Verse of the Day

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

The Propers for today are found on Page 206-207, with the Collect first:

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

LMIGHTY 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

Dru Arnold read the Epistle, which 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?

Uch 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.

Deacon Striker Jack Arnold read today’s Holy Gospel, which started 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[1].   The people brought unto him a deaf mute.  Jesus examined the man, put his fingers in his ears, touched his tongue and said “Ephphatha”[2], 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.

esus, 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 – Time and Action
Today’s sermon tied the Epistle and Gospel together and is partly addressed in the  forewords above.  

Consider the words from the Collect, wherein we ask God … 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 …

We continually pray to God, asking Him for what WE want.  Yet, how oft do we listen to Him when He responds?  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, more than we can even desire.  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.

God gives us guidance 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 or would not comply with the 613 Mosaic Laws, which brought them death.  Jesus 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:

1.     Love God
2.     Love your neighbor like yourself
Think about it, if you do those two things, you will find you need no other real moral guidance.  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.  The problem is just like the Jews, we cannot perfectly follow those either.  But, happily for us, Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf accounts us as just before God.  So, now that we know that, who do we tell about it?  Do we let people know, or do we hide our allegiance to the Lord?   If you hide your allegiance, you really have none.

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.

Actions speak louder than words. 

Be of God - Live of God  - Act of God.
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 great sermon for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity:

God Knows You
Psalm 139, 2 Corinthians 3:1-9, Mark 7:31-37
Twelfth Sunday after Trinity
August 26, 2012

When you hear words like omniscient or omnipresent, you may think they are only for academic theologians in seminary classrooms.  In reality they are inseparably connected to everyday Christian living, for they express the deep essence of the nature and being of God.

Omniscience means God knows all things, but Psalm 139 shows that it especially means God knows you.

 LORD, thou hast searched me out, and known me. * Thou knowest my down-sitting, and mine up-rising; thou understandest my thoughts long before.
2 Thou art about my path, and about my bed; * and art acquainted with all my ways.
3 For lo, there is not a word in my tongue, * but thou, O LORD, knowest it altogether.
4 Thou hast beset me behind and before,* and laid thine hand upon me.
5 Such knowledge is too wonderful and excellent for me; * I cannot attain unto it.
6 Whither shall I go then from thy Spirit? * or whither shall I go then from thy presence?
7 If I climb up into heaven, thou art there; * if I go down to hell, thou art there also.
8 If I take the wings of the morning, * and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea;
9 Even there also shall thy hand lead me, * and thy right hand shall hold me.
10 If I say, Peradventure the darkness shall cover me; * then shall my night be turned to day.
11 Yea, the darkness is no darkness with thee, but the night is as clear as the day; * the darkness and light to thee are both alike.
12 For my reins are thine; * thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.
13 I will give thanks unto thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: * marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.
14 My bones are not hid from thee, * though I be made secretly, and fashioned beneath in the earth.
15 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect; * and in thy book were all my members written;
16 Which day by day were fashioned, * when as yet there was none of them.
17 How dear are thy counsels unto me, O God;* O how great is the sum of them!
18 If I tell them, they are more in number than the sand: * when I wake up, I am present with thee.
19 Wilt thou not slay the wicked, O God? * Depart from me, ye blood-thirsty men.
20 For they speak unrighteously against thee;*and thine enemies take thy Name in vain.
21 Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? * and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
22 Yea, I hate them right sore;*even as though they were mine enemies.
23 Try me, O God, and seek the ground of my heart; * prove me, and examine my thoughts.
24 Look well if there be any way of wickedness in me; * and lead me in the way everlasting.

The very first verse says God has searched you out.  This does not mean God went looking for you, for you are never out of His sight.  It means He sees you with a searching, knowing look.  He searches you as the Bereans searched the Scriptures when the Apostle Paul preached to them.  He is examining you in minute detail, and there is nothing about you that is hidden from His sight.    He knows you.  He knows the tiniest details of your life; your "down-sitting" and your up-rising."  What time did you go to bed on this date two years ago?  You don't know, but God knows. What did you have for dinner on this date three years ago?  God knows.  He knows all of your life.  He knows what you will eat on this date next year.  He knows what you will be doing a hundred years from now, a million years from now, and an eternity of eternities from now.  He knows your words before you speak them.  He knows what you will do before you do it.  He knows your thoughts before you think them.  He knows every structure in every cell of your body.  Your bones are not hidden from Him.  They  were written in His book "when as yet there were none of them." He fashioned you as a builder builds a house.  That  is why verse 13 says you are "fearfully and wonderfully made."

If God knows you that well, He knows your sins.  He knows the secret thoughts and desires of your heart, the secret sins you commit only in thought, the unjustified rage, the selfishness, the antipathy toward Him, the contempt of His commandments.  To Him all hearts are open, all desires known, and from Him no secrets are hid.

He also knows every hurt, every sorrow, and every need you have, and He cares about you.  I do not base my theology on hymns and songs, and when I like one it is because it expresses some part of Biblical truth in a succinct, easy to remember way.  Such is the hymn by John Zundel, "There's a Wideness in God's Mercy;"

There is no place where earth's sorrows Are more felt than up in heav'n;
There is no place where earth's failings have such kindly judgments giv'n

God knows your sorrows, and He knows how to give good things to you. He alone knows how to comfort you, fill your emptiness and heal your brokenness.  He can fill that hole in your being that you try to fill with toys and activities and amusements.  And He can fill it better than those things because He is only piece of your puzzel that fits in that place.  Quoting from John Zundel's hymn again;

There is welcome for the sinner, And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Saviour; There is healing in his blood.

