Verse of the Day

Sunday, November 17, 2013

50th Birthday of the Anglican Orthodox Church • Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity

50th Birthday of the Anglican Orthodox Church

Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity

Sunday Report

16 November 2013

16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (2 Cor 6:16-17)

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  (Gospel of St. Matthew 16:18)

From the early days of the Apostles, the spirit of anti-Christ has been afoot attempting to undermine, at every turn, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and biblical truth. The labors of Satan cease not in his enmity against God and His Church. Reaching a crescendo in the pre-Reformation Church, headed by Rome, the Gospel of the day resembled very little the love, grace, and mercy of the Gospel of Christ. Unclean hands had added to, and taken away, from that truth preached by Christ and His Apostles. The Great English and Continental Reformers resolved to restore the Gospel in the Church even at the peril of torture and death. This they did, God helping them. The old superstitions and indulgences of the Roman Pontiff were replaced by the simplicity and centrality of God's Holy Word. The blood of untold numbers of saints was spilled into the soil of faith to restore that "faith once delivered to the saints." Our own Bishops, Cranmer, Ridley and Hooker died painful deaths at the stake to perpetuate the true Church. They came out from among the apostate church and restored the Church pure and faithful.

The victory of the Reformation seemed sweet to the faithful people of God; but, remember, Satan neither sleeps nor takes leave of absence. Immediately after Luther, Calvin, and Cranmer had separated from the error-ridden church, the pawns of evil immediately began their insidious labors to turn the Church from her first love and back to high ceremony and false religion. The Oxford Movement was the devil’s tool to take the Church of England back to Rome. The men of the Oxford Movement have done more damage to the true worship of the Church than all of those enemies openly defiant of Christ. The Church in America was slowly infiltrated by wicked men who cared not for Christ but for prestige and filthy lucre.

Though Satan never rests, God, too, never sleeps. He will always find among His people leaders and spiritual giants to return to that Rock upon which the Church is founded - not Peter (except in an apostolic sense), but the Lord Jesus Christ. "And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." (1 Cor 10:4) God found His champion in the Most Reverend James Parker Dees. Bishop Dees paid, what seemed to the world, a high price in stepping out of the ECUSA in November of 1963, but the rewards were im- measurable. He gave most of his families vast holdings in real estate to fund the early AOC Church. He was constantly harassed and libeled by minions of the Episcopal Church and their adoring press. They marched around his house with torches and megaphones for three straight nights, but Bishop Dees, once having placed his hand to the plow, never faltered or looked back. He came out from among them according to the commandment of God.

The Anglican Orthodox Church celebrated its fiftieth year anniversary on 16 November 2013 - fifty years from the coming out from among the apostate Episcopal Church and forming a separate Communion of Churches called the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide.

Under the capable leadership of the our godly Founding Bishop, James Parker Dees, the Anglican Orthodox Communion has grown to include churches in twenty-two countries on five continents - all worshipping in the beauty of holiness from the same Bible, the same Prayer Book, and the same Creeds as preserved, restored and established by our courageous Reformers. The Thirty Nine Articles of Religion summarize our doctrine, and the homilies and other formularies of the English Reformation direct our faith.

It has been said the Church is very much like a mighty river - it flows freely to the lowest sinner, and will absorb each one that wishes to be washed clean of his sins by the Blood of the Lamb. When we step into that River, we lose our old identity and assume a new name and character - the same character as God has given His Church. So it is true today that in every place that the Anglican Orthodox Communion has worshippers, these are all of common bloodline with each other in Christ, and the bloodline is sealed by HIS Blood. Loving the same Lord, we are called by His Name. Though many are so-called deceptively, those whose hearts are fixed upon Christ are those to whom He shall greet with the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." (Matt 25:23)

The Anglican Orthodox Communion is a part of that Mighty River called the greater Church.

Bishop Jerry L. Ogles
Presiding Bishop Worldwide

Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity

Today was the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity Sunday.  The weather is pretty back to normal.  After rain on Friday, we had a beautiful clear sunrise with a temperature of 33°F, which rose to about 59°F by the end of church under those same bright skies.  The exceedingly beautiful weather brought the usual 3 people to worship!

On Point
Someone asked, where do the quotes come from?  The answer is from the people who uttered them.  But, how did you find them?  Oh, that.  Some from Bishop Jerry, many from Rev Bryan Dabney, a few from other places, some from Rev Geordie Menzies-Grierson, but overall mostly from Bryan.  He always has a few great ones to share.  On to the On Point quotes –

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
I St. John 5:12

But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury the dead.
St. Matthew 8:22

And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
St. Mark 13:27

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
Acts 10:34-35

If we move in mass, be it ever so circuitously, we shall attain our object; but if we break into squads ... we become an easy conquest to those who can now barely hold us in check."
Thomas Jefferson

When we buy IT services generally, it is so bureaucratic and so cumbersome that a whole bunch of it doesn't work or ends up being way over cost. ... Once we get this particular website [] fixed, they're going to be some lessons learned we can apply to the federal government in general.
Barack Hussein Obama

The 8-9 million people that you refer to who might have to change their coverage would be folks who ... would find the deal in the exchange better, would be a better deal, so yes they would change coverage because they have more choices. Let's just be clear about that!
Barack Hussein Obama

Wealth is not evil. We wouldn't remember the Good Samaritan if he didn't have money to help someone else. Just keep it in perspective.

Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature.
Samuel Adams
The Rights of the Colonists (1772)

Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it. Nowadays most people hardly think of Prudence as one of the ‘virtues’. In fact, because Christ said we could only get into His world by being like children, many Christians have the idea that, provided you are ‘good’, it does not matter being a fool. But that is a misunderstanding. In the first place, most children show plenty of ‘prudence’ about doing the things they are really interested in, and think them out quite sensibly. In the second place, as St Paul points out, Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary. He told us to be not only ‘as harmless as doves’, but also ‘as wise as serpents’. He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim. The fact that you are giving money to a charity does not mean that you need not try to find out whether that charity is a fraud or not. The fact that what you are thinking about is God Himself (for example, when you are praying) does not mean that you can be content with the same babyish ideas which you had when you were a five-year-old. It is, of course, quite true that God will not love you any the less, or have less use for you, if you happen to have been born with a very second-rate brain. He has room for people with very little sense, but He wants every one to use what sense they have.
Jack Lewis
Mere Christianity

On the Holy Ghost
It is as if a sort of communal personality came into existence. Of course, it is not a real person: it is only rather like a person. But that is just one of the differences between God and us. What grows out of the joint life of the Father and Son is a real Person, is in fact the Third of the three Persons who are God.

