Verse of the Day

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Third Sunday after Easter

The Propers for today are found on Page 173-174, with the Collect first:

The Third Sunday after Easter.
The Collect.

LMIGHTY God, 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; through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Ryan Hopkins read the Epistle which came from the Second Chapter of the First Epistle of Saint Peter beginning at the Eleventh Verse.  Peter tells us to live a good life, to follow the directions Jesus left us, to make ourselves positive examples of citizen to others, to be leaders of our community, drawing people towards God.  To live out the life Jesus commanded, to do nothing to draw ill repute on the Word of God.  To be truly free and follow freedom to where God wants us to be, not to Donkey Island, where false freedom takes so many.

EARLY beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

Deacon Striker Jack Arnold read today’s Gospel which came from the in the Sixteenth Chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John beginning at the Sixteenth Verse.

Jesus warns his disciples of the events about to unfold.  He is to be taken from them shortly by the painful death on the Cross for our redemption.  He will not be with them here on earth.  Yet, after three days time He will Rise from death, having overcome death for us.  When He is gone from us we are sorrowful, just like the disciples.  He came back from death for us.  And yet He was to leave again, yet not be gone from us as the Father would send the Holy Ghost to make His abode in our hearts and bring Jesus to us.

ESUS said to his disciples, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

Sermon – Time and Action
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

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. Where we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. Where we 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 does this so that we might return to His Path.  He does not show us where we have erred for no reason, but rather that we might use His Light to return to the path that brings us to His World.

Paul tells us that if we follow Christ’s example, we will live lives like His to the extent we can.  We will do good, be law abiding, work hard, be generous to our fellow human beings, help where we can, pray for help when we can find no physical way to help.  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.   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 better 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.

In the Gospel according to Saint John, Jesus tells of His impending bodily death and resurrection.    He reminds us that if we have eternal life, sorrow, even the sorrow of death is transient, for He has conquered death.   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.

God • Honor • Country • Family
for all eternity

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.”

Bishop Ogles’ Sermon
We are oft fortunate to get copies of Bishop Jerry’s sermon notes.  Today is not one of those Sundays.  Bishop Jerry was on travel all week in California.  On the other hand, our entire congregation got to visit with him in Ventura, CA on Thursday.  So, truly your loss is our gain!

Bishop Dennis Campbell’s Sunday Sermon
As is oft the case, we are honored to present Bishop Dennis’ Sunday sermon presented to his parish.  Dennis has a special sermon for the Third Sunday after Easter:

God before the gods
Psalm 138, 1 Peter 2:11-17, John 16:16-22
Third Sunday after Easter
April 29, 2012

RANT, O Lord, that by thy holy Word read and preached in this place, and by thy Holy Spirit grafting it inwardly in the heart, the hearers thereof may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and may have power and strength to fulfill the same.
The message of the third Sunday after Easter is perseverance in Godliness. The Collect, based on First Peter 2, leads us to seek God's help for those who go astray and to pray that all who are admitted into Christ will avoid that which is contrary to our faith, and follow, as the direction and orientation of life, all that is agreeable to it.  First Peter 2 makes this point by beseeching us to "abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul."  John 16 reminds us that the sorrows of this life are but for a little while, and even they will be turned to joy when we see Jesus.  Psalm 138 is about remaining faithful to Christ in a world that is unfaithful and hostile to faith.

Since the end of Eden, this world has never been a friend of the Church.  There have been times of renewal.  There have been times of righteousness, when people turned to God and began to live for Him and put the teachings of the Bible into practice in personal life, business, and even government.  But these eras have been brief, though, thanks be to God, their influence has been persistent.  This was as true in David's time as it is today.  David ruled the Old Testament Church, Israel, when it was surrounded by nations steeped in paganism, superstition, and open wickedness.  And there was a tendency for the Israelites to drift into the ideas and practices of their pagan neighbors.  Often, their adoption of pagan ways was so complete they almost completely lost their identity as the people of God.  The surrounding nations were not passive in this.  They waged an active and aggressive military and ideological war against Israel, and it often appeared that the pagans were winning.

I am sure the parallels between then and now are evident to the thinking Christian, for the world continues to aggressively oppose God and His Church.  Sometimes the opposition comes in formal actions and policies of governments and agencies charged by God to defend the rights and freedoms of their people.  Often it comes in formal actions and policies of Churches and religious leaders claiming to be doing the will of God, like those who burned dissenters and crucified Christ.  But, mostly it comes in a general attitude of hostility toward the ways of God, and an equally general hostility toward those who attempt to follow God in Biblical faith.

David, king of Israel, king of this tiny, weak nation of shepherds, surrounded by stronger nations, dwelling on land wanted by the super powers of the era, and called by God to lead a people who were themselves often unfaithful and rebellious toward God, made a profound statement in this Psalm; "before the gods will I sing praise unto thee."  This is the theme of this Psalm.  It is a bold statement of steadfast faith when the whole world appears to have gone faithless.  It is a statement of the intention to stand fast in the Biblical faith, even while the world chases after idols and false gods, and even while his own countrymen waffle and vacillate between God and the gods.

