The Propers for today are found
on Page 188-190, with the Collect first:
Sunday after Trinity.
GOD, the strength of all those who put their trust in thee;
Mercifully accept our prayers; and because, through the weakness of our mortal
nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace,
that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Dru Arnold read
today’s Epistle, which came from the Fourth Chapter of St. John‘s First
Epistle, beginning at the Seventh Verse.
John pointed out that if we do not love our brethren here on earth we
have seen and touched, how then can we claim to have love for God, whom no man
hath seen? “Beloved, let us love
one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and
knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” God loved us so much He sent His only
Son to die for our sins. That is
true love. Not that we love Him,
but that first He loved us! So, if
God first loved us, ought we also not love each other? No one has seen God at any time. Yet, He loves us and we say we love
Him. If we do love one another, then
God is in us, the Holy Ghost, and we are in Him. Be bold, the world will end some time, for each of us it
ends when we leave here. Fear not,
trust in God and dread naught. God
and His love will keep fear and the damage it does at bay. Love each other and act on that love.
This reading covers the same ground as Jesus’ Summary of
the Law, the second portion, “That he who loveth God love his brother
also.” God is love, not hate.
ELOVED, let us love one another: for love is of God; and
every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not
knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward
us, because that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might
live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us,
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved
us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we
love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby
know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his
Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the
Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God
dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that
God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and
God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day
of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in
love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that
feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If
a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth
not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother
Jack Arnold, our Deacon Striker,
read today’s Gospel which started in the Sixteenth Chapter of the Gospel
according to St. Luke, beginning at the Nineteenth Verse. It is a story Jesus told of Lazarus,
not the Lazarus whom he raised from the dead, but a fictional character. This
Lazarus was poor and very ill, he was laid at the gate of an extremely well fed
rich man hoping he might be fed with the castoffs from the rich man’s
table. He was so ill, he could not
move when dogs came to lick his sores.
He died and went to heaven where he was well cared for and was
whole. The rich man died, and for
his self centered behavior here on earth, went to hell where he was tormented
horribly. He looked up and saw
Lazarus. He begged for just a
touch of water, that he might be comforted. Abraham told the rich man that he would receive no comfort
as he had partaken of all the comfort he would get while on earth when he
thought only of himself. He also
told him there was a gulf between heaven and hell through which no one could
pass. Hearing that, the rich man
asked that Lazarus be sent to his father’s house that his brothers might avoid
his fate. Abraham pointed out they
had the words of Moses and the prophets, if they would not hear them, they
would not listen to one who rose from the dead.
HERE was a certain rich man,
which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full
of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s
table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that
the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich
man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in
torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried
and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip
the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this
flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy
good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is com-forted, and
thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great
gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can
they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee
therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: for I have
five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place
of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them
hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the
dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the
prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and
Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. How little we need other guidance, if
we but listen to what God tells us.
Consider these words from the
… the strength
of all those who put their trust in thee; … through the weakness of our mortal
nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace,
that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed…
This is a little longer Collect
than usual, but in it we acknowledge that God is our strength, as we are weak
and cannot do any true good without His Help; thus we ask His help or grace to
do His Will in both in our thoughts and actions.
And, what is the first action we are to take, to love one
another. Saint John pointed out if
we do not love our fellow creatures here on earth whom we have seen and touched,
how then can we claim to have love for God, whom no have not seen? “Beloved, let us love one another: for
love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He
that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” God loved us so much He sent His only Son to die for our
sins. That is true love. Not that we love Him, but that first He
loved us! So, if God first loved
us, ought we also not love each other? No one has seen God at any time. Yet, He loves us and we say we love Him. If we do love one another, then God is
in us, the Holy Ghost, and we are in Him.
Be bold, the world will end some time, for each of us it ends when we
leave here. Fear not, trust in God
and dread naught. God and His love
will keep fear and the damage it does at bay. Love each other and act on that love.
