Verse of the Day

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Fifth Sunday after Easter, commonly called Rogation Sunday

Sign over the Door
Whosoever thou art that entereth this church, remember it is the House of God; be reverent, be silent, be thoughtful & prayerful; and leave it not without a prayer to God for thyself, for him who ministers, and for those who worship here.

Rogation Sunday
The fifth Sunday after Easter is commonly called Rogation Sunday from the words in the Gospel appointed for the day: "Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give to you". (The Latin is 'Rogare' - to ask.)  In the strictly biblical context, the chief thing to ask for is the spirit of God to enable us to be true children of God. 

In the Western Catholic Churches, including the older Anglican traditions particularly before the Reformation and in some higher churches afterwards, processions to bless the crops and to include "beating the bounds", developed from the o1d Roman rites of "Robigalia" ("robigo": Latin for "rust" or "mould"), when prayers would be offered to the deity for crops to be spared from mildew. 

Today the emphasis has shifted.  Asking for God’s blessing on growing crops in fields and gardens, and on young lambs and calves remain.  In the agricultural cycle, the main themes are seed sowing and the tending of the young plants and animals. This does not pre-suppose that all sowing takes place around Rogation.  Sowing is done all the year round, as does the birth and rearing of the young.  It is convenient to fix on one particular festival the time to remember these before God in a public way.

In the Northern Hemisphere, Rogation Sunday takes place in the springtime, when there is a renewing of the earth. In this country, it follows Easter, the season of resurrection. Renewal and resurrection therefore are also underlying themes of this occasion.

The main thing to remember is “Ask and ye shall receive.” 

National Day of Prayer
This year’s National Day of Prayer[1] was remarkable in that for the first time the President of the United States felt no need to make any kind of pretense that he was a Christian.  He is apparently quite comfortable in the office to which he was elected and no longer needs make a show of being the Christian he is not.  That makes our prayers for him all the more needed.

One Nation Under God, Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice For All
Thursday, 2 May 2013

ost Gracious Heavenly Father, from whom no dark or secret thing is hidden, Lighten the hearts of our people and national leaders with the glorious Truth of thy pure Gospel. Restore in the public places our reverence for you and of thy providential hand in establishing us as a nation among the nations of the World. Let your Holy Light be dispersed from our High Towers and your Truth again expounded from the pulpits of America as in the days of our early establishment. Gather us together of all the nations of the earth under the shadow of your beneficent and everlasting Wings. May thy people of this land once more become a people of prayer and devotion to Thee and of the pure religion that illumines the Church wherever she may appear. Protect us from the curse of arrogant Pride and lustful living, and Defend our homes from the ungodly exploits of the Adversary. Make us a nation mindful of thy Sovereignty and Obedient to thy Will. To thee we will give all glory and honor in the precious name of thy dear Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jerry L. Ogles, DD
Presiding Bishop of the  Anglican Orthodox
Communion Worldwide

For Our Country. BCP 36
LMIGHTY God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favour and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer for The President of the United States, and all in Civil Authority. BCP 32
LMIGHTY God, whose kingdom is everlasting and power infinite; Have mercy upon this whole land; and so rule the hearts of thy servants The President of the United States, The Governors of the various States, and all others in authority, that they, knowing whose ministers they are, may above all things seek thy honour and glory; and that we and all the People, duly considering whose authority they bear, may faithfully and obediently honour them, according to thy blessed Word and ordinance; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end.  Amen.

A prayer from George Washington
lmighty God; we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government....And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

NB – What a similarity of wording of Washington, our Founding Documents, and the words of the Book of Common Prayer. This prayer could be a national Collect. Perhaps we should dispense with the swindlers, vote frauds, and socialists in Washington and seek diligently to find a man with the character of Washington.
-brought forth by Bishop Jerry Ogles

On Point
Someone asked, where do the quotes come from?  The answer is from the people who uttered them.  But, how did you find them?  Oh, that.  Mostly from Rev Bryan Dabney, a few from other place, but mostly from Bryan.  He always has a few great ones to share.  So, on to the On Point quotes –

It is being said that the chief need of the Church today is to repent because of its lack of unity... we would suggest that before she repents of her disunity, she must repent of her apostasy. She must repent of her perversion of, and substitutes for, the faith once delivered to the saints. She must repent of setting up her own thinking and methods over against the divine revelation in Holy Scripture. Here lies the reason for her lack of spiritual power and inability to deliver a living message in the power of the Holy Ghost to a world ready to perish.
Martin Lloyd Jones
20th century Welsh theologian and author.

