Verse of the Day

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Second Sunday after Christmas Day

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 –

To me the clearest proof that the New Testament is the True Word of God is the people who knew Jesus in His man status, who saw Him, ate with Him, witnessed the Risen Lord - These people followed Him to certain and unpleasant death with no hope or even hint of earthly reward. They were first hand witnesses, they knew. They followed to a person. They followed who they KNEW, not thought, to be the Son of God.
Rev LTC Hap Arnold
20th Century Dinosaur

Long after the angels disappear into the heavens, the shepherds return to their flocks, the magi journey home and the great star sets, Jesus remains. The Child in whom we rediscover God's great love for humanity becomes the adult Redeemer who challenges us to imitate his selflessness and compassion in order that we might transform our world in love. . . May we allow the miracle of Christmas to continue long after the holiday trappings have been packed away; may we welcome the adult Messiah and his challenging Gospel to recreate our lives, making the peace, justice and hope of this holy season a reality in every season of the new year.
Rev Geordie Menzies-Grierson
20th and 21st century Minister (UK)

Knowing God
When you come to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him. And, in fact, He shows much more of Himself to some people than to others—not because He has favourites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition. Just as sunlight, though it has no favourites, cannot be reflected in a dusty mirror as clearly as in a clean one.

You can put this another way by saying that while in other sciences the instruments you use are things external to yourself (things like microscopes and telescopes), the instrument through which you see God is your whole self. And if a man’s self is not kept clean and bright, his glimpse of God will be blurred—like the Moon seen through a dirty telescope. That is why horrible nations have horrible religions: they have been looking at God through a dirty lens.

Jack Lewis
Mere Christianity

Walk more closely with God. Get nearer to Christ. Seek to exchange hope for assurance. Seek to feel the witness of the Spirit more closely and distinctly every year. Lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily threatens you. Press towards the mark more earnestly. Fight a better fight, and war a better warfare every year you live. Pray more. Read more. Subdue self more. Love the brethren more. Oh, that you may endeavor to grow in grace every year; that the end of your Christian course may be better than the beginning!
JC Ryle

It is my earnest prayer to God that he would be most graciously pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and specific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our religion; without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation.
General George Washington
Patriot and First President of the United States of America
Farewell Address
 If you want to warm a church, put a stove in the pulpit.
JC Ryle
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you...
St. James 4:8
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 Feasts, 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. 

The propers for today are found on Page 106-107, with the Collect first:

The Second Sunday after Christmas Day.
The Collect.
LMIGHTY God, who hast poured upon us the new light of thine incarnate Word; Grant that the same light enkindled in our hearts may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Dru Arnold read the reading for the Epistle which comes from the Book of Isaiah, the Sixty-First Chapter beginning at the First Verse:

HE Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Hap Arnold read the Holy Gospel which comes from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, the Second Chapter beginning at the Nineteenth Verse:

HEN Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judæa in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Today’s sermon ties together the propers, that is to say the prayer and readings for this week.  Due to calendar considerations, we do not oft get to celebrate the Second Sunday after Christmas as there are only 12 days in Christmastide, but this is one of those years!

In the Collect, we acknowledge the New Light of Jesus Christ in the world and in our lives as the Word Incarnate, or the Word in the Flesh.  We go on to ask the light of the Word will take root in our hearts and shine forth as action in our lives.  That is to say that our lives will act as a window to the Word, not a closed door.

The reading used for the Epistle is not an Epistle as such, but a portion of the Book of Isaiah, one of the Old Testament books filled with New Testament ideas and thoughts.  In the reading, Isaiah says what we should all be saying, The Lord has selected us to pass on His Good Tidings to all, to tell the world the Good News of the Lord Jesus!  To comfort those in need, to bring happiness where there is heaviness, to talk of the Glory of God!  Good News indeed!

On the surface, in the Gospel, Matthew is just relating the historical fact of Joseph being told to go back into Israel with Mary and Jesus, that all was safe for the time being.  Yet, there is more.  The verses also recall the threat to Jesus’ life from Herod and sends Joseph and his family to take up residence in Nazareth in fulfillment of the prophecy that the King of Kings would be called a Nazarene.