To love one another and act on that love. To consider the ways we might help
others and then actually help them.
It is not a question of giving, but helping. The rich man could have helped Lazarus, but it never entered
his head. Lazarus was a rather
disgusting feature of his world and when he died, the rich man was pleased not
to have to pass by him. Yet, it never
entered into his head to help.
How is that possible?
Simple, his eye was not on the donut, but on the
hole. The rich man cared about all
the things that don’t count and never considered those that do.
Indeed, between heaven and hell there is a great gulf
fixed, but the gulf is not of God’s making but ours. It is us who keeps us from the heaven He offers freely, yet
at a great price.
Put your trust in God and dread naught. Love those around you and act on that
love. Think how you can help, not
how you can “enjoy” life. Helping
does not mean simply giving money to those who don’t have it, no strings
attached. It means facilitating a
way for those who do not have to earn what they need; to bring them the means
of acquiring those things which they need. Those things are spiritual as well as physical. A hand up, not a hand out. You will find out the more you help,
the more you enjoy real life.
We are oft fortunate to get
copies of Bishop Jerry’s sermon notes.
Today is one of those Sundays.
Today’s sermon starts off with the collect.
It will give you a lot to consider in your heart.
First Sunday after Trinity 10 June 2012 Anno
Anglican Orthodox Church
the Rich Man and Lazarus
Sunday after Trinity.
GOD, the strength of all those who put their trust in thee;
Mercifully accept our prayers; and because, through the weakness of our mortal
nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that
in keeping thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
19There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple
and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there
was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And
desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table:
moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was
carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was
buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments,
and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he
cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may
dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in
this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy
lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now
he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a
great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot;
neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he
said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's
house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto
them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham
saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he
said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will
repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and
the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (Luke 16:19-31)
Before we look more closely at this great parable of Jesus, we must understand
that Christ never uses a parable of things physical or spiritual whose
principle is not consistent with the truth. This story of the rich man
and Lazarus may be just as actual as it is figurative. God's principles never
change and neither does His truth.
The parable addresses the issues of the hereafter in stark illustration of
Paradise and Hell. There are those whose wealth dim their eyes to mercy
and compassion, and encrypt their hearts in greed and malice. There are, on the
other hand, those who would prefer to give whatever material possession they
have if it will render a greater good in improving the life of that one
standing nearby. Because their hearts are not centered on the material, their
souls are fixed on goodness and mercy. Christ does not mean to teach that there
is evil in riches, but in the way that we may covet such wealth. There is no
honor is being desperately poor, either, but the circumstances of life may
render any of us unable to provide for ourselves and impoverished by misfortune.
When poor men, such as Lazarus, are made to beg by the gates of the wealthy,
this condition is an illustration of the sin in the sin that lies covered in
the purple garments of the wealthy who refuse to share their excess with those
who are so deprived even of food to eat.
It should be noted that God does not always provide material reward to His
righteous in this world. The tables are often turned so that the wealthy are
the wicked, and the poor, the righteous. It does not necessarily need to be so,
but often is. Even a very righteous man may be corrupted when he comes into
great wealth. He may forget the estate from which he has come, and dwell only
on the improvement of his finances.
We must not misapply Scriptural counsel regarding money: it is not money itself
that is evil, but the love thereof. For the love of money is
the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the
faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Tim 6:10) If
God rewards you will a million dollars in your account, the mere possession of
so much money does not make you a bad person. The manner in which you use the
money for good is a measure of your virtue.
The deference which Christ shows to the poor man in giving him a Godly name,
Lazarus, or Eleazar, is notable. The name means, God is MY Help. We have
churches in the AOC in parts of the world in which every member depends upon
God alone for the next morsel of food they consume. This Holy name imputes a
righteous character to the poor man.