This third Person is called, in technical language, the Holy Ghost or the “spirit” of God. Do not be worried or surprised if you find it (or Him) rather vaguer or more shadowy in your mind than the other two. I think there is a reason why that must be so. In the Christian life you are not usually looking at Him: He is always acting through you. If you think of the Father as some- thing “out there,” in front of you, and of the Son as someone standing at your side, helping you to pray, trying to turn you into another son, then you have to think of the third Person as something inside you, or behind you. Perhaps some people might find it easier to begin with the third Person and work backwards. God is love, and that love works through men—especially through the whole community of Christians. But this spirit of love is, from all eternity, a love going on between the Father and Son.
Jack Lewis
Mere Christianity

The United States government is the ultimate giant unworkable mess. It is a living cargo cult where everyone marches around following routines that are supposed to yield great prosperity, but never do. The processes themselves are broken and make no sense, but the cargo culturers of government cannot and will not hear that. They know that the government will magically make everything work. Because government is progress. Government is modernity. Government is magic... Our... cargo culters invoke FDR and JFK, they talk about the New Deal and the Great Society, they make grand promises and roll out big programs, and then they wait for it all to work. They don’t understand themselves how or why it would work. But government is magic and the appearance of a thing is just as good as a real deal. Build a website and it will work. Pass a law and they will come. Get a degree and you’re competent. There is no reason to know how to do a thing. You don’t need engineers or competent men. All you need to do is remember that great dreams of the past, listen to a few inspirational JFK speeches and then carve a computer out of wood and wait for free health care to arrive. In cargo cult America, the food is free, the cell phones are free, and the money can be printed forever because government is magic.
Daniel Greenfield
21st Century American commentator
Government is Magic, 10-27-13

Each Sunday there are Propers: special prayers and readings from the Bible.  There is a Collect for the Day; that is a single thought prayer, most written either before the re-founding of the Church of England in the 1540s or written by Bishop Thomas Cranmer, the first Archbishop of Canterbury after the re-founding. 

The Collect for the Day is to be read on Sunday and during Morning and Evening Prayer until the next Sunday.  If you have a hard time remembering, “Do I read the Collect from last Sunday or next Sunday during the week?”  Remember Sunday is the first day of the week.  There are also two Bible readings, the Epistle and the Gospel.  While they are “lessons”, they are not the First Lesson and the Second Lesson, they are the Epistle and the Gospel.  The Epistle is normally a reading from one of the various Epistles, or letters, in the New Testament.  The Gospel is a reading from one of the Holy Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  The Collect is said by the minister as a prayer, the Epistle can be read by either a designated reader (as we normally do in our church) or by one of the ministers and the Holy Gospel, which during the service in our church is read by an ordained minister.

The propers are the same each year, except if a Red Letter Feast, that is one with propers in the prayerbook, falls on a Sunday, then those propers are to be read instead, except in a White Season, where it is put off.  Red Letter Feast, so called because in the Altar Prayerbooks the titles are in red, are special days.  Most of the Red Letter Feasts are dedicated to early saints instrumental in the development of the church, others to special events.  Some days are particularly special and the Collect for that day is to be used for an octave (eight days) or an entire season, like Advent or Lent. 

Note the Rubric:
If in any year there be twenty-six Sundays after Trinity, the service for the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany shall be used on the Twenty- fifth Sunday. If there be twenty-seven, the service for the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany shall be used on the Twenty-sixth, and the ser- vice for the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany on the Twenty-Fifth.  If there be fewer than twenty-five Sundays, the overplus shall be omitted.

The propers used for the Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity can be found on Page 117-118:
The Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
The Collect.

OD, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life; Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves, even as he is pure; that, when he shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Dru Arnold read the Epistle for today, which comes from the First General Epistle of Saint John, the Third Chapter, beginning at the First Verse:

EHOLD, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

Rev Jack Arnold read the Holy Gospel which comes from the Twenty-Fourth Chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew beginning at the Twenty-Third Verse:

HEN if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately af- ter the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.

The Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Trinity
The Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
The Collect.

OD, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life; Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves, even as he is pure; that, when he shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Collect reminds us Jesus was sent to destroy the works of the devil in us so that we might be accounted as perfect at the final tally point allowing us, with the Holy Ghost’s help, make ourselves act more like Him, less like we want.

The Gospel reminds us we have to choose a side and so does the Gospel, in that if we choose the way of sin, we are on the Devil’s side. We are either on God’s side, or on Satan’s side. Both the Gospel and the Epistle say that those who do good works and follow God to the best of their abilities are on God’s side, while those who follow themselves and fall into temptation are on Satan’s side.

We cannot be on the side of the Devil, if we want eternal life. So what do we do about it?  We read the Word of God, and take it as a whole to our life, not just one really nice verse we like, but we must take it as a whole. Else we are bogged down like so many, debating the meaning of one verse and how it applies to their “theology.” When the only theology we should be concerned about is reading the Bible and applying it to our own life.

The unifying theme of the Gospel, Collect and Epistle is that there are two sides in this spiritual conflict and that the right side will defeat the dark, evil side in the end. Which side do you want to be on, eternal life, or that of eternal death. The side of good is that of eternal life and the side of evil, Satan is of eternal death. There may not be as many short term gain on Good, but if we perform a cost-benefit analysis, the CBA would suggest that the side of God, of goodness, of light is the best in the long term, which is what the Bible is all about, planning for the long term.

If we focus on the short term, doing what is easy, rather than righteous, we shall find ourselves shorted, in a loss, rather than a profit. Our liabilities will be more than our assets. But if we choose the side of righteousness, then, we shall be able to have more assets then liabilties and be profitable, (not in a financial sense, but rather in the spiritual sense.

