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Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
… 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 through His protection we might be free from all adversities and to do good works for Him. By being free of adversities, it means in times of adversity 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 their bond through Christ have strengthened his faith as a result which enabled him to continue doing good works for the Lord. He expresses his wishes for the Philippians to do the same and to keep growing in heart, soul and spirit, with their judgement and knowledge increasing as they allow the Holy Ghost in their hearts more and more.
Paul also wishes the Phillipians would approve of godly things and their holiness would increase as they walk more and more with God. He is basically wishing for them to continually grow in wisdom through reading of the Holy Scriptures and then applying them in their day to day actions. It ties in nicely with the collect asking for God to keep the Church in continual godliness. 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 truly repentant then we must forgive them, regardless of how we want to do otherwise. This is important as if we hold the evil of non-forgiveness in our hearts, it is to our own detriment. We would not be following the words of the collect of staying in godliness if we were to not forgive. For as God forgives, so must we forgive those who are truly sorry.
Holding non-forgiveness in our hearts is as bad for us as holding a grudge against an individual. It acts as like cancer to our soul, eating away out our soul turning it from bright white to a dark black. We must not allow this to occur and if somebody is truly sorry for their misdeeds, we must forgive them. Else we will not only hurt them by not forgiving them but we will also hurt ourselves. It is best for both parties involved if we can forgive them.
We can only forgive those sins against us, for those that are against God, only God can forgive. 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. Nowhere in Scripture does Christ tell 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.
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; not only the eternal life, but our temporary life here on earth would be made more miserable by our abusing of the forgiveness. 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