When we are hard beset with this world, or with the severer trials within the Church, we find it a most blessed thing to pillow our head upon the bosom of our Saviour.
The Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon– 19th century English pastor and author (Morning and Evening, p. 594).
The nature of true repentance is clearly and unmistakably laid down in Scripture. It begins with the knowledge of sin. It goes on to work sorrow for sin. It leads to confession of sin before God. It shows itself before man by a thorough breaking off from sin. It results in producing a habit of deep hatred for all sin. Above all, it is inseparably connected with lively faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance like this is the characteristic of all true Christians.
 JC Ryle
19th century Anglican bishop and author.

The firewall we have against postmodernism (which is a fancy name for paganism) is an inerrant, authoritative Bible. Our sin problem finds its remedy through the gospel that is revealed in the Bible. We find morals and restraint from our sinful tendencies through the law of God revealed by God through the Biblical writers. Western Civilization used to be based on such ideas.
Bob DeWaay
20th and 21st century American Christian commentator.

The state is comprised of such a network of lies and contradictions, that it is unreasonable for us to expect truth to come from the mouths of its politicians and other officials. Indeed, one could almost take any statement uttered by such scoundrels, reverse its meaning, and arrive at the truth of what policies are being promoted. I am reminded of the phrase, popular in England, that “one should not accept something as true until it has been officially denied.”
Butler Shaffer
20th and 21st century American Libertarian professor and author
(The New Babbleon, 4-24-13).

How strangely will the tools of a tyrant pervert the plain meaning of words!
Samuel Adams
18th century American patriot (from a letter to John Pitts 21 January 1776).

The Propers for today are found on Page 175-176, with the Collect first:

The Collect for The Fifth Sunday after Easter,
commonly called Rogation Sunday.
The Collect.

 LORD, from whom all good things do come; Grant to us thy humble servants, that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Dru Arnold read the Epistle which came from the First Chapter of the General Epistle of Saint James beginning at the Twenty-Second Verse. Saint James tells us not to just talk about being Christians, but to act on those beliefs and do things.  We act in accordance with the principles set forth by Christ.  We gain our salvation through the freely given gift of Grace by our Lord Jesus Christ.   Once given, and accepted; if we truly accept the gift, it will be evident in our actions.

St. James reminds us we not only must:

Ø  Talk the Talk;
Ø  Walk the Walk.

We do not gain eternal life and salvation by our good works here on earth, but only by the Grace of God, through His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Through Christ our sins are atoned for that we might go to heaven.  True enough, but we demonstrate our attempt to follow his instructions by our works here on earth.  Remember, it is by only by our actions we are we truly known.

E ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Hap Arnold read today’s Holy Gospel came from the Sixteenth Chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John beginning at the Twenty-Third Verse. Jesus told his disciples that when they pray to the Father, they should ask in His Name and what they asked for would be given.  But, you must ask to receive.  Jesus told us not to ask Him to pray to the Father, but rather that we pray directly to the Father, asking for what we will in His name, because God loves us because we love Jesus.  This explains why many of our prayers end in, “we ask all this in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” or similar words.  So, if we are to if we are not to ask Jesus to pray for us, why would we ask “saints” and such.   We can talk directly to God and we are supposed to!

Jesus went on to say the forces of this world would scatter the disciples, they would be alone in the world.  Yet like Jesus, they would not be abandoned by all; He would be with them, as would the Father.  For as always, the Father is with them, as He is with Him; as He is with us.

ERILY, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

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

We are in the Easter Season which consists of Easter and the following four Sundays, until we get to Rogation Sunday.  This is a time we should work on centering our lives on the central figure in our religion, Jesus Christ.

Consider these words from the Collect:

by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same

As we near the Ascension and thus Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Ghost, we ask for God’s “holy inspiration we may think those things that are good”, that is to say help from the Holy Ghost so we might direct our souls to the things we cannot see as good without His Help.   Once we see them, we need His “merciful guiding may perform the same…”.  After all, what good is it to know what we should do, if we won’t, can’t or don’t do it?