So, to sum up the lessons we have learned, we are pitifully weak creatures, with free will. There may be a form of predestination, but the key is, we are free to choose God or Satan. It lies upon us to choose the fork in the road. One will lead to goodness, like cherry pie and the other will lead to coal. Which do we want to choose?

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

Bishop Ogles’ Sermon
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, and like always, it will give you a lot to consider in your heart.

Sermon Notes
Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity
17 November 2013, Anno Domini

The Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Trinity
The Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
The Collect.

OD, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life; Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves, even as he is pure; that, when he shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Saint Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians, beginning at the First Verse:

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

            As the Prayer of Collect so well reveals, according to the Scriptures, the Lord has a day of appearance – not as His first Coming as a Babe in the Manger, but as an Almighty King. At that moment, we shall all be changed – both living and dead in Christ – to become like Him whose Name we have called upon and borne.

            The Epistle reading further reveals the truth of the Coming of the Lord. For the limp-wristed Christian who cannot bring himself to consider sin a serious offense, the Coming of Christ will bring a serious and shocking revelation. The day of decision will have passed by those who have lingered in their vile and wicked ways – Judgment stands at the door. The Love of Righteousness will bear the Sword of Vengeance – a long neglected truth – upon all who have willfully rejected the Sun of Righteousness.

            The Gospel reading calls into account, literally, the manner in which we have invested those talents of gold and silver with which the Lord has blessed us. Those who have been given talents of ministering to the sick, the ignorant, or the downtrodden, shall render the increase of the fruits of those talents. Most of us have been graced with mind, voice, understanding, love, and mobility. Have we studied diligently? Have we spoken out at every opportunity to press the Lord’s interests? Have we had hearts of understanding like unto that Great Mind which we most assuredly should have taken upon ourselves? Have we loved God with all our being and not omitted that same love for others? “Thou 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.” (Matt 22:37-39) Many of the modern church will claim: “See, God has relieved us of obedience to the Ten Commandments. This is a NEW Commandment given by Christ toi replace all others!” How untrue! Read the very next verse of the exhortation of Christ: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matt 22:40) Jesus was not uttering a new Commandment, but simply reinforcing those given in the Old Testament (see Deut 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18).

            The only NEW Commandment given by our Lord was that of LOVE! “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35) It is the imperative of Love that seals our obedience and compels us to share that ultimate and sacrificial love that the suffering of Christ represents for us. LOVE compels obedience – even a higher standard of obedience than a code of laws written on stone tablets. “After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer 31:33) This principle truth is repeated in Hebrews 10:19. Love is the most valuable talent you have been given by God – more valuable than any 20 lb. talent of gold! Now to the exposition of the Gospel for today:

           14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21  His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22  He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26  His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 25:14-30)

        This is the manner in which the Kingdom of Heaven operates. It is as a man (the Lord Jesus Christ) travelling to a far country – heaven is quite distant to say the least. This parable of the talents illustrates how we are to conduct our lives in waiting upon the Lord’s return. Our lives are a continual investment of time, resources, and, most especially, love. We are not permitted to save up our talents in safe holding until the moment of the Master’s return, but these must be invested over time in order to accrue a record of service and faith. It would be impossible for one who loves the Lord to squander his time away in idle disregard of the service he owes to God and man once he has received the Grace of Christ in his heart. In fact, such an investment is a joy and not a sacrifice of labor.

        14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. The ‘goods’ of Christ have been delivered to every faithful soul who has been the recipient of His saving Grace. That grace was bought and paid for us at Calvary before He ever departed for a far country and “sitteth on the right hand of God the Father” as the Creed avers. These ‘goods’ are treasures of faith, grace, wisdom, and love.

        15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. God will not place a greater responsibility upon us than we are able to bear and meet. Some of us are not constituted in such a way as to be able to handle five talents, so God will give us two, or even only one; but whatever talents we have received, we are responsible to invest those talents at good return. There is at least one talent that every chosen of God receives – that talent is LOVE. It is so very easy to invest this talent. The more we invest, the greater the percentage of return. It is inexhaustible! Can you comprehend that? The oil in that jug will never give out. The more profusely it is poured out, the greater is the reserve in the jug. This is a mystery that God has placed in the nature of love. There are other talents such as evangelism, teaching, music, and administration which many are not suited to perform, but we all have that talent of LOVE if we belong to Christ. Have we invested that one talent at the amazing return that it will yield? When Christ had paid the last measure of His precious blood, He made those talents to be granted to those of us according to our abilities. It was finished at Calvary!

        16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. This is a very wise servant. He wastes no time in putting the five talents to work at interest. He is aware of the principle given by Christ: For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48) There is no time to waste in our investment, for the time granted us in living is also a gift whose future course is not certain.

        17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. The yield in both the five talents and the two are the same – that is 100% return. God gives you His 100% in talents. God wants your 100% percent in your investment of talents as well. If either of these first two servants had not immediately taken up their cross and followed Christ daily, they may have fallen short of their investment objective in service. If a socialist order prevailed in the kingdom of heaven, then one or the other may have been called upon to share some of their increase to the third servant who sat down on the talent God gave and did NOTHING to cause the talent to increase. But socialism is foreign to God, and the sharing of talents is not a reality. We go with that for which we have invested and labored.

        18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. Those gifts that we have received from the generous hand of God must not be hoarded, but shared. The only reason we prosper is for the sake of others of God’s creatures. This one servant was so greedy that, though he wasted nothing, it shared nothing either. He only had left that which the Lord had given. But that, too, would be taken away from such a selfish and faithless servant.

        19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. It has been now some two thousand years since our Lord went into a far country.  Such an expanse of time makes any speculation of the time of His return an impossibility, but one thing is certain: He shall return at the time of His good pleasure and will. When He returns, there shall certainly be a reckoning. We shall each stand alone, face-to-face, with the Savior just as the woman taken in adultery stood alone and face-to-face with the Savior of her soul. At that day, excuses will not suffice. Our souls will be bared and our destinies known. How will we have persevered? If we have labored in earnest, our spiritual muscles will grow with the use. The higher we climb the mountain slopes, the broader becomes the horizon.

