Verse of the Day

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity

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.
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AOC Sunday Report is

The Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity
The Collect.

 God, our refuge and strength, who art the author of all godliness; Be ready we beseech thee to hear the devout prayers of thy Church; and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Consider these words from the Collect:  our refuge and strength, who art the author of all godliness; Be ready we beseech thee to hear the devout prayers of thy Church; and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain …

The Collect acknowledges God is the author of all godliness or perfection; we ask him to be ready, to hear our devout or sincere prayers.  We seem to have three problems grasping this concept contained within the collect. Our first problem always seems to be understanding God’s role in the universe and ours.  There are a large number of people who are genuinely surprised they are not, in fact, the center of the universe. With the help of the Holy Ghost, we have come to understand that we are not the center of the universe and have been called not to act like we are the center of the universe, but merely to point to the one who is, God and His Son and the Holy Spirit.  Even more so, they are dumbfounded to learn they are not perfect, only God is and can be perfect.  Thus, we need God’s help in the form of the Holy Ghost to form our hearts to the point we can actually accept God’s help.   Then, the Collect goes on to ask that God listen to us.  This is another almost universal theme in Collects which mystifies me; it seems God always listens, when He answers, we seldom listen or do what He asks.  The Collect continues on asking God to grant us those things we “faithfully” ask for, that is those things which we need, not necessarily those which we want.  Need and want, two four letter words used interchangeably which do not have the same meaning.

Which brings us to Paul’s message to the people of Philippia in which he admonishes them to follow God and not be dependent on man, as so many in this country are now. The problem he explains with many, who claim they are followers of Christ, but don’t walk the walk, is they are selfish and only think of themselves. They do not adhere to the principles that are set forth in the words of Holy Scripture.  He warns them that will only lead them onto a path of doom and destruction.  And also, he talks about how the enemies of Christ glory in our shame, but this will be their undoing in the end also.  We are not to worry, but rather lean on Our Lord, even in these times of trials and tribulations, some of which we have yet to face. We realize that our citizenship is in heaven, from which we look to Our Saviour. If we are on the side of righteousness, of the Lord, of godliness, then who are we to fear?

Nobody; save a respectful fear of Our God.

We will not bow before the forces of darkness, but rather stand tall, equipped with the armor of light, the shield of truth, and the helmet of faith. We will give those in authority the respect that they are due as tradition, but we will not be dependent upon them for our every need and whim. We are to turn to God, if we are to be dependent on anything, it must be God upon whom we are dependent, and not Man. Being dependent on man only leads to eternal death for us, but being dependent on God leads to eternal life for us. So must we put our trust in God as our Eternal Navigator, our Guide throughout the rocky path of life. Returning to him when we are lost, he will always guide us back to the straight and narrow path. He is our GPS system that will never fail, that will never steer us wrong. We just have to return to Him for guidance before we get too far down the smooth and wide path downhill. The path we are to follow is the narrow, steep and uphill path, but it will lead us to an everlasting eternal life greater than our pitiful human minds can begin to think of or imagine.

Which brings us to the point of the Gospel, in which Christ tells the Pharisees of how they are to deal with the problem of tribute to Caesar. They have no love for the Roman Government, as we have very little love for ours, I might confess at this moment in time. However, Christ reminds them to separate their hatred of the government, and do the right thing. As we must give God his due (our prayers), we must give the government their due (taxes, etc.), but this does not mean that we treat the government as demi-gods, to put it one way, like politicians often think of themselves.  But rather that, we give them what they are owed, no more and no less.  The Pharisees were trying to trick Christ to say that you must honor one or the other, when you can do both.  We should be serving God and not man; however, that does not mean that we do not have to pay our dues to the government that rules us. It is only through God’s grace that He allows government to rule over man. It is not the other way around. Man does not have the supreme authority to rule over man, but he is merely delegated that great responsibility from his Creator, God the Father. The government we have was established with recognition that it serves at His pleasure. Its Declaration of Independence and Constitution establish people have rights endued them by their Creator, not the government. It is with the authority of the people that the government serves. It must exist to serve the people and God. It is not to be a self-licking ice cream cone. Jesus told us to feed the poor people, not create laws that took money from other people to do that purpose, of which he commanded us to do.

The Collect, Epistle and Gospel tie together, laying out, detailing and reinforcing the same message, ultimately.  We have to respect the authorities that govern us, no matter how we disagree or dislike them, and conduct ourselves like Christians. However, that does not mean that we replace the rule of God with the rule of Man. Man’s laws should merely be a restatement of God’s laws, not to replace God’s laws.

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

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

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