That brings us right to Saint James’ point, we gain our salvation through the freely given gift of Grace by our Lord Jesus Christ.   Once given, it must be accepted.  If we truly accept the gift, it will be evident in our actions.  If you are going to be a Christian, the key is right there – BE.  Being requires action, not just diction.  Many can talk the talk, but can they walk the walk too? Being a Christian requires doing both, which may be very difficult sometimes, but it must be done. If you are going to be a Christian, what you say is of little import to what you DO.  Do your actions reflect God’s image or that of the other guy?  Who do you put first?  Pretty basic questions that often we don’t like the answer to. But they must be answered nevertheless, all the same.

We find a lot of help in John’s words, he give us insight into things that none of the other disciples do.  We need help.  We pray for help.  So, what about prayer?  Let’s start with who do we pray to?

Jesus is pretty clear.  Don’t pray to Him, pray to God.  Feel free to use His Name.  Pray to God in His Name.  He tells us God loves us because we love Jesus.   But, pray to God. I think that not many people have ever understood this part of scripture, as I have heard people pray to Jesus when he is not the correct person to address your prayers to. He specifically tells us to direct the prayers to His Father, who can better help us.

If that is the case, seems like it pretty much rules out praying to Saint Bob, does it not? And besides, why would we be praying to another human anyway, who we may or may not put any trust in. But if we pray to God, we can be certain that he will answer us, and even if we don’t like the answer, we know that is the course we will have to take. It doesn’t matter if we like God’s answer or not, we still have to listen to it, and do it anyway, knowing it will be the right path in the end.

So, pray to God, ask for what you want in Jesus Name.  He always listens and He always delivers.  The problem for us is that what He delivers is what we need, not necessarily what we want.

Need and want, they are both four letter words, oft used interchangeably, which do not mean the same thing.

God’s Will is always done, we just don’t understand.  Accept what happens as acceptable, so long as you have done all you can.  In the end, all that counts is where you go when you leave here.  That depends on your actions in following Jesus’ instructions.  If you believe, you are safe.  Now and forever.

Ø  Talk the Talk;
Ø  Walk the Walk.

It is an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Bishop Ogles’ Sermon
We are oft fortunate to get copies of Bishop Jerry’s sermon notes.  Today is one of those Sundays.  Today’s sermon starts off with the collect, and like always, it will give you a lot to consider in your heart.

Sermon Notes
Fifth Sunday after Easter
5 May 2013, Anno Domini

The Collect for The Fifth Sunday after Easter,
commonly called Rogation Sunday.
The Collect.

