Verse of the Day

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pentecost - commonly known as Whitsunday

Today is Whitsunday, also known as Pentecost

Pentecost which is commonly called Whitsunday and the time of Whitsuntide
The octave (8 days) following Whitsunday. In the Book of Common Prayer, the Monday and Tuesday after Whitsunday are Red Letter days, so called because days provided with a proper Collect (prayer), Epistle, and Gospel were marked in the calendar in red ink. "Whitsuntide" (formerly also spelled "Whitsontide") or "Whitsun Week" is derived from Middle English whitsonday, from Old English hwita sunnandæg, "White Sunday", in reference to the white ceremonial robes formally worn on this day.
Whitsunday marks the Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on the 50th day after Easter. It ranks, after Easter, as the second festival of the Church. In the West, the Vigil of Pentecost soon became a secondary date for baptisms, with a ceremony resembling the Paschal Vigil Service. (Pentecost is the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks, which falls on the 50th day after Passover.) As the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles on this day (Acts 2: 1), the name was applied to the Christian feast celebrating this event, popularly called "Whitsunday".

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 –

Good & evil increase at compound interest. The decisions you & I make everyday are of infinite importance.
CS Lewis

To be prepared for war, is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

President George Washington
First Annual Message, 1790

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
St. Mark 7:21-23

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
I Corinthians 6:19-20

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
I St. John 5:12

Those that bind up their happiness in the favor of men make themselves an easy prey to the temptations of Satan.
Matthew Henry
17th and 18th century English pastor and author

While it is true that all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, it is not true that a mere utterance of that phrase will suffice. The utterance must be a genuine and sincere confession of faith from the heart and not the head. It must be followed with evidence of salvation. A new man must be in evidence following the confession.
Jerry L. Ogles
20th and 21st century Presiding Bishop Anglican Orthodox Church Worldwide

How often do we supply our enemies with the means of our own destruction!
6th century BC Greek philosopher and author
(The Eagle and the Arrow)

As in medieval times, American citizens can be thrown into dungeons and never accounted for. No evidence or charges need be presented to a court. No trial is required, and no conviction. As in tyrannies, US citizens can be executed at the sole discretion of the despot in the Oval Office, who sits there drawing up lists of people to be murdered. Protestors exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights...[have been] attacked by...police...Whistleblowers who [have reported] the government’s crimes are prosecuted despite the statute that protects them... Peace activists...[have] had their homes invaded by FBI... [for protesting against] Washington’s illegal wars... [which] are war crimes under the Nuremberg standard established by the US government itself.
Paul Craig Roberts
20th and 21st century American statesman, political commentator and author
(Can Americans Escape the Deception, 7-4-12)

What can we learn from the Roman conquest of Gaul?
·      Mere numbers on the battlefield does not guarantee victory.
·      Training and discipline play a huge role in any victory, especially where those traits are had by those of the few.
·      Generals tend to embellish their dispatches especially if they are read publically as they are billboards for their next step up the ladder of success. That having a prepared camp or place of refuge can improve one’s chances of success.
·      A conquered people can pose a great danger if they are provoked to rise up against their conquerors.
·      With each new conquest, the appetite of the conqueror increases and will eventually surpass his ability to keep and maintain his holdings.
·      All military power is predicated on very large amounts of money, resources and population.
Rev Bryan Dabney

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
HL Mencken
20th century American writer

Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
Hermann Goering
20th century German aviator, Air Marshal of the Luftwaffe and Nazi war criminal
(interview with Gustave Gilbert, 4-18-1946)

The Propers for today are found on Page 180-182, with the Collect first:

Pentecost, commonly called Whitsunday.
The Collect.

 GOD, who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen.

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

This morning’s Epistle came from the Second Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles beginning at the First Verse, which consisted primarily of a listing of all the countries and regions surrounding Jerusalem, or at least the hardest to pronounce ones, and a description of the actions of the Apostles when the Holy Ghost came upon them.  But, you will also notice that the coming of the Holy Ghost demonstrated the universality of The Word, for when they spoke in tongues, The Word spoke to each in their own language.  The Word was not some stranger’s language, but their very own!

HEN the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilæans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judæa, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

Today’s Gospel came from the Fourteenth Chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John beginning at the Fifteenth Verse:

ESUS said unto his disciples, If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 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. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.

