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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.
The Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity
God, our refuge and strength, who art the author of all godliness; Be ready
we beseech thee to hear the devout prayers of they Church; and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Collect says Our God is the author of all perfection; we ask him to be ready, to hear our sincere prayers: He may answer those things which are good for the Church and the world that we ask and that from His Grace we may receive those things which are good for us.
In the Epistle, St. Paul tells the Philippians to follow God and not be dependent on man, as so many in this country are now. The problem he explains with many, who claim they are followers of Christ, but don’t walk the walk, is they are selfish and only think of themselves. He warns them will lead them onto a path of doom and destruction. And also, he talks about how the enemies of Christ glory in our shame, but this will be their undoing in the end also. We are not to worry, but rather lean on Our Lord, even in these times of trials and tribulations, some of which we have yet to face. We realize that our citizenship is in heaven, from which we look to Our Saviour. If we are on the side of righteousness, of the Lord, of godliness, then who are we to fear?
Nobody; save a respectful fear of Our God.
We will not bow before the forces of darkness, but rather stand tall, equipped with the armor of light, the shield of truth, and the helmet of faith. We will give those in authority the respect that they are due as tradition, but we will not be dependent upon them for our every need and whim. We are to turn to God, if we are to be dependent on anything, it must be God upon whom we are dependent, and not Man. Being dependent on man only leads to eternal death for us, but being dependent on God leads to eternal life for us. So, must we put our trust in God as our Eternal Navigator, our Guide throughout the rocky path of life. Returning to him when we are lost, he will always guide us back to the straight and narrow path.
Which brings us to the point of the Gospel, in which Christ tells the Pharisees of how they are to deal with the problem of tribute to Caesar. They have no love for the Roman Government, as we have very little love for ours, I might confess at this moment in time. However, Christ reminds them to separate their hatred of the government, and due the right thing. As we must give God His due (our prayers), we must give the government their due (taxes, etc.), but this does not mean that we treat the government as demi-gods, to put it one way, like politicians often think of themselves. But rather that, we give them what they are owed, no more and no less. The Pharisees were trying to trick Christ to say that you must honor one or the other, when you can do both. We should be serving God and not man, however, that does not mean that we do not have to pay our dues to the government that rules us. It is only through God’s grace that he allows government to rule over man. The government we have was established with recognition that it serves at His pleasure. Its constitution establishes that people have rights endued them by their Creator, not the government. It is with the authority of the people that the government serves. It must exist to serve the people and God. It is not to be a self-licking ice cream cone. Jesus told us to feed the poor people, not create laws that took money from other people to do that purpose, of which he commanded us to do.
The Collect, Epistle and Gospel tie together, laying out, detailing and reinforcing the same message, ultimately. We have to respect the authorities that govern us, no matter how we disagree or dislike them, and conduct ourselves like Christians. However, that does not mean that we replace the rule of God with the rule of Man. Man’s laws should merely be a restatement of God’s laws, not to replace God’s laws.
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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