Verse of the Day

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Eve - Christmas Day

Read more about this scene HERE.
Christmas Eve

While this is an AOC publication, we are often asked as the Western Most Parish, how goes it in the far reaches of the unknown West?  So, occasionally we put in some local color! 

As the song goes, Oh the weather outside is frightful, But the fire is so delightful, And since we've no place to go, Let it snow! Let it snow!  Actually, while we have had snow this year already, there was none for today not likelihood of any tomorrow!  The Outside Air Temperature was a lovely 71°F and clear today and 47°F at Mount Olympus’ 3,500’msl altitude, as we ended our service, so no snow.  We are thankful for the coming of our Lord and the freedom we have.  The weather was bright and sunny, as were the dispositions of the three people attending the service were!

By the way, each year we have a rosemary bush Christmas “tree” that we plant afterwards.  No shortage ever of that seasoning here, or bay leaf for matter!

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 some great ones to share.  On to the On Point quotes –

Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property. When government-- in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost comes in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.
Milton Friedman

When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion- When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing- when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors- when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you- when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice- you may know that your society is doomed.
Ayn Rand
Atheist, but correct on economics
Atlas Shrugged

“I suppose there are two views about everything,” said Mark.

“Eh? Two views? There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there’s never more than one.”
Jack Lewis
That Hideous Strength

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. 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 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. 

We used the propers for the first service of Christmas Day for our Christmas Eve service which are found on Page 96-98, with the Collect first:

The Collect.

 GOD, who makest us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of thine only Son Jesus Christ; Grant that as we joyfully receive him for our Redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold him when he shall come to be our Judge, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle, which came from Paul’s letter to Titus beginning in the Eleventh Verse of the Second Chapter.  Paul tells Titus that it is only God’s grace that gives us salvation.  If we are going to accept that grace, we need to live the life to which God has called us. Regardless of cost, we need to live the life God has purchased for us.  

We need to trust in God and in this world live cleanly, conservatively, thoughtfully, looking towards God for our salvation.  We need to encourage and exhort other Christians to do likewise.  

To live in harmony with others.

To be, to the extent we are able, paragons of virtue.  Serving as good examples, not bad.  Paul tells Titus to do what is right, trust is God and worry not.  Quoting a later author, “Trust in God and Dread Naught.”

HE grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

Tonight’s Gospel is the narrative of the Nativity from the Gospel according to Saint Luke, the Second Chapter, beginning at the First Verse. 

ND it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into  Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Sermon - Rev Hap Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly  contained in the forewords above.  

As I was readying tonight’s sermon, the thought came to me, surely not original at all, that as we begin our celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, consider Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, was sent by His Father, God the Father, the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth, into this world that we might have life eternal. While it is an amazing thing that God would send His only begotten Son, His Christ, here to this miserable planet for our redemption, is even more amazing and worthy of awe that Jesus came to this world knowing how He would leave.  He knew he would be born in a manger and die on a cross; a horrible horrible death that we might have eternal life.   As we go through Christmas and we remember the joy, remember Jesus, the Christ of God, came into this world with full knowledge aforethought as to how He would leave and yet He came that we might live.

Tonight we remember and celebrate the coming of our Lord, the first time; we look to the coming of our Lord, the second time.  The Jews were looking to God to send the Messiah, the one who they determined would free them from the brutal yoke of the Romans and put them on top again.  They looked to being the veritable Top Dogs.  They wanted a Champion to lead them to victory over the Romans, throwing the Roman yoke off Israel.  What God sent was a baby.  Well, The Baby, but nonetheless a baby.  Shepherds came to worship Him, but Herod was looking to kill Him.  No good in having a Champion putting Herod out of the well paying petty quisling dictator job.

What God sent the Jews was His only begotten Son.  In point of fact, He sent Him to the Jews first, but not only.  The “Wise Men” showed up to worship Him and regardless of who they might have been, they certainly were not Jews.  This Son was to free the Jews from the Prince of Darkness and the finality of death.  That really did not fit the Jews’ plan.[1]  They were still looking for Expulsor, he who would toss the Romans out on their heads.

