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.
|Rev Jack Arnold|
Consider the words of the Collect, “…God … keep us … from all things that may hurt us; that we, being ready both in body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish those things which thou commandest …”
The Collect asks God to keep us from things that are bad for us and make our hearts ready so we can do the things He wants us to do; this ties perfectly with the Epistle and Gospel as it always does. The message of the Collect, the Epistle and the Gospel can be summarized by Stay away from things that will harm your spiritual and physical health and do things good for your health and be spiritually aware of what is going on.
One word that intrigues me from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is “circumspectly”; which when I looked it up meant “wary and unwilling to take risks.” I believe Paul meant today we should not be taking risks with our faith, but walking in that which has been tried and true for over two thousand years. He means we should not compromise our belief in the Gospel. We cannot risk comprising the integrity of the faith. Too many of the modern so called Christian churches today compromise the integrity of the faith to gain more power on this Earth. We called not to compromise on the core of our faith which is Jesus and His Death and sacrifice and resurrection. This is not what being a Church is supposed to be about. It is supposed to draw people closer to God, not away from Him. We are called to be shining lights towards God and to stand out, to be holy, and not part of the darkness of this World. If God has not changed over the millennia, why should we change our position?
Indeed, we must not change our position; if it is truly derived from His Holy Word, then it should never change. If a minister or bishop’s position conflicts with Scripture, then you know they are not in line with His Word and is not a fellow believer. We must all strive to be in congruence with His Word. We are all working together in His Church to further His Cause. If we are not all on the same page, then we are not furthering His Work. We have to all work together to spread the Gospel, each person contributes to the much larger picture of spreading the Gospel.
Paul in his Epistle warns us not to drink to excess, but to keep it in moderation. He does not mean never to drink wine, as some, (Puritans and certain Baptists, among others) would take, but rather have “moderation in all things”; which is a similar idea Paul expresses in 1 Corinthians 6:12, All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Just because you can do something, like drinking or eating, does not mean you should do it to excess where it can cause you harm. He is warning against excesses in everything, and that we should do everything in a healthy dose of moderation. Eating too much can cause stomach problems, something we want to avoid. Drinking too much can cause serious issues, not the least of which is hangovers; the worst is drinking to death.
Our Lord wants us to be moderate in our celebration, not celebrating to the point of excess where bad things can happen to our bodies and our minds; but celebrating to where we are thankful to Him for all things, and for His Love.
This is the unifying theme of both the Epistle and the Gospel for today. Keep everything we do in moderation and avoid excesses in anything. Rather than turn to the excesses of this world, Paul says we must turn to God and be filled with His Grace of the Holy Spirit; making joyful noises to the Lord, be it in prayer or song while giving thanks always for all things to God.
The Gospel’s theme is that everybody is invited to God’s great feast and or wedding party (heaven) but if you do not have the right clothes (the Holy Ghost’s presence in your heart) then you will not be allowed to enter. Just like if somebody shows up to a black tie event wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts, if we are not up to God’s Holy Dress Code, then we will not be able to make it into heaven. How do we get His Dress code? Simple, we have to let the Holy Ghost into our hearts and read and digest His Word. Scripture will tell us how to act and be allowed into the feast.
How often are we thankful to God for letting us join His Feast? More often than not we seem to forget who made us, who created the world we dwell in, who created the fantastic beasts on land and in the sea. It seems very strange we forget to thank God for all of these things, but we do. Making a joyful noise unto the Lord is part of how we can do this, besides prayer and thanksgiving. Be it through songs, happy declarations to the Lord or joyful worship, we can send our joy unto our Lord. This is part of the reason it is important to say prayers like the Gloria in the prayer book with “liveliness”, we are expressing our praise and thanksgiving unto God, for having sent His Son down to save us from our wicked selves.
In our lives, we should be grateful to God more than we are. We are too often not thinking of God’s role in our lives and only thinking of our own. I can identify this. We have to widen our view to think of what God has done for us in our lives and appreciate and thank Him for it. We have to turn away from that temptation, and let the Holy Spirit in and guide us to thanking God for what He has done for us in our lives.
The Collect, Epistle and Gospel tie together, laying out, detailing and reinforcing the same message ultimately. We have to be ready and willing to listen to God, and walk with God, and act with the Holy Spirit in us, in order to have the right “clothes” to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
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?
The time to act is NOW. Will you act? For whom will you act? Will you count the cost before you act?
Action, not diction, is what counts. It is by your actions you are known.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God
 In that day, the giver of such a feast would have provided wedding garments for those who traveled far and were unable to bring one. In our case, Jesus provides the appropriate garb to those who will wear it, not just accept it and put it to one side.