Verse of the Day

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Third Sunday after Easter

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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.  


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

Consider these words from the Collect:

… who showest to them that are in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness; Grant unto all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s Religion, that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same

God is a Triune God; Father, Son, Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost’s job is to open our souls, hearts and minds to God’s Will.  It is to help us see where we are in error and how to fix those errors.  Thus, to open our “ears” to His Voice so we can listen and make our improvements based on His Words..   As is oft the case, the Collect really asks us to let the Holy Ghost in so He can change us.    Consider this quote from Jack Lewis out of Mere Christianity:

“When He said, ‘Be perfect,’He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

It does not matter if it is hard for us to listen to the Holy Ghost, we must do it.  If we will listen to Him, God will always provide the light to show us where “We have erred, and strayed from His ways like lost sheep. Wherewe have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. Wherewe have offended against His holy laws. Where we have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done[1]…”   He will shine His Light onto the dark areas in our heart and souls so we can focus on eliminating that darkness from within us. He does this so that we can turn to the path which brings us to His World.  For without that guiding light, we will be forever lost on the path to darkness.

Then we can shine that Light for others to see, to lead them to that Light, that they might pick up their torches and bring His Light into the darkness of the world, be it the Western Civilized Word or the Eastern World. First, we have to let His Light into our hearts before we can shine it to others that they may see the works of His Light. We cannot lead others to a Light we do not have within us. So, we must first make sure we have the Light of the Holy Ghost within us before we can think of leadings others to that Light.

We can start in our own little corner of the world and work our way outward. We are always striving to work towards total transformation of our area to the light. However, we will always find opposition from evil. If evil is thwarting our efforts then we all must put in 110% to stop evil and combat it across the world wherever it is. We must never, never, never, ever give up on this fight.  

We must fight evil wherever and whenever we run across it. Evil anywhere is Evil everywhere to paraphrase one of my favorite books, Lord of the Rings. We must not let the little and big evils in this life get us down or defeat us. We must rely on the guiding power of the Holy Ghost and God’s unlimited grace to save the day. His Grace can help you out of any horrific situation; only if you ask for and accept His help, which is a universal theme in our sermons here, because it is a truth and one that Jesus preached, that is that we have to accept Him into our hearts, if we are to become truly Christians. 

A couple years ago, I met a Navy SEAL in Guam, who gave an excellent sermon to the point we must be on the offense in the battle against Satan, never defense. The SEAL noted Paul did not describe any sort of back armor whatsoever, showing us Christianity was an offense based, not defense based religion.  We must never our back towards the enemy, but rather face forward and attack. The best defense is a good offense as in every case. We must never cease our fight against Satan, for he is powerful here on earth, tricking many. We are often outnumbered in the fight.  Numbers matter not.  We must always fight with all we have every time.  We must carry on; we must storm the beaches of Hell itself and keep on persevering in good times and in bad.

Peter tells us our actions need to be consistent with the principles of Scripture and of Jesus’ message. In short, we need to be good citizens, be good neighbors, take particular care of our Christian family. In short, do what Christ would do, as far as it is in us. We need to cling to the good and reject the evil thoughts and actions of our old sinful selves.  Let us do our best to think, in hard and trying times, what would Jesus do in our situation, and then act in a manner most like Him. In order to make the world a better place, we first have to start with our selves then work out word, applying the principles of Christ to our lives. God does not ask us to be perfect; He does ask us to do our best to try to be perfect, to follow Jesus’ lead to the extent we have it in us.  Each of us is different, some are in truth less bad than others.  God holds us each to the same standard, that is to do our best.  Not to be better than any other particular person, but to do our best to follow His Instructions.  Being better than someone else is of no account, what is of account is following His Instructions to the best of YOUR ability.  

Don’t think of trying to be better than your neighbor, think of being better than you are. We are not competing against anyone. We are just striving to be better than we were yesterday. If we do this, then we will improve day by day, year by year.

In the Gospel according to Saint John, Jesus tells of His impending bodily death and resurrection.    He reminds us if we have eternal life, sorrow, even the sorrow of death is transient, for He has conquered death. It is a very minor thing in the long term view the sorrow of a temporary parting of a loved one. For that is all that is, if we put our trust and hope in God and do our very best to follow Him.  have to keep this in mind throughout our travel along the straight and narrow upward path. His One Sacrifice, made One Time, for All Mankind, for All Time is that joy that no man can take from us.  But, if we want to share in that eternal life, we need to see the error of our ways in the Light of His Light and take actions to follow Him.

Often it seems much easier to take the path of least resistance, to quit our work at the first sign of effort, to goof off when “no one” is looking.  But in the end, the right thing to do is always the easiest, the most profitable. The one that will result in happiness. It might seem hard, but it will not be as hard as doing the “easy” thing.

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

It is by our actions we are known.

As we go off on our business, please recall this quote from GK Chesterton:

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting;  it has been found difficult and not tried.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God


[1]General Confession – BCP Page 6

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