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Church of the Faithful Centurion -
brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the
The First Sunday in Advent
God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of
darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal
life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in
the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both
the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who
liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen
¶ This Collect
is to be repeated every day, after the other Collects in Advent, until
Today’s Collect, like almost all
of them, starts out asking God’s Grace, His Help, His intervention to allow us
to turn our backs on evil and our own desires that we might make His Desire our
desire. If you will understand how
much we fall short in our “natural” desire, you will understand that to cast
off the works of darkness and don the armour of light, we must turn to Christ,
who came to visit us, born in a simple and humble inn in Bethlehem. As His manner of birth, we must be
humble as well, not boastful and proud like the rich
but meek and lowly, to embrace light and cast off the works of darkness. Though He came in a rather humble
manner, He shall return in a glorious and majestic manner, a rather stark
contrast to His original incarnation, leaving no doubt who has come to lead us.
We must embrace the lightness and
reject the darkness. We do this by allowing the Holy Ghost into our hearts, to
shine the light in our hearts and expel the darkness. Only then can we truly
don the armor of light. We need to train our brains and minds and souls in this
way, so that we can act for Christ. We have been called to do these things, as
sons and daughters of God, but only with a conscious effort on our part to
accept Him and more importantly to listen to Him, can we do these things. To do
these things we have to live it.
This point brings us straight to
the Epistle. Paul tells us that we need to live the life we aspire to. He cautions us to not borrow for what
we do not need that we might owe others nothing but our love. That way we will not have a worldly
obligation to any who might hold that over us to influence our path away from
that Christ set out for us. We ideally owe no man anything but that of our
love. Paul asks us to love our
neighbors, by love he means to take care for them as we would for ourselves or
our own close relations. Not
necessarily to “give” them money, but to help them in self-sufficiency that
they might prosper both in soul and body.
This takes us right into the
Gospel according to Saint Matthew.
We must not be for God in speech only, but in deed. When Jesus came into this world, He
came knowing the true purpose of His coming, He came knowing how He would
leave, He came knowing the cost at which our souls would be accounted at
perfect. The story of Palm Sunday
is the same as that of the Nativity. For on Palm Sunday, there was joy in the crowd at the
arrival of the Savior, much as there was in the stable at the arrival of the
Child Jesus. Yet, many in the very
same crowd who cried “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday were there early on Good
Friday. For what did they cry
“Crucify Him, Crucify Him!”
Pilate asked for them to cry for
mercy, they cried for vengeance on their Lord and Savior!
A swift 180° turn from “Hosanna
to the Son of David.” How quick are men to turn upon that of a good thing. As
Charles Spurgeon said "It is an astounding thing and a proof of human
depravity that men do not themselves seek salvation. They even deny the necessity
of it and would sooner run away than be partakers of it." This is due to our natural inclination
to choose the fruit of death rather than the bread of life, which comes from
the Baker of Life, Jesus Christ.
reading Genesis 40 a while back with my parents and it struck me how the tale
of the baker and the butler of the Pharaoh, with each with three days to their
eventual fates, was a parallel to Christ.
Why the two had differing fates is not clear in Scripture, but for
certain Christ is the Baker of Life, and who in three days arose from the dead
to have conquered death. The Bread of Life is Christ’s sacrifice for us, and
every time we partake of it in Holy Communion and listening to the Gospel and
the Epistle, we must always remember the cost of our freedom from death. Also
with the cost comes conditions, namely that we profess Christ as Our Saviour
and to put Him first in our lives, love God with all our heart, soul and mind,
and love our neighbors as ourselves. We have heard this before in the Summary
of the Law. This is what the Law of God condenses down to, and this is what all
our laws that we set forth must be based upon, for there is no other rational
or foundational base so great and solid as Christ. He must be the Chief
Cornerstone in our lives, if our lives are to have any meaning. There are those
who He is not chief in, and they are those who may vainly profess His name with
their lips, but not in their actions. This is a great sorrow for them. They
have not kept the Word of God in their hearts, though they may shallowly
profess it with their lips. It is action and not diction that counts!
We must not be like them. We must put on the great Armour of
Light and to reject our former lives of sin and vanity. We must switch from our old selfish lives to a new unselfish, Christ
filled life. It is something that
we always will be struggling with, but God never gives up on us. We can be
comforted by this assurance that He will never give up on us. We just have to
never give up on Him and do our very best to follow what he says. As long as we
repent from our sin and turn back to God in our private prayers and devotion,
he will wipe our slate clean. I know I have a hard time keeping on the straight
and narrow path, so I am glad He left the Scriptures to guide us.
Through following His Word and
Instructions, we shall be given a greater reward than anything existent on the
Earth; past, present or future, that gift of immortal life, life for all
eternity, that will outlast this physical world. To don the armour of light is
not merely putting it on, you have to utilize it, and utilize the helmet, the
buckler and sword (Scriptures and Christ’s teachings). You need the whole complement of
weaponry to go into combat with the Prince of Darkness in this fallen world.
And you not only need the complement of weaponry, but we need to train with
these weapons. The best way is to be reading Scriptures regularly and
discussing the meaning of it with your fellow believers. This way you can
ingrain the Scriptures in your heart and be ready to do battle with those who
follow the Prince of this World.
Make no mistake, we are engaged
in a World War with the Prince of Air, the Prince of this world for the souls
of men, starting with our own, a World War which which has been going on since
the beginning of time. But we know the ending is in
our favor for certain, for the Book of Revelations tells us so.
As individuals we may not
experience victory here on earth. We may struggle
with problems in this world and our own, our whole lifespan on this planet.
We may not know that savor, but we know that in the end, He will be victorious
as we know the Savior. We will
win, for we are on His Side.
Cast off the dull worn robes of
darkness, which lack luster, give no warmth, protect not from the heat, and put
on the shining glorious armour of light.
So kitted up, we walk in light, not in darkness where we may stumble and
fall. Unlike moths, for us
light is life, not the destruction of darkness.
Come, put on the Armor of Light
and go forth to destroy that last enemy, death!
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
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