Omnipresent means God is everywhere, but Psalm 139 makes the point that God is with you.  No matter where you are, how bad things may appear to you, God has not and never will forsake you.  Even in the shadow of death, "Thou art with me."   "Thou art about my path, and about my bed, and art acquainted with all my ways" (vs. 2) . If you could fly to Heaven, or plunge yourself into the pit of hell, you would still be in the presence of God.  If you fly through the sky with the wings of the morning, or go to the deepest part of the sea, even if you hide  yourself absolute darkness, you are as much in His presence as if you stood before His throne in Heaven, and He sees you as clearly as you see yourself in the noonday sun.  "Whither shall I go then from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I go then from Thy presence? 

Jonah God tried to go from God's Spirit and from God's presence.  He ran from God for the same reason everyone runs from God,  because he didn't want to do what God wanted him to do. God wanted him to preach repentance to the Ninevites, but that is just the letter of God's commandment.  The spirit of God's commandment to Jonah was that God wanted Jonah to love the Ninevites, to care about them, and to have compassion on them.  They were without God in this world, and would go to eternity without God, unless they repented, and God wanted Jonah to care about that.  On an even deeper level, God wanted Jonah to care about God.  He wanted Jonah to love God with all his being.  He wanted Jonah to love what God loves.  He wanted love to move Jonah to gladly do God's bidding.  But Jonah refused.  Instead of loving God, Jonah ran from Him.  He probably thought God was limited to the geographical area of Israel, as though God had a territorry, like a salesman or a franchise, and getting out of Israel would get him to a place where God could not reach him, could not bother him.  But God created the heavens and the earth.  He owns the seas and all that in them is.  He can sink a boat or take it safely to harbour.  He can even make a man live inside a fish for three days. If you are running away from God, like Jonah, you can't get away.  He is there wherever you go, wherever you hide.  He will always bother you, until you love Him back.

Jacob thought God had deserted him.  Jacob tricked his father and stole from his brother until his brother rose in anger against him, and Jacob had to run for his life.  In a matter of minutes Jacob went from having everything he wanted to having nothing at all.  Alone in the desert, without friends or family, without home  or money or food, feeling sorry for himself, but never admitting that he was reaping what he had sown, he found that God was with him.  God was there in the desert.  And God was working to bring Jacob to Himself, so that he would no longer be a liar and a thief and a con-man. God wanted more for Jacob than just to be the head of a clan, or to have power and money.  That's what Jacob wanted, and he planned and plotted against his father and against his brother and against God to get what he wanted.  But God wanted more for him than mere pleasures and trinkets of the world.  God wanted Jacob to love God.  God wanted Jacob to value what was really valuable, things like faith, and love, and hope and joy and peace and holiness.  God wanted to give him God.  And God is with you even in the most desolate wilderness of  the soul.  In fact, God often drives us into the desert to get our attention, and to begin the process of bringing us back to Him.  It is as though He makes us realise we have nothing and are nothing without Him, and then we become ready to receive Him.

Seeing that God knows him, and seeing that God is with him, King David closes his Psalm as he does so many others, with words of faith in God.  "How dear are thy counsels unto me, O God."  "Lead me in the way everlasting."  David has learned to love what God loves, desire what God gives, and hate what God hates.  There is a wonderful message in all of this.  Our entire existence is in God, and apart from God life has no meaning.  That's why only God can fill the emptiness of the soul that all of us feel when we try to fill it with other things.  But knowing God knows you, and that you are always in His presence, is a fearful thing to those who live in rebellion and sin.  To such people God's knowledge and presence is condemnation forever.  The knowledge and presence of God are comforting only to those who have come to Him in faith through Christ.  And even their comfort is not found in their own goodness, but in the forgiveness of their sins through the cross of Christ.

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

LMIGHTY 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

[1] Decapolis - ten cities=deka, ten, and polis, a city, a district on the east and south-east of the Sea of Galilee containing "ten cities, " which were chiefly inhabited by Greeks. It included a portion of Bashan and Gilead, and is mentioned three times in the New Testament (Matt. 4: 25; Mark 5: 20; 7: 31). These cities were Scythopolis, i. e., "city of the Scythians", (ancient Bethshean, the only one of the ten cities on the west of Jordan), Hippos, Gadara, Pella (to which the Christians fled just before the destruction of Jerusalem), Philadelphia (ancient Rabbath-ammon), Gerasa, Dion, Canatha, Raphana, and Damascus. When the Romans conquered Syria (B. C. 65) they rebuilt, and endowed with certain privileges, these "ten cities, " and the province connected with them they called "Decapolis. "
[2] Ephphatha the Greek form of a Syro-Chaldaic or Aramaic word, meaning "Be opened", uttered by Christ when healing the man who was deaf and dumb (Mark 7: 34). It is one of the characteristics of Mark that he uses the very Aramaic words which fell from our Lord's lips. (See 3: 17; 5: 41; 7: 11; 14: 36; 15: 34. )

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