So what of us?  How do we fit in to all this?

We are to spread the light unto the world, to be beacons, directing the people of the World to follow Christ and not the World. We are the lamp bearers, the torch bearers, bringing the light of Scripture unto the darkest places. We are like the light of Galadriel, which was given to Frodo in Lord of the Rings, that it might be a light “unto the darkest places.”

So too shall Scripture be a light for us and others in the darkest times and places on this planet. Christ is the great guiding star, like the North Star for sailors of old to navigate by. So too shall we navigate by Christ as our great guiding star. If we hold the light up, we shall never fall and stumble. But if we do not hold it up, we will fall and stumble. So the obvious solution to our problems when we are troubled is to turn back and hold up the light to light our way.

That is to say, to return to the Scriptures and His Word and consult Him for guidance and not that of man. Christ will show us the way if we will not only see, but listen and have His Word take root in our hearts.

In order to have it take root, we must be opened to His Word and not shut and deaf to Him. He cannot come in if we will not let him, so we must open our hearts and minds to Him. He will free us from ourselves if we open the door, so we must be willing and ready to accept Him.

In order for others to come to Christ, we must walk the walk besides talking the talk, we must not be as hypocrites, saying one thing but doing another. We do not want to be like the Pharisees of old, with their lavish prayers and gestures in the public. But we must be like the publican who would not so much as lift His eyes up onto the heavens.

The time has come to show the light unto the world. The time has come to choose God or Satan. Who shall we choose? Our actions shall show our hearts. “For where your heart is, there shall your treasure be also.”

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
Second Sunday after Christmas
5 January 2014, Anno Domini (in the Year of Our Lord)

The Second Sunday after Christmas Day.
The Collect.
LMIGHTY God, who hast poured upon us the new light of thine incarnate Word; Grant that the same light enkindled in our hearts may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle 
Isaiah lxi. 1.

HE Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

The Gospel St. Matthew ii. 19.

HEN Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judæa in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

            As the Collect attests, at Christmas God poured out into our Cups of Faith the “new Light of His Incarnate Word” – so much so that our cups runneth over. The Light was eternally the same unchanging Light of Christ that existed before the worlds and heavens were made; yet, it came down to us to share in our same pains and sufferings – and more. We can know God the Father because we have seen and heard God the Son.

            It is a mystery known only to God that only the meek and humble of heart can hear and understand the Voice of the Spirit that speaks the Gospel that heals, that frees, that cheers, and that liberates from our self-imposed prison captivity. As our Epistle proclaims, we are, as well, to proclaim – the acceptable year of our Lord. That Year has been published in our calendars ever since His birth. It was 2014 years ago (Anno Domini) since that momentous fulfillment of the Word. Despite all efforts to erase the meaning of that date, it is recognized by the world, in spite of themselves, as the division of time for our computation of the time scale in years.  Those who would extinguish the fires of truth by re-naming the calendar dates with such ridiculous labels as C.E. (Common Era (or should it be error?) to supplant Christ’s Birth in A.D.) and B.C.E. (Before the Common Era (or should it be error?) to blur the distinction of B.C. – before Christ) are hard-pressed to explain WHY they must use the zero year (Christ birth) as a starting point. Why not allow the great truth of history to prevail and simply admit that the coming of Christ was such a climactic event as to divide our time scale in half? How imbecilic is THAT!

            Now we come to the Gospel text for the day. Please note how seamless are the lines that join the Prayer of Collect, the Epistle, and the Gospel together.  The traditional lectionary has been the greatest tool in our Church Year to teach the whole storyline of Christ and His Church.

            Herod, the evil king who had slaughtered the children of Bethlehem (2 years of age and younger) in his insane attempt to destroy Christ, has died. According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, his death was one of extreme suffering. But that is not a concern of the Gospel. All men come to a day of dying, even kings and rulers – so Herod died the eternal death and is paying the wages for his sins.

