Verse of the Day

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Third Sunday after Easter

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you
The entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!   

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
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. 

We are in the Easter Season which consists of Easter and the following four Sundays, until we get to Rogation Sunday.  This is a time we should work on centering our lives on the central figure in our religion, Jesus Christ. 

Consider these words from the Collect:

who showest to them that are in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness; Grant unto all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s Religion, that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same

God is a Triune God; Father, Son, Holy Ghost.  The function of the Holy Ghost is to open our souls, hearts and minds to God’s Will.  It is to help us not be so deaf as those who will not hear.  Thus, to open our “ears” to His Voice.   As is oft the case, the Collect really asks us to let the Holy Ghost in so He can change us.    Today’s Sunday Report has a quote from Jack Lewis out of Mere Christianity:

“When He said, ‘Be perfect,’ He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

It does not matter if it is hard for us to listen to the Holy Ghost, we must do it.  If we will listen to Him, God will always provide the light to show us where “We have erred, and strayed from His ways like lost sheep. Where we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. Where we have offended against His holy laws. Where we have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done[1]…”  He does this so that we might return to His Path.  He will show to us who are in error the light of His truth, the One Truth. He does not show us where we have erred for no reason, but rather that we might use His Light to return to the path that brings us to His World. Then we can shine that Light for others to see, that they might pick up their torches and bring His Light into the darkness of the world, be it the Western Civilized Word or the Eastern World. First we have to let His Light into our hearts before we can shine it to others that they may see the works of His Light. Then we shall transform the world from total darkness, to that of a total light. At least that is what we are always striving to work towards, even when evil is often thwarting our efforts to the maximum. If evil is thwarting our efforts then we all must put in 110% to stop evil and combat it across the world wherever it is. We must never, never, never, ever give up on this fight.  It is far to important to give up. No matter how discouraged we may get at times, we must never ever give up.

We must fight it wherever and whenever we run across it. We must not let the little and big evils in this life get us down or defeat us. We must rely on the guiding power of the Holy Ghost and God’s unlimited grace to save the day. I know that this week, I am counting my blessings that God gave me the grace to deal with an absolutely horrific test situation and dealing with it. His Grace can help you out of any horrific situation, but first you have to ask and accept His help, which is a universal theme in our sermons here, because it is a truth and one that Jesus preached, that is that we have to accept Him into our hearts, if we are to become truly Christians.

A couple years ago, I met a Navy SEAL in Guam, who gave an excellent sermon to the point we must be on the offense in the battle against Satan, never defense. The SEAL noted that Paul did not describe any sort of back armor whatsoever, showing us Christianity was an offense based, not defense based religion.  We must never our back towards the enemy, but rather face forward and attack. The best defense is a good offense as in every case. We must never cease our fight against Satan, for he is powerful here on earth, tricking many. We are often outnumbered in the fight.  Numbers matter not.  We must always fight with all we have every time.  We must carry on; we must storm the beaches of Hell itself, and keep on persevering in good times and in bad times.

Paul tells us that if we follow Christ’s example, we will live lives like His to the extent we can.  We will do good, be law abiding, work hard, be generous to our fellow human beings, help where we can, pray for help when we can find no physical way to help.  It may be hard to do any physical help, but if you are generous and prayerful, you can often do good even when physical help is next to impossible. Be good citizens, be good neighbors, take particular care of our Christian family.  In short, do what Christ would do as far as it is in us. Although we can never be as good or perfect as He is, we can at least do our best. Let us do our best to think in hard and trying times, what would Jesus do in our situation, and then act in a manner most like Him. In order to make the world a better place, we first have to start with our selves then work out word, applying the principles of Christ to our lives. God does not ask us to be perfect; He does ask us to do our best to try to be perfect, to follow Jesus’ lead to the extent we have it in us.  Each of us is different, some are in truth better than others.  God holds us each to the same standard, that is to do our best.  Not to be better than any other particular person, but to do our best to follow His Instructions.  Being better than someone else is of no account, what is of account is following His Instructions to the best of YOUR ability. 

Don’t think of trying to be better than your neighbor, think of being better than you are. Be better than you were yesterday, if you do this, then you will improve day by day, year by year.

