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Sunday, January 31, 2016
What is Sexagesima Sunday? See the explanation at the end!
Sermon - Rev Jack 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.
Consider these words from the Collect:
…put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity …
In the Collect, we tell God we put our trust for eternal life not in our actions, but in His Power. If we do this, then we must do as He asks us. For, to make trust in His Power rational, we must follow His Direction. If we do not follow His Direction then we are surely just going be as lost as before we accepted Him into our hearts. It would be foolish to think that we could guide ourselves, when in fact we need Him to guide us. The problem is that often, at least in my case, pride gets in the way of seeing that I/we need to rely on Him for guidance. We need Him as our navigator to guide us along the rocky paths of life, so we don’t crash into the rocks of Sin and Death! We need His directions if we are to proceed upon the path to Heaven.
The Collect also goes onto explain His Power will give us defense in adversity. His Power is the only real power which can help us in times of trouble and sorrow. We may think we can get ourselves through trouble, but that is only us deceiving ourselves. We need to recognize that God has the power to help us over come adversity. All the goodness and greatness that we have within us, is not sourced from us, but from the Holy Spirit and God.
This squares with what Paul tells us, that is salvation, honor and glory come not from what we do or have done, but rather from God. Therefore, we should turn to Him for guidance and not ourselves. Following His Word is where the salvation, honor and glory come from. And that is also to whom we should give credit and not us. We haven't earned the credit; so we should give it to whom it is due, that is to God our Father. Nothing that we have done as far as anything good or significant is not from us on our own volition, but from God. He will guide us through all of our life’s trials, if we let him. Paul, who as Saul, had been a super star on his way to being the number one rabbi in the Hebrew nation. He was more learned, more vigorous in following the law, more vocal in all things. When he “saw the light” and converted, he took that same approach to Christianity. No one was more in any thing than he. He had been the worst of the worst and was the best of the best. Yet, through God, now he was keenly aware of how short he himself fell. But even more importantly, he was keenly aware of the saving perfection of Christ.
From his early days as the chief persecutor of the Church, to the main missionary of Christ’s Church, from this timeline he could tell us of the experience of the power of God first hand, using his life as an example of that. He told us these things not to glory himself, but to show the glory and honor that comes from on high, from following His Word. He wanted to highlight God’s saving power and Grace, which had helped him, and show us how it can help us as well. He wanted us, other Christians to learn from his example and to do their best to follow Him. Thus he counseled all to take comfort and pride in God, not themselves. Do your best and look towards God.
This brings us right in to the well known Parable of the Sower, which might be better referred to as the Parable of the Four Soils, for the seeds were all alike.
Like the seed sown by the sower, The Word is spread throughout the world for all to hear and act on:
· Yet, some will not even hear The Word (Hard ground);
· Others will hear, act quickly and abandon God’s help at the first sign of adversity (Stony ground);
· Still others will hear The Word, but The Word is overtaken by the “pleasures” of this world and is choked out by them. Like the line from the Bible, where your money is, that is your worldly effort, there is the evidence of your heart. The temptation of this world is great, the reward from God should be greater, but you have to look long term;
· Finally we come to those who accept and act on The Word, like the one seed planted growing into a great plant bearing its fruit, the rewards are manifold, though the effort is also great, the end reward far greater. For the seed to grow to full fruition and glory, with its manifold blessings, it must have the ground prepared, carefully tended against encroachment of the evil weeds, it must be continually watered by the life blood of those around it. There is much effort required on our part, but the ultimate reward is so much greater.
While we are on the subject, consider the issue of weeding. Is this not part of the reason for the Church, that is to say the body of believers, to exist? We often cannot pull our own weeds, but we can help others and they can help us. We cannot pull our weeds alone, but with help, we can remove them one by one. Christianity is not a religion of hermits; it is a social religion where we can help each other. This is why it is best that believers attend a Bible believing Church, where they can get valuable friendship and from that friendship, spiritual mentoring for their day to day lives.
So, think about this, we need to understand eternal life and indeed on a shorter term, happiness in our life here, comes not from our self-directed actions, but those of God and our action following His direction. If we follow our self-directed actions, we will find death and misery awaiting us. However, if we put our trust in Him and follow His commands, we will “live long and prosper” to quote Spock. Do your best and look towards God for the Light to illuminate your path. If you prepare your heart, as the farmer prepares the field, root out the forces of this world as the farmer roots out weeds, cultivate the good given by God, water your heart with His Water, your life will be manifold.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God
What is Sexagesima?
Sexagesima, or, in full, Sexagesima Sunday, is the name for the second Sunday before Ash Wednesday in the Catholic (Universal or Whole) Church Calendar.
The name "Sexagesima" is derived from the Latin sexagesimus, meaning "sixtieth," and appears to be a back-formation of Quinquagesima, the term formerly used to denote the last Sunday before Lent (the latter name alluding to the fact that there are fifty days between that Sunday and Easter, if one counts both days themselves in the total). Through the same process, the Sunday before Sexagesima Sunday is known as Septuagesima Sunday, and marks the start of the Pre-Lenten Season, which eventually became the time for carnival celebrations throughout Europe, this custom being later exported to places settled and/or colonized by Europeans. While Quinquagesima (50th day) is mathematically correct (allowing for the inclusive counting), Sexagesima and Septuagesima are only approximations (the exact number of days is 57 and 64 respectively). The earliest Sexagesima can occur is January 25 and the latest is February 28 (or February 29 in a leap year).
The 17-day period beginning on Septuagesima Sunday spanning Sexuagesima and Quinquagesima Sundays was intended to be observed as a preparation for the season of Lent, which is itself a period of spiritual preparation (for Easter). In many countries, however, Septuagesima Sunday marks the start of the carnival season, culminating on Shrove Tuesday, more commonly known as Mardi Gras.