Verse of the Day

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Quinquagesima, or the Sunday next before before Lent

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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. 

Consider these words from the Collect:

… that all our doings without charity are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity …

In the Collect, we acknowledge to God that if we have not charity, nothing we do is worth anything; we then ask Him to send the Holy Ghost into our hearts with the precious gift of charity.  Webster tells us that Charity is love; universal benevolence; good will; the word which properly denotes love. What it really means is Love in Action! Like many areas of our Christian development, we will never fully get there. But if we never put Love into action we will never even get close to getting there. The key word is in action. Meaning we just can’t think about loving people, we actually have to go out and do actions showing that we really do love them, not just say it. This is a common theme with all of the principles of Christian living. In order to make progress, we have to continually put these principles, namely charity or love, into practice each and every day. We may not do it perfectly, but we shall make progress so long as we do not give up! As Winston Churchhill once said “Never, never, never, never EVER GIVE UP”.  So should we never give up in our Christian development. We may stumble and fall at times, but if we get up and keep going and return to our Lord, then all will be well in time.[1]  It might be slow going, but as long as the progress is constant, then that is all that matters. Properly understood charity is the Love of God, that perfect love, to which man should aspire. Charity is not giving oodles of money away to an organization, hoping to make yourself look better, like many modern “philanthropists.” 

Charity is the purest form of love there is, with no self-seeking motivations, just the goodness of God in it; this is the love that God gives to us to give to others. This is the strength of the Christian faith. This is what powered Jesus to sacrifice Himself one time for all time for us pitiful sinners, that we might have eternal life. He loved us, He had that purest form of love and used it each and every day in His Earthly Ministry and even after He departed this Earth, by sending the Holy Ghost down to give his comfort and guidance. As the collect points out it is the very bond of peace and of all virtues. In other words, love is the bond that holds peace and is behind all virtious qualities that can be found in people though the help of the Holy Ghost. Love is one of the prime driving forces of the Christian Faith, through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, that causes God’s cause to be advanced here on earth. It is a purely unselfish emotion, in its purest form it is an emotion that does not cause evil or bad things to happen, but to cause wonderful and good things to happen. It stems forth from God the Father, spreads through Jesus and the Holy Ghost and when we open our hearts to it, we can do some really amazing things,

It is to help people with the love in your heart that Christ and God has given us, to enable us to act on His behalf here on this Earth. Love is not selfish or wasteful, but kind and abundant. We are to be agents of good change, not that of bad; with Charity, we will act with love towards one another.  If we do not have love in our hearts towards one another, how can we expect to be able to effect positive change on the world around us?

In connection with the Collect, the Collect talks about one who is brought before God without love in his heart is a dead person. Paul makes this very point in his Epistle, saying that no matter what talents we have, without the Love of God in our hearts, it is all for naught. We cannot do anything for God without that Love in our hearts. We must have the Love in us, brought to us by the Holy Spirit in order to be effective in our ministerial efforts. He is the reason we are here in this life and He is the one we must act for.   It must be clear to us that our understanding here on earth is limited, while here we will never see the fullness of God’s Plan, yet the part most clear is the love we are to have one for another, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, for no reason other than we know that is right so to do.  It does not matter to us we will never see the fullness of His Plan, each of us are a small piece of a much bigger plan. And all of us small pieces work together to fulfill the bigger plan. We only need to find our part in the plan and act upon that, again with Charity in our hearts. Charity is vital to our Christian life. We need to have it within us to perform good works for Our Lord.  For if we do not have true love or Charity within our hearts, we cannot act for God. 

Having Love in our hearts is a must if we are to perform actions for Him here on this world. In order to have love in our hearts, we must be open to the Holy Spirit. Only then can we truly receive His Love to spread around. And do not fret, there is an unlimited supply of love for everyone. When Paul talks about God’s great plans, he uses the phraseology “through a glass, darkly”, which is very interesting inasmuch as CS Lewis uses a variation to describe earth as compared to heaven.  He calls the earth The Shadowlands and says in heaven all is clear and bright, not dark and muddled as here on earth.  So, here our understanding is limited, it will not always be so. That will be fulfilled when we pass the Pearly Gates into heaven, and in order to do that, we have to have faith, and have good works acted upon with charity. If one of these ingredients are missing, we are not acting according to what He wants for us. So, we have to believe with all our heart in God and Christ, and act upon that belief with great Charity.

As they were coming in to Jericho, Jesus told the disciples of what was to come, yet they could not grasp their leader would submit to such treatment on their behalf.  He was the Conqueror; in a sense they were right, He came to conquer death for us, not the Roman Empire. He had the Love of God with Him and He loved us so much that he would die a painful method of execution and go into Satan’s realm in order to free us from the terrible wages of sin, that of death. As they went along, they encountered the blind man who was, like many of us are, blind. His blindness was of the eye, not the heart, he knew the power of God, and of love. The blind man who wanted his sight and knew Jesus had The Power.  He cried unto the Lord and was rebuffed by His People. This is the key and it applies to us as well. Did he give up?  No, he cried the more.  As we should not let others discourage us from following the Lord, indeed we should increase our prayers and serving fervently.  Knowing what we want, we should not let others in this life rebuff us and hinder us from following Him. This is one of many lessons we can take from the blind man.

When Jesus heard him, he turned and asked what the man wanted.  MY SIGHT! No generalizations, no beating about. The blind man asked of Him what he truly wanted.  Ask and it shall be given unto you.  He lacked sight, not vision.  Nor, it might be added did he lack faith. We should ask God to have to sight and hearing that we might see, hear and act upon the Word. To some, the faith he had might seem a blind faith, but it was one he acted on and gained what he lacked.  Will we have the faith to act?

True love is Faith, Hope, Charity[2].

There is but one way to heaven.

That easy to find, easy to follow, easy to hike path does not lead to the summit where eternal life in the real world awaits. Open your heart to the Holy Ghost, use His Power to follow our Lord to God who awaits in heaven.

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

[1]To quote Winston Churchill, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”  (29 October 1941)
[2]The three Gloster Gladiator fighters FaithHopeand Charitydefended Malta against the Italian Air Force during the early part of the siege of Malta in World War II.  Legend has it all three persisted and of the three, Charitynever failed.

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