In the Gospel according to Saint John, Jesus tells of His impending bodily death and resurrection.    He reminds us if we have eternal life, sorrow, even the sorrow of death is transient, for He has conquered death. Any irritations or sorrows, large ones or small ones, are in the large scheme of things (eternity that is) very small and insignificant compared to our future with Him in heaven. It is a message that we should always strive to remember, even in dark depressing times and places, that we always have this promise of eternity with Him and His Light with us, to shine in the darkest places. We have to keep this in mind throughout our travel along the straight and narrow upward path. His One Sacrifice, made One Time, for All Mankind, for All Time is that joy that no man can take from us.  But, if we want to share in that eternal life, we need to see the error of our ways in the Light of His Light and take actions to follow Him.

Often it seems much easier to take the path of least resistance, to quit our work at the first sign of effort, to goof off when “no one” is looking.  But in the end, the right thing to do is always the easiest.  The most profitable.  The one that will result in happiness.  It might seem hard, but it will not be as hard as doing the “easy” thing.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

God • Honor • Country • Family
for all eternity

As we go off on our business, please recall this quote from GK Chesterton:

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting;
it has been found difficult and not tried.”

[1] General Confession – BCP Page 6

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Second Sunday after Easter

The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
The whole AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Rev Jack is back from Okinawa, Detachment One is inactive for a bit.

Todays sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

We are in the Easter Season which consists of Easter and the following four Sundays, until we get to Rogation Sunday.  This is a time we should work on centering our lives on the central figure in our religion, Jesus Christ. 

Consider these words from the Collect:

who hast given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life; Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life

God sent Jesus to be The Christ, The Messiah, The Savior, The Lamb to be sacrificed for our sin.  He gave His earthly Life, He went down into Hell, that we might be justified before God at our accounting.  Not that we might be perfect, but that we might be accounted perfect at our judgment day.  Yet we are not made perfect. We are fallen, miserable creatures in the pattern of Adam.  Thus we need an example to follow, a pattern for our lives.  God gave us that in His Son.  Jesus leads us towards God.  But, we have a hard time following Him.  Thus, God sent us the Holy Ghost to enter in to our hearts, to make our eyes see The Way, to let our ears hear the directions to The Path that will give us eternal salvation and everlasting life.

Peter notes that throughout His Life, our Lord gave nothing but good. He was not accepting of evil, but when He was ill treated, He gave not venom, but healing in return.  We are to act to the best our abilities like the example He set forth for us. IWe have to give not gifts of evilness but gifts of mercy and kindness. It will be hard and trying, but if we accept the Holy Ghost into our hearts, we can do these things. We will never be perfect, but that does not mean that we stop trying. We just reset our compass and follow the True North of Christ. This is a process that is often repeated through out our entire lives and indeed as it should be. Through His sacrifice, we are accounted as perfect, thus we need try our best to be perfect following His Example.  Will we fail?  That is certain.  Should we thus be inclined to just give in to evil?  NEVER.  To quote Winston Churchill, “Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”[1]

Jesus gave His Life for us because we are HIS.  He made it very clear that while He was sent to the Jews, God’s chosen people, His mission was not to them only. It was to all of the people that God made. Remember, God did not only create the Jews, but He made everybody! Therefore it makes sense that God would want to save all of us not just the Jews. To say otherwise would contradict our Lord! Jesus’ mission was to all of us miserable sinners, not just the Jewish people. Recall, He told them, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one flock, and one shepherd.”  He was there not only to bring them everlasting eternal life and salvation, but to others also. 

To US. 

We are of His Flock, we are not strangers to Him nor Him to us.  If God cared enough to send His Son to give His Life to protect us from certain death, do we care enough for Him to follow His Directions? It is the least we can do, after a painful death Our Lord endured that we might be free from the wages of sin. We must do our best to follow Him and He will be well pleased with us, if we actually do our best as opposed to saying that we are doing our best.  We cannot save ourselves any more than you can hold yourself up by grasping your own body.  But, if we truly are following the Lord, our actions will be congruent with His will.

We have One Leader.  He leads One Flock.  His Way may not always seem the easiest, but in the end it is for certain eternity.  It is the best way. He is the One Way, the One Truth and the source of all that is good. He came to earth to save our lost souls.  If we listen to the clear guidance of the Holy Ghost, to each of who are “as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls,” we will gain both happiness here on earth and eternal life. Anytime we sin or fall short, we simply reboot and start a new life with God yet again. It is a simple answer to our sins, repent and do our best to “Go forth and sin no more.”

But, there is more than  just saying you believe.  You must act on those beliefs to make them real.  Things are getting tough here on earth. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5.8)  And, I might add he holds sway in a lot of public offices.  Things are going to get worse.  You will need to act for God or for that lion.

