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Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.
The Third Sunday in Advent
Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen
The First Sunday in Advent
LMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.
¶ This Collect is to be repeated every day, after the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Day.
In the Collect for the Third Sunday in Advent, we are referred to as the ministers and stewards (caretakers) of the mysteries of God: the Scriptures and His Word. We ask for help in getting the hearts of the disobedient, by the wisdom of the just, to turn and look to the Kingdom of God for answers and not this world. In view of the recent events, how timely can this prayer be? When we look to the world for solutions, we find the solutions of this world. This world, ruled by the Prince of this world, the Prince of Air, the devil himself! But, what will people think when we reject worldly solutions to worldly problems. There is an answer for that, conveniently following the Collect.
In the Epistle, Paul says that we must not fear of what others would think of us, but rather be concerned about what God would think of what we are doing and what direction He wants us to go in. Rather than fear man, we must switch to fearing God, and doing what He wants. Then perhaps maybe, some in this world will see what we are doing for Him and come to know Him and join Him. We will never get anywhere if we follow the ways of this world. As in John 1:11-13 “He came unto His own and His Own received him not. But as many as received Him, to them he gave the 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 the will of man, but of God.”
If we are born of God, then it is He to whom we must return and not man. As the verse from John points out, even Jesus came to us and we refused him, so how can we expect any better treatment from man, than of God Himself, who came down for us? But the next part of the verse, tells us what we will get if we join with him. He gave us the power to become the Sons of God, as we are His adopted children. He is giving us our eternal inheritance, if we will but follow Him. We are going to get an absolutely wonderful reward, if we do our very best to follow Him. The treatment we receive in this world will pale in comparison to the treatment God will give us in the next world if we but do our very best to follow Him. He has given us the power to become the Sons of God, we are God’s adopted children. This is a power greater than any in this world not of God’s Hands. This is a power which cannot be taken away from us, as we are tightly in God’s Hand. The enemy cannot pluck us out of God’s grasp, once we have willingly joined ourselves to God through the help of the Holy Ghost. We need the unifying spirit of the Holy Ghost to help us understand the concepts of Scripture and not only to understand them, but to follow them. With the help of the Holy Ghost, we can understand what we are to do and more than that, we will be able to apply the concepts we learn from Scripture in our every day lives.
In the Gospel, Christ asks the crowd of what they expected to see? Some great big flashy sign He was going to overthrow the Romans and unite the Jews to conquer the world? No, He did not come to do this, for that would be only a temporary and in fact temporal thing to rule the world. He came for far more than that; to prepare our hearts for eternity and change us from unjust to just creatures, worthy of God’s creation and His Hands. He came to mould and to shape us from being roughly made to something very valuable. He came to transform us from death to being truly alive in all of the senses of the word.
To be worthy of the charge and care of His mysteries, we must willing to listen to Him and do whatever we need to do to line ourselves up with what He wants for us, not what we want for ourselves. We must think of others, instead of thinking of ourselves all the time. I must confess that I am guilty of this, but I am always working on trying to reverse this, as we must, in order to walk with Him. We must be willing to never give up and persevere; if we follow this, we will keep getting better and better all the time.
Life is a continual process of learning in every aspect of our lives, not least of these aspects is our spiritual growth and development. The Japanese have a word for this, introduced into their industry by the American engineer W. Edwards Deming, Kaizen (改善) that is to say continuous improvement. Never perfect, but always endeavoring to improve. Day by day. Our goal is to make the next day better than the last. This is how we must continually develop as Christians.
To care for the mysteries of God properly, we must keep learning in our spiritual lives and if we do this, we will keep growing more and more every day. Reading the Scriptures is one way to further our spiritual development, as well as helping others without thought for ourselves. We must keep doing a combination of these and similar things, if we expect to be able to facilitate our spiritual growth and change the minds of the disobedient and the unjust. We have to undergo our spiritual rebirth before we can help to transform others and to serve others. We need to have the mental state that only the Holy Ghost can give us, to do this. We must keep trying our best to improve and learn from the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit and to trust in God and dread naught.
As He came to change us for the better, Paul and the Collect remind us to do the same for the others. We have to keep trying to help our friends and family and to do our best to do so, while shining the light of Christ as His ambassadors. We know not what seeds we plant when we perform such actions and in a future time they may bear fruit. We must not try and rush the work of the Holy Spirit, who works on God’s time and not that of our own time. All good things will happen in due course. If we do our part by planting the seed, the Holy Ghost will nurture and develop this seed to bear fruit. We must put our hearts and minds together and think about what God wants us to do in the end rather than what we want to do. Put God first and all will be well, is what can be taken from today’s collects and lessons, ultimately. We must be willing do to this, then we can be properly caring for the mysteries of God.
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