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

Consider these words from the Collect:

sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort 

When Jesus left on Ascension Day, we lost a teacher here on earth.  We still have Him as Redeemer and Savior; but what to do for understanding?  In response to His departure, God sent us the Holy Ghost.

Who is this Holy Ghost?

We worship the One True God, a triune God, that is Three in One; Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  Most people have no trouble understanding the concept of God the Father, Christians seem to get God the Son, but many seem to have a bit of difficulty with the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost has been there since the beginning.  He breathed life into the world, yet His actions seemed to be sporadic until Pentecost.

Well, today is Pentecost, the time one normally thinks of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God, the Comforter.  When people do think of Him, they oft think of the actions described in the words of Saint Luke in the Acts of the Apostles.  The dancing and speaking in tongues.  All that happened so we might understand that with the help of the Holy Ghost we might bring the Word to all mankind.  The Word of God is a universal language.  When the disciples spoke in tongues, the people around them heard the Word in their own language, not an odd combination of sounds that no one understood.  The disciples spoke and were heard by those around them in their own language, not Klingon.  It is not for us to speak in tongues without study; that was a one shot deal.  It was designed to show us that we could, with hard work and persistence bring the Gospel to the world in the language of the people. Which is what the purpose of God sending the Holy Ghost was for, was for us to bring the light of Christ into the world for all to see and believe upon. The Holy Ghost allows us to spread His Word amongst all the people in the world and to convince them and let them believe. It opens our eyes to what is good for us and what is not good for us, so that we know what to believe and what not to believe.

The Holy Ghost is also our direct connection to God. When Jesus left, the disciples were distant from God. When they were not near Jesus, they did not do as well as when they were with Him. See Peters actions after the arrest of Jesus for an example, thrice denying His Lord. The Holy Ghost came so that we would have understanding and a direct connection to God, wireless as it were, instead of having to be tethered to Christ.

If we allow the Holy Ghost into our hearts, we will never be far from Him, and He will never be far from us. We have to consciously let Him in, He will not come uninvited into our heats. The Holy Ghost will help us understand Scripture and will give us guidance on our earthly lives, as we work towards staying on the straight and narrow path towards heaven.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that He would be leaving, but the Father would send a facilitator; one who whose presence, if we let Him into our hearts, would let us understand His Word with those self same hearts.  The Comforter would bring the Love of God into our hearts to let us feel His Love.  He will help us understand that we are striving to be one with God, with Jesus and with the Holy Ghost.  Our love can be demonstrated by our actions.  Which are only possible if we allow the Holy Ghost into our hearts and believe and Act upon our faith! For if we love Jesus, we will do as He asked.

If you think about it, you will recall that the second half of the Book of Luke is titled The Acts of the Apostles.  It is not the thoughts, the beliefs, the feelings, the meditations, the inner feelings or any other touchy feely, it is the ACTS.  If you believe, act on those beliefs. The Holy Ghost is here to help us know how to act, we will just have to let Him into our hearts, and then ACT.

We need the help of the Holy Ghost to learn what we are to do, how we are to do it and most of all to do it.  Action, not just diction.

Pray for His continual presence in your heart.

Heaven is at the end of 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 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:

The Harvest Begins
Acts 2:1-11, John 14:15-31
June 8, 2014

Pentecost was a harvest festival.  It was a happy time because the gardens and vineyards were beginning to yield their increase, and the first fruits of the season were being harvested.  In our area we have already seen vast fields of hay gathered, and in the gardens the greens have been producing for some time, and some of the peas and carrots and beets are ready or nearly ready to pick.  In our country, we control animal reproduction to ensure a constant, fresh supply of meat, but in first century Israel the animals usually gave birth in the Spring.  So, at Pentecost the country would be full of chicks and goslings and lambs and calves and foals.  It was a joyful time, for the people were entirely dependent on the cycle of seedtime and harvest.  All people in all cultures are dependent upon that cycle.  Most, in our day don’t realize it, but they are.  They don’t realize that a drought could mean water no longer comes out of the faucet, and food no longer gets to the grocery store.  I think one of the major problems of our time is the separation of vast majorities of people from the land, and the corresponding lack of understanding of the cycles of nature and the real source of their food.  Living away from the land, in cities and subdivisions, they no longer produce their own food, and, not having real, productive work to do, children spend their time on video games and cell phones and entertainment activities.  There may be nothing wrong with some of these things, but a constant diet of them gives a warped view of life.  Some get the idea that everything they need comes from the store and the faucet, and as long as the government regulates things to keep the supplies coming, they don’t really even need God.  Living close to the land reminds us that our food supply requires the rain and the sun in their seasons, and that the rain and the sun come from God.  We can readily see the difference between the farm family a few generations ago, who on Thanksgiving Day gave thanks that a summer of hard work had filled the pantry and root cellar and barns with provisions to feed them for another year, and the contemporary family gathering briefly around store-bought pies and stove top dressing and a turkey cooked and bought at a local chain grocery store, gulping down the food so they can get back to their computers and phones and football games.  It seems to me that something is missing in that contemporary setting.  Churches try to call people back to God.  But, too often, they pattern their services after the video games, sporting arenas, and media entertainment patterns of the world, and God becomes just another entertainment commodity.

