Verse of the Day

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Holy Week and Easter Sunday

This report covers Holy Week and Easter Sunday. 

Holy Week
The week starting on Palm Sunday and continuing through the Saturday before Easter is commonly called Holy Week and the week in which the passion of our Savior is commemorated.  The week starts with the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem and ends with the death of the Savior on the Cross and the burial of His body in the tomb.  It is a week of ups and downs without parallel and precedes the most joyous day of the year, the Day of the Resurrection or Easter Sunday.

Jesus has a triumphant entry into the city on the First Day of the Week (Sunday); on Thursday night he celebrates the Passover with his disciples in the Upper Room, he prays and agonizes over what he knows is coming in the garden of Gethsemane; Judas betrays him early Friday morning, his most trusted disciple denies him; the Jews condemn him to Pilate who in turn orders him to be beaten and humiliated; that does not satisfy the Jews and at their request, Pilate condemns a man he knows to be innocent to a horrible death to pacify the crowd of Jews assembled by the priests; Jesus is crucified, asks John to take care of his mother and gives up the ghost; his body is taken down and buried; the disciples are dispersed and discouraged; they have listened to their Lord, but not understood.

Think of this week from the disciples’ perspective, on the first day they enter with their leader into Jerusalem in triumph; mid-week they celebrate the joyous feast of the Passover, then their leader is betrayed, defends himself not and is killed.  At the time they surely could not think of this as a Holy Week and certainly not a Good Friday.  Yet on the first day of the week that follows, our Lord is Risen, Risen indeed and delivers the promise of salvation in person.

What a week!

On Monday, Jesus preached in the Temple and further distanced Himself from the people’s vision and demonstrated God’s vision.  He went in to the temple and through out the vendors selling “sacrificial” birds and animals at exorbitant cost, as well as the moneychangers, changing Roman money for Temple money dishonestly.  Far from announcing Himself head of the temple, He announced they had made His Father’s house a den of thieves.  Rather than working within the Jewish establishment, He over turned it!

Jesus and the Pharisees dispute in the Temple. He left for the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. There he delivers the “Mount of Olives Discourse”. Judas agrees to betray him to the Jewish priests for 30 pieces of silver.

The Sanhedrin was gathered together and decided to kill Jesus, even before Pesach if possible. In the meantime, Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper. Here he was anointed on his head by Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, with very expensive ointment of spikenard. Some of the disciples, particularly Judas Iscariot, keeper of the purse, were indignant about this; the oil could have been sold to support the poor.  “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.”  In this case, Judas recalls to mind many politicians.  Jesus reminded them of the importance of first things first and the futility of giving, rather than helping, when He said in Matthew 26.11 “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.”  Judas went to the Sanhedrin and offered them his support in exchange for silver. From this moment on Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus. Judas spied on Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane where he came on his plan.

Maundy Thursday
At the Passover Feast, Jesus and his disciples share the “Last Supper” and He washes their feet. Jesus blesses his bread and wine as his flesh and blood and shares it with his disciples, the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. As Paul tells us in his First Letter to the Corinthians, “…the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.”

At this same dinner, the disciples manage to quarrel over who should be the boss of who.  Jesus tells them he came in the role of a servant, as He is their master, their role is likewise that of servants.  In a move designed to reveal both His knowledge aforehand and our frailty, He tells Peter that Peter will deny Him thrice fore the cock croweth, or dawn breaks.  Peter, a loyal follower, denies what will be shown as clear fact.  Remember the further you let yourself get from the Lord, the weaker you are.  Weakness grows with the cube of the distance.  Stay close.

As the dinner goes on, Jesus tells them one of them will betray Him.  Not able to grasp that any of them would literally betray Him, each asks, “Is it I?”  Judas knows.

Jesus tells the disciples things are heating up, counsels them to arm themselves and goes out to pray in the garden of Gethsemane.  Disciples come with Him, despite their best efforts, they fall asleep.  Night has long fallen, the end of the day is near by our reckoning.  The end is near for Jesus here on earth.  Even nearer for Judas.

Good Friday
Good Friday was the day in which Jesus was tried by the Jews, tried by Pilate, condemned, crucified, died and was buried[1].  Except in hindsight, this was not a Good Friday at all.

In the early hours before sunup, Jesus is betrayed by the “Judas Kiss” and arrested. At sunrise, he is disowned by Peter thrice before the cock croweth. When brought before Caiaphas, the Jewish High Priest, and his Council, he is condemned. He says that he will rise from death after three days.

