Monday, February 24, 2014
LT Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn's Eulogy ChC, USNR
5th Marine Division Cemetery, Iwo Jima March 1945
Roland B. Gittelsohn, Rabbi and Marine Chaplain on Iwo Jima passed away on 13 December 1995 He was a scholar on religious and governmental issues who was a Marine Corps chaplain during the battle of Iwo Jima, died Wednesday at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. He was 85.
Gittelsohn was assigned to the Fifth Marine Division, was the first Jewish chaplain the Marine Corps ever appointed. The American invading force at Iwo Jima included approximately 1,500 Jewish Marines, and Rabbi Gittelsohn was in the thick of the fray, ministering to Marines of all faiths in the combat zone. He shared the fear, horror and despair of the fighting men, each of whom knew that each day might be his last. Roland Gittelsohn's tireless efforts to comfort the wounded and encourage the fearful won him three service ribbons. He was awarded three combat ribbons for his service with the Fifth Marine Division on Iwo Jima. His sermon at the dedication of the division's cemetery, titled "The Purest Democracy," attracted wide attention and was read by many radio and television announcers during and after the war.
Division Chaplain Warren Cuthriell, a Protestant minister, asked Rabbi Gittelsohn to deliver the memorial sermon at a combined religious service dedicating the Marine Cemetery. Cuthriell wanted all the fallen Marines (black and white, Protestant, Catholic and Jewish) honored in a single, nondenominational ceremony. Instead, three separate religious services were held. At the Jewish service, to a congregation of 70 or so who attended, Rabbi Gittelsohn delivered the powerful eulogy he originally wrote for the combined service. Among Gittelsohn's listeners were three Protestant chaplains so who felt compelled to the service. One of them borrowed the manuscript and, unknown to Gittelsohn, circulated several thousand copies to his regiment. Some Marines enclosed the copies in letters to their families. An avalanche of coverage resulted. Time magazine published excerpts, which wire services spread even further. The entire sermon was inserted into the Congressional Record, the Army released the eulogy for short-wave broadcast to American troops throughout the world and radio commentator Robert St. John read it on his program and on many succeeding Memorial Days.
In February 1995, Rabbi Gittelsohn gave the benediction at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Va., at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the landing. Following is the benediction and dedication he gave on Iwo Jima in March 1945.
LT Rabbi Gittelsohn spoke
This is perhaps the grimmest, and surely the holiest task we have faced since D-Day. Here before us lie the bodies of comrades and friends. Men who until yesterday or last week laughed with us, joked with us, trained with us. Men who were on the same ships with us, and went over the sides with us as we prepared to hit the beaches of this island. Men who fought with us and feared with us. Somewhere in this plot of ground there may lie the man who could have discovered the cure for cancer. Under one of these Christian crosses, or beneath a Jewish Star of David, there may now rest a man who was destined to be a great prophet–to find the way, perhaps, for all to live in plenty, with poverty and hardship for none. Now they lie here silently in this sacred soil, and we gather to consecrate this earth in their memory.
It is not easy to do so. Some of us have buried our closest friends here. We saw these men killed before our very eyes. Any one of us might have died in their places. Indeed, some of us are alive and breathing at this very moment only because men who lie here beneath us had the courage and strength to give their lives for ours. To speak in memory of such men as these is not easy. Of them too can it be said with utter truth: "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here. It can never forget what they did here."
No, our poor power of speech can add nothing to what these men and the other dead of our Division who are not here have already done. All that we even hope to do is follow their example. To show the same selfless courage in peace that they did in war. To swear that by the grace of God and the stubborn strength and power of human will, their sons and ours shall never suffer these pains again. These men have done their jobs well. They have paid the ghastly price of freedom. If that freedom be once again lost, as it was after the last war, the unforgivable blame will be ours, not theirs. So it is we the living who are here to be dedicated and consecrated.
We dedicate ourselves, first, to live together in peace the way they fought and are buried in this war. Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors generations ago helped in her founding, and other men who loved her with equal passion because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores. Here lie officers and men, negroes and whites, rich men and poor–together. Here no man prefers another because of his faith or despises him because of his color. Here there are no quotas of how many from each group are admitted or allowed. Among these men there is no discrimination. No prejudices. No hatred. Theirs is the highest and purest democracy.