But what of the rich man? He is given no name at all. Why do you suppose this
is so? Because if our names are not written in the Book of Life, then they are
not written at all. In fact, there are no names in Hell. Why would you need a
was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared
sumptuously every day This man was filled with himself and cared not a whit for those around
him. He had much more than he needed, yet was unwilling to share a morsel from
his well-stocked pantry to a poor man diseased and dying. The love of wealth
petrifies the heart and closes its gates of mercy. Christ only refers to this
man as a "rich man." He has no redeeming qualities that recommend him
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus,
which was laid at his gate, full of sores You may wonder why
Lazarus is a beggar? Could it be a result of his complete helplessness due to
disease. He could not help himself – he had to be helped. Someone must help
those around us who are unable, due to tragic circumstances, to help
themselves. Before the advent of utopian and socialistic philosophy, the Church
and Community were the source of help – and still should be.
desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table:
moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. He desired no great
thing – only to be fed the crumbs from the rich man's table. These the rich man
did not need, but it is doubtful that the rich man cared enough to give them to
Lazarus. Even though men of means showered no mercy on their own kind, at least
the dogs lived up to their reputation of loyalty. The dogs comforted Lazarus –
not with food which they had not – but with compassion and love. Are we better
it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into
Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried How
casually does the LORD make reference to that grave which awaits every beloved
reader of this devotion. It shall come to pass that each of us shall die. Then
You will observe a great difference in the disposition of Lazarus after death,
and that of the rich man after death. Christ says of the beggar (he) was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom
Truly the destination of all righteous souls. Abraham is father, not only to
the Hebrews, but all who believe in the Promised Seed – Jesus Christ! What a
royal sendoff did Lazarus receive. Though a poor, sick beggar, he was honored
with the dignity of being carried by the angels to Abraham's Bosom. Angels are
important heavenly dignitaries, but not so dignified as to ignore any soul that
dies in Christ.
How does the honor paid Lazarus differ from the disposition of the Rich Man's
body? The rich man also died, and was buried. He was placed, not in the Bosom of Abraham, but
in the depth of the earth – his eternal home, or ultimately, Hell. Instead of
the angels carrying him to Abraham's Bosom, the rich man lies in the cursed
soil of the world. Quite well do the final words of a poem by Sir Walter Scott
summarize the matter:
"For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles,
proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim
Despite those titles,
power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he
Unwept, unhonored , and unsung."
But Scott's words do not fully reveal the extent of the tragedy of such
a lifestyle – the fires of Hell await such a one the very moment his eyes are
blinded by death.
in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and
Lazarus in his bosom.
Christ does not leave the
reality of hell open for question, but states the fact outright. There are
fires in Hel, and torments as well. There are no medical stations there to
relieve the pain for, in Hell, the character of its citizens rule – NO MERCY!
The rich man can see Lazaraus "afar off" in the bosom of Abraham.
Heaven is a far off place from Hell. But the wicked can see the delight of
those in Heaven.
he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he
may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented
in this flame
The pride of wealth no longer
dominates the rich man's thinking. He takes no longer pride in his fine raiment
for that was burned away the moment he was cast into Hell. The rich man begs
for that which he had none of in life – MERCY! Lazarus is now rich, and the
rich man a beggar. He begs for mercy to be delivered by the very finger of him
to whom he granted no mercy. Hell is a hot dry place. The drought never ends
there. It is interesting to note that there is no evidence that Lazarus is
aware of the rich man's condition in Hell. Such knowledge might dampen his joy
in Heaven for he obviously was a man of compassion as opposed to the rich man.
Hell is a place of torment. God sends no one to Hell – we send ourselves.
Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things,
and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art
We sometimes find men in
conditions and circumstances from which we cannot extricate them, but we still
should have what kindness we can have and show respectful regard. Observe with
what sympathy Abraham addresses the rich man in Hell: He calls him
"son!" It is possible that this man could have been a true son of
Abraham as was Lazarus had he followed in that faith of Abraham in Christ. But
he was more likely a son by hereditary descent and not spiritual. The temporary
luxuries of riches born out of greed will avail nothing in Heaven. The pleasure
is so temporary, and eternity so very long – endless in fact.
beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they
which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that
would come from thence. We must
recognize that the distance is so great between Heaven and Hell that none can
pass to and from. No one has descended to Hell and returned to tell of it, and
the same is true of Heaven regardless the cheap little books of commercial
fodder marketed today. If you believe that you can visit Hell, you probably
will do so for longer than you wish.
he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my
father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto
them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Even the wicked in Hell are aware of the lost condition of their loved
ones. Does this give cause for pause? Those in Hell would do anything to save
their loved ones (for the damned also love their own) from coming to such a
place of hot torment.
. 29 Abraham saith unto
him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. Have we, too, heard the voice of Moses from the beginning in Genesis?
Have we heard and heeded the writings of the prophets and the Gsopel and
Espitles that tell of Christ? If so, it is enough! We need no astounding signs
to prove our faith else it is not faith.
An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and
there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For
as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son
of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matt 12:39-40) Is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as your Lord and
Savior enough for you, or do you seek cleverly designed signs of men?
he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they
will repent. Really? Christ rose from the dead and the
obstinate, faithless Jewish rulers still hated Him. Faith is based in hope and
love, not sure evidence.
31 And he said unto him,
If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though
one rose from the dead.
If our faith is not founded on
God's Word, no other considerations are important. We believe because God's
Love is reflected to our hearts in the hope and reality revealed by Scripture.
If our hearts are made of lead, the iron Magnet will not attract it. There must
be a kinship (even if distant) in the heart that responds to the Call of God.
Do you have
Dennis Campbell’s Sunday Sermon
is oft the case, we are honored to present Bishop Dennis’ Sunday sermon
presented to his parish. Dennis
has a great sermon for the First Sunday after Trinity:
First Sunday after Trinity
June 10, 2012
If we are going to find any kind of peace and
meaning in life in this world, we are going to have to ask and answer several
very important questions, for the answers will direct the course of our
existence, now, and for all eternity. The first question is, does God exist?
The second question is, how can I know God? The third is do I owe God anything?
The fourth question is based on the faith that the answers to the previous
questions are "yes." This question is, is obeying God "worth
it?" Is obeying God worth the time and energy and trouble and sacrifice I
have to put into it? This is the
question dealt with in Psalm 73, and it is asked in light of the differences
the author sees in the lives and circumstances of those who obey God, and those
who do not.
Psalm 73. Quam bonus Israel!
RULY God is loving unto Israel: * even unto such
as are of a clean heart.
2 Nevertheless, my feet were almost gone, * my tread- ings had
3 And why? I was grieved at the wicked: * I
do also see the ungodly in such prosperity.
4 For they are in no peril of death; * but
are lusty and strong.
5 They come in no misfortune like other folk;
* neither are they plagued like other men.
6 And this is the cause that they are so
holden with pride, * and cruelty covereth them as a garment.
7 Their eyes swell with fatness, * and they
do even what they lust.
8 They corrupt other, and speak of wicked
blasphemy; * their talking is against the Most High.
9 For they stretch forth their mouth unto the
heaven, * and their tongue goeth through the world.
10 Therefore fall the people unto them, * and
there- out suck they no small advantage.
11 Tush, say they, how should God perceive
it? * is there knowledge in the Most High?
12 Lo, these are the ungodly, * these prosper
in the world, and these have riches in possession:
13 And I said, Then have I cleansed my heart
in vain, * and washed my hands in innocency.
14 All the day long have I been punished, *
and chas- tened every morning.
15 Yea, and I had almost said even as they; *
but lo, then I should have condemned the generation of thy chil- dren.
16 Then thought I to understand this; * but
it was too hard for me,
17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God: *
then un- derstood I the end of these men;
18 Namely, how thou dost set them in slippery
places, * and castest them down, and destroyest them.