            Joseph has fled into Egypt with the Child Jesus with His mother, Mary.  He was warned of the danger of Herod by the Angel of the Lord following the visit by the Wise Men. “And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.” (Matt 2:13) It is worthy of comment that kings, rulers, and governments have always tried to destroy the Person of Jesus and any remembrance of His Name. There was no room for Christ in a suitable lodging of Bethlehem, and there is no room for Him in Judah either. The sword lurks the hills and wilderness areas of that land in search of a small child to destroy Him. 19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt.” Long years (perhaps six) Joseph and the mother of Jesus tarried in Egypt awaiting the counsel of the Lord to return home. They never complained or pressed God, but patiently waited during that sojourn for the Word of the Lord and His directing Light. Just as the Wise Men had patiently followed the Light of the Star, so must we patiently bear exile and danger until the Lord gives us His Will and Word.

            “Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.” The precise wording of this verse is quite illuminating. You will note that the angel did not say “take your Son and His mother.”  The reason is because Joseph was not the father of Jesus. The Father of Jesus was God the Father.  Notice the insidious scheme to undermine this truth in new bible versions. In the Received Text bibles we read from Luke 2:33 – “And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.”  Now hear the great lie propagated by the NIV in the same verse: “The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him.” Jesus had no earthly father!

            So Joseph and Mary waited upon the Lord for those long years in Egypt. How often do we rush matters according to our own schedule and disregard the patience that God would have us practice. “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (Psalms 27:14)  “Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.” (Psalms 123:2)  “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) This wise counsel is repeated in a plethora of other Scripture verses as well. When it is the Lord’s Time, it is the RIGHT time!

            Once the Lord has spoken, there should be no lingering procrastination – we must be up and at the doing of His will. 21 “And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.” There was no questioning of what awaited in Israel – simply prompt obedience on the part of Joseph. A Godly woman will ALWAYS follow the spiritual leadership of a Godly man.  I lay the fault of almost every failed marriage at the feet of the man who does not follow the Will of God in loving his wife and providing spiritual leadership. Mary immediately went with Joseph though the Angel had not spoken directly to her.

            The Christian is never without dangers and challenges. Though Herod is dead, his son, Archelaus, now ruled in his stead.  We never reach a point of absolute physical security in a world that is ruled by the enemies of God. We are Soldiers of the Cross – Christian men, women, and children. We wear our uniforms openly and fly the banner of Christ before us. But the wicked ‘Sniper on the Hill’ is forever vigilant to destroy us if we unwittingly expose ourselves to his aim. We must be gentle as lambs in our dealings with others, but wise as serpents to counter the threat of the enemy. “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.“ (Matt 10:16)

            Once we have Christ, we often must leave the place of our accustomed living never to return. Joseph did not feel safe in returning to Judah, but God never leads half-way. Just as God had counseled Joseph to leave Egypt, He also warned him to avoid Judah. 22 “But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee.” It is amazing to me how every step Joseph took from Nazareth to Bethlehem to Egypt to Galilee were dictated so precisely by God. Joseph had keen ears to hear the voice of the Lord, and he heard that Voice. We, too, must avoid the mad rages of public society and get to a quiet place where we can have a keen ear to hear the Voice of God.

            Of what significance is this little village to which Jesus was carried called ‘Nazareth?’ The Hebrew root for the name seems to derive from Isaiah 11:1 – “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” (Isaiah 11:1) The word for Branch (or twig) given here in the Hebrew is ‘rcn (Netser’. Jesus is the Branch that comes forth out of the stem of Jesse and, eventually, King David. But He also has the title of the “Anointed One of the Lord” (separated).  In the Greek, the word is ‘Nazwrai'oß Nazoraios – one separated. Nazareth was as insignificant as it was small. It was located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee – about equa-distant from both.  It was like nothing more than a twig of the land of Israel – small and unimportant. The little town of Bethlehem was not very important either until it became the birthplace of Christ – now it is remembered forever. Neither was the crude manger important until it held the Baby Jesus – now everyone knows about the blessed manger. But Nazareth, though unknown for its insignificance beforehand, would now become known for all time and eternity for the blessed Lord who had lived there. In the mind of man, nothing good, or important, could come from such a remote little hamlet; but in the Providence of God, something of supreme importance came out of Nazareth. “And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.” (John 1:46) The voice of the Lord may seem unimportant to us until we have stopped to listen and to heed that Voice….then it becomes the most important Voice we have ever heard. Have you heard that Voice? “Come and See!”