Any man among us the living who fails to understand that will thereby betray those who lie here dead. Whoever of us lifts up his hand in hate against a brother, or thinks himself superior to those who happen to be in the minority, makes of this ceremony and of the bloody sacrifice it commemorates, an empty, hollow mockery. To this, then, as our solemn, sacred duty, do we the living now dedicate ourselves: to the rights of Protestants, Catholics and Jews, of white men and negroes alike, to enjoy the democracy for which all of them here have paid the price.
To one thing more do we consecrate ourselves in memory of those who sleep beneath these crosses and stars. We shall not foolishly suppose, as did the last generation of America's fghting men, that victory on the battlefield will automatically guarantee the triumph of democracy at home. This war, with all its frightful heartache and suffering,is but the beginning our our generation's struggle for democracy. When the last battle has been won, there will be those at home, as there were the last time, who will want us to turn our backs in selfish isolation on the rest of organized humanity, and thus to sabotage the very peace for which we fight. We promise you who lie here: we will not do that! We will join hands with Britain, China, Russia in peace, even as we have in war, to build the kind of world for which you died.
When the last shot has been fired, there will still be those whose eyes are turned backward, not forward, who will be satisfied with those wide extremes of poverty and wealth in which the seeds of another war can breed. We promise you, our departed comrades: this too we will not permit. This war has been fought by the common man; its fruits of peace must be enjoyed by the common man! We promise, by all that is sacred and holy, that your sons, the sons of moners and millers, the sons of farmers and workers, the right to a living that is decent and secure.
When the final cross has been placed in the last cemetery, once again there will be those to whom profit is more important than peace, who will insist with the voice of sweet reasonableness and appeasement that it is better to trade with the enemies of mankind, than by crushing them, to lose their profit. To you who sleep here silently, we give our promise: we will not listen! We will not forget that some of you were burnt with oil that came from American wells, that many of you were killed with shells fashioned from American steel. We promise that when once again men profit at your expense, we shall remember how you looked when we placed you reverently, lovingly, in the ground.
Thus do we memorialize those who, having ceased living with us, now live within us. Thus do we consecrate ourselves the living to carry on the struggle they began. Too much blood has gone into this soil for us to let it lie barren. Too much pain and heartache have fertilized the earth on which we stand. We here solemnly swear: this shall not be in vain! Out of this, and from the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn this, will come–we promise–the birth of a new freedom for the sons of men everywhere. Amen.
Posted by Hap at 6:02 PM No comments:
Sunday, February 23, 2014
The Sunday called Sexagesima, or the second Sunday before Lent.
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 –
When small men cast long shadows, then it is very late in the day.
The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid...
Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?...
Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.
St. Mark 8:33
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
I Corinthians 15:22
If men will not respond to the gospel they will respond to nothing.
David N. Samuel
20th and 21st century former Presiding Bishop of the Church of England (Continuing)
What we must do is to educate the masses of the people up to the [KJV], not bring the Bible down to their level. One of the greatest troubles today is that everything is cheapened. The common man is made the standard of authority; he decides everything, and everything has to be brought down to him... Are we to do that with the Word of God? I say No!
20th century Welsh theologian and author
The mere belief of the facts and doctrines of Christianity will never save our souls. Such belief is no better than the belief of devils. They all believe and know that Jesus is the Christ. They believe that he will one day judge the world and cast them down into endless torment. It is a solemn and sorrowful thought that on these points some professing Christians have even less faith than the devil. There are some who doubt the reality of hell and the eternity of punishment. Such doubts as these find no place except in the hearts of self-willed men and women. There is no infidelity among devils.
19th century Anglican bishop and author
You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power— he’s free again.
20th and 21st century Russian author
The contest is not over, the strife is not ended. It has entered upon a new and enlarged arena; there the champions of constitutional liberty must fight until government of the United States is brought back to its constitutional limits.
President of the Confederate States of America, statesman and war hero
(The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Vol. II, p. 294).
Everyone wants to live at the expense of the State. They forget the State lives at the expense of everyone else.
Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.
Screwtape reveals a powerful tool for distraction:
What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call ‘Christianity And’. You know—Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Christians let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing.
