Verse of the Day

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

Rev Jack's sermon is available on video RIGHT HERE!

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:  “…whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service; Grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life, that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises…”


In our prayer to God, we acknowledge that His greatest gift is that we are, through Him, able to give Him true service.  For, it must be understood the only way we can really be happy is when we align our being with His Being.  We must be truly aligned, not trying to get around by using loopholes.  There is a big difference.  We are trying to live by the Big Picture and not worry about little things. Sometimes that is easier said than done, but we must get it done all the same. How are we to get the monumental strength and inspiration to tackle this? It is simple, we are to call on the Holy Ghost to enter into our hearts and ask for His Advice. The harder part is once we receive the advice to act upon it and do it for Him. Once we do this we will have the strength and inspiration we  need to live by the Big Picture and not worry.


If we are to follow Him truly, we have to truly love Him with all our hearts, souls and minds and to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”  This is the first step to following Him. This is a follow on to last week’s message. This is because the Bible echoes itself at various points, especially in the New Testament. There are many repeating themes in the New Testament; this is one of them. And the gift that the collect speaks of is the Holy Ghost. We need His help if we are to truly love Him with all of our hearts souls and minds. Then, you have to act upon your trust in Him. If you trust Him as a spiritual parent, then just like with your earthly parents, you will take His advice into consideration when acting. 


If we do what we should do, we will follow the little rules as a matter of course.  If we get the important things, the little things will follow soon after. The only rules that are important really come from:


1.     Love thy God with all thy heart and soul and mind;

2.     Love they neighbor as thyself. 


As Jesus says, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” He means all of the moral laws and preaching of prophets past can be traced back to these laws, which comprise the basis for all of the laws that would follow thereafter, especially the Ten Commandments.  The 613 Mosaic Laws can call be traced back to these two commandments. They are the basics of the Christian faith; there is no way to get around these two and be within the spirit or the intent of the Law.


The Law failed not because of God but because of the frailty of man. The people spent their time thinking about how to get around technicalities which is different than doing what is right.  In fact people still try to do this with laws of man to this very day. It is inherent in our fallen  nature. Complying with the Law is a different matter than finding loopholes around the Law. The Pharisees did the latter, and we should do the former.


In the Epistle, we are reminded God chose Abraham not because he complied with The Law, for the Law was far into the future.  God chose Abraham because he had faith, put his trust in God and desired to follow Him. If we do the same and put our trust in God, we will be able to perform the laudable service He so desires for the rest of our days. The Law is a small part of the large picture, when we see how it ties into the New Testament, we have a far better understanding of what God wants in our lives, as individuals. It is not just enough to follow the letter of the the law, we need to follow the Spirit of the Law as Jesus embodied in His Summary of the Law. Love God and Love your neighbor and things will work out as a result. We will naturally follow the 10 commandments by following the Summary of the Law


However, not everyone on the globe will follow Him, and they will not be truly happy as a result. An example of this are the Pharisees; religious lawyers who specialized in the 613 Mosaic Laws, which brought them death, not life.  Their job was to help people not break The Law without unduly interfering with their lives by forcing them to embrace the intent of The Law.


When the Pharisee of the Gospel asked Jesus what he should do to gain eternal life, the Pharisee correctly summarized The Law: Love God; Love your neighbor.  He would have been fine had he stopped there.  But, he had to show the Son how smart he was.  In doing so, the lawyer was about to learn the first lesson of lawyering, ‘Never ask a question to which you don’t know the answer.’  So, he asked, ‘Who is my neighbor?’  The answer, of course, is everyone but you; the rest of humanity.  But, as was often the case, Jesus presented the story of the injured man helped by the Samaritan, then asked, Who was neighbor to the injured man?


The priest and the Levite would not see the injured man; there are none so blind as those who will not see.  They could or would not follow the second commandment of the Summary of the Law, of loving they neighbor as thyself. Whatever the reason it ended in the same result, they turned their heads away and walked by not even thinking of the injured man and his suffering. They were too prideful to see the truth of loving they neighbor. They were too wrapped up in the riches and cares of this world. Alas there are too many people that are like the Priest and the Levite today in our country. They are caught up in their riches and cares and cannot see their fellow countryman suffering, or will not see them suffering more likely. They think of the suffering people as an inconvenience to their lavish lifestyle.