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:

Healer of Broken Souls
Psalm 65, Isaiah 61:1-3, Matthew 2:19-23
Second Sunday after Christmas
January 5, 2014

The words of Isaiah 61 were some of our Lord’s favourite verses in all of Scripture.  It was these words Christ used to describe Himself and His ministry when He went into the synagogue in Nazareth, concluding the reading with.  It was this passage He quoted when John the Baptist, alone and fearing for his life in prison, sent people to ask Jesus, “Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another?”  Christ quoted the words of Isaiah, words which looked forward to the coming Messiah, and the healing of souls He would accomplish, and He said tell John these things are happening.  In other words, Jesus is doing what only the Messiah can do.  Therefore, He is the Messiah.  He is “He that should come.”

            But these things aren’t merely proof of His identity.  They are His identity.  He didn’t just do them to show that He had the power and the glory.  He did them because He couldn’t help doing them.  They were part of His nature and His attitude towards us.  When the Centurion’s servant was sick, Jesus wanted to go to Him.  When the lepers came to Him He cleansed them.  When the poor and outcasts were rejected by the scribes and Pharisees, He welcomed them.  When the law told them they were sinners and lost and bound for Hell, He said He had come to receive sinners and to seek and to save that which was lost.

            I think of the time Jesus was in Capernaum, and had spent the evening, and far into the night healing the sick and casting out demons.  What was He doing there but preaching good tidings, proclaiming liberty to those in captivity to Satan, and binding up the broken hearted?  Yes, sin breaks hearts.  We tend to look at sin as the harmless indulgence of natural whims.  We have a hard time seeing how our sins affect others, and, I think, we are nearly blind to the way our own sins affect us.  Oh, we can see how drug addiction ruins lives.  We can see how the Hollywood consumptive life-style kills souls.  We can see how divorce, and crime, and war, and bad government, hurt us.  And we can imagine what a life of prostitution and pornography would do to a person, but we can’t always see how our sins draw us away from God and weaken our faith, and even dissolve our desire for God.  But they do.

            There is a story about an old time, horse and buggy minister; we’ll make him an Anglican, concerned for a family who had a habit of missing Church.  One cold winter evening the rector drove to the family’s farm.  It was deep winter, and the family was gathered around the hearth of their comfortable home enjoying hot tea and cookies, and the bountiful blessings of God.  The rector was given a chair by the fire, but said very little.  “How can I help these people see what the sin of forsaking the Church does to them? He prayed.  Eventually he took the poker and pulled a burning red ember out of the fire onto the hearth.  At first it continued to burn, but, slowly at first, then with increasing quickness, it began to cool.  First the flame died.  Then the glowing red color gave way to charred blackness, then the heat, the life of the coal, just went out, and the rector picked it up with his bear hand.  He set it beside another ember, one that had not been deprived of the warmth of the fire.  They sat there on the hearth, one glowing and red, the other cold and dead.  Soon the father and husband of the home spoke.  “I understand, Reverend,” he said.  “We will be in church this Sunday.”

            The Song of Solomon makes a similar point about the effects of sin.  It talks about the little foxes that spoil the vines.  It pictures a Godly marriage as a luxuriant vineyard, but the little foxes, the small and seemingly harmless things dig up the vines and grapes.  We can apply this to any relationship, and almost any aspect of our own lives. Our vines have tender grapes.  Our faith is small and weak, and the little things, the little foxes, can do tremendous damage to our lives.  Perhaps you know by experience what I am saying.  But be of good cheer.  One has come from God saying,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me: because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound: to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto the beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord.
+Dennis Campbell

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

Rev Roger Jessup
Saint Joseph of Arimathea Anglican Orthodox Church in Chester, Virginia
Rev Roger is one of my personal favorite ministers, a real gentleman in every sense; his voice is so smooth and soothing, with the measured pace of a Virginian.  You just cannot help but love to listen to him.

Is God Concerned About Me?