The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart—an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friendship. The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy (being a hedonist at heart) has made change pleasurable to them, just as He has made eating pleasurable. But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanance which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual year; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before.
The Screwtape Letters
The Propers for today are found on Page 120-122, with the Collect first:
The Sunday called Sexagesima, or the
second Sunday before Lent.
LORD God, who seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Dru Arnold read the Epistle, which came from the Eleventh Chapter of Saint Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians beginning at the Nineteenth Verse. Paul reminds us salvation, honor and glory come not from what we do or have done, but rather from God. Paul, who as Saul, had been a super star on his way to being the number one rabbi in the Hebrew nation, he was more learned, more vigorous in following the law, more vocal in all things. When he “saw the light” and converted, he took that same approach to Christianity. No one was more in any thing than he. He had been the best of the worst and the best of the best. Now he was aware of how short he himself fell. More importantly, he was keenly aware of the saving perfection of Christ.
No one did more than Paul, yet he counseled all to take comfort and pride in God, not themselves. Do your best and look towards God.
E suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.
Hap Arnold read the Holy Gospel for today which came from the Eighth Chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke beginning at the Fourth Verse and tells the well known Parable of the Sower, which might be better referred to as the Parable of the Four Soils, for the seeds were all alike.
A sower scatters seed on to four different types of soil.
· Hard ground
· Stony ground
· Thorny ground
· Good ground
Hard ground “by the way side” prevents the seed from sprouting at all, and the seed becomes nothing more than bird food. Stony ground provides enough soil for the seeds to germinate and begin to grow, but because there is “no deepness of earth,” the plants do not take root and are soon withered in the sun. Thorny ground allows the seed to grow, but competing thorns choke the life out of the good plants. Good ground receives the seed and produces much fruit.
Jesus explains the seed is The Word.
Hard ground represents someone so hardened by sin that though he hears he cannot understand the Word. Thus, Satan can pluck the message away, keeping the heart dull and preventing the Word from making an impression.
Stony ground represents those who hear and express delight in The Word, but do not change to live The Word. When trouble arises, they abandon their faith.
Thorny ground represents one who hears and receives The Word, but who does not connect to it and whose heart is full of riches, pleasures, and lusts. The effort that should by rights given The Word are given to the things of this world and he has no time for The Word.
Good ground represents he who hears, understands, and implements The Word. Thus, The Word can work its wonders in his life and that person gains salvation.
The Word is there. We may hear it. We may take it in our heart. The benefit comes only when we take it in our heart and act on it. At that point, The Word is acting in our lives and salvation is in hand.
HEN much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way-side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way-side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
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.
Consider these words from the Collect:
…put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity …
In the Collect, we tell God we put our trust for eternal life not in our actions, but in His Power. If we do this, then we must do as He asks us. For, to make trust in His Power rational, we must follow His Direction. If we do not follow His Direction then we are surely just going be as lost as before we accepted Him into our hearts. It would be foolish to think that we could guide ourselves, when in fact we need Him to guide us. The problem is that often, at least in my case, pride gets in the way of seeing that I/We need to relie on Him for guidance. We need Him as our navigator to guide us along the rocky paths of life, so we don’t crash into the rocks of Sin and Death! We need His directions if we are to proceed upon the path to Heaven.
This squares with what Paul tells us, that is salvation, honor and glory come not from what we do or have done, but rather from God. Therefore, we should turn to Him for guidance and not ourselves. By following His Word that is where the salvation, honor and glory come from. And that is also to whom we should give credit and not us. We havn't earned the credit, so we should give it to whom it is due, that is to God our father. Paul, who as Saul, had been a super star on his way to being the number one rabbi in the Hebrew nation, he was more learned, more vigorous in following the law, more vocal in all things. When he “saw the light” and converted, he took that same approach to Christianity. No one was more in any thing than he. He had been the best of the worst and the best of the best. Now he was keenly aware of how short he himself fell. But even more importantly, he was keenly aware of the saving perfection of Christ. Because he had been at rock bottom, he was able to recover, which then brought him to his best, so that he was aware of the saving power of Christ. From this he could tell us of the experience of the power of God first hand, using his life as an example of that. He told us these things not to glory himself, but to show the glory and honor that comes from on high, from following His Word. He wanted us, other Christians to learn from his example and to do their best to follow Him. Thus he counseled all to take comfort and pride in God, not themselves. Do your best and look towards God.
