 The Lord sitteth above the waterflood, *and the Lord remaineth a King for ever.

10 The Lord shall give strength unto his people; * the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Psalm 29 describes a powerful storm raging through the land of Israel. Lightning bolts flash, thunder shakes the earth, and damaging winds splinter stout and strong trees. To David the storm is a symbol of God's power and grace, and a demonstration of God's power and grace is always a call to come to God and enjoy His blessings. It is an invitation to:

"Ascribe... unto the Lord worship and strength. Ascribe unto the Lord the honour due unto his Name; worship the Lord with holy worship."

To those who know Christ as Saviour, this Psalm is a reminder of grace received. Thanks be to God, He is the Father of all mercies whose essence is Love and whose property is always to have mercy. He is gracious to those who love Him, and He even defends His people from those who would harm them. Cedars and waters represent enemies who oppose God and oppress His people. Breaking and ruling them signifies God protecting and blessing His people. They show God punishing enemies for their treatment of His Church. They mean God keeps our enemies in check; He keeps them from overcoming us. Cedars and waters also represent the temptations and burdens of "the world, the flesh, and the devil." In this world you will have tribulation. You will often be tried, tired, and oppressed, but these things are the fire that refines your soul. God will not allow them to destroy you.

Rather than allowing you to be overcome by enemies or sorrows, God promises to make you prosper like the hinds. I do not mean God is going to make you wealthy, as the world counts wealth. He never promises to make you monetarily rich, though the Biblical principles of hard (and smart) work, living below your means, and saving much will generally allow you to have the essentials of life. But the real prosperity God wants to give is the prosperity of your soul. He wants you to be what St. Paul describes in Ephesians 3;

"strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."

This kind of prosperity comes to you through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. There He bore the wrath of God for your sin. It is only by His life, death and resurrection that your sins are forgiven and you are pronounced righteous in the sight of God. Through the storm of the cross you are brought to peace of God.

It is because of this grace of God, the grace you have received by faith, the grace by which God overcomes your enemies and guides you safe at last to His Mansion of Mansions, that you are able to "ascribe to the Lord worship and strength" and to "worship the Lord with holy worship."

To those who are not Christians, Psalm 29 is an invitation to grace offered.

It is not unusual for busy and intelligent people to ask why they should even care about a God they can't see or hear or know in any way other than by faith; a God they have already written off as irrelevant. Why should they bother to worship Him with holy worship? The answer is simple; because He is worthy. In Revelation, among all the saints and angels, no one is found worthy to open the scroll until Jesus Christ, God the Son, the Lion of Judah, the Lamb that was slain steps forward. And when He comes forth all others kneel in worship before Him saying, "Thou art worthy, O Lord." It is the same God, the same Christ, the same Creator and Sustainer of Heaven and earth who reveals Himself in Psalm 29, and is found worthy. He speaks in the thunder. His voice is upon the waters (3). He ruleth the sea (4), breaketh the cedars of Lebanon, and shakes the wilderness (7). He can make the hinds to calve, that is, give prosperity and blessing; or He can strip bare the forest, meaning to send disaster and wrath (8). You exist in Him, and He has the choice of dealing with you in mercy or dealing with you in wrath.

A God of mercy is worthy of your worship.

There is a warning in this Psalm. It says to you that if you are not in Christ by faith, you are one of the cedars He will break and the water He will subdue. There is no peace for your soul. There is no hope for the eternal bliss of Heaven. As you have lived apart from Him in this world, you will also live apart from Him in the next. Your good works will not cancel out your sins. Even outward forms and works of religion will not get you into Heaven. Many will attempt it. On Judgment Day, many will remind Christ that they have done good things, even good things in His name. But Christ will say, "I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity." They have done some good things, but the whole direction of their lives has been toward self-pleasure and self-exaltation rather than toward Christ. Like the cedars in the Psalm, their end is to be broken and cast into the fire. This is the warning of Psalm 29.

But, thanks be to God there is also an invitation here. Those who are His by faith, "who truly repent and unfeignedly believe His holy Gospel," are forgiven of their sin and have peace with God. "The Lord shall give strength unto his people; the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace."

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LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth; Mercifully hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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