When the time comes, how will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

[1] Sir Winston Churchill, Speech, 1941, Harrow School

Sunday, April 12, 2015

First Sunday after Easter

Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion Det One Okinawa, Japan
Rev Jack is in Okinawa for another few days, thus the Detachment One designation.

The entire AOC Sunday Report
is available
Todays sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

We are in the Easter Season which consists of Easter and the following four Sundays, until we get to Rogation Sunday.  This is a time we should work on centering our lives on the central figure in our religion, Jesus Christ. 

Consider these words from the Collect:

… Son to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification; Grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve thee in pureness of living and truth …

God sent Jesus to be The Christ, The Messiah, The Savior, The Lamb to be sacrificed for our sin.  He gave His earthly Life, He went down into Hell, that we might be justified before God at our accounting.  Not that we might be perfect, but that we might be accounted perfect at our judgment day.  Yet we are not made perfect. Just because we are going to be accounted as perfect does not mean we are.  Thus we must ask Gods help that we can put away the infection, or leaven, of evil in our hearts so that we can serve the Living God here.  We must be unleavened bread or unsinful. This is truly a task that requires His Help. Without His Help, we cannot remove the hate and evil from our hearts.  We need His Help so we can move forward.

Paul continually tells us we must be reborn as a new person in God.  We must put on the New Man and put the Old Man behind us.  We must endeavor to leave our old habits behind as we strive to make new practices into habits. The only way to do this is through His Help and repetition of those new practices. We cannot follow the direction of Jesus towards God without the help of the Holy Ghost; the Trinity in actual practice.  If you believe in Jesus, you must believe in God and you can do neither without the help of the Holy Ghost. Without the Holy Ghost, we are like men who desperately need glasses to see. Without the Holy Ghost as our correcting lens, we cannot see what He wants us to see in order to act.  With the Holy Ghost, we can see what needs to be done and also act upon it.

When Jesus came to the disciples on Sunday evening, He breathed the Holy Ghost into their hearts.  He gave the disciples the power to pass His Forgiveness on to their followers.  As ministers of God, we follow the disciples, but we have not the power to forgive, except as we find in the Lords Prayer, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  We do have the ability to tell you that if you repent, that is “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life,” then God will forgive you.  Through our Lord, if you repent, He has forgiven you.

The key word here is repent!  We must “go and sin no more!” as Christ told the lady who was an adulterer. He did not tell her it was okay to do what she wanted to do, the way she wanted to do it and perhaps suggest a more flattering shade of lipstick.  No, He told her that her sins were forgiven, but she was to “go and sin no more!” We repent not only in word, but we must repent in our deeds also, so that we can truly show the world that we have faith. If we do not repent, then we do not have faith in Him. We must have faith in Him, so therefore, we must truly and earnestly repent of our sins and do our utmost best to “go and sin no more.” That is how we can truly show that we have faith. That is all that He asks, is us to actually DO our best, not just say that we are doing our best.

So what to take from all this?

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

If you get that, you have the Holy Ghost in your heart.  If you open your heart, He will breathe the breath that sends The Comforter to you. Then you shall have the knowledge to act the way He wants you to act. You will have surefire knowledge of the course that He wants you to take.

When the time comes, how will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter 2015

The complete AOC Sunday Report can be found RIGHT HERE!
Rev Jack is in Okinawa, so we think he preached the first AOC Easter sermon. 

Technically, Rev Jack Andrew could have preached an earlier Easter sermon in Fiji, but given Rev Jack and his congregation were finished with their service by 0700L, it may be the claim is true!  It was a true Sonrise service as Rev Jack's host in Okinawa had to leave on a trip, so the normally early risers were up even earlier. He is RISEN, RISEN INDEED!

And we mean that Risen in deed, that is actually!  Think that every time you say it!  Risen indeed!Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

 Consider these words from the Collect:

… thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection…

In the Collect, we acknowledge God sent His Son to be our Savior.  Think about that, the Creator, Lord and Master of the Universe sent His only Son to live amongst us and not just provide us with instruction and leadership, but to give His earthly life as a one time sacrifice for our sin that we might be accounted as perfect in out final accounting, the resurrection.  How much did God value His Son?  Consider what Paul tells us - Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Then consider How much God valued His Son and How Much He values us that He sent His Son here to teach us to guide us, to love us, and finally to give His Life for us that we might be free from the bonds of sin and death. Jesus set an example of humility and patience, both rare qualities in us, that are impossible for us to follow without God’s help, hence the Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost was sent to us that we might have understanding, comfort, strength, perseverance, courage, inspiration; all things we fall short on.  With Jesus’ sacrifice and the help of the Holy Ghost to follow Him, turning our backs on this world, we can be part of His resurrection. The resurrection itself sets a pattern that we should follow. We must first die, that is to stop our sinning, then rise again, that is to live, with humility and patience like the example Jesus set for us. We must resurrect our lives and transform them into something new. There was a reason why Easter was set in the springtime. Not only was it close to the actual time of His death and rising again, but it came at a time where the flowers bloomed anew, having been dead in winter, as Christ had been dead, and rose again, just as those flowers bloom again. This is very symbolic of His Death and Resurrection and it is no coincidence that Easter happened during this time. 