Pentecost was a harvest festival, and there is great symbolism in it for us.  The advent of the Holy Spirit means the new season is here.  Since the Fall of Adam and Eve, God has been preparing this world for Pentecost.  Like a farmer He has been cultivating the ground, planting seeds, watering, weeding.  His seed was the word of God.  His planters were the prophets who spoke and wrote what He said to them.  The sunshine and rains were the Temple and the liturgy and the prayers.  Finally the day arrived for Him to take on flesh; to live and die among us, to give Himself for our sins, and to rise again.  On Pentecost that has all been done, and the fields are white unto harvest.  Everything is ready.  So God begins to reap the first fruits and to bring them into His barn, the Church.

Most Christians miss the significance of Pentecost.  It is not about tongues, or ecstatic experiences, or religious feelings.  It is not about thrills and chills and excitements.  That is what most people want Christianity to be, and they live in constant pursuit of new ways to kindle and feed that sense of excitement.  And they confuse excitement with the workings of the Holy Spirit.  We have all heard the song, “Get all excited, go tell everybody that Jesus Christ is King.”  What does getting excited have to do with telling others about Jesus?  We don’t have to work ourselves into an emotional frenzy to be Christians.  In fact, people might listen to us more willingly if we appear to be in our right mind instead of a self-induced emotional state.

The same goes for worship.  People are so accustomed to constant stimulation they expect it in Church too.  And they want that sense of excitement to charge their batteries for another week.  And they go from church to church shopping for the next cutting edge style of worship to give them that charge.  But the early church continued in the Apostles’ doctrine and in the prayers, meaning the daily liturgies of prayer upon which our own liturgies are based.  They also continued in the breaking of bread, which we call the Lord’s Supper, or, Holy Communion.

They sought meaning, not feelings. To them Pentecost was a sign, not a feeling.  It meant the Harvest has begun.  God is gathering His people together.  One day He will come for us and take us to that New World where we will see Him with our own eyes and touch Him with our own hands.  Until then He dwells within us.  His Holy Spirit unites us to Him with ties that cannot be broken.  We meet Him in the Scriptures.  We meet Him in the Liturgy.  We meet Him in the Bread and Wine.  These are the ways the Spirit makes Him present to us.  These are the ways the Spirit causes us to dwell in the New Era of the Kingdom of God.
+Dennis Campbell

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

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 Epiphany. 

Pentecost, commonly called Whitsunday
8 June 2014
Psalm 68 • OT Joel 2:28-32 • NT Romans 8:1-11

28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.
32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.

The brief passage from the minor prophet Joel is one of the most direct foreshadowing accounts to the Day of Pentecost. The first two verses speak to the universal outpouring of the Holy Spirit, ‘...I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh...’  This is different from the multiply encounters with the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.  In that testimony we read where individual or a times small groups were indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Aaron, Moses, Miriam, the prophets who walked with Elijah, etc.

But on the whole, generally there was not a universal infusing or outpouring the Spirit on a general population. That is until we come to the account described in the book of Acts. The most compelling part of this scripture; this outpouring of the Holy Spirit will no longer be ethnic in nature. It would and will be universal  .

Here we have the faithful as they wait in Jerusalem, as instructed by the ascended Christ, suddenly ‘baptized’ by the Holy Spirit. This event, now known as the Day of Pentecost was unprecedented as revealed by the remarks made by those who observed the event. Many who were baptized by the Holy Spirit that day were converts to Judaism, they were Gentile, not Jews by birth.

There were others who observed what was happening, who had not experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who would accused the believer of being drunk.  Peter denies that accusation by indicating the early hour of the day, “ is the 3rd hour...’ (9 a.m.)