This brings us right in to the well known Parable of the Sower, which might be better referred to as the Parable of the Four Soils, for the seeds were all alike.
Like the seed sown by the sower, The Word is spread throughout the world for all to hear and act on:
· Yet, some will not even hear The Word (Hard ground);
· Others will hear, act quickly and abandon God’s help at the first sign of adversity (Stony ground);
· Still others will hear The Word, but The Word is overtaken by the “pleasures” of this world and is choked out by them. Like the line from the Bible, where your money is, that is your worldly effort, there is the evidence of your heart. The temptation of this world is great, the reward from God should be greater, but you have to look long term;
· Finally we come to those who accept and act on The Word, like the one seed planted growing into a great plant bearing its fruit, the rewards are manifold, though the effort is also great, the end reward far greater. For the seed to grow to full fruition and glory, with its manifold blessings, it must have the ground prepared, carefully tended against encroachment of the evil weeds, it must be continually watered by the life blood of those around it. There is much effort required on our part, but the ultimate reward is so much greater.
While we are on the subject, consider the issue of weeding. Is this not part of the reason for the Church, that is to say the body of believers, to exist. We cannot often pull our own weeds, but we can help others and they can help us. We cannot pull our weeds alone, but with help, we can remove them one by one. Christianity is not a religion of hermits; it is a social religion where we can help each other.
So, think about this, we need to understand eternal life and indeed on a shorter term, happiness in our life here, comes not from our self-directed actions, but those of God and our action following His direction. If we follow our self-directed actions, we will find death and misery awaiting us. However, if we put our trust in Him and follow His commands, we will “live long and prosper” to quote Spock. Do your best and look towards God for the Light to illuminate your path. If you prepare your heart, as the farmer prepares the field, root out the forces of this world as the farmer roots out weeds, cultivate the good given by God, water your heart with His Water, your life will be manifold.
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.
23 February 2014, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)
The Sunday called Sexagesima, or the
second Sunday before Lent.
LORD God, who seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
HEN much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way-side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way-side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. (Luke 8:4-15)
Our Collect which we have prayer today reminds us that we take no credit for any good deed that we do but only for the evil deeds we may do. If we cannot trust our own heart to avoid sin, how can we trust that heart to do only righteousness? If we do not place our full trust in God, then we have nothing at all to trust. Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake (Psalms 115:1) When I see churches and shallow ministers taking credit for that they claim the Lord has done in building elaborate sanctuaries to the exclusion of the orphan’s table, I know that this is the world church and not that of Christ. We are all alike helpless in this world to defend against the forces of darkness. Darkness is the prime feature of the world in which we live. But we can always call upon the Lord for our main defense. He will stand with us, and He is Light. Where Light is, there can be no darkness.
In the Epistle reading for today (2 Corinthians 11:19-31) Paul reminds us of the many sufferings, hardships, and trials he has faced. He has been in the sea for a day and a night, beaten with whips and rods, cold and naked, hungry! Yet Paul, by the grace and protection of God, still stands. He has placed a trust in God that is worthy of our emulation. Paul readily admits that these sufferings came as a result of his own weakness, yet he gives God the glory for sustaining and keeping him through all. God is glorified in the good works which we do because all righteous works are of God.
Let us now turn to the very acts and Words of Christ in today’s Gospel text from Luke Chapter 8.
There is a harmony in the Gospels on this parable. It is covered in Matthew, Mark, and Luke; but I prefer, most thoroughly, the account in Matthew 13 for it relates in perfect unison with the other parables of the Kingdom in Matthew 13 (also known as the Kingdom Chapter of Matthew).
We see, first of all, in the parable of Jesus, that the Word of God (Seed) must be carried forth. It does no good to the lost soul for one to have a very accomplished knowledge of the Word if that Word is not carried forth and shared. Does the dust covered Bible on your mantle serve any Godly purpose? No, it does not. Its only value is a promised value such as potential energy. We need an active value of the Bible being dusted off, read carefully, memorized, carried forth, and shared. This is the kinetic energy that results in fulfillment of purpose.
