Sunday, September 16, 2018
Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity
Sermon – Reverend Hap Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction.
Consider the words of the Collect, “…let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness …”
When the Collect talks about the church, just like last week, it is not talking about buildings; it is talking about us. Each of us; all of us and together. We need God’s help (pity) to keep the group of us together following His Will, for without His Help (Holy Ghost) we are doomed to utter failure. We can see this in the church today. The collect says we need His pity to cleanse our church of error and keep it on the straight and narrow. For without the cleansing effect of His pity and help of the Holy Ghost, error creeps in and corrupts the Church. We can see this today as many churches are leaving the Bible used for over 2,000 years and adopting newfangled translations which mangle His Word. These are not translations of the Bible, they no longer conform to the Holy Scriptures Christians have been using for the past two millennia, but are something influenced by man’s desires instead of God’s desires. When they leave the theology Christ gave to us, they soon find they are on a broad easy path paved with smooth talking New Age pagan theology. The problem is that Heaven is at the end of a hard and narrow uphill trail. The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit. That seemingly easy way leads to The Pit. The way of the easy to read Bibles with their corrupt non-Received Text manuscripts is not the way to go. They lead downward instead of upward. People think they are the same as the older Received Text manuscript Bibles, but they are wrong. This proves the truth of this collect, that without His help, we are doomed. With His help, we are set for success for evermore. He offers, do we accept?
That leads us to Saint Paul’s point: If we will open our hearts to God, He will send the Holy Ghost to fill our hearts with Love, Courage, Inspiration, Tenacity and Confidence, to mention just a few helpful additions to our portfolio. In short, all of the things that will help our character development. Once the Holy Ghost enters into us, we will know the full dimensions of Christ, the height, width and depth of His love for us, and this fullness will fill us to our content, and we will want to spread that Good News and Love of Him to others. This is what the truly the Good News is all about, His love for us. His love that He died that we might have eternal life, a happier life here and a happier life after our life here. But the key is we have to first open our hearts to God. We cannot have any of these positive characteristics if we do not allow Him in. We have to be humble and realize we cannot get through life without these characteristics, which means we cannot have a good and successful life without His Help.
He offers all of these things for our benefit, so that we will be successful for Him. We have to accept this offer by opening our hearts to Him. One of my favorite cartoon strips Calvin and Hobbes, oft has great moral lessons. Calvin’s dad so very often reminds Calvin that doing one’s duty in the face of adversity builds character. It also strengths the soul building trust in God. If we will open our hearts to Him, our ears will hear the command “… Arise.” When we rise, we rise with the confidence of immortals and can conquer any obstacle. We will have died in our old sinful ways and be resurrected like our Lord in a new spirit and a new birth of everlasting freedom. But, without an open heart, our ears will never hear the command directed to our soul, “… Arise.” We will be dead to eternity. There are none so deaf as those who will not hear.
Open your heart to our Lord and arise. Arise; go forth with Love, Courage, Inspiration, Tenacity and Confidence to fight the battle our Lord leads us into.
All Jesus asks is that we follow Him. That is all follow Him. But, words mean something. The word follow is very important.
In the military fighter world the strongest acceptance and recognition of excellence that can be given is, "You lead; I'll follow." For to do so is to put your life in the other's hands. Literally, completely and without question. It is a matter of putting the light on the star and hanging in there. It is said by few to an even smaller number. When you break out of the cloud after an hour of GE-28 Voltburning in your retinas and see the runway or pop over the ridge after a half hour of dodging trees and triple A and the target is right there in the reticle, or gunsight, it is all okay. Sometimes in between, it does not seem like it will turn out that way. What makes you keep the light on the star is trust. It is also like that in flight training, you have to trust that your flight instructor knows what he is doing to keep you from harming the airplane and that by following his guidance, you will keep both of you from significant harm physically. We have to trust God is like a perfect CFI and if we follow his instructions at the right time, we will keep ourselves from physical and spiritual harm.
We need recognize who has the ability, the power, the perfection in leadership and have that trust to say, "You lead; I'll follow." I believe that is what Jesus expects from us in regard to our entire life. We may get out of position or even go lost wingman on the odd occasion, but he expects us to Our very best to follow His lead and stay in position. Hard to do if your eye is not padlocked on Him.
As ministers of our Lord, we have a similar responsibility to those who would follow us here on earth. And we have to work even harder, for created by a perfect God, we are imperfect creatures with free will. A problematic combination. We have to strive to do better than most as we are in a position where people will be watching our actions more carefully than other people. We must strive for a correct attitude, heading, stability and predictability in our path so we can be followed towards that final destination marking a successful mission. We must always be checking our navigational instruments of the Holy Scriptures and our navigator the Holy Ghost, to ensure we are on the right heading. We have to be willing to do actions for Him to show that we truly do have faith and not just say that we have faith. It is a lot easier to say than do, that is for sure. It is easy to get wrapped up in little words and over analyze each word of Scripture rather than just taking the whole with the faith of a Child and taking the big picture in, rather than a shred of tapestry close in.
When Saint Luke relates the story of the Widow of Nain, it is more than just a simple miracle.
In those days, a widow with only one son had little, a widow with no son was in deep trouble. Jesus took compassion on her and also took the opportunity to make His power evident. He came to the bier, and touched it saying, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.” The young man arose and began to speak; whereupon Jesus brought him to his mother. Not surprisingly, news of this event was spread “forth throughout all Judæa, and throughout all the region round about.” Like the young man, we are dead to eternity until we hear the command “… Arise.” If we hear and act on that command, we have eternal life, just like the young man, it starts right then! Eternal life doesn't start when you take your last breath, it starts when you take your first breath! Think through your life like it will be eternity and plan your actions accordingly.
Also, please take note Jesus ACTED. He did not just tell the widow He was sorry, so very sorry; He actually did what He could to help her. He can do more than we can, but we can do more than we do and we can certainly do more than just talk. Words are very nice, but do not mean a whole lot unless they are backed by words.
If we truly have faith, then we will have good actions that will follow with that faith. If we only speak with our lips and do not have good actions, then we do not have any faith. However, if we do truly have faith, then we will speak the right things and do the right things.
Action, not diction, is what counts in the end.
Heaven is at the end of a hard and narrow 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