Another interesting fact, the outpouring was not gender specific. Men and women, sons and daughters, old and young...they all ‘ those days...’ will have the Spirit poured out upon them.

Verses 30 &31 seem to be out of chronological order. These two verses can be interpreted as to being about Christ recent crucifixion. There were a number of heavenly signs observed, there was an earthquake noted on the day of Christ death. The sky was dark for three hours. The blood and water refer to His piercing after His death, where blood and water flowed from his side. There was an eclipse that Friday, it was a “blood” moon, orange/red in color as observed.

Then in verse 32 there is expressed the plan of salvation is explained. ‘...whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be delivered. And to finish off the thought... ‘...and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call...’

Let us now look at the passage of scripture from the letter to the Romans.

here is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

In these eleven verses we find how to know if someone is in Christ. The very nature of the flesh will be changed if you are in Christ. The Spirit, (now poured out on all believers) is a witness to our sinful nature in the law and will show righteousness of the law being fulfilled in, by not walking after the flesh, but by walking after the Spirit. We are to be spiritually minded, it is life and peace.

Being carnal minded puts us against God, by being in the flesh, that is carnally minded we cannot please God.  But if you are not carnally minded, because you are in the Spirit, your body should be dead because of sin. But the Spirit is life, the very same Spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead, he will quicken you by his Spirit...that dwells in you.

Paul, in writing this ‘list’ of what to look for in believers and non-believers, gives us a way to examine our spiritual lives in light of the Gospel message. This was after the fact of Pentecost, so the Holy Spirit is now upon all believers, not just the believing Jews. Peter will be the first to record this when he witnesses Cornelius and other gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit.

Paul reaffirms this concept in this passage from 8th chapter of Romans. Here Paul is writing to Roman, Greek, and other gentile believers, instructing them in the understanding of what has happened, first in Jerusalem and then the rest of the known world.

By this accounting we as modern day believers can find comfort in the words of St. Paul as he expresses the real difference between the Old and New Testament.  If you spend time reading and rereading these first eleven verses of chapter 8 of Romans you can find comfort in the finished work of the Lord.  Jesus died once and for all on the Cross, to raise us from our dead selves to new life. He causes us by the Holy Spirit to seek him, we should desire the Word, we should read the Word, we should live the Word Daily.

Let us pray:

 God, who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end.   Amen

 Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst unto thine Apostles, Peace I leave with you , my peace I give unto you; Regard not our sins, but the faith of thy Church; and grant to it that peace and unity which is according to thy will, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.   Amen

 Rev Rick Reid of Saint Peter’s Sunday Sermon
We are happy to have a sermon from Reverend Rick Reid, minister of Saint Peter’s, whose congregation is right at the Worldwide Headquarters of the Anglican Orthodox Church.  Rev Rick has all the resources and challenges right at hand.

What a Difference the Holy Ghost Makes in Our Lives

In our Epistle this morning, Deacon Don read from the Acts of the Apostles:

HEN the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilæans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judæa, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

Remember what happened on the night in which Christ was betrayed? The disciples all abandoned the Lord. All eleven of them ran away from the garden terrified. Peter, our patron saint, for whom the Lord had prayed for personally, denied three times, even knowing Jesus. Listen to what St. Mark wrote in his Gospel regarding Peter: 71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak…. (Mark 14:71).

All but John were still hiding the next day when Jesus was crucified. Then we see the Apostles return to the same Upper Room. Jesus has ascended to heaven, and so the apostles huddle together with Mary for nine days praying and waiting. 

Then they leave the Upper Room and begin to preach the Gospel fearlessly. Three thousand people were converted that first day. The same apostles, who had scattered like frightened children in the Garden, were now gathering God’s children together for Christ. The Apostle Peter, who denied even knowing Jesus, in order to keep himself warm by the courtyard fire, was now on fire, confessing that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

The disciples who were too frightened and ashamed to appear at the foot of the Cross, now boldly and proudly proclaimed God’s love as seen by Christ’s death on that same Cross. Why were they so different? What had caused such a dramatic change?

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead had filled them with joy and given them profound confidence. But what could have made these people turn from cowards to willing martyrs, so soon? The answer is: The Comforter: The Holy Ghost, sometimes called the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Ghost worked a miracle in each of the apostles, and through them, in the whole Church. As the apostles were huddled together with Mary in the Upper Room fifty days after Jesus rose from the dead, suddenly from heaven there was the sound like the rush of a driving wind that filled the entire upper room. Tongues of fire came down and rested upon each of them and all were filled with the Holy Ghost. This was the difference.