Secondly, we may wonder who is this Sower that goes forth? We know the Sower is, in the original, Jesus Christ. He brought the saving Gospel and was Himself, that salvation. He taught the Apostles to be like-minded sowers of the Word. The Apostles have sowed the Word so abundantly that we all have at least tasted the fruits of that sowing. And no we are the sowers as well. If we only consume the Seed upon our own lust, how can there ever be a profitable increase. The Seed MUST be sowed in order that there will be a continual harvest. We must not take our Seed as the one talent and bury it away, we must invest the Seed by sowing and, in the process of time, we shall we receive abundance. The more we share the Holy Word with others, the greater the harvest of that Word in our hearts. What did the Sower do? A sower went out to sow his seed So must we go forth with the Seed.
Thirdly, we should note that there is only one Seed. It is not a variety of Seed, but one constant and unchanging truth of God. There are no Seed that are unwholesome or which do not contain in their hearts the power to produce more fruit. The seed is the word (singular) of God. God’s Word does not change, and it is always wholesome whether received in a wholesome heart or not. The Sower’s bag does not have diverse seeds – even seeds of bramble – in His bag; but only the true and constant Seed of God’s Word.
Fourthly, we must know that the four different kinds of soils represent four different kinds of hearts. We know these hearts well. We have all had one of each of these type hearts at times, but the cultivating Word of God has prepared our hearts for the Seed – to receive that Seed into the hidden chambers of our hearts. Perhaps that hidden chamber is the lowest chamber and most humble part of our hearts. The lowest chamber is where the moisture of life is most available that the Holy Ghost may nurture the Seed in thick darkness as the germinated plant struggles to reach the sunlight of the surface. Jesus, the Sower, does not differentiate between the types of soil upon which He sows – He sows on all soils. That which is stony ground today may become fertile soil tomorrow. The Sower does not distinguish between soils or hearts. It is the condition of the heart that receives the Seed that will determine whether that Seed shall bear fruit. But it is the Holy Ghost that gives life to that Seed when the heart has been conditioned by God. “….some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. God does not cast His pearls before swine. If there are deaf ears to His Word, then His Word will not germinate in their hearts. They are simply UNABLE to receive it because of the externals that they so highly value in the world. But remember, friends, the soils can change. The brambles and briar may be burned away exposing good earth.
The unlikely soils, or different types of hearts, are capable of being changed. The hardened wayside may be broken up, the rocky ground cleared of stones, and the thorns pulled up by the roots or burned by fire. These grounds may be prepared by God through His workers of the vineyard. We may, through our examples of obedience to God and contentment, become a hoe, or a plough, to break up the hardened soil so that the Seed may flourish there. Have you done this, friends, with the hardened soils about you?
Shall we discover the Fountain of Life and hide its existence from our families, from our friends, from our neighbors, and from the stranger that passes by. Would we not suffer from want of our sons and daughters, our wives, mothers and fathers, neighbors, etc. in an Eternity of Life alone with God? When the scroll of Heaven parts and time is no more, shall we go empty-handed before God because we selfishly guarded the secret of His Gospel? What defense can we utter at that time when our only son or daughter, or our postman, druggist, or merchant precedes us in judgment and tells the Lord, “I never knew because no one ever told me?” Then to feel, as did Peter the night of the Passion, the eyes of Christ turn upon us with that Great Question in His Face. Perhaps there would be bitter tears, even in Heaven?
The Church has sat silent far too long. It is time to serve as the salt of the earth – to speak out against the evils of our day. If the professing church in America would rise up with that One Voice of Christ, in condemning the murder of innocents in their mother’s wombs; the adulteration of the institution of marriage and its perversions away from the Creation model; the promiscuity, the pornographic sex education in schools; the forced elimination of prayer in school – if the Church were to stand up courageously and not cringe in political corners, then would there be change, but not until. What about you, friend: Do you leave your Christian faith at the door of the voting precinct? Do you prefer to remain silent in caving to public pressure to hide your faith always? If told to remove your lapel cross, do you brazenly remove the symbol of the One who died for you? Do you believe that changing times have changed the Sower’s Seed? Really? Is truth relative, or is truth ALWAYS truth? Wake up church, and smell the poison in the cup of the world that you have preferred to that of the Cup from which our Lord drank….NOW!