 LORD, from whom all good things do come; Grant to us thy humble servants, that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. 25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. 26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: 27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. 28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. 29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. 30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. 31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? 32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:23-33)
            Language itself is an essential tool in learning and communications. Many today advocate to a downgrade in biblical literacy to the level of the street. But Christ teaches an aspiration to higher understanding and wisdom than common street language can afford.  He spoke in parables and proverbs as a beginning point to 1) separate the vulgar goats from the eager lambs; and 2) to teach in similitudes and allegories those great heavenly truths that His hearers could not understand without deep thought and further learning. But He gave them a starting place through the use of parables and proverbs. As a good Teacher, Jesus taught from the known to the unknown – not from the unknown to the unknown as many modern theologians attempt to do out of pride and arrogance. He spoke in terms the people could understand in the simple ways that would lead to profound understandings as they grew in knowledge and truth. But Christ never lowered the holiness of his language. He used terms of respect and high regard for all whom He addressed. He never irreverently referred to His Father as ‘Dad’ or the Holy Ghost as ‘that helpful fellow.’ He used classical language in all of His speaking. We use such language on legal documents, why not when addressing the Supreme Law-Giver?
            In the 23rd and 24th verses of our text today, Christ makes reference to a certain day. Which day is it? An ambassador makes treaties and agreements in the name of the sending authority. Christ came and fulfilled all the terms of our redemption. He completed that work on the cross at Calvary and, three days later, by rising from the Tomb. He is our Justifier. He is our Redeemer. He is our Savior. He is our Advocate. When Christ was physically present with the disciples, they felt free to ask of Him anything. Christ prayed to the Father for our benefit; but in His glorious ascension, we may approach the Father directly in petitioning for our needs. However, we must approach God the Father with a Letter of Introduction. That letter is Christ. Whatsoever we ask of the Father, we ask in the name of the One who has qualified us to ask.
            Let me ask you, “What does the following mean from verse 23: Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you? If we desire something out of our lust or greed, is God constrained to great that prayer? Contrary to the charismatic religions, God is NOT at all going to grant those petitions. What Christ means by “ask in my name.” That means with my authority, with my concurring will, and in the same Gospel intent I have taught you. We will not ask for anything that does not comport with what God wills for us if we have taken on that Mind of Christ to think and to act. In the verses immediately preceding the Gospel text today, the disciples are desirous to have some mystery of Christ revealed, and that is something that Christ is always pleased to grant – that we KNOW Him better, and His will.
            King David perfectly understood those things of God that are waiting in abundance for our sincere prayers of faith. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” A little lamb may have no knowledge that he needs protection from the ravishing wolves of the mountain, but the Shepherd knows and provides that want. Want is a word that means ‘necessity!’ Whatever it is that we need to preserve our lives – physical and spiritual – day by day, the Good Shepherd supplies. We do not know, like the little lamb, all that we need, or all that may be harmful to us. But the Shepherd knows, indeed. David also said: “…. they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing. (Psalms 34:10) We shall LACK nothing that is a “good thing”. If we receive, not, perhaps it is because we ask amiss or out of a heart that regards iniquity. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: (Psalms 66:18) Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3) Is our God a captive audience for our every desire? Is not prayer two-way communication? When we pray, are we careful to examine our hearts for the response God whispers? Is it OUR will for which we pray, or is it HIS will for which we pray?
            Remember that Christ has opened the Holies of Holies up to us so that we may approach God directly without an intermediary other than that Holy and Sacrificed Son of God – Jesus Christ. At His death, was the Temple Veil not torn from TOP to BOTTOM – not bottom to top? Only God could make the invitation, and He did so symbolically by the tear in the Temple Veil.