The material things of this world are temporary and they have blinded and ensnared many. Many of churches (like the Roman Church for example) today have fallen into this trap, caring about their position on Earth more than following God’s clearly stated will.  Focusing on this world, which is only a temporary state, is a foolish and fleeting thing. Things on this earth will corrupt and rust and pass away; but things in Heaven and life in Heaven will never corrupt and pass away. We should focus on things eternal, not on things temporary.  What they should focus on is their eternal life. While they claim to know the concept of Heaven, they truly do not know it or believe in it per se.  For it is action that demonstrates and validates claimed belief.


Those Jews cared only about not breaking The Law on Earth and hoping that flawed concept would bring them salvation. No matter how they followed it, they could not obtain salvation on their own. The missing link to their solution was one that has been here since The Creation: Jesus Christ. They are searching for Him, but they cannot find Him, as He is right under their noses. He is right in front of them, but they will not see Him as their Messiah. So, they are doomed to always looking for Him, but never being able to find Him until they open up their spiritual senses. This is the problem with the World as well. They search for the answers He provides, but they will not acknowledge Him or His solutions.


The world would be better off if they learned the lesson the lawyer learned in today’s Gospel. You will also note the Samaritan, one of those separated from the chosen mass of Judaism, did his duty.  When he left the injured man at the inn, having given the innkeeper roughly two days wages, he said, “Do what need be done, if I owe more I will pay when I pass by next.”  You will note, he put no limit on his duty, he just committed to doing what needed to be done, regardless of cost.  


The lawyer to his credit answered honestly, “He that shewed mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, Go, and do thou likewise.


Right is not a matter of quantum; it is not a matter of majority rules or public opinion; actions speak louder than words. 


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

[1] Samaritan - Of or pertaining to Samaria, in Palestine. -- n. A native or inhabitant of Samaria; also, the language of Samaria. [1913 Webster]


Samaritans were descendants of those who had stayed behind during the Captivity and had been separated for many years from the body of Judaism.  They had not developed, nor did they subscribe to them, all the rules the Jews managed to invent during their separation.  The main body of Jews viewed them as lesser peoples, not really Jews. 

[2] Good Samaritan n : a person who voluntarily offers help or sympathy in times of trouble [syn: {Samaritan}]

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

Rev Jack's sermon is available on video RIGHT HERE!

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?[1]  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[2] 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. The only place we can accept it is in the present, in the here and now.   


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. We can only use the past as a data point to learn from, we cannot make any further changes. To use computer speak, it is read only and not read and write. The present is where we can read and write and make changes to our lives.


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. 


Very much like in our society today, too many Jews only cared about not violating the Law, not about the spirit of the Law which was intended. People today have  atendecy to want to be a law abiding citizen and not break any laws. They forget about the spirit of the laws. 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

[1] 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.

[2] Here we are again, back to the old Action, not Diction, is what counts!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Eleventh Sunday after Trinity


Rev Hap's Sermon can be viewed on video RIGHT HERE.

Sermon – Reverend Hap 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 from the Collect, wherein we ask God … who declarest thy almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity; Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; …


Once again, this Collect is kind of a follow-on to the last few weeks’ Collects.  First, we acknowledge God’s power which is manifested not in terror, but in mercy and pity on our failures. We should note God has chosen to grant kindness and mercy to us; not the punishment we truly deserve.  In this mercy, He shows His Almighty Power. It is important to note; with all the power in and of the universe, God manifests His Power by showing infinite mercy and kindness to us, not in causing us more tears. He is far kinder to us than we could ever possibly deserve. He provides the ultimate example of how we should act when great power and responsibility is given to us to handle. Like the servant of Matthew 18:23, we too often we act irresponsibly with said power and responsibility.  Given our fallen nature we choose to cause misery rather than kindness. However, if we truly are following God’s will then we must choose to be kind rather than evil, and do good deeds with the help of the Holy Ghost, and resist our fallen nature. This leads into the Collect. 


Thus, the Collect goes on to ask His Help in following His Commandments so we might gain the good which comes from following His WIll. This is a unifying theme found throughout all of the collects for a good reason. In order to get the good which comes from following Him, we first need to follow Him.  Following requires active action.  And we would hope we recognize the good which comes from acting and choose to continue to act for Him as opposed to our natural tendency to go astray. Following His Commandments is a sure way to stay on the course set for us, if we follow the Scriptures and His Commandments and take them to heart. 