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:
Visions and Revelations
Psalm 71, Isaiah 50:4-10, 2 Corinthians 12:1-12
February 23, 2014
Reading the Old and New Testament books we often read of people having visions and revelations, and we naturally wonder if we should be having such experiences too. Today we have a great opportunity to look at the Bible’s teaching on this subject through our reading in 2 Corinthians 12. Here Paul is talking about visions and revelations because the validity of his Apostleship and Gospel has been called into question by people who have infiltrated the various congregations of the Church in Corinth. The infiltrators fell into two basic schools of thought. First were those who said Christians must become Jews, and keep the ceremonial laws in order to be saved. They were called Judaizers. Second, and far more numerous in Corinth, were those who wanted to mix Christianity with Greek philosophies and religions. These people claimed God had given them special knowledge through visions and revelations, often through speaking in tongues. Therefore, their knowledge of God and His ways were far, far superior to that of the poor and ignorant man from Tarsus. Paul was so ignorant, they claimed, that his teachings were erroneous and his apostleship was phony. To prove this they would work themselves into a fever of mind, passing out on the floor or “speaking in tongues,” during which times they claimed to be under the direct control of the Holy Spirit and receiving visions and revelations directly from God. It is clearly inferred from this that Paul did not have such experiences, therefore, his Gospel is not from God and he is not a true Apostle of Jesus Christ.
I want to talk about the rarity of visions and revelations for a moment. As I said a moment ago, it appears Paul did not have such experiences in the presence of the Corinthians. In fact, looking over Paul’s life we see very few recordings of visions and revelations. He did have a vision while at Corinth on his second missionary journey. It did not come through a trance, being “slain in the Spirit,” or speaking in tongues. It was not even a public experience. God simply assured him in a dream that “I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:19). Including this one, five visions or revelations of Paul are recorded in Acts. Paul was converted around 30 A.D. He died in Rome in 68 A.D. During those 38 or so years he had five visions. That’s not a lot if visions and revelations are supposed to be the normal experience for Christians.
Now let’s look at a particularly telling statement by Paul. It is found in 2 Corinthians 12:2; “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago.” The man is Paul. He is speaking of himself in the third person, which was and is a common literary device, and he is relating the account of a vision and revelation he had. In a sense he is refuting the false apostles, who claimed to have direct visions and revelations from God. He is saying, “I’ll tell you about a vision. I was caught up to the Third Heaven, maybe even out of my body, into the immediate presence of God. There I saw things that are too complex and wonderful to describe. I saw things so wonderful and complex I am not even allowed to talk about them because no human being, including me, can understand them.” That tops the visions of the false apostles. They shake and stutter, but Paul is taken into the presence of God.
Paul’s point is that his visions are superior, so his Apostolic credentials are superior. But the point I want to make is the time of this vision. It was “above fourteen years ago.” Second Corinthians was written about 57 A.D., so this vision happened about 43 A.D. or earlier. It is significant because Paul does not say he had this revelation this morning and that vision yesterday, and another vision on the day before. He does not say he has visions and revelations all the time. He points to one several years ago. Yes it was an important one, but why didn’t he say he has them all the time? Because he didn’t. Even Paul did not have visions and revelations frequently. They were so rare they merited being recorded in the book of Acts. They were rare and noteworthy events, even in the lives of the Apostles.
Something else needs to be said here; visions and revelations were more frequent in the first years after Pentecost than they were in later years. Why? The New Testament was being completed, and took their place. Once the faith given to the Apostles was delivered to the Church in Scripture, the need for visions and revelations ended. Instead of giving the faith, clergy were called to teach and explain the faith once given. This is a terribly important distinction. The minister does not give new revelation, he teaches and explains the revelation we already have.
This has an important and practical application to us today. It means God speaks to us through the Bible, not visions and revelations. Do not expect God to do signs and wonders for you in order to show you what to do. Don’t be like Doug. Doug was a graduating seminary student who was trying to decide whether God wanted him to accept a call to a certain church. One day in chapel it looked like the sky was trying to decide whether to rain or let the sun shine, and Doug got a brilliant idea. He made a deal with God. He asked God for a sign and said if it rains it is a sign that God doesn’t want him to take the call. If the sun continues it is a sign that God does want him to accept it. Latter he told one of his professors about his agreement and the result. His professor said something like, “If you’re going to ask for a sign, ask for a good one. Ask God to make the rain fall up, or the sun move backward. Then you will know it’s a sign not a coincidence. But Christians don’t depend of signs. Christians look into the Bible and see what it says about ministers and churches and serving God together. Search the Scriptures with this church, and make your decision based on Scripture, not weather.