“Can a woman forget her sucking child, … yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee”   Isaiah 49:15

In seasons of distress and grief how oft is this heartrending cry uttered?  “If God is indeed actually concerned about me, why, then, does He not give me some unmistakable sign of His loving interest?"  This agonizing question strenuously exercises the minds of even the most loyal believers and stretches their faith to the limit at certain times.

"Such temptation is common to man," for it has been voiced by people throughout all the ages in their bewilderment. For instance, the Psalmist in desperation cried out:

“Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?”  (Psalms 10:1)

For our encouragement, the Scriptures record many examples of God's choicest  saints uttering that prayer  of deep distress.  The Psalmist was a man after God's own heart.”  Abraham,  "the friend of God," was baffled by the seeming absence of God as he was about to sacrifice Isaac.  Joseph, God's chosen saviour of His people, was completely mystified by God's seeming indifference when his brethren sold him into slavery, and when later he was slandered and imprisoned.   Martha and Mary wept when they thought Jesus, their precious Friend, unconcernedly had left Lazarus to die.

"Why is God not concerned about me?" "Why is He silent in my deep distress?" "Why does He not show His promised presence to help in time of trouble?"

Why dost Thou shad Thy lovely face
O Why
Does the eclipsing hand long deny the sunshine of
Thy soul-enlightening eye?

Our tearful eyes are so blinded by sorrows and stresses afflicting us, that we cannot see our ever-present Lord standing by our side, not aloof, not indifferent, but anxiously sympathetic, ready to help. Sometimes our disobedience creates unbelief. When we frustrate God's will for our lives, the darkness of condemnation obscures the radiance of His presence. He may even withdraw the consciousness of His presence so that we may indeed feel the keen sense of His absence. Only then, do we become anxious to regain His nearness and His assurance of His continual concern and care for us. He reassures us: "I am with you every day and all day long!”

Our Saviour himself, taught the unsleeping care of His Heavenly Father for us: 

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
St. Matthew 10:29-32.

Adapted for space from an article by Willian Ozanne and printed in:
Highway and Hedge Evangel Vol. 49-5
Shoals, Indiana 47581-9664

Roy Morales-Kuhn, Pastor - St. Paul's Anglican Church - Anglican Orthodox Church
Rev Roy is pastor of the biggest AOC parish West of the Mississippi; he reminded me there are now three parishes, his being by far the largest.  The Westerners are taking over the AOC![1]

Rev Roy reminds me these are just his sermon notes, he oft gets carried away; expounding and deviating!

Second Sunday after Christmas
5 January 2014

Sometimes we don’t realize that the manifestation of Jesus Christ was not at the beginning of his earthly ministry.  Sure, we have the time period from his birth to the Epiphany where we read of prophecies specific to his first Advent being fulfilled.  We really don’t read much about Christ’s early life, other than the encounter in the temple when he was twelve.

Our Gospel reading gives us another couple of prophesy fulfilled.  Mary, Joseph, and the Christ child leave Bethlehem to flee the wrath of Herod. Herod tries to murder the Savior by having all male children under the age of two killed in the area around Bethlehem. {Jer. 31:15}

They go to Egypt. Another set of prophecies fulfilled.  “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” {Hosea 11:1}.  The final prophecy in our brief Gospel passage concerns the name ‘Nazarene’.

In this is said to be fulfilled what was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. Which may be looked upon, (1.) As a man of honour and dignity, though primarily it signifies no more than a man of Nazareth; there is an allusion or mystery in speaking it, speaking Christ to be, [1.] The Man, the Branch, spoken of,  Isa. 11:1. The word there is Netzar, which signifies either a branch, or the city of Nazareth; in being denominated from that city, he is declared to be that Branch.

In a brief couple of passages from the Bible we can mine a whole set of sermons. We can read of the revealing of the Christ child to the Gentiles [us]. That event is marked by the Epiphany, observed on the 6th of January, exactly twelve days of Christmas. From this time forward we begin to count down to the forty days of Lent which culminate in the death, burial, and glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, at Easter time.

I remember as a child growing up in an evangelical church that did not follow any form of a church calendar how confusing it was to go from Christmas to Easter in only four or five months.