We have to not just talk the talk, but actually walk the walk. It can be extremely difficult; but  this is what God has called us to do. He calls us to perform actions in alignment with His Word, in order to spread His Word. We cannot effectively spread His Word if we are not in alignment with His Word.  The reason we have trouble with this is that we are imperfect creatures with not just free will, but manifold, perhaps rampant free will, the norm is to choose what we want, not what we need, then we come to calamity.  We are each grievous sinners, some worse than others, none better.  Yet, we all come before God equal in our sinful state.  In equally big trouble, some more, none less. We are all equal by virtue of the fact we are hopeless sinners without the saving grace and faith of Christ.  It is only through His Faith we are saved.  Not our faith, but the faith of Christ who dwells within us.


This is the point Saint Paul is making when he says that first he gave unto us[1] that understanding he got directly from God as to the role of Jesus Christ.  He recounts some of the factual information about Jesus’ time here on earth after the crucifixion, the descent into hell and the resurrection. He confirms the story of the Gospel as told to him. He notes the various witnesses, still alive or recently passed away.  He makes the point we must propagate the Gospel so others might believe. To do that he infers our actions must be congruent with Scripture. He tells us we are saved by faith alone.  


Our faith?  Partly, but not chiefly and not first. Then, by whose faith are we saved?


We are saved by the perfect faith of Christ, our only mediator and advocate before the Father.  It is not by our faith, but the faith of Him who dwells within us, that of Christ. Without Christ, we could not have any faith to begin with. The perfect faith of Christ allowed a single sacrifice to be made one time, to cook the books and account for the sins of all mankind for all time.  His is the faith which saves us and our faith in Him allows Him to operate in us. 


Because of their refusal to allow Him in, those who do not have the Holy Ghost in them do not believe in Him. The Holy Ghost will not enter into those who disavow Him. God will not force His Way in. We have to first ask Him to enter, then only then will He enter. God does not force His Way on people and neither should we.  


Another thing to consider is Jesus is real, He is Who He says He IS.  He is not a fictional character, he is not a great teacher.  He is THE SON OF GOD and He came to save us: body, heart, mind and soul.  There is no other way to view Him that makes as perfect sense as this[2].


If that is not enough to turn your heart, consider the parable of the publican and the Pharisee related by Saint Luke.  The man who was proud of his performance was not the example Jesus chose for the one justified, rather the one who acknowledged his failures and asked God for forgiveness and help. This is to point us as an example of who we should be like.  It can be said with confidence it is not the Pharisee. Think of these examples and who would we rather be like, the publican, or the Pharisee?  Remember, the Pharisee’s job consisted of finding clever ways around the 613 Mosaic Laws.  The publican was looking for help in actually following two: 


Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith.



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.    BCP Page 69


And, just as importantly, he was not looking for ways around those two laws, he was looking for help to follow God and forgiveness when he fell short.   In our day to day lives, let us strive to be more like the publican and less like the Pharisee. 


Let us ask God for the help we need to follow His Will.  For we must have His Help to act as we must here on earth!


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

[1] Though Paul was writing to the people of Corinth, the information is just as applicable to us, perhaps more so now than ever before.

[2] This is the Trilemma of Jack Lewis in Mere Christianity - I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. 

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Tenth Sunday after Trinity


Rev Jack's sermon can be viewed on video RIGHT HERE!

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action

Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California

Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together.


Consider the words from the Collect, wherein we ask God to make us … be open to the prayers of thy humble servants; and, that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee …


Once again, this Collect is kind of a restatement of many of the Collects.  First, we ask God to hear our prayers, funny in that He always listens intently to us when we pray and we very seldom listen to Him when He answers.  It is an odd paradox, He listens; we never seem to listen.  This is why the theme is constant through ought all of the Collects. It seems as if at times we should pray that we should listen; not Him, as He always listens! Nonetheless, we ask His help to ask for those things we need, not those things we want and are bad for us.  We need to be humble when we ask. 


What does that word mean?  