They hand him over to the Roman authority, Pontius Pilate, who sends him to Herod (Antipas, the son of Herod the Great). Then Pilate asks the crowd who he is to pardon: a murderer, or Jesus? The crowd chooses Barabas and Jesus is sentenced to death. Pilate’s actions made famous the line, “I wash my hands of this.”  While he might have attempted to wash the guilt for the murder of the world’s one truly innocent man on to the Jews, he remains the one who condemned him to death.  Pilate was nothing if not a politician and bureaucrat.  The condemnation was to him the simplest solution to the problem of a Jewish hierarchy’s manufactured crowd’s anger.  What was the death of one Jew to him?  Yet he was worried enough to attempt to wash his hands of the guilt.

Jesus is brought to Calvary, where on the “third hour” (9 am) he is crucified. He is mocked as he hangs between the Bad Thief and the Good Thief, whom he blesses. On the “sixth hour” (noon), darkness covers the land. Jesus cries out “My God, My God, hast Thou forsaken Me? ”

After drinking wine, he commits his spirit to his Father and dies. Matthew reports an earthquake that destroys the Temple. Many understand now that Jesus was the Son of God. His body is taken down and anointed. He is buried in a new tomb donated by Joseph of Arimethea. This is the first day of death.

Dru Arnold read the Epistle for Good Friday, which comes from the Tenth Chapter of Saint Paul’s letter to the Hebrews beginning at the First Verse.

HE law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices, which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt-offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God: he taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from hence-forth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; then saith he, And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Rev Jack Arnold read the Gospel.  Much like the Gospel for Palm Sunday, if you imagine yourself there it will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up at points.  The Gospel came from the Nineteenth Chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John beginning at the First Verse:

ILATE therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Cæsar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment-seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Cæsar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city; and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every sol-dier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

Sermon – Time and Action
Good Friday’s sermon is contained in the BC strip below.  It pretty much covers the meaning of Good Friday.  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3.16 

Holy Saturday
The Jewish Council remembers his vow to return and has the tomb guarded and sealed with a heavy stone. Second day of death. From the time Jesus left his body on the cross until the resurrection, little is known.  It is said in the Apostle’s Creed that “He descended into hell”, where he did battle with the Devil for our souls, a battle the Devil was destined to lose.

Easter Sunday
On the third day of death, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary find the tomb empty, but for an angel who tells them Jesus is already resurrected and is on His way to Galilee. On their way to tell the others, Jesus appears to them.  Death is conquered, the Promise delivered.  Our lives from this day forward are eternal!

Think about the Week that was!
The reason Jesus came to Jerusalem at the Passover was to take the place of the yearly sacrifice by one perfect sacrifice, one time, for all time and for all mankind. His was the blood marking our door that the destroyer might pass over.  The week started on a triumphant note and ended up trying to do between there were windows into the future, glimpses of the past, moments of despair, moments of terror, moments of confusion; but in the end joy and the ultimate triumph.

The Anglican Orthodox Church Worldwide
Office of the Presiding Bishop

PO Box 128

Statesville, N.C. 28687

Easter, 2014 Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor 5:7-8)

How excited are children at the coming of the Easter Bunny with his eggs at Easter. But wait! What does a rabbit or eggs have to do with the Resurrection of our Lord?[2] Absolutely nothing! It is a sad fact that we have allowed our most sacred holy days (derivation of holiday) to be usurped by paganism’s cheap alternatives. The bunny and the egg is a symbol of fertility so much esteemed by the gods of Babylon. When a child is asked what is so exciting about Christmas, he will most usually say, “Santa Claus.” What has a fat, jolly, old man to do with the significance of Christmas. Should not Christ be a the center-point of Easter and Christmas. Our governmental institutions cannot even sanction the use of the proper names for these holidays, but rather preferring Winter and Spring Break to designate Christmas and Easter. But none of their devious measures can nullify what happened at Christmas or at Easter.

2014 years ago, Christ died for us. He not only died, but He rose from the Garden Tomb on the third day. Even our calendars give evidence of that event. So the calendars, too, are under attack by those who fear the mention of the Lord’s name because of their sins. They wish to designate the calendar date as the year 2014 C.E. (Common Era). But that is so transparent when you ask, “Why do we date our years beginning 2,014 years ago? What HAPPENED then?”

Easter is our Passover, and I want to plead with all who believe that we keep Passover now, tomorrow, and into Eternity Future. As we observe the Easter glory of the Resurrection of Christ, let us bear in mind that He was that Lamb of God slain before the Foundation of the World. He is the One who bore our sins as well as our penalty on a rough-hewn wooden cross at Calvary. He is the One who conquered death and Hell and arose on the Third Day. He thereby became our Passover, and the True Passover of Abraham and the Promised Seed of Isaac.