We went from a little baby to an adult dying on a rude and rough cross, but what happened in between? 

When a church follows a church calendar there is so much more thought and lessons given to the mission and ministry of Christ. We understand from the season of Advent the unfolding of the prophecies of the ages. Then to the season of Christmastide and that Gift given by our God and Creator, the once and sufficient sacrifice for our sins, Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Then we begin the period of Epiphany and the Sundays following as the scripture gives us a picture of the universal or catholic nature of God’s plan for His creation’s salvation. 

Now a solemn period of Lent, forty days of reflection on the real meaning of the Advent. Finally the greatest act of sacrifice, God gives His Son for our redemption.  He becomes the Lamb of God, “ but God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. Rom 5:8.

In the Anglican Orthodox Church we observe a monthly communion service which helps us to hold a more special regard to the Holy Supper. And rather than it become so common as to lose all of the rich meaning and message that we find in a less frequent observation of the Holy Supper a time to reflect on the true Gift of God.  We do not worship the elements, the creatures of bread and wine, no we worship the King. We worship the once and for all sacrifice, once given, for the salvation of many.

Every Sunday is a new beginning. Every Sunday is a “mini” resurrection. Every Sunday should be looked upon as a way to face the onslaught of the world, flesh and the devil. We need to feed upon the Word, we need to refresh ourselves at the Fount of Living Water. We need to know that because He lives we can face tomorrow. 

God gives us a gift of life every day, as some say that is why it is called ‘the present’.   Let us endeavor to do the Lord’s work, let us worship Him with our labor, let us bring our gifts to His Kingdom, which has no end.   Amen.

Let us pray:

ather, Lord God Almighty, we ask that you endue us with your Holy Spirit. Give us a thirst and a desire to do thy will here at this present. Give us the strength, knowledge and right mind to be aware of any opportunity to further the Kingdom. This we ask in the Name of your Son our Savior, the same Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.     Amen

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.

Second Sunday after Christmas

In Micah 5:2-4, God informed the prophet the Messiah would come from Bethlehem in Judah. But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. The name Bethlehem means “house of bread”, and how fitting it was that he who is the living bread should be born there. Back in my boyhood days, my grandmother once spoke of bread as “the staff of life” on account of its importance as a staple food for people since “Hector was a pup,” or, if you will, from the beginning of human history. The apostle John recorded the words our Lord on this very subject: I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die (6:48-50).

God has supplied us with numerous accounts regarding his provision for and assistance of his servants. From Scripture, we understand that the manna mentioned by our Lord in St. John’s gospel was given to the children of Israel for their sustenance following their exodus from Egypt (Exodus 16:15). God does not send his own out into the wilderness to die. God will sustain his own. He may use what might be termed the apparent and the ordinary; while in many instances, as noted in the scriptures, he may use the miraculous. Consider the prophet Elijah who was fed by the ravens at the brook of Cherith (I Kings 17:2-7); or Elijah and his care for the widow of Zarephath. The LORD preserved her and her son via his restorative power so that her containers of oil and flour were miraculously replenished until the famine in the land had passed; as well as raising her son from death (I Kings 17:8-24). God saved his people time and again as recorded in the books of Judges, Esther, Nehemiah, Isaiah and Daniel. And God’s love has been manifested in so many different ways that it would take a multitude of sermons to cover them all adequately. So let us focus on the issue of Jesus Christ as that bread of life.

In the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, we hear the following Words of Institution given us by our Lord: do this in remembrance of me. We also hear the words, this is my body and this is my blood. Bishop Ryle once noted that, “The conduct of the disciples at the Lord's Supper forbids us to believe that the bread they received was Christ's body and the wine Christ's blood. They were all Jews taught from their infancy that it was sinful to eat flesh with the blood (Deut. 12:23-25). Yet they were not startled by our Lord's words as if they perceived a change in the bread and wine. Our own senses forbid us to believe that there is any change in the bread and the wine. Our own taste tells us that they are really and literally what they appear to be. Things above our reason the Bible requires us to believe, but not what contradicts our senses. Our Lord's true human nature forbids us to believe that his body can be in more than one place at one time. If our Lord's body could sit at table and at the same time be eaten by the disciples it is perfectly clear that it is not a human body like our own. But this we must not allow for one moment. It is the glory of Christianity that our Redeemer is perfect man as well as perfect God. The language in which our Lord spoke made it quite unnecessary to interpret his words literally. The Bible is full of similar expressions. Our Lord spoke of himself as a door and a vine so we know that he used emblems and figures to describe himself. There is therefore no inconsistency in his using figurative language in instituting the Supper.”