They received the Holy Ghost’s help to boldly proclaim Jesus. The Holy Ghost came down upon them as tongues of fire, tongues because they were to speak, fire because they were to speak with the passion of burning love. And they responded. Jesus had promised that the Holy Ghost he would send; would teach them all things, lead them to all truth, remind them of everything he had taught them, and convict the world of their sin. Then, helped in this way by the Holy Ghost, the Apostles began to fulfill their mission to spread the Gospel. The Acts of the Apostles had begun. The Church was born. The Church is still alive, and the Acts of the Apostles continues down to our own day. God wants to write new chapters, with each of us, and that includes you and me, all of us playing an important role. The wind is still blowing. The fire of the Holy Ghost still burns. Each of us, however, needs to let the Holy Ghost in, to do his work. Each of us has to allow the Holy Ghost to bring about a similar miracle in us.

Too often we are more like the Apostles before they received the Holy Ghost than on Pentecost Sunday. We come to church, we pray, but when we leave the Upper Room, we basically leave Him behind, giving into various denials, perhaps for comfort like Peter, perhaps out of fear like the rest of the disciples.

We know what our mission is, to give witness to the whole world that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, that He is, they way, the truth, and the life, and worth dying for. But how many times have we failed in that mission, and how many times have we failed to even try? Proclaiming the Gospel today is surely not easy; so many reject Christ and his teachings and the Church He founded. But when we look back to what the first disciples encountered, when first the Jewish leaders and eventually the Roman authorities were trying to kill them for proclaiming the Gospel, we find great reason for hope. For if the Holy Ghost could work such wonders with those simple fishermen and tax collectors, and then surely he can do great things through us, if we allow him.

With the help of the Holy Ghost, we, too, can turn from cowards to heroes, from apostates to apostles, from sinners to saints. The key is allowing the Holy Ghost to act within us. To do so, we first have to get to know the Holy Ghost.

There’s an episode in the life of St. Paul when he was at Ephesus and met some people who said they were disciples. Paul asked them: Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. (Acts 19:2). Many Anglicans today might well make that same statement.

What do we know about the Holy Ghost? We know much more than we think we do: But the Holy Ghost is not just someone we should know about, but someone we should know intimately and personally, as we know a friend. We encounter him first in prayer. We cannot even pray without his help. St. Paul tells us: Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. (1 Cor 12:3).  Paul tells us that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, 26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Rom 8:26). The Holy Ghost blows within us, the Holy Ghost burns within us. But we have to let that flame grow until we are consumed.

The same Holy Ghost who filled the apostles on Pentecost has come down here at St. Peter’s. We are all in the midst of the Upper Room, where Jesus himself gives us his body and blood, where the Holy Ghost himself comes down. If we wish to leave this Upper Room and carry out our mission as the Apostles of our own day, let us pray the Holy Ghost might fill us with tongues of fire, so that with passion, love and courage, we might bring the Gospel out into our world, which so desperately needs to embrace it. Amen.

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.

Pentecost, commonly called Whitsunday

In the apostle Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, we read, But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (2:14). The natural man is thus an apt description for a secular or worldly person. One bible commentator referred to them as “worldlings” on account of their great love for the things of this life. And another once said that, “The natural man may be learned, gentle, eloquent, [and] fascinating, but the spiritual content of Scripture is absolutely hidden from him... “

When things are hidden from us by government— such as the records of proceedings regarding matters of state— or by individuals— particularly those with whom we might be in conflict due to their malicious or negligent behavior— then we are being kept, as it were, in the dark which may work to their advantage and, by extension, to our disadvantage. Such sequestrations of information might prevent us from knowing the full extent to which they have harmed or deceived us. Sometimes, these withholdings are said to be for the benefit of justice, that is, under our legal system evidence presented in court is confined to the issue at hand and may not include those things that have been deemed immaterial to the case under consideration. Other times, the inner workings of government— in its particular plans and programs— are concealed from the general public so that the politicians can protect themselves and continue in their offices, or perchance, advance to a higher office to which they may aspire because the general public was unaware of the gravity of their schemes. I have heard it said that “knowledge is power” and he who has knowledge, has power over those who do not. That maxim finds itself clearly expressed within the system of “sharecropping” which developed in the years following “the Late Unpleasantness.”

