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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 because, as is always the case, there is a unifying message in the Scripture for this Sunday.
The First Sunday in Advent
LMIGHTY 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 Christmas Day.
Today’s Collect, like almost all of them, starts out asking God’s Grace, His Help, His
The whole point of the Collect, Epistle and Gospel is that we must embrace light 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. It is like the light Galadriel gave Frodo in Lord of the Rings, a light to shine in the darkest of times and places and will cleanse our hearts of the inner darkness and will send the darkness scattering like insects. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit can we cleanse ourselves of that inner darkness and allow pure light to come in and drive it out. We cannot do it ourselves, but we need His Help and Guidance in order to do so.
This brings us straight to the Epistle. Paul tells us we need to live the life we aspire to. He wastes little time on the don’ts which the Jews were famous for getting around, but goes right to the dos; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. By going through the dos, Paul is saying we need to let in the light and allow the Holy Spirit to expel the darkness. We cannot hope to accomplish any of the dos if we do not have the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Following God requires us to reject the dark and cling to the light.
Paul cautions us to not borrow for what we do not need that we might owe others nothing but our love. To know the difference between want and need. This sound advice is sorely needed in this country these days. If we do, we are ensuring that 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 to attain self-sufficiency that they might prosper both in soul and body.
This takes us right into the key theme of the Gospel. We must not be for God in speech only, but in deed. The Collect and Epistle and Gospel’s key theme is action. Acting to remain in the light rather than the darkness is the overall message. 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 as perfect. He knew what He had to do to save our souls for eternity. His whole ministry, including his death and resurrection, can be best summed up in one word; action. He consistently backed up His Message with actions and not just diction. This is a pattern for us to follow as believers; we are called not just to say good words, but back those good words up with actions. Jesus expects us to not just say we believe Him, but to actually believe Him and the best way to accomplish that is through our actions.
Contrast this to those who are like the Pharisees, who have not kept the Word of God in their hearts, though they may shallowly profess it with their lips. It is action, not diction, that counts! It is easy to profess it with your lips, it is harder to put your words into practice. That will show the world where your heart truly lies.
We must not be like them. We must put on the great Armour of Light and so 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 we always struggle with, but God never gives up on us. We can be comforted by the assurance 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 devotions, 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. We have to utilize our full complement of weaponry with the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit as our main weapons to which we fight this battle for souls. We must never never ever give up but keep going. Even when it seems hard, we must press on for all will be worth it in the end.
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 has been going on since the beginning of time. But we know the ending is in our favor for certain, for the Book of Revelation 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 see and savor that victory here on earth; but we know 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 heat or cold 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
 It is not that worldly wealth is, in and of itself, bad, but rather the attitude it can bring, one of self-worth beyond that which is correct. Wealth often brings to us a “better than thou” attitude, which soon turns to “Holier than thou.” The kind of thing that was referred to when Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Mark 10.25
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