What Bishop Ryle has written concerning the Lord’s Supper is based not on a pronouncement of some earthly body or council, but upon the very words of God. We cannot escape the fact that in our eating of the bread and drinking of the cup we are memorializing our Lord’s death and sacrifice— remembering his passion and giving thanks for his free gift of grace to us.

Listen further to what our Lord said about himself, I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world (St. John 6:51).To partake of Christ Jesus is to partake of his word and commandment. Christ came to offer himself up as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. He did not come as something foreign to the teachings of the law because he fulfilled the law. We are therefore to partake of him after a spiritual sense not in a physical one. Consider the words of St. Paul in the epistle of Hebrews: For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation (9:24-28).

St. Paul warned the Corinthian church not to take lightly their participation in the Holy Communion when he penned the following admonition, For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (I Corinthians 11:26, 27). Nothing done in our worship of the Godhead should be considered mundane or trivial, and such is doubly important in our partaking of this sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. God expects 100% participation and 100% understanding because he has given us such in detail within the Holy Bible.

But there is more. When we hear the words of The Invocation (page 81 of the BCP), that we be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us and we in him, we understand that we are joined with our Lord via the Holy Ghost who resides within every born-again believer. And so, in our partaking of the communion elements, we are affirming the very presence of our Saviour within us. Holy Communion then is more than just a memorial feast, it is a spiritual linking of ourselves to our Lord.

The living bread has come into the world and has given us the sacrament of the Holy Communion. Our duty then is to break the bread of the sacrament and to drink from the cup of the same until his coming again when he will both eat and drink with us at that marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-10) prior to his return in glory, for as the Scripture reads, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Our duty as Christians has ever been to proclaim the word of God to others, and to live in obedience to God’s will for us. But in order to do the things that our Lord has commanded, we must possess a proper understanding of whom we are worshiping. We need to be in prayer to God concerning our worship, our work and our walk in this life. If God is our helper, then we ought to lean on him and trust in him. The faithless, the foundering, the disobedient, and the hypocritical are those who will hide behind the mask of Christianity and use it for their purposes; while the true and faithful Christian will don the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6:11), keeping himself under control and in the Spirit, living and even dying in obedience to God’s word. To be born-again of the Spirit means to live for Christ and to accept him as Saviour and Lord. We who have been regenerated in him believe that he is that living bread; we believe that he is our good Shepherd; we believe that he will come again in glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end (Nicene Creed). Jesus Christ came from a city which meant “house of bread.” He came to bring us more that the simple sustenance of earthly bread, but the eternal sustenance of God. He came that we might have life and in abundance. He came to give us more than a morsel for the furtherance of our earthly existence, but to give us hope of life everlasting in his coming kingdom. Thus to partake of him who is our “staff of life” is to take into ourselves the life-giving Messiah. For all who will believe on him as their Saviour shall receive his free gift of life everlasting.

It is my prayer each of you will come to the Lord’s Table today and partake of Jesus Christ as that living bread, and that prior to your coming, you would confess your sins and trespasses to God in his name. It is not enough to attend church, sing a hymn or two and them walk away without seeking him who came to make us whole and to bring us into the beloved. We must honor our Lord out of a willing, broken and contrite heart that daily seeks his pardon. God has called us to himself and we have answered in the affirmative, so then let us do all that he has commanded in his word written. And finally, may God’s peace and blessing be with you in every good word and work in this new year.