According to the dictionary, to be HUMBLE means to be:


·      Modest

·      Respectful

·      Lowly


Modest - unassuming in attitude and behavior

Respectful - feeling or showing respect and deference toward other people

Lowly - relatively low in rank and without pretensions


These are three characteristics we cannot possess in our imperfect state. We otherwise might be like the Pharisees who would make a show of praying in public to appear pious when they were anything but.  To avoid being like the Pharisees, we must recognize that when we ask for His Help that we must recognize the difference between our desires (our wants) and our needs and realize that they are not the same thing. What we need is what God wants for us, the things that will help us and not hurt us. We have to realize what God wants for us is far more important than the things that we selfishly want. Wanting is fine, as long as you are willing to work hard and do it and it is something that is not against God’s will for us. 


 Paul reminds us though each believer is different, be in in personality, size, shape or color, in Christ’s church those distinctions are nearly meaningless. In the Church we each have our own differing talents that we can use to further his mission on this Earth. If we do not care who gets the credit, then all will be well. For there is nothing the Church cannot accomplish if we unite through the Holy Ghost and work on furthering God’s cause here on Earth. Our Heavenly Father has given each of us unique talents to be used to further His Mission. Together, our talents can help us as the Body of Christ serve and glorify Him on Earth. 



If you will but read the Bible, what God wants you to do will be clear.  If you do your best to do His Will all will be well with you.  Death is a pretty hollow threat if you do your duty. If you have done your best, that is at the end of the day, you have done your best to follow Him, then truly you have nothing to fear. Contrast this with the people of Jerusalem. They could or would not see what God wanted for them or now for us.  In 70AD, what had been so hard earlier seemed pretty easy compared to the fix they were in, but by then it was too late.  By then they were left with only “There are none so poor as cannot purchase a noble death.”  But, for most of them by that time they had no will.  It left when they failed to follow God’s Will. 


The example of them is a good object lesson for us, to do what we can in the here and now and not worry about tomorrow.  We shouldn’t complain if it is too hard for us, because being on God’s side, nothing is too hard for us. There will be a lot of times where we just feel like giving up and that it is too hard. But keeping going is easier than if we just give up. We can’t change the past that is fixed and done, but we can change the future through our actions in the present. So let our actions be good ones, that help the Church on Earth and change the future in a positive manner.


When Luke wrote of the sales in the temple, he had a point.  The point was not to preclude jumble sales at church.  He is not against the sales. However, what He is against is the cheating in the name of God. You must understand the temple hawkers were selling perfect defective “sacrificial lambs” which would be recycled over and over[1].  In their very successful effort to make money they were defrauding the people and insulting God in His own House.


To paraphrase Christ, where their treasure is, there will their heart be also.  It should also be pointed out a church should be a place of worship.  It may be a Prophet Center, but not a Profit Center[2].  Similar sounding words, but a totally different meaning for the church.  If the building needs constant commercial enterprise, then perhaps the emphasis is on the wrong center. All of these churches that emphasize quantity over quality should be suspect. It does not matter the quantity, as long as you have a base of quality believers who serve the One Triune God. We need to be concerned more about the spreading of His Word, the constant truth, then focusing on how many people we can attract, and how the message can be changed to suit them. These are both problems with the modern churches today. A church should be funded for its needs by its members and its wants should come much later, if not in fact unheeded.  A church is about Him, not about IT.


Do what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it.  That is duty.  It does not matter how you “feel” about black or white.  Black is black; White is white.  Do your duty. Work as hard as you can, do the best you can, trust in the Lord.  By the way, cheat no one.  If you follow that, you won’t need to be told, “Particularly in God’s House.”


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

[1] The concept of being truthful in the efforts we make to spread The Word is not a separate subject by any means, but would take more time to talk about than we have time for here.  Suffice it to say that we must take every care to spread The Truth and not what our audience, whoever that may be, would like to hear.  When we bring our “sacrifice” to the “temple” we need make certain it is in fact as perfect as we can make it.  This is so hard that one of the recurring themes of the Collects is asking for guidance to ask for the right things.

[2] A term I first heard from Bishop Dennis Campbell in 2011.  It was a great thought then and a great thought now!

[1] A fine set of very apropos terms I first heard from Bishop Dennis Campbell in 2011.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Ninth Sunday after Trinity


Rev Jack's sermon can be seen on video RIGHT HERE.