            When God gave us the Ten Commandments, we were not ready for the implementing Rule of Love that we must develop to understand those Ten Commandments. He allowed us to fumble and stagger under our futile attempt to be righteous under the Law. Once we had learned that we were powerless to gain heaven by our own righteous works, Christ came in the fullness of time to teach us that without LOVE, there could be no true obedience to God. We must Love God with our whole being, and our neighbors as ourselves. This was the implementing Rule of Love that will enable us to keep the Commandments – all of them – of God. Love is the OBJECT, the Commandments the EVIDENCE of that LOVE. “….love covereth all sins. (Prov 10:12) This is no invitation to hedonism, but we cannot obey the Commandments of God without those two implementing Commandments of Love for God and Love for our neighbor. No one will violate the Law of God if He keeps the First Law of obedience in Love of God, and the second in Love of neighbor. Christ came speaking in parables and proverbs as a fundamental approach to our ignorance of the spiritual law that attends the legal law. Now, He speaks clearly to our hearts once we have passed the barrier of ignorance to love. 25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. The Ascension of Christ into the glory of Heaven was not a matter of despair to us, but a benefit and blessing. Rather than always speaking to us in human terms, He now speaks in spiritual and heavenly terms through the agency of His Holy Ghost – our Comforter. Instead of speaking in our ears, He now speaks in our hearts. They physical evidence of His death, Resurrection, and Ascension opened the audible channels of our hearts to hear truths that cannot be uttered in simple language. The end-proofs of His Divinity in rising and ascending are a stamp of authenticity to all else that He uttered while with us in the Body.
            26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: 27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. All that we pray should be in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our Ark and Advocate.  He is right beside the Father and has His undivided attention. He constantly intercedes for us when we offer our Godly prayers. And those Godly prayers receive the same respect and consideration of God as if Jesus had asked it of Him. How can this be? Because God loves you in the same way He loves His only Begotten Son. If we love Jesus and claim that redemption He has made available to us, God the Father views us as His own Son because it is the covering Blood of His son that He beholds when He looks upon us.
            We are strong in words and often, unfortunately, weak in courage and faith. One who believes too quickly may also be disillusioned too suddenly. The disciples claim to believe all that Jesus has said and are steadfastly convinced of who He is. However, the following events of the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Christ disarms their courage and results in their fleeing from Christ in terror. How fickle is the heart of man. Those same ones who threw down palm branches shouting Hosanna just a couple of days earlier would be gathered on the paddock outside Pilate’s judgment hall shouting ‘Crucify Him. His blood be upon us and our children!” How chilling!
            Knowing the hearts of His disciples, Jesus knew precisely the hearts of those disciples then, just as He knows your heart today.  29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. 30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. You took a vow at your Confirmation, perhaps your Baptism and your Wedding of certain things. How tenaciously have you kept those bold expressions of fidelity and faith? We weaken over time in the face of threat, dangers, and temptations. It is for this reason that we need to consume our Daily Bread from Heaven in god’s Word. When the soldiers marched into the Garden at Gethsemane to arrest Christ, when hundreds or thousands were gathered without the Hall of Pontius Pilate screaming for His death, when they saw the horror of the crucifixion – it was then that their hearts grew fearful and faithless. But those same disciples showed no such fear in the course of their lives AFTER the Resurrection and Ascension. They now had unchallengeable evidence of who Christ was, and their faith was firm even unto death. Peter denied Christ once he was physically separated from His Person. But once Peter had been blessed with the constant Spiritual Presence of Christ with the benefits of the Holy Ghost, he never again wavered. Do you have that assurance and courage?
            Christ knew their weakness, and did not condemn them for it. He knew what they would later do, and how they would die for His Gospel. 31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? 32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. This prophecy was fulfilled within hours of its being spoken.  But when one is left alone by all men, the Presence of God is of far greater worth than all the world. When you may be the ONLY one who stands upon the promises of God – when all others deny the Word – you will be standing on the Immovable Rock with God. When the dust settles, you will still be standing there while the world vanishes into the mist of doubt.
            Why did Jesus speak so frankly of their coming failure? He did so to bolster their faith, and OURS. When we have been clearly told of all that may befall us in this life for our testimony of Jesus, we will be armed to withstand the withering gales of wickedness and deceit. Jesus ALWAYS knows more and better than we can know. He KNEW the coming betrayal and passion. He KNEW the burial and Resurrection. So He abides their ignorance until their faith is made invincible in the facts of His Resurrection and Ascension.
            In spite of the heartaches and troubles the world may send your way, we have One who has conquered every power of the world and furled their flags. He tells us in prophecy of all troubles that may lie ahead. This is to bolster our faith when the moment comes and recall that Christ went before and won the victory for us. 33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. Unlike those who claim that Christians will be taken out before the hard times roll, Christ teaches us otherwise. We can even see the pitiful and ungodly plight of Christians in China, in North Korea, in Vietnam, Pakistan, Iran, etc. Christ forearms us by forewarning us: 17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (Matt 10:17-20) Did you believe these times were limited to that of the Apostolic Age? Are these things not happening now in many parts of the world, and there is an odor of the same beginning to arise in our own Beloved Land. BEWARE!