Let us pray,

ather, we thank you for giving us the Saviour: who is that living bread which came down from heaven and was offered for the life of the world; that in our turning and repentance in his name, we have received eternal life, and have also been made coheirs with him in glory; for it is in his name that we offer up to thee our imperfect prayers, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+

After Church Hospitality
Sadly, no after church snacks.  The same story every week, is it not?  The fact is that we are supposed to be on a low carb diet and there really aren’t any low carb snacks that appeal to us.  So, with no fatted dog nut in sight, we were out of luck!  Please someone, between now and next Sunday invent some no-carb dog nuts.

After church goodies providers as currently signed up:

Date Name
6 January 2014 Opportunity Available – Epiphany
12 January 2014 Opportunity Available – First Sunday after Epiphany
19 January 2014 Opportunity Available – Second Sunday after Epiphany
26 January 2014 Opportunity Available – Third Sunday after Epiphany
2 February 2014 Opportunity Available – The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, commonly calledThe Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin  - Superseding the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

People in our Prayers -
Why? Prayer is an extremely important activity.
It is not that God knows not our needs, for He surely does. Yet, Jesus commanded us to ask God for those same needs. In addition to the obvious of asking God for help, offering thanksgiving and the like, prayer helps us focus our thoughts on how we might do God's work.

The Prayer Team of the Church of the Faithful Centurion was established to help our members and fellow Christians pray for those in need and to give thanks as well for the blessings we have been granted.

Who can be on the list? Do I have to be a member of the Church of the Faithful Centurion to be prayed for?
No! The only qualification to be on the list is that you want our prayer team to pray for you. We are Christians and are happy to pray for you, no matter who you are. If you want help from God, you are our kind of people.

What is the commitment from the prayer team?
Each member of the team will pray for the desired outcome at last once per day.

How do I get myself or someone else on the prayer list?
You can email one of the prayer team leaders: Jack - or Dru - dru@, or call the church office at (619) 659-3608 or fill out a prayer card at church.

What should I ask for?
Depends on what you want. Some people merely want God to be asked to heal their ills and be mentioned by their first name, others want a specific outcome and / or have more of their personal information known to the team. Ask for what you want. It is your desire and need for prayer the team is attempting to meet. For typical examples, see the list below.

Updating the Team
If you are on our prayer list, or if you have submitted a person that you have asked us to pray for, please update one of the team members or Hap in person, by telephone or email. It helps to be able to pray specifically for these individuals including their specific needs; plus if they get better, it is nice to give thanks!

Please note that on the yellow (maybe green or orange if you get an old one) cards at church, you can ask that those to be prayed for have their names disseminated to the prayer team. Those names will be said in church and appear here. Or, you can ask that their names and purpose be kept confidential, then only Hap will know to pray for them.

Positive Choices for 2014 – Rev Geordie
Here are ten positive choices to make 2014 truly a Happy New Year!  Do this today, not tomorrow, for it is today and tomorrow never comes!

1. Today I will not strike back
If someone is rude; if someone is impatient; if someone is unkind... I will not respond in like manner.

2. Today I will ask God to bless my “enemy”
If I come across someone who treats me harshly or unfairly, I will quietly ask God to bless that individual. I understand the “enemy” could be a family member, neighbor, co-worker or stranger.

3. Today I will be careful about what I say
I will carefully choose and guard my words, being certain that I do not spread gossip, slander or malign anyone in any way.

4. Today I will go the extra mile
I will find ways to help share the burden of another person. I will find ways to make life more pleasant.

5. Today I will forgive
I will forgive any hurts or injuries that come my way. (I will also work t forgive injuries that have been inflicted upon me in the past)

6. Today I will do something nice for someone, but I will do it secretly
I will reach out anonymously and bless the life of another person.

7. Today I will treat others as I wish to be treated
I will practice the golden rule - do unto others as you would have them do unto you - with everyone I encounter.

8. Today I will raise the spirits of someone who is discouraged
My smile, my words, my expression of support, can make the difference to someone who is wrestling with life.

9. Today I will nurture my body
I will eat less; I will eat only healthy foods; I will thank God for my body.

10. Today I will grow spiritually
I will spend a little more time in prayer today; I will begin reading something spiritual or inspirational today; I will find a quiet place (at some point during this day) and listen to God’s voice!

[1] Just kidding, of course.  On the other hand, the AOC is happy to have three parishes in the West now!

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