Verse of the Day

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

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

[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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