19 O how suddenly do they consume,*perish, and
come to a fearful end!
20 Yea, even like as a dream when one
awaketh; * so shalt thou make their image to vanish out of the city.
21 Thus my heart was grieved, * and it went
even through my reins.
22 So foolish was I, and ignorant, * even as
it were a beast before thee.
23 Nevertheless, I am alway by thee; * for
thou hast holden me by my right hand.
24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, *
and after that receive me with glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? * and
there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee.
26 My flesh and my heart faileth; * but God
is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
27 For lo, they that forsake thee shall
perish; * thou hast destroyed all them that are unfaithful unto thee.
28 But it is good for me to hold me fast by
God, to put my trust in the Lord God, * and to speak of all thy
works in the gates of the daughter of Sion.
The Psalm makes a shocking point; disobedience pays.
The general teaching of most religions is that those who obey God receive
blessings from God. This idea is often reduced to the catch phrase, "do
good, get good." But the author of this Psalm looks around Israel and
Jerusalem and sees that it doesn't always work that way. It often happens that
nice guys finish last and bad guys win. Who are the prosperous, the healthy,
the well-fed? According to the Psalmist, it is not necessarily the man who
works hard at an honourable job and lives an honourable, Godly life. He is more
likely to be poor, barely able to feed his family, and sick from poor
nourishment and overwork. It is the wicked who prosper, and they do so by
taking advantage of others. They scheme and cheat and lie to get what they
want, "Therefore fall the people unto them, and thereout suck they no small
advantage" (vs. 10). The King James says, "waters of a full cup are
wrung out " to the wicked. They gain a full cup by wringing it out of
others. The picture is of a person twisting a damp rag until the water runs out
of it, and the idea is that the wicked wring their wealth out others instead of
earning it honestly. The wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. That is the
shocking point made by this Psalm, and the implication is that if this is true,
then serving God is not worth it. Turn away from God, join the wicked, do
whatever it takes to claw your way to wealth, then eat drink and be merry.
The author of this Psalm was considering this.
"I have cleansed my heart in vain" he wrote in verse 13. He is
saying, "I've been a fool to try to be righteous. It is useless. The
blessings go only to the wicked, and I'm going to join them." He was tired
of playing by the rules while the wicked got all the prizes. I am sure most of
you have felt that way sometimes. When I went into the ministry I thought people
hungered for God the way I did. I thought they wanted to know the Scriptures
the way I wanted to know them. I thought they wanted to turn away from the
destructive emptiness of self-indulgence and materialism. I thought they would
come to a church where the Bible is believed and taught and lived. So I
invested and sacrificed myself and my family to bring the Word to people, in
hope of seeing them come to Christ or grow in grace. Thanks be to God, I have
found many solid Christian people in the Church. I have also found animosity to
God. I have also found people desire a feel-good gospel and a church based on
emotionalism and programs rather than truth and holiness. I have found that
most people would much rather feel like a Christian than be a Christian, and they
don't want any Bible waving clergyman upsetting their world and challenging
their views. There is nothing new about this. Around the end of the Nineteenth
Century, Bishop J. C. Ryle noted the same thing. After saying the methods which
emphasise shows and feelings instead of doctrine and holiness draw large crowds
and are extremely popular, he wrote in the preface to his book, Old Paths,
"I am not surprised. It is exactly what a study of human nature by the
light of the Bible would lead me to expect." It took me a long time and a
lot of major disappointments to learn the truth of those words, and I have
often thought of giving up. I am sure each of you could share similar stories
about work, friends, family, even church.
Look what the Psalm says about us when we think about
giving up. "My feet were almost gone, my treadings had well-nigh
slipt" (vs. 2). In other words, thinking about quitting on God is to be in
the condition of slipping spiritually. What happens to a person who is
physically slipping? Either he will be able to catch himself, or he will fall.
