This is the Fifth Sunday after Easter; the Easter season is five Sundays, the last of which, the Fifth Sunday after Easter, is commonly called Rogation Sunday. Like every day, today we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, “Christ the Lord IS Risen today!” It is also Mothers Day, when we recognize our mothers and those who have gone before and on whose shoulders we have risen. This, by rights, should be every day.
On this Mother’s Day, it is very easy for us to look back at our mother’s life and think of all the things we like about our mother. We like, it is all about our mother and what she did for us. The pivotal thought seems to be us. It is not about us, our / us is merely an adjective to describe a particular mother. For motherhood is about self-sacrifice. Putting the child’s welfare above that of the mother.
The love of the mother for her children comes with a price; yet the price paid is not without return. The last words of almost all soldiers who die in battle are either “Mom” or “Jesus.” There is a lesson all in of itself.
What did your mom choose? An extra child or an extra home or trailer? Your schooling, or her vacation without you? Dental work for you or a new car for her? Shoes for you or a fancy dress for her?
Jesus commanded us to follow Him, He who put our lives before His. Who on this earth does this more consistently than mothers?
Saint James tells us in his Epistle, “Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only.” Who on this earth does this more consistently than mothers?
As Christians we need to uphold and recognize the example of sacrifice in motherhood so we might understand the sacrifice made by God on our behalf in Jesus’ death for our sin.
The fifth Sunday after Easter is commonly called Rogation Sunday from the words in the Gospel appointed for the day: "Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give to you". (The Latin is 'Rogare' - to ask.) In the strictly biblical context, the chief thing to ask for is the spirit of God to enable us to be true children of God.
In the Western Catholic Churches, including the older Anglican traditions particularly before the Reformation and in some higher churches afterwards, processions to bless the crops and to include "beating the bounds", developed from the old Roman rites of "Robigalia" ("robigo": Latin for "rust" or "mould"), when prayers would be offered to the deity for crops to be spared from mildew.
Today the emphasis has shifted. Asking for God’s blessing on growing crops in fields and gardens, and on young lambs and calves remain. In the agricultural cycle, the main themes are seed sowing and the tending of the young plants and animals. This does not pre-suppose that all sowing takes place around Rogation. Sowing is done all the year round, as does the birth and rearing of the young. It is convenient to fix on one particular festival the time to remember these before God in a public way.
In the Northern Hemisphere, Rogation Sunday takes place in the springtime, when there is a renewing of the earth. In this country, it follows Easter, the season of resurrection. Renewal and resurrection therefore are also underlying themes of this occasion.
But, there is far more to the day than that. The real meaning is in rogare. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. You have to ask God in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for what you want so that you can get what you need. You have to ask. Then, once you get what you need, act of the gift and thank God for that gift.
Remember “Ask and ye shall receive.”
The Propers for today are found on Page 175-176, with the Collect first:
The Collect for The Fifth Sunday after Easter,
commonly called Rogation Sunday.
LORD, from whom all good things do come; Grant to us thy humble servants, that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Epistle for today came from the First Chapter of the General Epistle of Saint James beginning at the Twenty-Second Verse. Saint James tells us not to just talk about being Christians, but to act on those beliefs and do things. We act in accordance with the principles set forth by Christ. We gain our salvation through the freely given gift of Grace by our Lord Jesus Christ. Once given, and accepted; if we truly accept the gift, it will be evident in our actions.
Saint James reminds us we not only must:
Ø Talk the Talk;
Ø Walk the Walk.
We do not gain eternal life and salvation by our good works here on earth, but only by the Grace of God, through His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Through Christ our sins are atoned for that we might go to heaven. True enough, but we demonstrate our attempt to follow his instructions by our works here on earth. Remember, it is by only by our actions we are we truly known.
E ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
Today’s Holy Gospel came from the Sixteenth Chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John beginning at the Twenty-Third Verse. Jesus told his disciples tat when they pray to the Father, they should ask in His Name and what they asked for would be given. But, you must ask to receive. Jesus told us not to ask Him to pray to the Father, but rather that we pray directly to the Father, asking for what we will in His name, because God loves us because we love Jesus. This explains why most of our prayers end in, “we ask all this in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” or similar words. So, if we are to if we are not to ask Jesus to pray for us, why would we ask “saints” and such. We can talk directly to God and we are supposed to!
Jesus went on to say the forces of this world would scatter the disciples, they would be alone in the world. Yet like Jesus, they would not be abandoned by all; He would be with them, as would the Father. For as always, the Father is with them, as He is with Him; as He is with us.
ERILY, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.
We are on the last Sunday in the Easter Season, which consists of Easter and the following five Sundays, the last of which is Rogation Sunday. This is a time we should work on centering our lives on the central figure in our religion, Jesus Christ.