But there is even more in these words.  David is saying he will stand for God in the face of a hostile world.  Even before the gods, the very symbols of those who seek to eliminate the Church and her faith, David will stand with God.

One of the ways he will stand for God is by worshiping God in the Temple.  This is one of the primary points of this Psalm, for it is in the Temple and the public worship of God that David gives thanks unto God and sings praises unto Him before the gods.  It is as though David is saying, let the world and its idols look upon this scene, for in their very presence and in their plain sight I will worship the Living God. Every Sunday you pass cars filled with people on their way to worship.  Most of them aren't going to Church.  They are going to worship the god of the horse, the god of the lake and beach, or the god of materialism whose temple is the mall. Many are so dedicated to their gods they don't have to travel to worship them. Their houses and lands are their gods, and they live where their gods are.  They literally dwell in the house of their gods.

I cannot help wondering how many of those at the horse trails, lakes, beaches, malls, and watering their azaleas claim to be Christians, yet habitually forsake the assembly of the Church for worship.  And why?  Not because there is not ample encouragement in the Scriptures.  The Bible everywhere proceeds on the principle, the assumption that Christians are active members of the local church.  The Bible was written to the Church.  Romans was not written to individual Christians who happened to live in Rome. It was written to the Church in Rome.  Revelation 3:14-22 was not written to individual Christians in Laodicea; it was written to the Church in Laodicea.  We err when we think we don't need to be a part of the Church.  We err if we think we have done all that God requires if we spend a few minutes alone with the Bible and prayer.  The Church is His body and we are members of it.  Thus, when Paul wrote in Hebrews 10:25 that we are not to forsake the worship assemblies of the Church, he meant the visible, local body of believers, not an intangible feeling of togetherness.  It does not work to attempt to excuse forsaking the local church by saying you worship as part of the invisible Church which is that mystical body of all believers.  It doesn't work because the invisible Church is manifested in the world, and participated in by the believer, through the local, visible church.  My beloved in Christ, we need more than a Bible and a "quiet time."  We need the worship and fellowship of the visible, organized Church.

If this world were a Christian world, we would still need the Church, and we would still need to be a part of the worship and services of it.  But the world is not Christian, and that means we need the Church even more.  And we need the discipline of standing firm for God in a faithless world.  I beg and encourage you to sing God's praises and forsake the false gods and idols of this world.  Stand fast for God, even before the gods sing your praise unto Him and worship toward His holy Temple.

LMIGHTY God, 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; through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Point to Ponder – The Voice
The start of this came to me from one of my very good friends, a lovely lady.

It is easy to underestimate the impact that our words, facial expressions, and body language have on others. Some men, for example, may not be fully aware of how deeply their words affect women. One sister said, “It frightens me when my husband angrily raises his voice at me.” Strong words may exert greater force on a woman than on a man and may stay with her for a long time.  This is especially true of words spoken by someone a woman loves and wants to respect. An experienced married brother illustrated why a husband should treat his wife gently, as “a weaker vessel.” “When you hold a precious and delicate vase, you must not grasp it too firmly, or it may crack. Even if repaired, the crack may remain visible,” he said. “If a husband uses words that are too strong with his wife, he may hurt her. This might cause a lasting crack in their relationship.”

The relationship of husband and wife is complex in many respects and yet simple as the two become one. 

God intended the husband to be the protector and provider, the wife to be the caregiving, home keeping, child raising one.   He outfitted us well for those roles, with men having far more upper body strength and a mentality fitting one whose job is to provide and protect.  God gave women far more insight, far more sensitivity and concern for others’ welfare.  The two work together very well to be a single unit with far more capability than the sum of the two.

On the other hand, as husbands, men need to understand their role, their limitations and how they can be more effective.  As protectors and providers, we are necessarily less concerned with what people think and say than what they do.  But, if we carry that attitude over to our homes and our wives, we can create huge problems where there should be great peace and harmony. 

Wives are to view their husbands as their protectors, the ones who keep the evil of the world at bay.  Can you imagine the effect on a wife when her protector attacks her?  But, you say, I would never attack my wife.  Consider the effect of what might be called sharp words.  Jesus loves us.  He is our ultimate protector.  The church is spoken of as His bride.  Do you hear him using sharp words?  The answer is NO.

Your wife should be the woman you most respect in this world, your partner and best friend.  If she is not, blame only yourself and change the way you think before it is too late.  She must be treated with the respect due a person of that position.  She must be accorded the honor due her.

Think before you speak, think longer before you act.  If, after thinking you decide to use sharp words, or heaven forbid, yell; think again.  Words can never be retracted.  Once launched they are fire and forget[2].  Except your target likely will not forget.

These words are applicable to not only marriage but any interpersonal relationship between men and women.  The two are different, as God intended.  Do not consider one better than the other, all things considered.  But, fully understand that in any one aspect they may have completely different approaches, outlooks, capabilities and views.

[1] General Confession – BCP Page 6
[2] Fire and Forget is a term used for missiles that are self guiding once fired and require no more input from the aircraft or pilot.  This concept does not work with harsh words.

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