May our Church always be the Church that honors God and His Word at Easter, and every other day.

God bless each of us who fear and love our Lord this Easter Season, and always.

+Jerry L. Ogles
Presiding Bishop & Metropolitan
The Anglican Orthodox Church Worldwide

Easter Sunday

Today we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, “Christ the Lord IS Risen today!”  Our sunrise temperature on Mount Olympus was a reasonable 48°F which rose to a lovely 76°F under bright sunny skies.  In celebration of Easter, we had a Sonrise service which started at 1030.  Hey, this is California, how early do you expect?  Plus, a number of our people have long way to come, we had six people for service; the very most in some time!

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.  Some from Bishop Jerry, many from Rev Bryan Dabney, a few from other places, some from Rev Geordie Menzies-Grierson, but overall mostly from Bryan.  He always has some great ones to share.  On to the On Point quotes –

On Fear
TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On the very comforting fact that Jesus was afraid.

2 April 1955

In great haste. I hope your next letter will bring me news that the operation has gone swimmingly. Fear is horrid, but there’s no reason to be ashamed of it. Our Lord was afraid (dreadfully so) in Gethsemane. I always cling to that as a very comforting fact. All blessings.
Jack Lewis
The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

On Forgiveness
I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself very carefully) asking Him to do something quite different. I am asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says “Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology, I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.” But excusing says “I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it, you weren’t really to blame.”. . .

Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it.
Jack Lewis
The Weight of Glory

On happiness
What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could “be like gods”—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
Jack Lewis
Mere Christianity

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!
Samuel Adams
On Free Will
The sin, both of men and of angels, was rendered possible by the fact that God gave them free will: this surrendering a portion of His omnipotence (it is again a deathlike or descending movement) because He saw that from a world of free creatures, even though they fell, He could work out (and this is the re-ascent) a deeper happiness and a fuller splendour than any world of automata would admit.
Jack Lewis

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
St. Matthew 10:28

Remember, that till the Lord Jesus Christ comes again there always will be wise and foolish in the church. Now which are you? The wise are they who have that wisdom which the Holy Ghost alone can give. They know their own sinfulness. They know Christ as their own precious Saviour. They know how to walk and please God, and they act upon their knowledge.
JC Ryle
19th century Anglican bishop and author
Are You Ready For The End Of Time, p. 17

What can we learn from Judas Iscariot?
1.     Simply bearing the label of “a disciple of Christ” does not mean one is saved.
2.     There are many faithless followers of Christ who would betray Him and the gospel for the right price.
3.     Those who would greet you with a kiss may not be on your side. That those who betray the righteous will suffer God’s judgment.
4.     Those who feign righteousness in order to bring people into their false religious fellowships— synagogues of Satan— are as much betrayers of our Lord as Judas was.
5.     Any benefit received via treachery against those who are godly will be limited and temporary.
6.     In this life, we will find tares among the wheat just as Judas was a tare among the disciples of our Lord.
Rev Bryan Dabney
Each Sunday there are Propers: special prayers and readings from the Bible.  There is a Collect for the Day; that is a single thought prayer, most written either before the re-founding of the Church of England in the 1540s or written by Bishop Thomas Cranmer, the first Archbishop of Canterbury after the re-founding. 

The Collect for the Day is to be read on Sunday and during Morning and Evening Prayer until the next Sunday. The Epistle is normally a reading from one of the various Epistles, or letters, in the New Testament.  The Gospel is a reading from one of the Holy Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  The Collect is said by the minister as a prayer, the Epistle can be read by either a designated reader (as we do in our church) or by one of the ministers and the Holy Gospel, which during the service in our church is read by an ordained minister or our Deacon Striker.

The propers are the same each year, except if a Red Letter Feast, that is one with propers in the prayerbook, falls on a Sunday, then those propers are to be read instead, except in a White Season, where it is put off.  Red Letter Feasts, so called because in the Altar Prayerbooks the titles are in red, are special days.  Most of the Red Letter Feasts are dedicated to early saints instrumental in the development of the church, others to special events.  Some days are particularly special and the Collect for that day is to be used for an octave (eight days) or an entire season, like Advent or Lent.

The Propers for today are found on Page 163-164, with the Collect first:

Easter Sunday.
The Collect.

LMIGHTY God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life; We humbly beseech thee that, as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end.  Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said daily throughout Easter Week.