Sharecropping, or the crop-lien system, came about because the Southern planters and landowners, following their failed war for independence, had no money and no means to pay their property taxes to the reconstruction governments set up by the Radical Republicans. So these landowners would permit both blacks and whites to lease their land and farm it with the proviso that they give them a portion of the crop produced on said land. Some sharecropping was done in an open and honest manner. Unfortunately, in many cases, it was done using subterfuge and deceit. A fair number of farmers both white and black were illiterate and were taken advantage of by those who owned the store that supplied their furnishings as well as the scale on which their produce was weighed. Illiterate people are by definition unlearned, unknowing, or ignorant of the true state of their situation. Only through education were those farmers able to break out of that new form of bondage.

The same is true for the natural man in relation to God. He cannot know the things of God because he does not have the Holy Ghost. And this is because his master the devil does his level best to keep the natural man or “worldling” from the truth of God so that he cannot know him and receive from him his Spirit. The French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal once noted that, “In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't.” And for the “worldling” these shadows are very dark indeed.

Desire is a product of knowledge. If you do not know of a thing, you cannot desire it. For the natural man to desire God, he must first recognize that there is God. The atheist says that there is no God. The agnostic says that he or she has no knowledge of God. The pagan says that a god or gods exist but such a being’s ways are esoteric, or mysterious, and cannot be known except through some elaborate ritual or study path. And so for “worldlings” to come to know the one true and living God, they must have some indication that God does in fact exist.

The Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:1-2 that, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. We who have been regenerated in Christ have faith that God is. We also have the benefit of the Holy Ghost the Comforter to guide us. When we came to recognize the existence of God, we were then presented with who God is. If we had chosen to reject him, it would have been on account of our worldly natures influenced by Satan as he would likely have substituted some other explanation for us to believe, or, have faith in as truth. The apostle Paul noted in Romans 1:18- 20 that, ... the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them: for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

Without excuse? Yes, my friends they are without excuse because no one on this earth is truly ignorant of God. They may not know his name or the fundamentals of the Christian faith, but they know he is there if they but look about them.

The problem is that the natural man will look at the creation and will see not the handiwork of God plain before his face. But such a person will see something else. And that “something else”— whatever it may be— will not point to God. Satan desires worship, and will use every opportunity to turn the gaze of mankind from his Creator to himself. Human wisdom rationalizes rather than accurately describes this earthly sphere. We can assume broadly or specifically, but we cannot discern the things of God when we use earthly wisdom as our guide. In the story series known as “The Shadow” one of the characters said, “The clouded mind sees nothing” and Satan has done just that. For once a person rejects the truth of God, then the open door to Satan worship will have been created for as the apostle Paul noted in Romans 1:21-23, Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful: but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

G. K. Chesterton, once said that, “When a man ceases to believe in God, he does not believe in nothing. He believes in anything.” When the natural man rejects God, he will find some other source of perceived truth to believe in. That is the work of Satan who takes the seed of the word from the hearts of men so that they will then turn to him (St. Matthew 13:19). The darkened heart then cannot see through the veil which has descended over his soul. He cannot of his own efforts find the truth of God because he believes he has found it in the satanic rationale— the author of which is also hidden from his understanding— so that anything other than those things which point to the truth of God will be accepted and believed.

So what then can the natural man do to be saved? He is powerless to save himself, and if he will not believe and accept Jesus Christ, he will be lost forever in the fires of perdition. Only through an acceptance of Jesus Christ as his Saviour and Lord can the natural man obtain God’s gracious favor. That is where our work as Christians comes into play. God did not put us here to hobble his message of salvation by being “tolerant” or “inclusive” with regard to false doctrines or false teachers. God has called us to proclaim the truth of his word written. He has called us to have an answer for the faith that we possess. He has sent us forth as his ambassadors to this sin-darkened world that— through the shining light of our faith— others will see and then seek after God and his Christ to their eternal good.

Do not be deceived. You cannot expect to be received into God’s kingdom if you are not willing to recognize him as your Creator, Redeemer and Friend. There is a day coming when God will finally bring an end to this time of sin and spiritual darkness. May it please our good and loving God to inspire you to go forth in his name and proclaim his word to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death that they too might come into light of his presence and be saved.

Let us pray,

 gracious Father, we thank you for your word written; that through thy might and power vested in us by the Holy Ghost, we might proclaim it unto all who would hear and receive it into their hearts; for this we ask in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+

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