Sunday, August 30, 2020
Twelfth Sunday after Trinity
Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction.
Consider the words of the Collect, wherein we ask God who is … more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask …
For the first time in a long time, this collect acknowledges we are continually pray to God, asking Him for what WE want. Yet, how oft do we listen to Him when He responds with what we need? If we will listen to Him and DO what He asks, He will give us more than we have need of, more than we ask for and more than we can even desire. The point of the collect is that He has unlimited resources for this and also able to forgive us for things of which are bearing on our conscience. Yet, it requires us to listen to Him, then ACT on what we are told. When we ask His forgiveness, when He gives it, we need to accept it and live it; if we live in the past, we never will benefit. We have to accept it in the present. The present is the only realm of time in which we have complete control of our actions and thoughts and can influence people around us. We cannot influence things in the past or in the future, we can only do our part in the here and now. The Line of Time stretches from the unfathomable past, back to The Beginning, all the way to the unknowable future, all the way to The End. God is in all places all the time, thus He knows The Beginning, as well as The End. But, where God’s finger touches that line lies The Present. Right now; where we live; the only place we, as humans, can live.
As we all know the past has already happened; it is unchangeable. It is set in stone. The future has not yet happened, but can only be influenced through our actions in the present. This is why worrying about the future and past is pointless. We cannot influence things that have already happen and things that are undetermined to happen, We can only influence things in the present. Which is the only place where we can act directly for Him.. We just need to remember the past for our future actions; if there was any bad we did in the past, we just need to not repeat it. We need to remember the lessons learned there and then move on. The key is moving on. If we don’t move on, we will never learn the lessons we are intended to learn. It is better for our physical and mental health if we do move on and learn what we are intended to learn. Trust in God and dread naught.
How do we learn? Luckily for us God gives us guidance to learn through the Holy Ghost, if we will but accept it. He gives us the power to act in the spirit of The Law. The Law or actually 613 little laws turned out to be in of itself a death sentence. The Jews could not, or would not, comply with the 613 Mosaic Laws, which brought them death. The Law brought Death, but the New Testament of Jesus Christ brought to us Life, true everlasting life.
Too many Jews only cared about not violating the Law, not about the spirit of the Law which was intended. Following the letter of the Law does not save an individual, following the spirit of the Law is what counts. If you follow the spirit of the Law, you are following what the Law was meant for. Jesus is the ultimate embodiment of the Law. As the embodiment of the Law, He gave us the important bits of the law, when He gave us the Summary of The Law, which through Him would bring life, everlasting life and happiness here on earth:
HOU shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
Only two laws to comply with, which though simpler, are harder:
1. Love God
2. Love your neighbor like yourself
There is no getting around these two moral laws; no loopholes in these two laws, they are very plain and very clear. If you follow those two laws, there is not much other guidance. The Ten Commandments themselves spring from these two laws as a moral base. Loving God and loving your neighbor like yourself will greatly improve your life and others around if you consistently follow it. The Summary of the Law is the spirit of the New Testament, which is we are to love God and love our neighbors. These are both things seemingly contrary to our sinful nature, but with the help of the Holy Ghost, they can be overcome. And they are also both things that will greatly improve our lives here on Earth. If not in a monetary sense, most certainly our lives will be improved spiritually if we follow the Summary of the Law. If you understand the Big Picture, you know what to do on your part of the Little Picture to make your world line up with His World. Our problem is that like the Jews we cannot perfectly line up our world with His. Because we come from the same common ancestor, Adam, we have the curse of free will. Luckily for us, we have the Holy Ghost. He can be so useful for us, inputting change of course corrections to us. We just need to listen to His input and then act upon it accordingly.
In the Gospel, Jesus helped a deaf man with an impediment of speech. It is a parable in of itself. The deaf man is a stand in for us. We who cannot seemingly hear God’s commands, or won’t. Our speech impediment is that we have sin and that sin causes us to utter offensive or wrong things in our day to day lives. We are asking for Him to heal us of both spiritual impediments. Without His help, we cannot be cleared of our spiritual deafness and uncleanliness. If we will allow Him into our hearts, Jesus Christ will remove that spiritual block that causes the spiritual deafness and uncleanliness. The key phrase here is that we have to allow Him into our hearts. He won’t come in uninvited; we have to on our own will, willingly invite Him in. Only then can He start the cleansing process.
The Holy Ghost is a large part of our spiritual lives. Without Him, we could not be considered one of Christ’s sheep. We have to let Him into our hearts and lead the transforming and renewal of our minds. Without His help, we cannot adequately follow Him. In other words, we are doomed without the help of the Holy Ghost, which will give us His guidance and advice in conducting our church, professional and personal lives.
When Jesus opened the ears and mouth of the deaf mute, He did for him what the Holy Ghost will do for us, if we will but let Him open first our ears to hear, then our mouths to testify, communicate and direct. We must lead people to God, not try to push them. Thus, we need to strive, each of us, to follow God more closely so we can pull on the lead rope. Leading requires being in front of the people you are attempting to lead, having them follow your example towards an objective. Study Jesus’ life, He is a perfect example of a leader. We cannot ever be perfect, but we can strive for that perfection in our actions.
Action counts. For by their actions ye shall know them.
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
 Herein lies another problem. If we pray, it seems we continually pray for what we want and we oft want things that are contrary to our actual needs. Imperfect creatures with free will, a bad combination in itself, we continually use and understand in our hearts two words: need and want, to mean the same thing; when in fact they often mean two diametrically opposed things. Thus, amongst other things and perhaps before, we need to pray for the Holy Ghost to help us to understand the difference and ask for what we need.
 Here we are again, back to the old Action, not Diction, is what counts!
 Decapolis - ten cities=deka, ten, and polis, a city, a district on the east and south-east of the Sea of Galilee containing "ten cities, " which were chiefly inhabited by Greeks. It included a portion of Bashan and Gilead, and is mentioned three times in the New Testament (Matt. 4: 25; Mark 5: 20; 7: 31). These cities were Scythopolis, i. e., "city of the Scythians", (ancient Bethshean, the only one of the ten cities on the west of Jordan), Hippos, Gadara, Pella (to which the Christians fled just before the destruction of Jerusalem), Philadelphia (ancient Rabbath-ammon), Gerasa, Dion, Canatha, Raphana, and Damascus. When the Romans conquered Syria (B. C. 65) they rebuilt, and endowed with certain privileges, these "ten cities, " and the province connected with them they called "Decapolis. "
 Ephphatha the Greek form of a Syro-Chaldaic or Aramaic word, meaning "Be opened", uttered by Christ when healing the man who was deaf and dumb (Mark 7: 34). It is one of the characteristics of Mark that he uses the very Aramaic words which fell from our Lord's lips. (See 3: 17; 5: 41; 7: 11; 14: 36; 15: 34)