That advice still holds true. Many Christians are looking for signs and visions and revelations, but they ought to be looking into the Bible. Many Christians are looking for experiences to prove God is real and their faith is true, but they ought to be looking into the Bible. Many are looking for feelings to lead them to God and confirm their faith, but they ought to be looking into the Bible. Many people think their relationship with God is based on feelings and religious experiences and signs and visions and revelations, but they ought to be basing it on the Bible. And, just for a reminder, our relationship with Christ is not accomplished through visions, revelations, feelings, or experiences. Our relationship with Christ is accomplished through our old friends, the means of grace. Prayer, the Church, public worship, baptism, Holy Communion, faith, and the reading, hearing, and preaching of Scripture, these are the means of our relationship with Christ. One of the worst of all heresies is a practical, rather than theological error. It is the error that attempts to turn following Christ into an experience rather than faith. It is the error that says the Bible and the means of grace are not enough for me. I have to feel it to believe it. It have to feel it to continue to believe and to know Christ is with me. But God didn’t tell Paul he would have a feeling or experiences. He told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” Let it be sufficient for you.
Bishop, Anglican Orthodox Church Diocese of Virginia
Rector, Holy Trinity Anglican Orthodox Church
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.
When one considers the Parable of the Sower as found in St. Luke 8:4-15 (also see St. Matthew 13:3-9,18-23), one cannot help but see four types of people described therein. Only one type is fruitful while the others are not. And being fruitful is what a true follower of Christ will be in his service. In our examination of the particulars of this parable let us, first of all, consider the sower himself. That person is our Lord Jesus Christ through his initiation of the gospel. He gave such to the disciples who in turn communicated it to others. Those who received it, in turn, preached and taught the gospel of truth unto this day under the rubric of the Great Commission. The seed is the word of God. As the sower sows the seed it falls into different ground which are the hearts of men.
In the first instance, the seed fell by the wayside and was quickly taken away by the fowls. As our Lord explained, the hearts of the people by the wayside are those who hear the word of God and do not understand it. At that moment, the devil comes and takes away the word of God from their hearts so that they will not believe and be saved. As St. Paul said in I Corinthians 2:14, But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. And so, apart from the influence of the Holy Ghost, no person possesses the capacity to fully comprehend the meaning of God’s word written. Thus, those by the wayside encompass the atheist, the agnostic and the inconsiderate of God.
The seed sown in the stony places refers to those who at first receive the word, but did not continue in it. They may have initially joined a church after having been exposed to the gospel; nevertheless, when persecutions, and tribulations appear, they will depart because they are not firmly rooted in the faith. Sadly, many Christians fall under this description. They are “so-to-speak Christians,” “convenient Christians,” or “Christians-in-name-only.” They like the world, and are ashamed of the gospel when it conflicts with their secular positions. They bear no fruit because they have no grounding in the word. And without that firm foundation in the truth of God’s word written, they are swept away by every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and the cunning craftiness of our adversary the devil (Ephesians 4:14).
The third type of soil into which the seed of the word is sown is thorny ground. While the word is received in the hearts of such persons, and may even grow for a time; nevertheless, on account of the weeds and thorns which surround them, they are incapable of bearing fruit. Our Lord spoke of such persons as being consumed with the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches which choke the word... They languish in their tepid faith never producing any fruit. St. Paul warned the Philippian church (3:18-19) about such persons when he wrote, For many walk of whom I have told you often and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. And our Lord said in St. Matthew 6:24, Ye cannot serve God and mammon. St. Paul noted in first epistle to St. Timothy (6:9-10) that, ...they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. The weeds and thorns do not yield any edible product; but they deprive the wheat plants near them of the nutrients they might use to be productive. They are like the scribes and Pharisees of our Lord’s day who, shut up the kingdom of heaven against men... neither go [they in and] neither [do they] suffer... them that are entering to go in (St. Matthew 23:13). They are thus obstructionists. They divert the would-be Christian from his duties via those things that will sap his strength and hinder his understanding of God’s word.
