The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity.
and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen
The Epistle for today came from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, the Third Chapter beginning at the Fourth Verse. Paul reminds us through the Grace of God we can be able ministers of the new testament, on our own we can be in the end no good. If we are able to completely follow the Law, with good intent, we can through that please God, but inasmuch as that is impossible we fall short. The letter of the Law, which cannot be complied with is death. But following the spirit of the Law gives life. That is Jesus’ message, for in the Law is death and in the spirit life. For if there is glory in administering the Law, how much more glory is there in the spirit of the Law, which is Jesus’ message?
trust have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
Today’s Holy Gospel began in the Seventh Chapter of the Gospel according to St. Mark, beginning at the Thirty-First Verse. Jesus came in to the coast of Decapolis
. The people brought unto him a deaf mute. Jesus examined the man, put his fingers in his ears, touched his tongue and said “Ephphatha”
, that is, “Be opened.” What Jesus did here for the deaf mute physically is what he does for each of us spiritually. Through Jesus, we hear the Word of God and are given the ability to speak it. Conversely, there are none so deaf as those who will not hear and none so blind as those who will not see. It is up to each of us to choose if we will remain blind, deaf and dumb or open our eyes to see, hear and speak the Word of God. When we receive the gift of sight, hearing and speech we embark on a new life of freedom.
, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
Sermon – Reverend Jack 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, wherein we ask God who is … more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask …
For the first time in a long time, this collect acknowledges we are continually pray to God, asking Him for what WE want. Yet, how oft do we listen to Him when He responds with what we need?
If we will listen to Him and DO what He asks, He will give us more than we have need of, more than we ask for and more than we can even desire. The point of the collect is that He has unlimited resources for this and also able to forgive us for things of which are bearing on our conscience. Yet, it requires us to listen to Him, then ACT
on what we are told. When we ask His forgiveness, when He gives it, we need to accept it and live it; if we live in the past, we never will benefit. We have to accept it in the present. The present is the only realm of time in which we have complete control of our actions and thoughts and can influence people around us. We cannot influence things in the past or in the future, we can only do our part in the here and now. The Line of Time stretches from the unfathomable past, back to The Beginning, all the way to the unknowable future, all the way to The End. God is in all places all the time, thus He knows The Beginning, as well as The End. But, where God’s finger touches that line lies The Present. Right now; where we live; the only place we, as humans, can live.
As we all know the past has already happened; it is unchangeable. It is set in stone. The future has not yet happened, but can only be influenced through our actions in the present. This is why worrying about the future and past is pointless. We cannot influence things that have already happen and things that are undetermined to happen, We can only influence things in the present. Which is the only place where we can act directly for Him.. We just need to remember the past for our future actions; if there was any bad we did in the past, we just need to not repeat it. We need to remember the lessons learned there and then move on. The key is moving on. If we don’t move on, we will never learn the lessons we are intended to learn. It is better for our physical and mental health if we do move on and learn what we are intended to learn. Trust in God and dread naught.
How do we learn? Luckily for us God gives us guidance to learn through the Holy Ghost, if we will but accept it. He gives us the power to act in the spirit of The Law. The Law or actually 613 little laws turned out to be in of itself a death sentence. The Jews could not, or would not, comply with the 613 Mosaic Laws, which brought them death. The Law brought Death, but the New Testament of Jesus Christ brought to us Life, true everlasting life.
Too many Jews only cared about not violating the Law, not about the spirit of the Law which was intended. Following the letter of the Law does not save an individual, following the spirit of the Law is what counts. If you follow the spirit of the Law, you are following what the Law was meant for. Jesus is the ultimate embodiment of the Law. As the embodiment of the Law, He gave us the important bits of the law, when He gave us the Summary of The Law, which through Him would bring life, everlasting life and happiness here on earth:
HOU shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
Only two laws to comply with, which though simpler, are harder:
Love your neighbor like yourself
There is no getting around these two moral laws; no loopholes in these two laws, they are very plain and very clear. If you follow those two laws, there is not much other guidance. The Ten Commandments themselves spring from these two laws as a moral base. Loving God and loving your neighbor like yourself will greatly improve your life and others around if you consistently follow it. The Summary of the Law is the spirit of the New Testament, which is we are to love God and love our neighbors. These are both things seemingly contrary to our sinful nature, but with the help of the Holy Ghost, they can be overcome. And they are also both things that will greatly improve our lives here on Earth. If not in a monetary sense, most certainly our lives will be improved spiritually if we follow the Summary of the Law. If you understand the Big Picture, you know what to do on your part of the Little Picture to make your world line up with His World. Our problem is that like the Jews we cannot perfectly line up our world with His. Because we come from the same common ancestor, Adam, we have the curse of free will. Luckily for us, we have the Holy Ghost. He can be so useful for us, inputting change of course corrections to us. We just need to listen to His input and then act upon it accordingly.
In the Gospel, Jesus helped a deaf man with an impediment of speech. It is a parable in of itself. The deaf man is a stand in for us. We who cannot seemingly hear God’s commands, or won’t. Our speech impediment is that we have sin and that sin causes us to utter offensive or wrong things in our day to day lives. We are asking for Him to heal us of both spiritual impediments. Without His help, we cannot be cleared of our spiritual deafness and uncleanliness. If we will allow Him into our hearts, Jesus Christ will remove that spiritual block that causes the spiritual deafness and uncleanliness. The key phrase here is that we have to allow Him into our hearts. He won’t come in uninvited; we have to on our own will, willingly invite Him in. Only then can He start the cleansing process.
The Holy Ghost is a large part of our spiritual lives. Without Him, we could not be considered one of Christ’s sheep. We have to let Him into our hearts and lead the transforming and renewal of our minds. Without His help, we cannot adequately follow Him. In other words, we are doomed without the help of the Holy Ghost, which will give us His guidance and advice in conducting our church, professional and personal lives.
When Jesus opened the ears and mouth of the deaf mute, He did for him what the Holy Ghost will do for us, if we will but let Him open first our ears to hear, then our mouths to testify, communicate and direct. We must lead people to God, not try to push them. Thus, we need to strive, each of us, to follow God more closely so we can pull on the lead rope. Leading requires being in front of the people you are attempting to lead, having them follow your example towards an objective. Study Jesus’ life, He is a perfect example of a leader. We cannot ever be perfect, but we can strive for that perfection in our actions.
Action counts. For by their actions ye shall know them.
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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