Dru Arnold read the Epistle, which came from Saint Paul’s letter to the Colossians, beginning at the First Verse of the Third Chapter:

f ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 

As usual, Paul is exhorting us to be the New Man, to put away the trappings of the old and go forward.  He asks us to do what anyone who is successful does, hang around with those you want to be like in the end and to emulate their actions.  In this case rather that earthly success, Paul is helping prepare us for eternal success through salvation.

Hap Arnold read the Holy Gospel which came from the Twentieth Chapter of the Gospel of Saint John beginning at the First Verse.  It is the straightforward accounting of the discovery by Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter and John that the Lord was risen indeed.

he first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

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

Today is Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This is the central event of not only the Christian Year; but of Christianity and the entire world.  Witness the terms AD and BC.  Anno Domini (the year of our Lord) and Before Christ.

When you google images for the term Easter, you find 95 percent of the images, eggs, bunnies and chocolates.  This is the first page of results, no kidding!  That is not our celebration. 

Christmas celebrates the incarnation or human birth of Jesus, the Christ of God. Epiphany celebrates His revealing to the Gentiles; that would be us!  Good Friday remembers, the word celebrate hardly fits here, the one time sacrifice for all mankind for all time by our Lord and Savior (that is where the word savior comes in) that we might be accounted as perfect when we stand before Him at the final judgment day.  Today, Easter is, in Spanish La Resurreccion, in English the Resurrection, the Return to Life of Jesus, Christ of God, who returned from death, from Hell, to deliver His promise of eternal life in person!

 Consider these words from the Collect:

… Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life; We humbly beseech thee that, as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect…

In the Collect, we acknowledge that God sent His Son to be our Savior to give us eternal life.  We ask His Help that our hearts might desire good and with His Help put those desires into action so that we might accept that eternal life offered us by that same Jesus Christ.

Paul then tells us, if we say we are with Christ, we must act with Him.  We must continually seek to better our selves by setting our sights on Him in heaven and guiding our actions by Him, by associating with others likeminded.  We must turn our backs on this earth if we truly face heaven. As Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:24 One cannot serve two masters.” We must choose Him or Mammon. I know which one I choose, hopefully you do too as well.

When we come to Holy Week, we find a triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, triumphant in the eyes of the beholders, not the center of the action.  The crowd, with some of the same people who later condemned Him, welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with the expectation He came to free them from the Roman yoke, to hold them up, to put their feet on the Romans’ necks.  Yet, He knew where He was going and what would happen. He was in control of the action, he knew what was going to happen. He would not have done the plan if He didn’t know that it would work. He knew that the end result would be a success, but He also knew that there would be incredible pain and suffering involved on the road to His resurrection.

As He saw the road ahead was filled with obstacles, the pain and suffering, so too, do we know that it will be filled with hard times and suffering also. But like He, we must preserve on the straight and narrow path, refusing to ever give up. He never gave up on us, why would we give up on Him? 

The week built towards the First Day of the First Week of the New Covenant.   Jesus knew what He was doing.

Reflect on this, during World War II on D-Day, the first waves were National Guard and new recruits.  No veterans of Torch, Norway or Dieppe.  Why?  Because all the soldiers were patriots and all were ready to defend their country; but like Peter, the new guys did not know what that really meant.

Crucifixion, a cruel painful death.  Painful beyond our comprehension.  Think about the mechanics of being nailed to a cross.  Think about that.  Then think about the descent into hell to do battle with the devil.  Think about that.  No matter what you imagine, like D-Day the reality exceeded the expectation. 

Yet Jesus, being God, knew exactly what He was volunteering for.  And He rode towards the sound of gunfire. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  John 15.13

Jesus went with full knowledge aforethought where no one would go – FOR YOU, FOR ME, FOR US.  That is Good Friday’s lesson.

Today, The Resurrection, Easter or as it is called in Spanish, Dia de la Resurreccion, is the day that the promise of everlasting life was delivered. It is the completion of the sacrifice He made for us on Good Friday, it is His triumphant return from the depths of Hell, having procured an eternal victory for all of those who would truly follow Him and act upon His name.

This one perfect sacrifice, one time, for all time and for all mankind was made for YOU.  All you need to do to get the benefit is follow Christ.  So, what does that mean?  See John 14.23:  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

It is not if you attend church or not that makes you a Christian, it is if you do what He asks of you.  Going to church just gives you help and encouragement.  It makes you part of a team, part of a coherent unit.  After all, the more people there are in a group like the church, the more stable it will be. And more stable also will our spiritual lives be if we have friends and family involved in it as well, to keep us on that straight and narrow path.