Jesus set the standard of obedience to God’s will and He expects us to follow Him.  It is a hard thing to do.  We want to be in charge, we want to do what we want!  It is hard to do what God wants.  We just plain don’t want to do what we need to do, what we must do.  It is hard!  But, do you think your path is harder than that set forth for Him as laid out in the Gospel for today? No matter who you are, the answer is never going to be yes. For no matter what bad times we go through, it is nothing compared to what He went through. And in the end, the path we must follow will still be easier than if we refuse to follow Him and try and forge our own path. We will be far happier if we follow his example and lead a righteous and steadfast life, full of grace and humility, as well as patience. 

Think about that before you do what you want to do.  Is what you want in line with what God wants?  Think about the answer.  If you let the Holy Ghost in to your heart you will know the answer, you will know what you are supposed to do.  You may not like it, but you will know it. Which is more comforting than the World’s way, which seems to go off in every which direction, and they are never certain about anything. However, we can be certain about what we know, what believe and we can translate that certainty into our actions.

Jesus knew what was coming, how much it would hurt both His Body and Soul as He went through with the crucifixion and subsequent descent in to Hell.   Yet, He also knew this was God’s Will that we might live.  If He did this for you, how can you not follow Him wherever His Will takes you? If He was willing to do that for all of us, then how can we not repay Him to the best of our ability? His Sacrifice demands that we repay Him to the best of our ability, by the sheer nature of it, his perfection being offered in place of our imperfection.

Recall Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on this day so many years ago.  Only Jesus knew of the upcoming crucifixion, every one else, including Jews, Romans and the Christians, thought he was making a triumphant entrance in to the city to take control of things and kick the Roman occupation force out. The moon was almost full, this was the year of the Messiah according to Daniel.  Jesus chose the route into the city, through the King’s Gate.  The people saw Him coming and met him at the Mount of Olives.  They expected Him to come in and proclaim His rule.  And that He did, but not in the way the people were looking for.     Those who thought of Him as Lord looked for a Kingdom of this World to be established. Sunday was a day of triumph and fulfilled the anticipation of the Jews of a day for which they had waited four centuries.  The Messiah had finally come, at the time predicted by scripture.  They were certain that He would free them from the burdensome and cruel yoke of Roman rule.  The Jews would finally be on top of the power pyramid.  They would rule the world under Him!  As the week went on, they found that was not to be.  He did not come to rule this world, but to bring us to His World. He came to give them the key to eternal salvation. This is a far more important gift than to have power temporarily and for a short time. This is more precious than any earthly jewel, riches or rainment that one can ever find here on planet Earth. He came to take them from this veil of tears to a state of perfect freedom.  They wanted someone to throw the Romans out and all God sent them was the key to eternal life.  What a disappointment!  But to us, it is not a disappointment.

It is a gift of great joy, the fact that we should be all rights dead and headed for the pit, instead headed to a kingdom of joyfulness and laughter and all pleasant things, and a world that will be far better than our pitiful shadowland here. This is indeed the most valuable of all gifts we will ever receive in our lifetime. 

By the way, the Chief Priests, who had so much invested in their 613 laws, likely searched far and wide for the crowd to convict Jesus of the crimes they found against their system.  Their system, not God’s.  Remember, there are none so blind as those who will not see.  They would not see because what was being shown to them was a new way that would interfere with their comfortable way of living.  A new way that asked of them, no demanded of them, accountability unto God for their actions.  While that crowd was no self-forming group naturally set on condemning Jesus, but a handpicked gang.  At the same time, many of those in the crowd who condemned Him the morning of Good Friday were in the crowd that welcomed Him to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  What a difference five days can make.

Make no mistake, we are that crowd.  And, like Pilate, no matter what we say, we cannot wash our hands of the responsibility.  Thus, we must separate ourselves from the crowd.  Separate, that is to make ourselves holy, set aside.

When the time comes, how will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God