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action

Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California

Today’s sermon tied the Epistle and Gospel together talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction, the general content is in forewords above.


Consider the words from the Collect, wherein we ask God to give us … the spirit to think and do always such things as are right; that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will …


This is kind of a follow-on to last week’s Collect.  We are asking God to give us direction that we might know right from wrong and follow the right way.  If we listen to our hearts and minds, like the aviator, mariner or adventurer without a compass, we will soon be hopelessly lost.  With the compass God gives us, we can find the One True Way, much like the compass always points North.


The Collect acknowledges without God’s intervention through the Holy Spirit in our lives we cannot do anything good or right. This has been true since the Garden of Eden; there the Fall shows our own very natures prevent us from doing what is right.  Our nature is inclined towards being away from God. However, we can reset our nature to be towards God. We just have to ask for His help, let the Holy Ghost into our hearts and be ready to listen to what He wants us to do, and then act upon that. This is a very difficult matter, a concept we have always have and always will struggle with.


This is not a recent phenomenon.   As Paul reminds us we have a common spiritual past, regardless of our actual lineage.  Spiritually, we are descended from the Jews of the Exodus.  Their God is our God; God directed their actions.  He was a Trinity then as He is today. We struggle with the exact same sins and temptations as they did. If we do not study their history, we are doomed to repeat it. If we do study their history we might have a better chance of not repeating their same mistakes.


In light of this thought, those who have gone before provide numerous examples, both good and bad. We should aspire to follow the good examples of those who have gone before and not follow the bad examples that they have left behind. People too often point out the bad examples of our ancestors and not the good examples. We need to learn from from both to help us become better human beings.  In this letter Paul addresses the bad and suggests we should see what their ill behavior gained them before we set our course and not after. He points out their examples both good and bad are for our learning and we can benefit from them if we take the time to study them.  We will always be learning for the rest of our lives, no matter what profession we belong to, there will always be some form of continuing education. 


Paul is telling us we are in a way to embrace the Japanese concept of kai-zen or continuous development. Just as pilots need to keep learning to become better and more proficient pilots, good Christians need to always be learning to become better and kinder human beings. 


We should not strive to emulate the murmurings of the people, though we may feel that way sometimes, as we can learn from their bad examples.  We must see their bad examples and do not emulate those; on the other side, we must see the good examples, and strive to emulate them.


Speaking of lessons, when Saint Luke recounts the story of the prodigal son we oft think ourselves as that prodigal one returning to God so late in life.  Yet there is far more to be learned than the titular son.


The older son has resentment to the younger son for coming back after having wasted his money and is not willing to forgive him. However the Father is more than willing to forgive. This parable illustrates that we should not hold grudges against those in the world that repent and join Christ’s flock, but rather that we should wecome them into the church with open arms, as God does when we return to him.


This story, like that of the workers in the vineyard has a number of meanings.  Like the father in the story, God wants us to be His faithful child, but rejoices when we return to Him.  He is a loving and patient Father, but will not accept our sinful behavior. Yet, if we repent of that behavior, He will always welcome us back with open arms. We should always do our best to recognize when we have erred and strayed from our ways like lost sheep. Like the prodigal son, we should be grateful to live long enough to return to Him. 


The moral of the younger son’s story is that God is always waiting for us, and if we are not too late, we can always return to Him.  Today preferably rather than tomorrow! He will always accept us with opening arms, but we must make sure it is not too late. Don’t wait until you die! If you feel you have erred and strayed, repent now! Do not put off until tomorrow your repentance. If you are led by the Holy Spirit to repent, please do it today, you may not live to see tomorrow. 


Do not let the sun go down on your sins and wrath, you may not live to see another day! There is another lesson to be learned, this time from the the oldest son. Let us not repeat his mistake and be joyful when our brothers and sisters come home to our family. Let us put aside the anger and jealousy and replace those hurtful emotions with the emotions of pure love and joy! Let us join in the celebration and not begrudge the fatted calf.  We should not be jealous or angry when our long lost brethren return to the flock of Christ! We should be merry and joyful they have returned to us! Do not let your pride become anger and cloud your emotions like it does so many of us. But, rather see a sinner coming back into His flock and rejoice in he is no longer headed towards The Pit! 


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