Today, you have a choice, just like every day.  Today you can be a Christer, that is one who celebrates Christmas and Easter, or you can be a Christian.  One who follows Christ.

If you choose being a Christian, be prepared for constant failure and shortfall of goal.  So long as you do your best and never give up Christ will account you as perfect when it counts.

Today, the first day in Eternity or another day off your life towards death.  Your choice.  Jesus made His, you make yours.

When the time comes, 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 - Easter Sunday
St Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church
20 April 2014, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)

Easter Sunday.
The Collect.

LMIGHTY God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life; We humbly beseech thee that, as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end.  Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said daily throughout Easter Week.

There were two Marys who came to the Tomb that Easter morning, and two who did not.

You will remember from our reading for Easter Even that the women were first to the foot of the cross, last to leave the cross, last to leave the sepulcher on the beginning of Sabbath on Friday evening, and now these dear women are FIRST to the Open Tomb of the Garden!

But where was Mary, the mother of Jesus?

She did not come to the Tomb because of perhaps extreme depression over the events of the past days. Her heart was pierced by the same lance that pierced the heart of her Son, Jesus.
  Mary of Bethany who loved Jesus as much as any others did not come. Why not?

Perhaps it is because Mary of Bethany was the only one out of all the disciples who KNEW that Christ would die on the cross. Her absence at the Tomb also suggests that she KNEW He would rise again.
  How did she know these things beyond all others among the disciples? Because Mary always sat at the feet of Jesus and allowed His Words to sink deeply into her heart. She drew daily on these treasures in her heart and contemplated on every word He spoke. His words were translated by her Love.

1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. 3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, 5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. 7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. 8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. (John 12:1-8 (KJV) 

But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: She had come to the Tomb earlier that morning with the other women, but after they had left, she returned to the place of sorrow.
  Poor Mary of Magdalena! She had come to anoint the dead body of Christ and was disappointed that there was no dead body! Little did she know that there was, instead, a living body. Her tears were tears of extreme remorse! “and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, 12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.”  Most normal people would have been shocked at the appearance of two angels in the tomb, but Mary’s heart was obsessed over the missing body of Christ.
 “13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. “

This was a precious moment in the minds of the Angels for they knew who approached Mary from the Garden, but poor Mary did not know!
 14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Hot, salty tears streamed from Mary’s distressed eyes. She could barely see more than a figure approaching. At this early hour, how could it be any other than the gardener? It was truly the Gardener of her heart, but she could not recognize Him. Christ often approaches us perhaps in our moments of greatest pain, yet we fail to recognize Him.
 15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? The same words the Angel; of the Lord uttered to poor Hagar in the Wilderness when she feared her only son would die of thirst. She too was blind to the Fountain of Water – blinded by tears!
  “She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” Mary had been a sinner, but Jesus had forgiven all. Her placed her weary feet on solid ground and lifted her unbecoming yoke of sin. Her love now compels her to honor Him, at least, in His death.
 16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. 
What was this? She KNEW that voice well when she heard her name called. Only One could say her name with that mixture of love and kindness. MARY.  She never before knew her name to be so beautiful!

 “She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.” There was never a question in Mary’s mind after she heard her name called. It was the same voice that penetrated the stone tomb of Lazarus, and the Voice that went always to the center of Mary’s heart. When Christ calls your name, you can be sure to hear it and know Him.  
Mary made as if to grab hold of Christ – to embrace Him with unmitigated joy! 17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
  Amazing to me that the only person to understand that Christ must die and rise again was Mary of Bethany; and the first to see Him after His resurrection was Mary of Magdelena.  She, too, was the very first person to carry the news of the fullness of the Gospel to the Apostles. Only the heart of a woman can love as did these two Marys.
  18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her. John 20:11-18 (KJV)  
When the women had come to the tomb earlier, they wondered who should roll away the great stone. It was not only a great stone, but it was sealed by the Roman Consul, Pontius Pilate, and a Roman guard contingent posted to keep an eye on the Tomb.
  1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. Mark 16:1-4 (KJV)

Tombs do not usually provide for an exit. This tomb was cut from solid rock. Such was never before necessary, but an exit was prepared for Christ. He would not be kept in a stone sepulcher.  
When the Lord raised Lazarus, He commanded the stone be rolled away – “Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. 40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. John 11:38-44 (KJV)

Please observe how Christ allows us a role in the bringing other souls from the death of sin into the newness of life in Him. He commanded outside the tomb at Bethany: “Take ye away the stone” And when Lazarus had responded to His beckoning Voice and came out from the Tomb, he was wrapped tightly in grave clothes. “Loose him, and let him go!”
  But no mortal can have any part in the resurrection of the Lord of Glory! This must be a God-Only event! A contingent of Roman guards was posted to ensure that the stone remained in place. Man tried to keep Christ in the grave, but God had other plans!
1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. 2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. Matt 28:1-4 (KJV)

If you are secure in Christ, you too shall rise from the tomb as He did. No man can save you, and no man can keep you in a lost state. Only Christ can give life eternal to all who believe!