Consider these words from the Collect:
… by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same …
As we near the Ascension and thus Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Ghost, we ask for God’s “holy inspiration we may think those things that are good.” We need help from the Holy Ghost to direct our souls to the things we cannot see as good without His Help. Once we see them, we need His “merciful guiding” so we “may perform the same…”. After all, what good is it to know what we should do, if we won’t, can’t or don’t do it?
That brings us right to Saint James’ point, we gain our salvation through the freely given gift of Grace by our Lord Jesus Christ. Once given, it must be accepted. If we truly accept the gift, it will be evident in our actions. James makes the point that if you are going to be a Christian you have to ACT like a Christian. Our faith will be made manifest in our actions. A person who calls themselves a Christian can and will talk the talk or portions thereof, but will they walk the walk? That is the real test if they are a Christian or not. As the tag line to my sermons goes, action and not diction is what counts in the very end.
Being a Christian requires both, which will be very difficult sometimes, but it must be done. It is the only way we will have salvation through Christ. We cannot have salvation if we say we are for Him, but our actions profess otherwise. Fortunately we will have the help of the Holy Ghost to help us walk the walk and talk the talk.
We must align our lives to be able to show people we do follow Christ. There are too many people who claim to be Christians, who are clearly not, because their lives do not reflect their stated belief. We must not let this happen. We must show the truth of John 14:6, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. To show this truth we have to live that truth through our actions. It is not just enough to say we know the Word of God, if we truly know the Word of God, we will act upon that Word of God and serve Him in this life.
Without Christ’s guiding light, we are not on the path to holiness and righteousness. We must show this in our lives, by living and breathing His Word, and using His Word to guide us throughout our lives. These are all actions we naturally take which demonstrate we have belief and are acting upon that belief. This is important to our souls for our spiritual health, and as well as our physical health too. We need all the Help of the Holy Ghost to keep us on this path. How do we keep on this path?
We find a lot of help in John’s words, he gives us insight into things which none of the other disciples do. We need help. We pray for help. Pray for help that we might act, and that is how we keep on the straight, narrow and uphill path. So, what about prayer? Let’s start with to whom do we pray?
Jesus is pretty clear. Don’t pray to Him, pray to God. Feel free to use His Name. Pray to God in His Name. In effect, we are CC’ing (Carbon Copying, to use an archaic term which as transitioned to an electronic mail (email) term) Jesus in our prayers. We are not to put Him in the To: line, but the CC line. Not addressing Him directly, but to address God directly with Jesus copied, as it were. He tells us God loves us because we love Jesus. But, pray to God. I think not many people understand this part of scripture, as I have heard people pray to Jesus when he is not the correct person to address your prayers to. He specifically tells us to direct the prayers to His Father who will help us.
If we will pray to God, we can be certain He will answer us, and even if we don’t like the answer, we know that is the course we will have to take. It doesn’t matter if we like God’s answer or not, we still have to listen to it and do it anyway, knowing it will be the right path in the end. We will always have some sort of a struggle with this in our lives, but if we turn to God, He will help us win our struggle.
We have to listen to His Answer and think on it and then act upon His Answer and not just dismiss it. Dismissing it is all too easy for us to do, since we are naturally inclined to follow our own desires, not His. But we have to think that dismissing His Answers will not gain us anything in the long or short term. We need to listen to His Answers and then act upon them, the key to true happiness within our lives.
We have to realize what we truly need and ask that He will open our hearts, minds and souls to His answer that we might act upon His answer. The critical portion is we act upon the answer that we are given, to do our best for Him so our friends, family and coworkers and neighbors might see the light we shine for Him and see who we follow in word and in deed. We must show others not just through our words, but through our actions that we truly belong to Christ’s flock. We must show great love for our fellow man, even to the point of death, through our actions, to reflect Christ’s love for us, that He too loved us even to the point of death.
So, pray to God, ask for what you want in Jesus’ Name. He always listens and He always delivers. The problem for us is He delivers what we need, not necessarily what we want. Our wants and our needs are oft different, in fact they are seldom the same. But we should want what we need, and God will help us understand if we be a doer and a hearer of His Word. He will always give us what we need, but will we listen to what He wants us to do?
Need and want, they are both four letter words, oft used interchangeably, which do not mean the same thing.
God’s Will is always done, we just don’t understand. Accept what happens as acceptable, so long as you have done all you can. In the end, all that counts is where you go when you leave here. That depends on your actions in following Jesus’ instructions. If you believe, you are safe. Now and forever.
Ø Talk the Talk;
Ø Walk the Walk.
It is 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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