        20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. How many talents will you have produced from the riches of your heart for Christ on that last day? You have known and received the benefits of grace in Christ. Will you bring others to stand with you before your Lord? What of your neighbors? Your friends, your family members? 21  His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. The reward is the ownership of all of the talents both given and produced, but more, too. Entering into the joy of the Lord is the blessing of greatest comfort of all others: “You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty, faithfully performed; and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing & protection.” (General Robert E. Lee, Farewell Address to the Army of Northern Virginia, 9 April 1865) Such a satisfaction so far exceeds in joy that measure of humiliation Peter experienced when, for the third time, he denied Christ before the tribunal. Christ immediately turned and looked at Peter – a look that pierced the heart of Peter. Will you have your heart pierced by the look of Christ at His return?

        22  He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Though the reward given by Christ will be commensurate with our own labors of love, it will always exceed our grandest expectations. It will be enough!

        24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. What conniving, sniveling, and devious scheming to actually blame our shortcomings on the Lord Himself! The servant accuses his master of being too harsh and demanding, therefore the servile one was too fearful to accomplish anything. One thing is certain: this servant has great cause for fear since he has abandoned his duties of love and service to the Lord.

        26  His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: What is the great sin of the servant under discussion here? How do we categorize his sin? He did no overt sin. He simply did NOTHING! What does our prayer of General Confession say? “…..We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. 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; And there is no health in us……” This servant did no outrageous sin; he simply failed to do that which love demands. His sin was one of omission and not of commission, but the verdict is the same. 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. This is evidence again that our labors of love in Christ are not ours at all, but His!

        Christ will now direct His commands to the Holy Angels as regards this unprofitable servant. He is finished speaking, forever, to such a one: 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Have you love? If you have, the evidence of that love is the love that you have given away - the love that you have shared with the helpless little child, the widow, the orphan, the imprisoned, and the poor, will be multiplied on the back of that wicked servant who heard not the cry of poor Lazarus.

        30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Judas was an unprofitable servant who went out from the Lord’s Supper into an eternally dark night. King Saul made his bed in Hell and left his first love for the Dark Angel. God sends no man to Hell – if we are sent, we send ourselves just as the Rich Man who failed to drop a crumb to Lazarus from his table ended up pleading for a drop of water from the finger of a beggar. In Hell, all are beggars without names or estates. The only light that is there is the dimly lit light of burning fires EVERYWHERE! Where do you plan to spend YOUR eternity, friend?

Bishop Dennis Campbell’s Sermon
Bishop Dennis is a brilliant speaker.  He is able to take biblical precepts and make them perfectly understandable, even to me.  Oft he provides the text of his sermons and I take the utmost pleasure in passing them on:

Christians Abide
Psalm 98, 1 John 3:1-8, Matthew 13:24-31
Twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity
November 17, 2013

 “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations” (Ps. 90:1).  “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”  (1 Jn. 4:15).  “Little children, abide in him” (1 John 2:28).  “Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not” (1 Jn 3:6).

We are still talking about what Christians do, and today’s sermon is, “Christians Abide.”  The word, abide isn’t used much any more, yet I think we all know it means to live in, or make your abode somewhere.  The word seems to have a sense of place.  It means more than just to live in a house; it means to make your house your home. So when I say, “Christians abide” I mean we abide in God.  We live in Him.  He is our home.  I think we all know this, we know Christians abide in God.  But I am not sure all Christians know how to abide in God.  So today I want to talk about how Christians abide in God.

The first thing I want to say, is that we abide in God by abiding in The Faith.  I mean, of course, the faith found in the Bible, the doctrines, teachings, ideas, values, and life-understanding taught in the Bible.  We express the essentials of The Faith every Sunday in the liturgies of Morning Prayer and Holy Communion. The liturgies express The Faith. The Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed certainly express it quite clearly.  They express the foundational, essential teachings of Scripture.  Christians may disagree on some other points, but to compromise on these points is to desert the Christian faith.

We abide in The Faith because we believe it is given to us by God.  It is, as Jude 3 says, the faith once delivered unto the saints. God became flesh and taught the faith to the Apostles.  The Apostles preserved it for us in the Bible.  Faithful people have proclaimed and preserved it down through the ages.  Millions have held to it in time of persecution.  Millions have died for it.  Millions live for it.  People often wonder why the Anglican Orthodox Church was founded, and why we established Holy Trinity Church here in Powhatan.  The answer is simple, to keep The Faith.  Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Anglican Orthodox Church. What made Bishop Dees feel constrained to leave a denomination that had been his family’s spiritual home for generations?  What made him invest his own personal money into this new and tiny Anglican denomination?  What made so many others in these United States and around the world come out of their denominations and unite with the Anglican Orthodox World Communion?  It was the Faith.  Why did Thomas Cranmer suffer the horrible death of being burned at the stake?  To keep The Faith.  Why did the early Christians go to the lions and the gladiators and the cross?  To keep the faith.  This Faith is valuable.  It is the way of life, the way to God.  We only abide in God when we abide in The Faith.

We abide in God when we abide in righteousness.  According to our reading from 1 John this morning, “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not.”  Who is the “him” in that verse?  It is Jesus Christ, of course.  It is the One 1 John 3:5 says “was manifested” that is, He appeared, He was revealed, He came to us, “to take away our sins.”  Christians abide, live, and dwell in Him, and “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not.”

It is important for us to note that the Bible is not saying Christians do not sin.  If Christians do not sin, then there has never been a real Christian, because even the most Godly among us sins.  Would you compare yourself to the Apostle Paul?  Would you claim that your behaviour is as pure and good as his?  Would you assert that you have lived up to the teachings of Scripture as he did?  Served God as fully and willingly as he did?  Suffered and sacrificed in God’s service as he did?  I doubt if any of us would make that claim.  Yet listen to St. Paul’s words in Romans 7:19: “the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”  Paul is saying even he has left undone the things he ought to have done, and has done those things which he ought not to have done.  Even Paul sinned.