Our adversary, the devil, has placed a sealed stone over the entrance to our hearts. It proclaims, as the Roman seal proclaimed, this is the property of Me!  No other admitted here! But when Christ comes to your heart, He commands that the stone be rolled away. Your heart had always been a tomb. It was destined for the eternity of death. But when Christ commands the stone to be rolled away, He enters your heart and it becomes a Temple! He is no stone, but He is the Rock of Ages. He will keep your heart safely always.

Believest thou this?

Roy Morales-Kuhn, Bishop and Pastor - St. Paul's Anglican Church - Anglican Orthodox Church
Bishop Roy is pastor of the biggest AOC parish West of the Mississippi and is in charge of the Diocese of the MidAmerica.  Roy’s sermons are well done and easy to understand.  You always get something good out of them.  Today is no exception.

Easter 2014
Holy Communion
The Gate of Everlasting Life
Col. 3:1-4    John: 20.1-10

HE first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.
5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
On that first Easter morning all the foreshadowing prophecies were fulfilled about the coming Messiah. These prophecies that pertained to the Living Sacrifice, the Lamb of God, who would be slain for the sins of the world. And yet he would not see corruption, he would not molder in the grave. He would rise again, as he even said, after three days. The story of Jonah, a foreshadow of Christ death, burial and resurrection, three days in the belly of the great fish, comes back from what would have been certain death. The difference of course, Christ did die.       The evidence was the blood and water that flowed from his side when the soldier pierced his side with the spear. Again, an indication of death, the heart being stopped, the blood separated from the serum. A sure sign that the body had expired. Christ had not fainted. He did not swoon as some have later posited. He was dead. And yet from this death he arose. He was and is victorious over death. He overcame it and so will we who are his believers. Each and every       Sunday is a celebration of this triumph. In the early church it was this Sunday, Easter, that new converts were baptized into the church. It was this that the great promise of life over death was clearly taught.

As the disciples went back to their homes that Easter morning they were most likely amazed, confused, maybe even scared. They did not know what to do next.

We will see over the next 40 days, with Christ Jesus revealing himself to his followers and some 500 others a clear message will be forth coming. Christ filled in the details that the disciples had forgotten about his first Advent. He will explain what was to come. And most importantly there will be this witness to his resurrected body, a fact that will cause people to willing die when they are forced to make a choice between the risen Christ and a pagan god/government or any other adversary.

Let us reflect on the passage from Paul’s letter to the church at Colossi.     

f ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

If we turn our eyes upon Jesus, if we meditate, read, search the Word of God, the Bible for the meaning of this wonderful Day, then the things of earth will grow strangely dim. Let us be dead to the cares and worries of this life, let us be hid in Christ. Because Christ is our life and in him shall we appear in glory.

What a wonderful promise.

lmighty God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ has overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life; We humbly beseech thee that, as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end.     Amen

CHRIST our Passover is sacrificed for us : therefore let us keep the feast,
Not with the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness : but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Cor. v. 7.
CHRIST being raised from the dead dieth no more : death hath no more dominion over him.
For in that he died, he died unto sin once : but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin : but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom. vi. 9.
CHRIST is risen from the dead : and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
For since by man came death : by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die : even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Cor. xv. 20.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

                                     HE IS RISEN !           HE IS RISEN INDEED !
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.

Easter Sunday

In today’s epistle (Colossians 3:1-4), St. Paul admonished the church at Colosse to seek those things which are in heaven where our Lord now sits at the right hand of the Father. Throughout this epistle, he sought to direct the focus of the church on the person of Christ and away from following after the vain traditions of men and the rudiments of this world (Colossians 2:8). For the latter are the Devil’s tools which he uses to convince the unsuspecting to accept a materialistic or naturalistic worldview instead of accepting a biblical one via a proper spiritual discernment (I Corinthians 2:13-14). The Bible clearly states that we should live to please God, and agreeable to that end the apostle instructed believers to seek those things which are above where Christ is seated.

