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Sunday, January 18, 2015
Second Sunday after the Epiphany
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Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold - Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon ties together the propers, that is to say the prayer and readings for this week. Consider these words from the Collect:
… hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace …
In the Collect, we are asking God to listen to us and give us His peace in our hearts. God is perfect. His hearing is perfect. It is not His hearing that is in need of help. He hears us clearly when we pray, God always hears us when we call Him. This Collect is really to remind us that when we pray to Him, we need to listen to Him. Too often we ask Him what to do, when He tells us what He wants us to do, it is not what we want, so we don’t hear. After all, there are none so deaf as those who will not hear. So, the question is not, Does God hear our supplication? Rather the question is, Do we hear His answer and abide by it? Do we listen when His answer is not what we want but what we need? We think that he doesn’t answer, but that is often because we are deaf to His answer through our own condition of being poor, sinful creatures that need His forgiveness desperately. What we really need to do is stop our wanting thoughts and to listen to what we need, His Guidance. We need His Guidance to stop the evilness that lies within ourselves and to control it, to mitigate it, so that we can do good things for Him. Without His Guidance, we cannot ever hope to be good and righteous. To do that, we must open our hearts and minds; and let Him in. He will not force His way in. It takes action on our part to let Him in. If we open our hearts and minds, then we will hear Him. Will we let him in to our hearts for this to happen? It has to start with us letting Him in, and then we will hear His answer loud and clear.
We all have some talent; each has something they do better than others. Paul reminds us for the church, on any organization for that matter, to succeed, we must do what needs to be done, working hard, honestly, cheerfully, looking for no public praise, being kind to all. Everybody needs to utilize their talents according to the needs of the church, not to somebody elses talents, but their talents. Everybody has a talent of some sort, be it musically, talking (being good with communication). Almost anything else that can be used for His Glory is a talent. Sometimes, we fail to remember that for the team to be successful, each person needs to do the job they do best to the best of their ability; not necessarily the one they like best the way they want to do it at the pace they enjoy. It is not good enough to just say you are doing your best when you are actually doing your half, quarter or not at all best, but full “best” ahead as it were! The reward of a job well done in and of itself should be sufficient. And knowing you did your best is what really counts, not just getting recognition from others, but the satisfaction in your heart of knowing that with God’s Help you accomplished a large task, is one of the best feelings in the world. It does not matter to God who gets the credit, what matters to Him is that we get the job done and to do it right! We should not be giving of ourselves to God, so that we can get praise and recognition. That is not giving; it is selling. And that would not be truly giving from the heart as is God’s desire. That would be using the talents He has loaned to us for our own wants and ends, which would not be becoming of the Christians we are called to be, the New Men we are called to be. If we get praise and recognition as a result of our actions, then it is fine, as long as we keep in mind why we performed our actions and who helped us.
At the same time, though we should not look for praise for our own work (though we may appreciate it, we should not dwell on it too long, lest we get swollen heads!), we should look for reasons to praise and encourage others. We need to recognize hard work, sacrifice, thoughtfulness and talent in others, remark on it and praise the use thereof! That which is rewarded most is that which grows best. Reward the good, so that we may reap the goodness of our works!
Even God Himself, looking on His Son’s baptism remarked for all to hear, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
How oft do we praise the actions of others? To often we are quick to criticize the failings of others and over analyze their failings. Sometimes when we think of people we know, all we can think of is their failings and forget that a lot of people have their good parts as well, from God. It is in our nature, part of our human nature, our free will condition that we must fight against with His help. We must understand that while it is valuable to know when we fall short, people strive the most for praise of those whose opinion they value.
When you hear those words, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” remember to use them yourself. Lead others to God, don’t point the way.
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