So the Bible is telling us here that to think about quitting on God is to be in
danger of falling away from God. It is to be in danger of falling back into
unbelief and sin, and that's a deadly fall. As I say this, I am sure many of
you are thinking about Hebrews 6:4-6:
For it is impossible for those
who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made
partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers
of the world to come, if they should fall away, to renew them again unto
But there is a far better reason to continue with God
than simply the fear of falling. That reason is the unfathomable riches of the
grace of God, in this life, and in the next. Verse 24 expresses this well,
"Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and after that receive me with
glory." It is true, as our Lord said, that we will have tribulation in
this world. The world is against us. In addition to the opposition of the
world, God disciplines and stretches us until it sometimes feels like He is
going to break what little faith we have. But, through all of our tribulations,
God is with us, and our blessings in God far outweigh both the sorrows we bear
and the luxuries we forgo in the service of God. The wicked may have worldly
success, but we have the counsel of God to guide us. We have the Bible, the
Spirit, the sacraments, and the Church. We have prayer and worship. We have God
living in us, we have meaning and purpose in life that gives direction to our
struggles and makes sense of our trials. All of these things are ours to enjoy
here and now. What more could we want out of life when God is our portion
forever? It has been said that if there were no Heaven or hell, the Christian
life would still be the only life worth living. I agree. I would not want to
take part in the dogfight people join in their attempts to rise to the top. I
would not want to lie and cheat, and step on others to get a promotion or a
raise. I would want to conduct myself with honour and integrity in every sphere
of life, even if there were no Heaven or hell. I would strive to be a Godly
employee, employer, spouse, parent, daughter, son, in-law, sibling, for that is
the only way to live and still be able to respect myself. In such a life I
would be free of many of the habits and attitudes that destroy others and
myself. I would not want the life of the wicked, not even for all the treasures
of the world.
And we have the promise of even greater blessings for
us in heaven. As verse 24 says, God will receive us with great glory. A major
part of this is that God will receive us into His everlasting joy in Heaven.
There is a place where we will no longer face sickness, sorrow, or death. There
is a place where we will no longer face temptation, and no longer fall into
sin. There is a place where you can see God "face-to-face," and in
Him will find the greatest treasure and joy that can be found by the human
soul. Would you trade all of this for the trinkets of earth? Would you sell
your soul to make a few dollars? Truly nothing in this short life on earth is
as valuable as knowing God and enjoying His grace. The Psalm asks if following
God is woth the cost. It answers its own question. If I were to attempt to
state the answer in modern terms, I would say, obeying God is the only thing
that is worth it.
Bishop, Anglican Orthodox Church Diocese of Virginia
Rector, Holy Trinity Anglican Orthodox Church
from Rev Dr Peter Mullen, Mercers' Company of Richmond, North Yorkshire, United
Bishop Jerry Ogles - This is an excellent paper by the Rev Mullen. He
echoes the same sentiments of those of Bishop Dees fifty years ago. The scholars of the church were not
blind-sided in the sixties-eighties. They were fooled with their eyes opened.
The professors of faith of Church of England simply did not believe the Word of
God and, therefore, felt free to expunge it once and for all from their midst.
Many mainline churches are doing the exact same thing
at this moment without any notable outcry from their adherents.
Bishop Dennis Campbell – A very accurate appraisal.
"The State of the Church of England" Preached by The Revd Dr
Peter Mullen for the Mercers' Company of Richmond, North Yorkshire Corpus
Christi 2012, Courtesy of Pastor Roy.
For years now, a great number of people have been
asking me what's going on in the Church of England these days: the implication
and tone of these enquiries suggesting that all is not well.
Indeed, it is not at all well.
I should like to try to offer some explanation of
what has gone wrong. But the catastrophic farce into which the church has
descended did not happen overnight. So you will have to listen to a bit of
history - not much - but for this I beg your patience. Let us go back to, say,
1958. The Church of England was enjoying a period of confident expansion.
Congregations were on the increase. The habit of Parish Communion was replacing
Matins and enlivening churches everywhere. Christenings and weddings were up.