Very many Christians have a poor understanding of just who Jesus Christ is and why he came into our world. They have been fed a steady diet of New Age platitudes about our Lord and almost nothing to support a biblical view of him and his work. What they need to be taught authoritatively is that Jesus Christ is the only person who makes sure and certain our redemption from this body of sin and death (Acts 4:10-12). His life and ministry fulfilled the biblical prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah, and his atoning sacrifice for sin (Acts 3:18; I St. John 2:2). His death opened the way for us to receive a complete pardon for our sins which the blood of bulls and goats could never wash away so completely and permanently (Hebrews 10:4-18). His resurrection, is the blessed hope of all believers as God has promised that we will not perish, but have everlasting life in his kingdom (St. John 3:16). His ascension gives us the further hope of being raised up to that place of God, the New Jerusalem, where our names are recorded as citizens of his kingdom and joint heirs with Christ. That is what ought to be taught and preached within the churches (St. John 14:1-3; Revelation 21:9-27).

Alas, in today’s world there are many churches that are not following the aforementioned prescription and this has led to spiritual complacency amongst their membership. These sleepy and idle Christians lack discernment regarding biblical truths which can be directly attributed to their not being taught a biblical worldview. Without a proper biblical worldview— one that emphasizes the absolute truth of God’s word over the words of man; that exalts the name of Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation; that affirms those behaviors and attitudes given in the moral law, more particularly the Ten Commandments; and firmly rejects all that is unholy and impure— one should not be surprised that these poor souls will have no real faith in the Christ of Scripture. Their diminished understanding of him as their Saviour has earned them the dubious distinction of being at best equated with Laodicea, or at worst, with Sodom. Through the deceptive teachings of their church leaders, a host of unsuspecting Christians have come to reject the fundamentals of the Christian faith in favor another gospel (Galatians 1:6-8). They have been told by their leaders only those things that they want to hear, and not what the Scriptures clearly state (II St. Timothy 4:3). This is one of Satan’s greatest achievements: the infiltration of the Church at all levels by his “fifth columnists”, or as the Bible calls them, hirelings and ravening wolves (St. John 10:12; St. Matthew 7:15).

To the biblically uniformed, that might seem a bit harsh, but it is not in the least if they would but open their eyes to what has been going on in the church over its history. Over fifty years ago Redbook magazine conducted a survey of 100 students in eight of America’s leading seminaries for their August edition in 1961. The survey found that 56% of the students did not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ; only 1% were convinced that there would be a second coming of our Lord; a mere 29% said they believed in a real heaven and hell; and only 2% believed in the immortality of man.
Now, fast-forward to this century where Dr. Albert Mohler has noted that “some theologians and denominations have embraced a theology so fluid and indeterminate that even an atheist cannot tell the believers and unbelievers apart...” He cited a recent study of pastors who had in essence lost their faith and were now in fact atheists. All interviewed had in their early years professed a belief in God and in his Christ; but over the years since, they had abandoned the true faith because it was no longer believable in their minds. Dr. Mohler closed his commentary with an historical apologia written in 1739 by Gilbert Tennett. Pastor Tennett once delivered a sermon entitled, On the Danger of an Unconverted Ministry wherein he described unbelieving pastors as a curse upon the church stating in part that they prey upon the faith and the faithful much as “caterpillars [who] labor to devour every green thing.” Dr. Mohler concluded that these persons should be removed from their pulpits and if they themselves will not resign, then “the churches must muster the integrity to eject them.”

Consider how the aforementioned observations have accurately sketched out the true picture of modern Christianity. If a significant number of ministers within the whole of modern Christendom do not believe in the truth of God’s word written, how then can their congregations ever come to know the truth about our Lord? Their ministries are thus ministries of death to all who would come to them for spiritual counsel. Our Lord once pronounced woe on such false teachers when he said, But woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in (St. Matthew 23:13).

Sadly, the success of their false teaching has been substantiated by a recent Barna[3] study where less than one percent of the participants agreed with the following six statements:

1.     Absolute moral truth exists;
2.     The Bible is completely accurate in all of the principles it teaches;
3.     The personage of Satan does exist;
4.     A person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or by doing good works;
5.     Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth;
6.     God is the all-knowing, all powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.

Now we know that apostasy has been a noxious thorn in the side of the Christian Church throughout its history. St. Paul tells us that even in his day there were those who denied the resurrection. He responded, But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is also in vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable (I Corinthians 15:12-19). And St. John in his first epistle warned us to believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is com in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error (I St. John 4:1-6).