Bishop Dennis Campbell’s Sermon
Bishop Dennis is a brilliant speaker.  He is able to take biblical precepts and make them perfectly understandable, even to me.  Oft he provides the text of his sermons and I take the utmost pleasure in passing them on:

A Surprise Ending
Psalm 65, Ezekiel 34:25, Luke 11:1-13
Rogation Sunday
May 5, 2013

Most books and movies are fairly predictable.  We know how they end before they even begin, but, once in a while we find one that has a surprise ending.  This morning's reading from Luke 11 has a surprise ending.

It begins with the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray.  At first this is appears to be an odd request.  These men prayed with Christ daily. He led them in the daily liturgical prayers said by all faithful Jews.  They worshiped with Him in the synagogues where He prayed the Sabbath liturgy.  And they heard Him pray daily in His own, private prayers.  So they knew how to pray, because they learned from His example and leadership. Still, it was common for people to ask their rabbi to write a prayer they could memorise and make part of their own daily prayers.  John had done this for his followers, and the disciples wanted Jesus to do the same for them.  Beyond that, they must have realised their own prayers lacked something when they heard Jesus pray. They were human, and were sometimes slothful about prayer, sometimes their minds wandered during prayer.  But Jesus delighted in prayer.  The liturgy was a joy to Him.  Seeking fellowship with the Father was natural to Him.  The disciples wanted to learn to pray like that.  But there is still more to their request.  They realised their prayers were prayers of anticipation of the coming Messiah. But here is the Messiah standing before them.  How should they pray now that the Messiah has come?

It is interesting to note that our Lord went to the Jewish Prayer Book, called the Siddur, and took its words to form what we now call, "The Lord's Prayer."  It is interesting because there has been much talk about whether this prayer is a model prayer or a liturgical prayer.  In other words, did Jesus give it to be a pattern for our prayers, so that we might know what to pray for and how to avoid over emphasising our whims and temporal desires, and under emphasising our more important spiritual needs and the glory of God?  Or, did Jesus give this prayer to be memorised by the disciples and passed down to the Church to be said liturgically throughout the generations as we prayed it earlier this morning?  And the answer is, "yes."  It is both.  It is a pattern for our private prayers, and it is a liturgical prayer to be prayed in private and public worship.

As a model it encompasses all our needs.  Everything we could ever pray for is in it.  We can expand on it but never improve on it.  When we pray, for example, "lead us not into temptation," we may expand on it by asking the Lord to keep us from the temptation of those sins to which we are personally most susceptible.  So we might say something like, "'lead us not into temptation,' and especially protect me from the temptation to have a judgmental and unforgiving attitude."

I have noticed most people's prayers tend to concentrate on temporal needs, especially money and health.  We do need to pray about these things, but the Lord's Prayer also teaches us to pray  that God would be honoured by people, and that His will be done by people on earth as it is by saints and angels in Heaven.  It especially teaches us to pray that we, I, will honour Him, and that I may do His will as it is done by those in Heaven.

As a liturgical prayer it used the words of the Jewish liturgy and applied them to the Church.  In other words, it moved from the liturgy of anticipating the Messiah, and began a liturgy for use after the advent of the Messiah.  It is the kind of liturgical prayer rabbis commonly wrote for their congregations to memorise and say daily and in the synagogue, and the disciples were asking Jesus, The Rabbi, to do the same for them. So Jesus gave this one to them and to the Church through them.

In verses 5-13 our Lord moves from giving the prayer to teaching about prayer, especially the relationship between faith and prayer.  His point is to inspire us to trust God when we pray.  Christ is not saying God is going to give us every trinket we ask for, just so we can indulge our whims and desires; and all you have to do is learn to ask for it in "faith," which they define as believing God will give it to you.  That is not faith, and that is not what Jesus is teaching here, or anywhere else in the Bible.  Jesus is teaching us to trust God to take care of us, and to make our prayers more about expressing our trust in Him than about asking Him for things.  I notice the Lord's Prayer emphasises this.  Rather than long pleadings for toys and salary raises, or even the basics of food and shelter, the Lord's prayer simply says, "give us this day our daily bread."  There is great faith in this.  It is a statement of faith.  It is like saying, "Lord, I trust You with all my needs, and I trust You to supply them according to Your wisdom "as may be most expedient" for me."

In verses 5-8 Christ uses the example of a man who gives bread to a friend.  The point being made is not that the friend does not want to get out of bed and give the bread, but will do it if you keep pounding on his door until he gives it just to get rid of you.  Jesus is saying that is not what a friend does, and that is not what God does.  A friend gives because he is a friend, and God gives because He is God. A friend gives because you have a need, and God gives because you have a need. He knows how to give good things, He knows how to give what we need, and He is willing to give it because He is the best real friend you have. Therefore, pray (knock) with this kind of faith.