Well if Paul sinned, what hope is there for us?  Fortunately the Bible is not talking about sinless perfection.  It is talking about a life-style, let’s call it a life orientation of righteousness.  The Christian’s life is oriented toward God, not sin.  In the days before GPS, people used maps and compasses to find their way.  If they got lost on a mountain road at night, they could find the direction they were going by the compass, and see what lay around them on the map.  If you have ever used a compass you know the needle tries to stay on magnetic north, but it has a hard time doing so. The bumps and turns in the road, and interference from metal and electronics cause the needle to waver.  We sometimes waver too.  The bumps in the road, interference of the world, and our own weakness causes us to go off course sometimes.  But our orientation and general direction of life is still toward God. We abide in Christ Jesus. That is what the Apostle John meant when he wrote these words.

A life-orientation toward Christ, necessarily leads us to purify ourselves.  1 John 3:3 says we purify ourselves, even as Christ is pure.  To purify is to cleanse.  It is to get rid of the things that don’t belong, and increase the things that do belong.  What doesn’t belong in a Christian’s life?  Anything that is not 100% compatible with God’s absolute goodness.  So,“ in this life orientation, in this life of dwelling and abiding in Christ, we make an honest attempt to purify our lives.  We make an honest attempt to run our thoughts, values, desires, and actions through the filter of God’s Holy Bible, and remove the bad and increase the good.  This is part of the way we abide in righteousness, and abiding in righteousness is one of the ways we abide in God.

I want to conclude by referring back to our old friends, the means of grace.  We abide in God through the means of grace. They are given to us by God specifically to enable us to abide in Him. The Bible is a means of grace, when it is read and believed in faith.  The Church is a means of grace, when its people abide in The Faith and in love.  Worship is a means of grace.  Baptism is a means of grace.   Communion is a means of grace, when taken in faith and understanding.  Of course these things are only means of grace to you when you make use of them.  A Bible on the nightstand is a beautiful thing, but the Bible being read is more beautiful by far.  And how can a person say he abides in God and God abides in him if he ignore the means by which abiding is accomplished?  And please tell me, can we have too much grace?  If not then why would we deprive ourselves of any of the means of grace?  They are all part of abiding in God, and, Christians abide. 
+Dennis Campbell

Bishop, Anglican Orthodox Church Diocese of Virginia
Rector, Holy Trinity Anglican Orthodox Church
Powhatan, Virginia

Rev Rick Reid of Saint Peter’s Sunday Sermon
We are happy to have a sermon from Reverend Rick Reid, minister of Saint Peter’s, whose congregation is right at the Worldwide Headquarters of the Anglican Orthodox Church.  Rev Rick has all the resources and challenges right at hand. I think you will enjoy it.

Partakers of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light
                                                              Colossians. 1:12

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: These words come from our Epistle reading this morning from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians. But, what did Paul mean when he speaks of being made to be, “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light”?

Webster’s dictionary says a partaker is someone who has, or gives, or receives a part or a share. “

The kingdom of God is called "light," and that of Satan is called "darkness.”

Light, in the Scriptures, is the symbol of holiness, knowledge, happiness; and all these are found in the kingdom over which God presides, and of which Christians are the heirs. The word "light" is often used to describe this kingdom. Thus, it is said of God, who presides over it, that He "is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.

So we all are to be: “Partakers” with all the saints of God; “partakers” with the whole family of the elect; “partakers” with all the children of adoption. “Partakers” with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; with Jonah and Job, and with all who have gone before us, with all who have entered into the kingdom of heaven.

 “Partakers” with all the “ransomed of the Lord…as we read in Isaiah 35:10: 10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. We shall all one day be partakers of this glorious inheritance, the life which is to come.

The word ‘partakers’ is also used in 2 Peter 1:4, 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

We all have this in common. We who are born of the Spirit are made thereby partakers of the divine nature. This is possible through faith in God, and by virtue of our being in Christ.

Through our rebirth, we actually have the life and the nature of God.

In St. John’s Gospel Chapter 1:12 and 13 we read: , “12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

We who have received Jesus Christ have been born of God, and we have the right to become the children of God. At this very moment we are the children of God.  (1 John 3:2).

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

St. Peter reminds us of the wonderful blessings that are ours if we do share the divine nature. Most of all God’s Grace and Peace.

Partaking of the divine nature has a tremendous effect in our lives, and we can get a glimpse of these effects in the various miracles of Christ’s earthly ministry.

Two examples can be seen in today’s Gospel reading, from St Matthew. (9:18-26): first, the healing of the woman with an issue of blood, and second, the raising of the ruler’s daughter from the dead.

The King James Version uses the expression ‘made whole’, which is a beautiful and rich expression in its own right. Being made whole means not just healed, but signifies a healing of the soul that is more than skin deep. “She was made whole”.

In the raising of the ruler’s daughter, we see perhaps the most dramatic effect of partaking of the divine nature that is the inheritance of the Saints in light; deliverance from death.

St Paul writes in I Corinthians 15:26, ‘The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.’

And later in the chapter, inspired by the power of Christ’s Resurrection, Saint Paul actually taunts death when he writes, ‘O Death, where is thy sting?’ (I Cor 15:55)

This destruction of death has been effectively accomplished in Christ, and this is the inheritance of the Saints, of which St Paul says we partake.

In verse 13 of Colossians, St Paul contrasts verse 12 with what he calls ‘the power of darkness’:

13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Because of, His shed blood, and death on the cross, and His mighty resurrection, He has rescued us from the powers of darkness, and made us: “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light”.

Therefore, we should constantly be giving thanks to our Heavenly Father, who has given us a part in the inheritance of the saints, because of our faith in Christ Jesus.

Rev Bryan Dabney of Saint John’s Sunday Sermon
We are fortunate to have Bryan’s Sunday Sermon.  If you want people to come to The Truth, you have to speak the truth, expouse the truth and live the truth.    This is really a good piece and I commend it to your careful reading.

Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity

In the Gospel (St. Matthew 24:23-31), our Lord warned us concerning the rise of false Christs. As born-again believers, we understand that we are living in a world dominated by the forces of darkness. You should also know that these forces are well-led and have great power to carry out all sorts of malevolent designs. You are likely aware that these wicked powers will have sway here until our Lord returns to break their dominance and crush their rebellion against the Godhead. And the reason that we know these things is that they are found within the pages of Holy Scripture.
The Scriptures tell us that until his coming to gather us to himself, we will face trials and tribulations of such degrees as God has seen fit for us to pass through as part of our earthly pilgrimage. This will likely include our exposure to false Christs and false prophets who will come in their pretentiousness hoping to deceive the very elect of God (St. Matthew 24:24).