Ordinations to the priesthood were up. In the working class parish of Armley,
Leeds, where I was raised, there were three of us who had offered ourselves to
To re-apply William Wordsworth: bliss was it in that
dawn to be alive, and to be young was very heaven.
Let us look at this scene.
One of the most constructive, creative and unifying
aspects of the church was that throughout it used The King James Bible and The
Book of Common Prayer. This was a sort of happy genius, for these same
books were used by all three parties in the church: High, Low and Broad.
Then, the “authorities” started to tinker with this
happy arrangement and the decline set in. They were bent on making new versions
of the Bible and the first of these was the New Testament part of The New
English Bible which was published in 1961. This version is illiterate and in
many places laughable. As, for instance, when the King James's Son of Belial
(that is the devil himself) is rendered by the New English Bible as a good-
for- nothing (I Samuel
25: 25)? What, the son of the devil himself is only a good- for-nothing
- like a truant from the fourth form who has been stealing apples from the
housemaster's orchard! There isn't time to give you dozens of other examples of
idiocy in the new versions of Scripture, but I devote a chapter to this in my
book A Partial Vision: Christianity and
the Great Betrayal. Buy one today and laugh all week...
Having emasculated Holy Writ, the authorities then
devoted themselves to the ruin of public worship by the invention of
jiving-for-Jesus, Noddy, services vastly inferior to The Book of Common Prayer, which had proved its worth in every
parish in the land for 300 years.
Why, you may ask, did the hierarchy of the church
perpetrate this destruction? Simply because they liked the sound of their own
voices or, as Thomas Cranmer puts it in his Preface to The Book of Common Prayer, they were, such men who always had more
regard for their private fancies than for that duty they owe to the public. But
the full story of this desecration is truly scandalous.
In 1980 the bishops and synod put all these pathetic
services into a new publication called The
Alternative Service Book. At the time, they advertised this book as the
greatest publishing event in 400 years. Twenty years later the bishops and
synod actually banned - yes, officially banned - The Alternative Service Book and replaced it with something even
more barbarous called Common Worship.
So, first the sidelining of The King
James Bible and then the destruction of the Common Prayer which had sustained the whole church for centuries.
But there was, if you can credit it, a greater evil to come and it is this that
I want to tell you about now. The authorities were not content merely to dumb
down worship and produce illiterate versions of the Bible: they decided that
the church must be secularized.
Suddenly, theological paperback books became all the
rage. These were some of the titles: Objections
to Christian Belief; The Secular Meaning of the Gospel; The Gospel of Christian
Atheism; But That I Can't Believe! ; Radical Theology and the Death of God.
And, most successful of the lot, Honest
to God by John Robinson, Bishop of Woolwich. He launched this iconoclastic
book with a long article on the front of The Observer newspaper entitled Our
Image of God Must Go. In his book, Robinson sought thoroughly to undermine our
notions of the being of God. Let me quote from him: In place of a God who is
literally or physically 'up there' we have accepted, as part of our mental
furniture, a God who is spiritually or metaphysically 'out there'." (Honest to God, p. 13). But Christians
for 2,000 years had held as their core belief the objective, metaphysical
existence of God. Honest to God was
an explicit denial of this. Robinson's book was catastrophic in another way. In
Chapter Six Robinson denies the authority of the Ten Commandments and says that
instead our moral decisions should be guided by what he called situation
ethics. In other words, you make up your own morality on the hoof. This
appalling book had enormous influence, going into half a dozen reprints in as
A few years later, Christian priests and theologians
published The Myth of God Incarnate which
denied the traditional view of Jesus as God and Man. It is crucial to notice
that these new trends - the virtual abolition of The King James Bible and The
Book of Common Prayer and the denial and abandonment of Christian orthodoxy
- were most enthusiastically taken up by the most prominent people in the
church; bishops, deans, principals of theological colleges and the like. You
might say that the Church of England effectively resigned.