So far everything has gone as we expected.  The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, and  He gave them a prayer and taught them about prayer.  Now comes the surprise ending.  Jesus says God the Father knows how to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.  When did we start talking about the Holy Spirit?  We started praying about the Holy Spirit from the moment we started praying.  This is so because the Holy Spirit is the earnest of all God plans to give to us.  He is the down payment of the inheritance God has purchased for you through Christ.  It is also true because everything the Christian believer does is accomplished in and by the Spirit.  It is by the Spirit that we came to know and believe in Christ.  It is in the Spirit that we live the Christian life.  It is in the Spirit that we have fellowship with God, and understand the Scriptures, and receive the good of the means of grace.  Primarily, what Christ began to do and teach in His earthy ministry, is continued now by the Holy Spirit.  So to pray for the Holy Spirit is to ask to be a part of the work of Christ.  It is to ask for all of the blessings of Christ, and to be made a part of His new people in the new era of the reign of Christ.  May God grant us His Holy  Spirit. Amen.
+Dennis Campbell

Bishop, Anglican Orthodox Church Diocese of Virginia
Rector, Holy Trinity Anglican Orthodox Church
Powhatan, Virginia

Rev Bryan Dabney of Saint John’s Sunday Sermon
We are fortunate to have Bryan’s Sunday Sermon.  If you want people to come to The Truth, you have to speak the truth, expouse the truth and live the truth.    This is really a good piece and I commend it to your careful reading.

Fifth Sunday after Easter
Rogation Sunday

In John’s Gospel, we have an account of our Lord’s parting remarks prior to his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (St. John 16:23-33). Even though his disciples had just expressed their belief in his divine nature (v.30), our Lord questioned their faith saying, Do ye believe? The meaning is patently obvious. He knew that their faith was weak and that it hung on only so long as he was in their presence. He was about to be taken from them in a few hours, and afterwards, they would flee from him in fear of their own lives. He even tells them so, but not to condemn them. No, such was to serve as a reminder for them later, that they might have his peace— God’s peace— upon them, that they might be enabled to face the trials which lay ahead. He then concludes our lesson with these words: In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

But what did he mean by this last remark? The eminent Christian pastor and author, Matthew Henry, once opined that, “It is the will of Christ this his disciples should have peace within, whatever their troubles may be without. Peace in Christ is the only true peace, and in him alone believers have it.”

Tribulation is often defined as trouble, suffering or affliction, and it also refers to anything which causes such to happen. Our Lord foresaw the troubles which lay before him, as St. Paul explained concerning his sacrifice, ...who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds (Hebrews 12:2b-3). Our Lord saw before him the joy of being once again seated next to the Father. He looked beyond the pain and shame of the cross to that glorious moment when he would come again into the heavenly precincts, having won the victory for his elect over the powers of sin and death.

Still the notion of tribulation, or trouble in this life, is unsettling because no one likes to be troubled in spirit, much less in the body. Sadly, few will appeal to God through Christ to take away their troubles. They are not willing to receive that peace which God offers to assist them in coping with whatever troubles they are facing. God calls his own to be patient, and to rest in him. God desires us to wait upon the him for he has our best interests at heart. He knows what is good for us. Consider the words of Moses to the children of Israel at the shores of the Red Sea, Fear not. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD! (Exodus 14:13). God will indeed be there for us if we are willing to be there for him— by patiently waiting on him to act. Nevertheless, such is often difficult for us to do, especially when we are in the midst of tribulation. For it is in those moments that our human nature calls on us to do everything but wait upon the LORD.

Many more times than we would like to admit, a number of our troubles and afflictions were brought on as a result of our own negligence and trespass. Do we enquire of our own selves concerning whether or not we had a hand in their creation? Too often, God is slighted by those who set the stage for their own troubles and then blame him when he does not end their suffering.

Additionally, it might be of interest to note that God uses trouble and tribulation to bring about our growth in the faith. He tests us and guides us because he has a purpose for us. He also uses such to keep us humble. As Daniel (4:1-37) wrote of King Nebuchadnezzar, we are tempted by the wicked forces to see ourselves as the author of our own good fortune. We may stand and survey the comforts and successes of the moment as being of our own efforts as we resist giving God the glory. It is then, that God takes away those things which we have so pridefully attributed to our mere efforts. And as he strips away our vain thoughts, he also takes away those idols which we had erected to take his place in our hearts. He will bring us to our knees seeking his forgiveness for our sins.