Consider also the words of our Lord who warned, Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits (St. Matthew 7:15-16). How then can one dare take a pulpit and not believe the truth of every word found within the Scriptures? How can one dare teach biblical truths when that person does not regard them as truth? Such can only be done by a person whose conscience has been seared by Satan.

Doubtless you have heard the tortured appraisals of those who listen to such ministers on a weekly basis. Their continuance in such churches requires some truly amazing feats of mental gymnastics. They may hem and haw in discomfort over a sermon, or Sunday school lesson, or they might even complain about it at length. But they cannot summon up the will to do that which is essential for their spiritual well-being which is to remove themselves from such places as God has commanded in his word written. Their recalcitrance is patently historical and sadly commonplace. Scripture supplies us with an excellent example of such behavior.

Consider the children of Israel at the time of the Exodus. In almost every trying situation that came upon them, their default response was “Let’s return to Egypt.” Their willingness to seek re-enslavement at the hands of their former masters affirms the notion that people are more comfortable within the confines of even a known evil versus those things that they might not fully understand, and that includes God’s promises of redemption and protection. Sad to say, such is the rule rather than the exception in today’s modern church. Nevertheless, Christians ought to know better because God has clearly stated such in his word.

And in regard to that last point, it has been my aim since the founding of this church to preach and teach only sound Christian doctrine. Our Lord Jesus Christ has won for us the victory which we celebrate this day. He is risen! We know this for, in the words of the simple Bible song, “...the Bible tells me so.”

The resurrection of our Lord heralded something new in creation. God promised to save his elect from the bondage of sin and death which had come about on account of man’s fall in the Garden. On that first Good Friday, God put upon Christ our sins as he died the death on that rude cross. But early on that first Easter dawn, the gift of God to mankind, who bore our stripes and took our shame, came triumphantly forth from the tomb guaranteeing to all who are his elect and beloved that they would never be separated from God again. On that first Easter, God certified his finished work of redemption with an empty tomb and a risen Christ. All of Satan’s helpers in the modern Christendom cannot set aside this important event. They can stand up for a perverse and pagan universalism, or they may smear over the various social sins with untempered mortar; but they cannot make any of what God has ordained as evil to be good except by deception.

Therefore being freed from the bondage of sin and eternal death, we should follow St. Paul’s admonition as noted in our epistle (Colossians 3:1-2), If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. That clearly means that we are to live our lives in obedience to God’s will and not our own. We may not readily understand the proscriptions and prescriptions of God, but we ought to heed them nonetheless. If you have a question, consult the word. If you receive a challenge to your faith, respond with “It is written... “ If you are confused, pray. And in all things seek first the kingdom of God, and have faith in believing for God’s word is truth.

Let us pray,

ather, assist us in our Christian pilgrimage by both strengthening and encouraging us through the workings of the Holy Ghost; that through our word and work we might be a beacon to others; that they too might inquire of us concerning thy gracious favor, which awaits all who will receive thy Son as their Saviour; for this we ask in the name of our resurrected Lord, even Jesus Christ. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+

[1] The tomb was a new one which had been hewn for Joseph of Arimathea.  Joseph, a native of Arimathea, was apparently a man of wealth, and probably a member of the Sanhedrin an "honourable counsellor, who waited (or "was searching") for the kingdom of God", according to John, he was secretly a disciple of Jesus. As soon as he heard the news of Jesus' death, he "went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus." Pilate, reassured by a centurion that the death had really taken place, allowed Joseph's request. Joseph immediately purchased fine linen and went to Golgotha to take the body down from the cross. There, assisted by Nicodemus, he took the body and wrapped it in the fine linen, sprinkling it with the myrrh and aloes that Nicodemus had brought. The body was then conveyed to the new tomb in rock in his garden nearby. There they laid it, in the presence of Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and other women, and rolled a great stone to the entrance, and departed. This was done speedily, "for the Sabbath was drawing on". Joseph of Arimathea appears in some early New Testament apocrypha.

Although there are no written records until the fifth century, tradition holds Joseph of Arimethea, who provided the tomb for the burial of Jesus Christ, brought Christianity and the Holy Grail to England in 37 AD and built a church in Glastonbury in Somerset.
[2] Lest anyone underestimate the degradation of the Resurrection, google the term “Easter” – rabbits and eggs dominate the results in the high ninety percentiles – FOR REAL!
[3] The Barna Group appears to be dedicated to the destruction of God’s people, or at least documenting it for a profit.

No comments: