Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction and are all tied together. Today’
s propers really put to lie the concept of the hermit Christian. When we talk about them, look how the Collect talks about the Household of God, what Bishop Cranmer styles as the Church, and how Paul speaks of the benefits of fellowship and joint prayer. If that were not enough, see how Jesus reminds us of the need for forgiveness and patience, things you only need if you interface with others.
Consider these words from the Collect:
… keep thy household the Church in continual godliness; that through thy protection it may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given to serve thee in good works, to the glory of thy Name …
In the Collect we ask the Lord to keep His household, (that would be the Church or us) in continual godliness (that is to keep Him as our leader and follow Him and the principles of Scripture), so that with His Help we can have as smooth a path as practical and serve Him in happiness. It also says that through His protection we might be free from all adversities and to do good works for Him. By being free of adversities, it means that in times of adversity that God might give us the guidance needed to soar through these adversities and do good for Him.
This is only possible if we listen to the Scriptures and apply them with the help of the Holy Ghost. Without the help of the Holy Ghost we cannot have His Protection and will not be able to keep on the straight and narrow uphill path towards heaven.
Saint Paul follows this same thought in his Epistle when he thanks the Philippians for their fellowship and talks about how they in the bond through Christ have strengthened his faith as a result which enabled him to continue doing good works for the Lord. It ties in nicely with the collect asking for God to keep the Church in continual godliness. This is how our Lord accomplishes this. By having our bonds strong in the church, He keeps us in that continual godliness. The more we love the Lord, the more it will show through in our actions and our judgment. So, let us keep loving the Lord, so our actions and judgment will align His!
Which brings us to the point of the Gospel, in which Christ tells Peter about forgiveness and how we must be ever patient with our fellow humans, and if they are repentant grant them that forgiveness, no matter how many times they might err and vex us. It doesn’t matter if we want to or not, if they are repentant then we must forgive them, regardless of how we want to do otherwise. If they are truly sorry for their sins, then God will forgive them, so must we forgive. For if we hold the evil of non-forgiveness in our hearts, it is to our own detriment. Forgiveness not only helps the person being forgiven, it helps the forgive, for if we do not forgive, then the grudge will wear us down over time and it will only hurt our souls.
Holding non-forgiveness in our hearts is as bad for us as holding a grudge against an individual. It acts like a very slow acting poison. In the long term it can turn our soul from a bright light to a dark as black soul if left unchecked. This is why Jesus consuls us to never let the sun go down on our anger. If we hold non-forgiveness against an individual that is clearly penitent, then we are not acting like a Christian, but like our old unsaved selves. So, we need to let go of our anger and be able to forgive somebody regardless if we like them or not. We should do unto others as we would like them to do to us, if the roles were reversed.
We can only forgive those sins against us, for those that are against God, only God can forgive. We cannot forgive those, it is only in God’s jurisdiction that He can forgive them. When one sins against a fellow creature, they sin against God also. When we say we forgive them, we are not forgiving them ourselves only, but informing them God has forgiven them for their sins. Remember, we can forgive them for personal trespasses against us, but through God’s power, only He can grant absolution of our sins, not us. I do not see anywhere in Scripture where Christ tells Peter humans have the power to forgive sins, as the Roman Catholics claim they have, but rather God must forgive sins, but we can tell others God has forgiven them. In the concept of priests not having special powers, this is one of those powers we do not have. We can only pronounce God’s forgiveness. We don’t have God’s power of forgiving, is God doing the actual acting of forgiveness, but it falls upon us to tell people about it.
The parable illustrates what happens to those who are forgiven, but yet turn around and do not forgive their neighbor (in this case, a debtee) for their sins and have thus abused their forgiveness from Our Lord. If we follow this person’s path, we will find ourselves in a poor spot in eternal life. Let us not be like that fellow, but let us forgive our neighbor, if he is truly sorry and willing to repent and re-start the friendship, and turning a new leaf so to speak.
If God has been so good to forgive us, why should we not inform others God can and will forgive them of any sins against Him or us for that matter? It would be truly selfish not to do so and to go against what He has commanded us to do, in spreading the Word to all nations. This is why the Gospel is called the Good News, because God has forgiven us for our sins and sent His Son to die for us, that we might have eternal life instead of eternal damnation. This is the ultimate forgiveness, accounting us as perfect, when we are anything but.
Today’s propers speak of the power of Our Lord in forgiveness and how we must remember our bond with our fellow Christians in Christ, especially in times of great sorrow or trouble and use that to strengthen us in our day to day lives. We must always remember there are others in our heavenly family who are struggling along with us. With the help of the Holy Ghost and our bond with Christ, we shall not fail.
The Collect’s prayer, Epistle and Gospel tie together, laying out, detailing and reinforcing the same message, ultimately. We have to be willing to forgive others, tell them about God’s forgiveness, and not turn around and commit the grave error of not forgiving others as God has forgiven us for our sins. We have to act more like God each day, though we are not and never will be perfect. If we try our utmost best, that is all we can do.
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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