“Grant that as we joyfully receive him for our Redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold him when he shall come to be our Judge[2].”, With sure confidence, if we receive him now as our Redeemer, we shall be filled with sure confidence of being received by Him when we are standing before his Judgement seat. If we do not joyfully receive him now, how can we expect him to be joyfully receiving us when we come to meet him.

In joyous rememberence of His Birth, we must keep in mind the end goal of his arrival here on Earth, which was to free us from the bondage of sin and death, by giving his life so that we might be free of this terrible oppression. We must Rejoice always and again I say Rejoice, in the fact that we are free from the wages of sin, by the fact that He gave his life for us, and was born that He might save us from a final death.

The key word is joyfully, meaning we must of our own free will receive Him into our hearts, and feel the joyousness of His Birth, for this holiday of His Birth is a happy time, to not only feel the joy of his physical arrival, but of what He came to do for us, that we might be free for all eternity. He shall be our confidence and our spiritual dwelling place, rather than place our hope in men, who shall always fall short, but God shall never lead us astray or fall short of our hopes and expectations, unlike Men.

Remembering His Birth each year, we must consider what the cost was for our freedom from death, which soon after he ascended to be with Our Father.  

Some guy coming to save their souls, without the need for slaughtering the profitable sacrificial animals did not really fit their plan.  They had The Law, what more did they need?

The Jews concentrated on their wants and ignored their needs.  Need, Want – both four letter words, oft used interchangeably.  Sadly, they don’t mean the same thing.

So, that is where the Jews were on Christmas Eve; Christmas Day for that matter?  God intended to fulfill their needs, they looked to have their wants fulfilled.

How about us on this Christmas Eve; or Christmas Day for that matter?  Are we looking for someone to make us rich, thin or cool?  Or are we looking for someone who will save our souls?  Do what God asks, you will not only gain eternal life, but eternal happiness and as a plus you will be happy.  You may think you can have more fun, but He guarantees you will be happy.

As we come upon this midnight clear, the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ waits for us.  Will we accept it?  Follow Him, accept His Grace and all will be good forever.

He comes!

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Christmas Day

The weather for the Christmas Day service was very nice, 54°F, the blues skies of a Santa Ana (not a Santa Claus) and a lot of wind.  The lovely weather brought 3 people to worship the Lord on the day of his birth.

The propers for today are found on Page 96-98, with the Collect first:

The Nativity of our Lord, or the Birthday of Christ,
commonly called Christmas Day.
[December 25.]
The Collect.

LMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end.  Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said daily throughout the Octave.

The Epistle for Christmas Day came from the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, the First Chapter, beginning at the First Verse: 

od, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who  being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

The Gospel for Christmas Day came from the Gospel according to Saint John, the First Chapter, beginning at the First Verse.  This particular Gospel is known as the Last Gospel as it comes from the last Gospel to be written, that of St. John, and it brings the final Word of Jesus to us.

n the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Sermon - Rev Hap Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon is the message of Christmas.  “He came unto His own and they received Him not.” Christ came unto His own, the people he created, to show them the Word which He is the living embodiment of, the Living and True Scripture. They received Neither the written Word that his Apostles wrote, nor the spoken Word from His Mouth that He spake unto them. “But as many as received Him, to them he gave the power to become the sons of God.” He has adopted us unto his family, through His Word, which he has spoken unto us, that we may fulfill it and live in harmony with others in this word.

“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” This speaks to the living incarnate nature of the Word, (Christ) who dwelt among us 2,000 years ago, that he might understand our nature more, so that He could teach us with more understanding. If He lived in our conditions, it would be easier for Him to relate to us when He taught and spake the Word of His Father.   “And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” In That Word, He spake both full of grace and of truth as John talked about in the last Gospel. Through His grace and truth that we accept, only can we do things for His Glory. Without the Word, we cannot do anything for Him, as imperfect creatures, now having been accounted and spoken for by Christ. With the Word, we are empowered to do things for Him. The birth of Christ would foreshadow his death, which would bring about the ultimate freedom, that from sin and death.