The fourth and final type of soil into which the gospel of truth is sown is that good ground wherein the word of God is received and then bears fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. These are the folks who heareth the word and understandeth it. Per our Lord’s explanation of this parable, we have confirmation of the message: many are called but few are chosen (St. Matthew 20:16). Let that sink in for a moment. Only a fourth of the ground seeded was considered sufficient to bear fruit. So only those who receive the word of God, and possess a heart committed to God, can do the works of God. Charles H. Spurgeon once noted that, “If your life is unholy your heart is unchanged, and if your heart is unchanged you are an unsaved person. If the Saviour has not sanctified you, renewed you, given you a hatred of sin and a love of holiness, he has done nothing in you of a saving character. The grace which does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves his people, not in their sins, but from their sins.”
Bearing fruit is then the mark of distinction between the good ground of a heart for God and that of the poor ground where he is denied, doubted or disregarded. And bearing fruit is our reasonable service to Christ. The cliche of “What would Jesus do?” is a common tee shirt slogan of our day amongst many Christians. But such ought to be replaced with a more appropriate biblical slogan: “What should we be doing on behalf of Jesus?” Asking what our Lord would do in any current situation does not properly put the focus on what we ought to be doing in his service. Our Lord has already finished his great work of salvation, now it is our time to labor. The question should be directed to those who are expected to work. The only thing remaining for him to complete is the day of redemption for the regenerate and the day of judgment for the unregenerate. There is an old hymn written by Anna Coghill in 1860 entitled Work of the Night is Coming which sums up our duty as fruitful Christians:
Work for the night is coming,
work through the morning hours,
work while the dew is sparkling,
work mid springing flowers;
work while the day grows brighter,
under the glowing sun;
work for the night is coming,
when man’s work is done.
Work for the night is coming,
work through the sunny noon;
fill brightest hours with labor,
rest comes sure and soon;
give every flying minute
something to keep in store,
work for the night is coming,
when man works no more.
Work for the night is coming,
under the sunset skies;
while their bright tints are glowing,
work for daylight flies;
work till the last beam fadeth,
fadeth to shine no more;
work while the night is darkening,
when man’s work is o’er.
So let us then prove our worth by bearing fruit in our Lord’s service; for in so doing, we establish firmly the reality of our salvation in his saving blood. The Godhead has sown the seed of his word into our hearts, so let us then go forth and witness to others through our lives lived in his service, as well as through our words spoken on his behalf to others.
Let us pray,
gracious God, who hast given us thy gift of faith; make of us workers who need not be ashamed to stand in your presence at the last and give an account of our lives in service to thee; for this we ask in the name of him who sowed the seed of thy word into our hearts, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Have a blessed week, Bryan+
What is Sexagesima?
Sexagesima, or, in full, Sexagesima Sunday, is the name for the second Sunday before Ash Wednesday in the Catholic (Universal or Whole) Church Calendar.
The name "Sexagesima" is derived from the Latin sexagesimus, meaning "sixtieth," and appears to be a back-formation of Quinquagesima, the term formerly used to denote the last Sunday before Lent (the latter name alluding to the fact that there are fifty days between that Sunday and Easter, if one counts both days themselves in the total). Through the same process, the Sunday before Sexagesima Sunday is known as Septuagesima Sunday, and marks the start of the Pre-Lenten Season, which eventually became the time for carnival celebrations throughout Europe, this custom being later exported to places settled and/or colonized by Europeans. While Quinquagesima (50th day) is mathematically correct (allowing for the inclusive counting), Sexagesima and Septuagesima are only approximations (the exact number of days is 57 and 64 respectively). The earliest Sexagesima can occur is January 25 and the latest is February 28 (or February 29 in a leap year).
The 17-day period beginning on Septuagesima Sunday spanning Sexuagesima and Quinquagesima Sundays was intended to be observed as a preparation for the season of Lent, which is itself a period of spiritual preparation (for Easter). In many countries, however, Septuagesima Sunday marks the start of the carnival season, culminating on Shrove Tuesday, more commonly known as Mardi Gras.
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