As Christians, we derive much comfort from the words of God as found in the Holy Bible. And in particular, we find that blessed assurance in our Lord’s remarks concerning his church that not even the gates of hell shall prevail against it. That said, we should not infer from them that Satan and his minions (both natural and supernatural) are powerless to tempt us to violate God’s word by thought, word and deed; neither are they lax in their efforts to overthrow our faith through our acceptance of some man-made construct or idea that conflicts with God’s word written. The minions of evil will also attempt to render ineffective our witness through any questionable feelings we harbor, any grudges we bear, and any personal faults which we have not confessed to God and released to him; and they will play upon our lack of scriptural knowledge rendering our Christian walk and witness of little or no effect.

If the devil were ever to overthrow our faith (as is true for the unregenerate), the next step for him will be to provide us with some alternative idea or personage in which to place our faith. Satan desires our worship. He does not want us becoming atheists. He desires a simple faith which rejects the one, true and living God in favor of himself. He might start out with an seemingly harmless concept such as “God is in all things,” or “You can decide your own destiny.” Once you have accepted those tenets, then he can offer you something a bit stronger such as: “God is working through this or that good person. It does not matter that he or she is not following the doctrinal tenets of Holy Scripture because he or she is all about searching for the truth of God in everything,” or “There are many ways to God.” And last but not least, he will offer us a slightly amended form of that old snare he used on Eve in the Garden of Eden: “We all can be Christs.”

In response our Lord answers forthrightly, take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many (St. Matthew 24: 4-5).We have been forewarned against the evil deception which has come upon the whole world because we too can be influenced if our hearts are not right with God. As regenerate people in Christ, we have a distinct advantage over the unregenerate in that we are indwelt by the Holy Ghost. Yet even we have the unfortunate ability to quench the Spirit of God. The devil and his minions are well aware of this and will encourage us to engage in behaviors which will result in our falling out of fellowship with the Godhead. And afterward, he will inject us with pride so that we do not confess our ills before God’s throne of grace and be healed. God will then send us troubles to discipline us and bring us back into line. For if we are truly his, he will not let us slip out of his hands; but O what troubles may come to turn our hearts back to him if we remain stubborn and stiff-necked.

We know that only through true and heart-felt confession to God, in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, will our sins and trespasses be forgiven and forgotten. It is therefore our duty to maintain our fellowship with the Godhead through daily self-judgment, prayer and Bible reading. We cannot hope to win the victory as good and faithful servants otherwise. The Bible says My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge... (Hosea 4: 6a). It would seem that God prefers biblical literates to the inverse. The old saying of knowledge is power certainly holds true for us as regenerate beings in Christ.

The false Christs and the false prophets will take advantage of ambivalent Christians as they have no firm foundation on which to rest their faith. They are tossed about by every wind of doctrine and sleight of hand which the evil one can conjure up to capsize them. St. Paul knew what it was like to be shipwrecked and a castaway. He weathered such only by trusting in the power of him who had sent him to be a witness on behalf of the gospel of life. St. Paul knew the truth and had received it from our Lord Jesus Christ himself. If you have such faith confirmed in your heart, even though the devil will attempt to shake your faith, you will not be moved because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world (I St. John 4:4).

The snares which the devil and minions have set for us are often masterfully hidden from our eyes. They might pose as good and useful purposes and ideals. They might be hidden by many smooth and sugary words of his earthly minions. Or, they might be hidden amongst our cares and concerns which are not in line with the truth of God. They might also be hidden within our hearts in the form of hatred, malice and greedy designs which we coax ourselves to daub over with the untempered morter of our own rationalizations as to their justification and worth. So, in light of all those aforementioned points, we ought to be ever vigilant.

We are soldiers of the cross and that requires us to remain clad with the whole armour of God every moment of our earthly lives. God will one day give us permission to remove it in his heavenly kingdom where it will be superfluous to our new natures and our new bodies. But until that day when we receive our crowns of awards from the Master himself, we had better keep our armour on and ever maintain its effectiveness.
The false deceivers of this world will be temporarily successful. They will grow as the true Christian faith declines. Nevertheless, we should remember that God has forewarned us of their plans so we might avoid their snares via the work and power of the Holy Spirit. God does not intend for one of his own to fall into enemy hands. Make that your prayer as well, and live the victory which we have achieved through his atoning sacrifice.

Let us pray,

 most gracious Father, help us in this time of our earthly pilgrimage to be faithful soldiers of the cross; and give us grace sufficient for our tasks, that we might be effective witnesses for thee; and these things we beg in the name of thine only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+

Typhoon Report
David Geraldson is one of our members.  His wife Tessie was from the Philippines and was visiting when the typhoon struck.  As he reports, he made his way with to help her and her family:

First of all thanks a million and a million more to all of you and so many more for your prayers not only for Tessie and myself the past week, but also for those families that lost so much in this ferocious typhoon that devastated Tacloban, Leyte and the southern coastline of Eastern Samar. It has been a busy seven days since I left Fallbrook exactly seven days ago right now for the Philippines.  

Tessie had traveled to Tacloban Philippines two weeks earlier to spend four weeks with her grandkids.  We had been in regular contact during the days leading up to the storm up until around 415AM Friday, Philippine time when she sent her last text that the power was out and the wind was howling. In the first 36 hours following the storm, I could tell the eye of this powerful storm...likely the strongest to landfall in recorded history was going to wreak catastrophic damage.

With absolutely no contact with Tessie or any of her relatives in Tacloban Leyte or E. Samar by any relatives in the US or Philippines, I knew I had to go and find her, bring food and get her out of there and to help in any way i was able. 

I arrived Manila with my 90 lbs of packaged foodstuffs on Monday night Philippine time and could already sense that God was surely with me.  I flew from LAX to San Fran then onto Manila.  In San Francisco, a close Filipino friend of 39 years was boarding the same flight after a four week visit to the US along with his wife. They live near the Manila airport and I stayed overnight with them.  