That is such an important point. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)  Not just that God, the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth, would send His only begotten Son, but that the Son came knowing not only that He, King of Kings, would be born in a manger, live a life of relative poverty, but that He would die a horrible horrible death that we might have eternal life.  He came to this miserable planet for us, to give us life eternal!  Think of that on this Christmas Day!

Today we recall the birth of our Lord and Savior, the only means by which we, imperfect creatures with free will, might be accounted as perfect before God when our day of judgment comes.  Born, not in a palace, but in a stable, He is all that we have been promised.  Taking the substance of Man, all Man and all God, He knows our temptations, He knows our failures, He knows our failings, He knows our sorrow; He also knows our happiness, our small triumphs, our hopes and our dreams.  He is the only one in this world who will never fail us in the slightest.  He gives us His example to follow.  If we will but follow Him, we will draw closer to God.  He made the world, He knows the world.  He defeated the Prince of this World, thus with His Help, so will we.  This is a day of joy, foreshadowing a day of sorrow, leading to the greatest joy of all.

Let us joyfully receive Him into our hearts and homes, that we might do what He asks and spread the Joy of His Arrival on Earth that we might prepare for His Second Coming. If we do this and what he asks, which is a common theme that stays the same throughout the Christian Year, we shall be Blessed with good things, as a result of doing what He asks. On the Christmas Day, let us Rejoice in His Coming and begin our preparations for His Second Coming

Let this be a blessed and happy Christmas.  He has come to us!

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sermon - Rev Geordie Menzies Grierson
AOC United Kingdom

He Walked Out Of Heaven
He came from splendor to be born in poverty. He left the presence of angels for the company of me. He laid down a scepter in heaven to be laid in a manger and exchanged the worship of Arch-angels for the praise of lowly shepherds.

He walked into the world with all the power of Almighty God at his bidding but He was carried out a mutilated body lowered from a cross.

He rebuked the pious but He comforted the sinner. He refused earthly Kingship although He was still a King. He loved His mother yet gave her away at the Cross. He healed the broken-hearted yet He himself died with a broken heart.

He loved the fellowship of friends yet was cast out by His kinsmen. He rebuked both sage and seer and then blessed the little children. He held an executive meeting on the Mount of Transfiguration then wept alone in the Garden of Gethsemane.

He could walk on water, but could not walk away from the tears in the eyes of the Widow from Nain. He could command the stars in their orbits but he refused to change the circumstances of His own execution. His mission was a commitment to free all menyet He was imprisoned on the testimony of one man.

He delivered many from pain but He was delivered to suffer agonizing pain. He dried the eyes of multitudes but no one dried His eyes in Gethsemane. He carried the burdens of the world but only one was brought forth to help Him bear His Cross to Calvary.

His execution was thought to be insignificant, but became the controversy of the ages. His life was extinguished in a brief second of time but then ignited to lighten the world. His short span of thirty-three years on Earth should have passed unnoted were it possible but no one life has ever had such impact on the minds of men.

His three and one-half years in the public’s eye was brief indeed but His achievements are the greatest ever recorded.

He has inspired more men conquered more hearts delivered more prisoners consoled more mourners than any figure in the history of man. He spoke of love but was murdered with hate. He shared all that he had and then on the Cross...He shared paradise with a thief. He gave the World light only to be driven into the cavern of Death. He gave mankind guidance only to be guided to Golgotha. He pointed men to the Tree of Life and they nailed Him to a tree on a hill called The Skull. He laid down a scepter in heaven to be laid in a borrowed tomb.

He walked out of heaven pure perfect and beautiful. He returned beaten mutilated and nail scarred. He fulfilled all that was written of Him and yet man did not believe Him. His coming changed the course of nations His return will be to judge the nations. His title was simple as stated on the Cross “Jesus of Nazareth • King of the Jews”; but to those who have ever known Him, He is Jesus Christ the Son of the living God.

[1] By the way, it has been said if you really want to make God laugh, tell Him your plan.  I don’t take credit for the thought, but sadly I do not know where I first heard it.
[2] From the Collect for the day.

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