Still, some are stiff-necked and will no doubt blame God for their troubles. But before one sets his or her mind on blaming God for their problems, ponder this: If God did not love you, he would let you march right on your merry way out of his divine protection and into an eternity of separation from him. Therefore, count it all for joy when you lose your idols. For if you are placing anything ahead of the Godhead, you are, my friend, in idolatry and God does not tolerate idolaters.

Our Lord told the disciples to be of good cheer because he had overcome the world. We need to be of the same mind. Being of good cheer does not mean when trouble and tribulation come that we say “Oh goody. I am in tribulation.” Rather we should remember that great good which lies before us in the God’s kingdom, and be cheered in our hearts knowing that he has won for us the victory over all tribulation and trouble. If we are regenerated beings in Christ, we will have the seal of God upon our foreheads.

When he comes again, we will hear his voice and instantly recognize it. What joy there will be for all born-again believers in Jesus Christ. It will be beyond expression other than a shout. The pains and sorrows of this life will fade away never to return to our memory as God will wipe away every tear and comfort and bind up our various hurts so that we are perfected in body and in spirit.

God did not intend for his own to suffer from the ill effects of sin. Nevertheless, we are told that in this world we will have tribulation and trouble. Therefore, keep yourselves wholly unto the Lord, and lean not on the flesh. Keep your spiritual armor on and in good condition. I remember when I was a soldier, I was told that my weapon and equipment would save my life, and that of my fellow soldiers. We were admonished at every turn to clean and care for them daily. Tarnish and rust were our enemies as much as any adversary we would likely face. The same is true for the regenerate believer. As St. Paul noted in II Corinthians 13:5, Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? Self-judgment follows self-examination. As the old expression goes, “Better make sure that you are on the right side of the river” is sage advice for a regenerate Christian. The unregenerate and the reprobate do not have a clue about where they are in relation to God. So when tribulations come, they are overwhelmed by them. Nevertheless we know that when we face such, we have a friend in Jesus Christ who will assist and guide us through the valley of the shadow of death to green pastures and still waters. What a God. What a Saviour.

Let us pray,

ATher, give us minds and hearts that are truly inclined to do thy will; and that via our witness, others might see and be turned into thy fold; for this we ask in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+

Priest, Minister or Pastor – What is in a title?
Our rector, or head of the parish, prefers the office title of minister. Many Anglican clergy prefer the title priest and a few go by the ubiquitous pastor.  As to “Father”, the AOC disallows the use of the title Father.  Why?  Check out what Saint Matthew tells us Jesus said in Chapter 23:

                        8            But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
                        9            And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
                        10            Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

When one addresses clergy members, outside a formal setting, your average high church clergy member loves to be called Father, as in “Hello, Father Smith.” Your average low church clergy member, having read the Bible and being a bit concerned about Matthew 23 and the like, finds the titles off putting and also finds while they do give an air, it is not one that is a useful one, more like putting on airs, so to speak.

Does it make a difference?  Does a rose by any other name not smell the same?

Obviously it does make a difference, for those who like to be called priest and father often believe they are intermediary priests with special powers and some even believe they are making a sacrifice at Holy Communion.  Those who go by Bob, Rev Bob or Mr. Smith, normally understand fully they have no special powers, only special responsibilities, which if carried out give special results; they grok in fullness there was one sacrifice, one time, for all mankind, for all time. There is no sacrifice made at Holy Communion, though we are part of the original sacrifice, we make none. The sacrifice has been made and is made for us.

Our rector goes by Hap, or if you feel very formal or are in a heap of trouble, LTC Arnold, or since he is a telephone colonel, when speaking to him Colonel Arnold. We know who the minister is.  Frankly, titles get in the way.

What about that priest, minister or pastor thing?  Hap far prefers minister.


Because his job is to minister to the needs of our congregation, as well as those he encounters, and spread the Word.

What about priest?

Hap is one, it is the title of the office. It is an okay term, but there is too much of the sacrificing and medieval church there. Those who would tell you the word comes from presbyter are reaching in the present day use.

What about pastor?

Pastor comes from the Latin word for shepherd. Not a bad concept.  The only problem with the title pastor is all those taco shops selling Tacos al Pastor!  Personal preference is for minister, but frankly he does not care much one way or the other.

[1] 36 USC § 119 - Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a “National Day of Prayer.”

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