After having some other close Filipino friends investigate the potential of commercial air, sea or ground transport to Tacloban (some 550 miles south of Manila) it was obvious that my only way there would be by military C-130 flying out of the Phil AF side of Manila airport. The US Marines were the first significant foreign assistance to swing into gear here with the arrival of some Osprey Helicopters and some C-130s.  My Phil AF friend got me into the base, we found the American air operation. Our uniformed Marines would make each of us proud the way they were effectively and efficiently coordinating the initial logistic support for the disaster to the South.  Already that Tuesday morning they had flown in two plane loads of Philippine Special Forces to help restore law and order in a place where looting was beginning to run rampant. 

I made known my desire to get to Tacloban and they promised to do what they could.  While waiting I did an interview with NBC that I understand portions of which were aired on the Today Show and Nightly News. Around 1130 a Marine Colonel yelled at me that I had one min to grab by backs and get to a C-130 on the ramp with engines running. I made it aboard and initially sat on the floor with a plane full of heavily armed Philippine Army Special Forces.

As the cargo tail door opened at Tacloban, the first views of a devastated passenger terminal and aircraft ground equipment made the reality of where I now was begin to sink in. As I left the aircraft wearing my backpack and my two boxes of food in each hand, I was on my own. I found a gate on a temporary fence put up with a mass of dazed people outside. The guard let me squeeze through and opening and I was immediately challenged to find transport from the airport with my boxes and baggage. There was none.  Not even are a pedicab.  I tried to convince a few waiting cars to take luck.  I asked a number of uniformed troops for help.  Was told would need to walk. Finally a Philippine Army troop to,ld me to throw my stuff on an Army truck loaded with rice and six armed guards which I did.  I rode as a part of a convoy to an intersection along the main highway (near where I knew Tessie had been before the storm) where I was dropped off.  

There was a drizzling rain as I stood among the people who had lost so much asking for any sort of ride the remaining 3km. By this point I had already had a good cry viewing the scores of rotting human bodies along the side of the road coming from the airport and the absolute destruction everywhere. I saw one food distribution point with a very long line. Most people just had a dazed look on their faces.

After about ten min of standing with the masses I found a "tricycle" (small motorbike with a side car) who said he would take me the remaining 3km to where I last knew my wife was located. After stories of the looting and break down of law and order I was a bit concerned about safety ... especially when the price was negotiated as "up to you" and another guy got on right after we left and the driver started telling me stories of how he and his family had no food.  We found the subdivision. Some houses were totally destroyed.  Others heavily damaged.  We found the house my wife was in with her grand kids. As I was getting out one of the six year old boys spotted me and yelled out "Tito David" and ran inside. A few seconds later Tessie came out in shock and we both tightly embraced and held onto each other and cried together. 

Her family there would be considered upper middle class as they have a decent house and a car. They had some food and ample water stockpiled so were not themselves hurting, although so many in the city were. At dusk we drove the 3km into downtown and back as we checked on some friends. Tessie's son and her two grandsons had a fever; but other than that, all were ok.  The house received moderate damage but was still livable. Other than the howling wind, some windows breaking upstairs and sliding glass doors popping out, the scariest moment was when a large piece of wood flying through the air harpooned the roof then knocking out a portion of the concrete wall under the room line.  It was hard to imagine how much kinetic energy that flying piece of wood had to do that much damage. 

The kids did not seem to be overly traumatized and I believe that was due in large part to Tessie comforting them, praying with them and reassuring them throughout the storm.  The eye passed directly overhead with strong wind initially out of the north,,,then a 20 min calm, followed by even stronger winds out of the south.  All were with her but her eldest grand daughter who was attending her other grandmother.  Where she was they were engulfed in neck deep water which rapidly came in with the storm surge and they swam to the stairs and went up to the third floor of the apartment building. Tessie's house is about 3 or 4 km inland from the coast so was not affected by the storm surge of ten or more feet which caused even more death and damage than the powerful 190mph winds. 

My wife had not really been out and had not heard news from the outside world so was not aware of the enormity of the destruction in other parts of the city and especially near the coastal areas affected by the storm surge.  There was basically no information flow from local authorities or awareness what the outside world was doing to help.   

My initial intention of going to Tacloban was first to find my wife and to attend to any immediate survival needs she or her children/grandchildren had and then to help out in any way I could.  From my trip to the airport to her house, going around the town and talking with others the enormity of the disaster began to sink in. 

There was no electric power as the electric lines are virtually all on the ground (98%). I would estimate that 35 to 40% of all power poles are broken, lying on the ground or listing at angles up to 60 degrees from vertical. Water system not working except a trickle at the lowest levels. Huge lines at food distribution points where people were being given 4 pounds of rice. I only saw one gas station that was selling fuel. Others had either been totally destroyed or looted and at this one station, a one liter can on a string was dropped into the tank and brought up and  sales were limited to one liter.  The line of people with plastic bottles in their hands to buy the one liter was about 300 yards long.  The two hospitals I saw were totally unusable. Schools were heavily damaged or destroyed. Almost continuous piles of debris from the storm and rubble from destroyed structures was accompanied by growing piles of waste as garbage accumulated. No shops or stores open to even buy food, water, supplies, medicine, etc. One temporary cell phone tower at a downtown hotel had begun operating a few hours before and served as the only contact with the outside for those who could charge their batteries at the very rare location with a generator.  I saw no stores open. One small 20 room hotel was open, no ATMs, banks all closed, no way to get money, no credit card transactions, no TV or land line phones. 

Stop for a minute and think how you would survive if there were no fuel for transport, no electrical, water, sanitation, medical, government services, shopping, access to money or contact with the outside world with stories of looting and the stench of decaying unclaimed bodies.  This was a place like that...with an eerie quietness at night with total darkness except for a candle by the toilet. No fans to move the still humid warm air.

The next day as we talked with others, it seemed many with a way out were leaving.  Going to other provinces, Manila, etc.  These were ones with cars who had a way out or money to get an occasional van to the west coast of Leyte and then make their way to Cebu and beyond.  