But the iconoclasts and virtual atheists who became
the new Establishment were left with a big problem on their hands. If you
denied, as they did, that Scripture and traditional church teaching actually
meant what they said, what did you do with the words of the Bible and the doctrines
of the Christian Fathers?
Answer: in the phrase used by Professor Rudolf
Bultmann of the University of Marburg, you demythologized them. Let me spell
out what this means practically. Take the feeding of the five thousand.
Obviously, the new non-believing theologians could not by any means accept that
this was one of Our Lord's miracles, but there it remains in the Bible - so
what to do with it? Answer: it was a socialist picnic> So turn it into a
banal story about sharing and make it part of a socialist ideology which grew
and developed into today's rampant egalitarianism and leveling down. What about
the resurrection of Christ? They didn't believe it. But there it stubbornly
remains in all four gospels. So what to make of it? What they did was to deny
that it happened and instead psychologize and subjectify it.
These leaders, who were supposed to be our spiritual
fathers in God, our religious teachers and defenders of the faith, did not
believe that Jesus rose from the dead. So they said instead that after his
death his disciples experienced new life. Thus they left entirely unanswered
where this experience of new life came from if Jesus remained dead. And it left
unanswered the other question too: would the first Christian men and women
really preach what they knew to be a lie? Would they really have had the
courage to suffer martyrdom for what they knew was a cock-and-bull story?
This secularization of Christianity has accelerated
over the years so that the church is now run by practical atheists. This is why
you never hear many of our bishops and other senior clergy speak directly about
scripture or the doctrines of the Creed. They don't believe what the Bible and
the Creeds actually say. And so they retreat and re-interpret Christian
doctrine in terms of the secular opinions of our time. And these opinions are
always merely political. And of course they are always the fashionable left
wing prejudices of the day.
This is why we hear from the bishops' palaces, the
archdeaconries and the theological colleges endless palaver about diversity,
equality, under-privilege, deprivation, social exclusion, saving the planet and
all the rest.
If you don't believe in God who is a metaphysical
reality; if you believe the feeding of the five thousand was that socialist
picnic; if you think the resurrection was a mere shift in the disciples' mood;
then there is nothing left for you to engage with than the secular dogmas of
this world. Even this is not enough for the new brand of non-believing leaders
of our church. They love above all things to discover the biggest universal
delusion of the age - and identify themselves with it. So in the 1980s this was
unilateral nuclear disarmament and now it is climate change.
The church has been reduced to an un-theological,
bureaucratic, box-ticking, politically-correct irrelevance. That is why, to
take an example close to where I live, the Occupy campsite outside St Paul's
loomed so large. The hierarchy, having divested itself of fundamental belief,
has nothing else to do.
To sum up: the church has lost its confidence in its
own basic teachings and in its theological and dogmatic authority. Have you
noticed how dogma nowadays is only a dirty word? We need a return to
fundamental Christian faith. God only knows where and when such a return might
begin. But we must pray for it every day.
Rev Dr Peter Mullen is a priest of the Church of England and former Rector of
St Michael, Cornhill and St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in the City of London. He
has written for many publications including the Wall Street Journal. He is also Chaplain of The Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators
(GAPAN) is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London. The Guild was
established in 1929 and was granted the status of a Livery Company in 1956. The
Guild is responsible for advising the government on air safety and aeronautics. The Guild ranks eighty-first in the
order of precedence of Livery Companies and fourth in the order of precedence
of the Modern Livery Companies. It is unique amongst City Livery Companies in
having active Regional Committees in Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and
North America, and unique in being permitted to continue to be called a Guild
notwithstanding its status as a Livery Company.
Guild's motto is Per Cælum Via Nostra,
Latin for Our Way Is By The Heavens.
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