Tessie's kids and relatives discussed the deteriorating situation, considered how long it would likely be before even power, water, jobs, money and fuel were available and decided that they too should leave. One family going to Cebu, another heading to Manila. 

I desperately wanted to do something to help.  I was wife is from there and speaks the local language and knows the area yet we both felt so helpless. It was so overwhelming.  How can you help if you do not have transportation from a place to sleep...fuel...resources. There seemed to be no community organization. No centralized control. Poor coordination of the limited relief efforts just starting up.  Then there is the matter of local national sensitivities at having foreigners making decisions and taking a leadership role. At the time, deliver of mostly rice to at that time the two distribution centers was done by the Philippine Army.  After much discussion Tessie and I reluctantly decided we too should leave. If we would we get to service points? How about security in a place with looting and desperation? Where would we sleep and keep our belongings?  Find our own food and water?  We were torn.  Were we being selfish? 

Just before her son left, he drove us to the airport.  It was the first time Tessie or he had been through the area hardest hit.  By the time we got to the airport we were both teary eyed.  At the time it was more than five days after the typhoon yet we saw more than 40 bloated decaying bodies along the debris-littered road.  Since Tessie's family were leaving, they took a bit of food and water so much of the food I brought was left for us to distribute elsewhere.  As we drove to the airport, we gave out food to mothers with babies and children we would see along the road. By the time we got to the airport we had one bottle of water left. 

Since we both hold military IDs, we were granted access into the US military area. Anderson Cooper from CNN was broadcasting live from next to where we were standing as we entered. During the next three hours as we waited for a seat on a returning C-130 flight to Manila I believe I was able to make at least a wee bit of difference as I talked with several media folks, and shared observations with the Army and Marine Civil Affairs Officers. They appreciated the info and ideas I passed.  A principle concern was the seemingly poor information flow to the populace and the impression that no one was really centrally in charge.  

Since then a number of media have voiced the same opinion and Anderson Cooper caused quite an uproar in some Filipino circles when he directly attacked the "no one in control" perception.  Today the President of the Philippines flew into Tacloban and is going to personally take charge of directing relief operations which go well beyond just the immediate needs of distributing food and water.  

There were the "teeming masses" at the airport as people of all walks of life were trying to leave.  Filipino nationals without a family relationship to an American either had to try and get a seat on a commercial prop plane that was shuttling between Tacloban and Cebu or wait in a huge line numbering in the thousands to try and get a ride on the one operating Phil AF C-130.  At that time there were no toilet facilities in the area and the mud, debris, smell of urine and the masses in and around the remains of what was once a passenger terminal were surreal.  

During our three hour wait, the tempo of activity was impressive.  US Marine C-130 flights filled with USAID cargo, a C-130 with relief supplies from Singapore, the PAF C-130, The Philippine President’s plane to take out sick and injured, the arrival and departure of the US Ambassador, a UN flight, and the prop driven commercial shuttles to Cebu. We Americans should be very proud and thankful for the role our country is playing in providing assistance to the people affected by this disaster.

The hundreds of Philippine Army Special Forces flown in to help regain law and order in a place where it was seriously deteriorating.  The large fork lift being used to unload all the US and other national cargo planes was USAF equipment. The radios and communications equip that helped reopen the airfield were US provided as was the lighting system that allowed 24x7 operations to initiate a few hours after we left.  Then thousands of tons of cargo already hauled...the helicopters getting supplies to remote areas, the reopening of an old WW2 Airstrip in Eastern Samar that allows supplies to be delivered to another location, American GIs busting tail to unload aircraft from all countries.  And since I left Tacloban, additional C-130s and the aircraft carrier George Washington with multiple helicopters being used and fresh water being produced through desalination.

In later afternoon it was our turn to board a USMC C-130 returning to Manila. Tessie and both felt good because we were able to intercede with the Army and USAF officers handling the pax and logistics to get a young couple on board with the pregnant wife already going into contractions. Once we boarded, Tessie and I had a webseat along the side.  Although I have flown many  times in a C-130, never like this.  Every inch of the floor was filled with people all crammed together sitting on the floor and a few pax sitting in wheel chairs toward the front of the plane. When we landed at the military side of Manila International many of the passengers clapped. As we disembarked we noticed many pallets of USAID goods staged for follow-on flights that evening and the next day.  

In the three days since we have returned the situation in Samar and Leyte seems to be improving.  The massive international relief operation is starting to make a real difference.  Tessie has family in Eastern Samar and they have only recently been contacted.  A brother in Manila left 24 hours ago with a van crammed full of relief supplies purchased with donations from relatives in the US. I just heard about an hour ago they were nearing the front of the 7km long line at the southern tip of Luzon waiting to take the car/truck/pax ferry across the 25 mile stretch of water separating Luzon from Samar. 

Yesterday, we talked with a group from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa who were trying to establish a way to distribute aid in Eastern Samar.  Tessie gave them some ideas and contacts. The frustration of so many is that the need is great but it is even now still a bit chaotic and unorganized with some real logistical challenges to get some of the private funded aid to the affected area as evidenced by the 7km back up waiting for the limited ferry service between Luzon and Samar.

As of now, Tessie and I will be on a flight home departing Manila on 20 November 2013. In the midst of this tragedy, I can still see God's hand at work  People have been humbled. There seems to be more compassion for the poor among the more affluent both in the Philippines and abroad.  There are chances to show Christian charity by groups that might not otherwise have the opportunity to do so. The Philippines and World have learned some important lessons about disaster response that will improve preparation and response to future disasters. Families have drawn closer. Kids have learned some lessons on survival, sharing, resilience, frugal use of resources, etc. And, while some have had their faith shaken, others have had their faith increased.  I know of friends of mine who have prayed fervently for those affected...and lives that have grown closer to the Lord through all of this.

Tessie appreciates from the bottom of her heart your prayers for her and her family and I appreciate your prayers for me as I traveled into where the eye of the storm passed and forever changed so many lives in the matter of a couple of hours. 

Thanks in advance for your continued prayers as we prepare to return to the US and that God will grant wisdom to those directing and leading disaster relief and reconstruction in the weeks and months ahead. 

David and Tessie

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