Rev Jack brings the Propers together today. His sermon is below the propers and can be viewed on video here -> https://youtu.be/u9cDZpNhuZ8
Today’s Collect asks for God to remember we are imperfect creatures in the midst of a world dominated by the Prince of Air and to give us the strength and protection we need to overcome those perils and make it to the end of our time here on earth following our Lord. In his Epistle to the people of Rome Paul reminds us all power derives from God and if it is not used in a manner consistent with His Will and Direction, it is not valid. In his Gospel, Matthew relates the stories of a leper and the “Faithful Centurion” from whom our parish derives its name. In both cases the key to Jesus’ actions is the faith of the petioner. It all comes together, listen or read to understand how.
The Propers for today are found on Page 114-115, with the Collect first:
The Fourth Sunday after The Epiphany.
GOD, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright; Grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle for today came from the Thirteenth Chapter of Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans beginning at the First Verse:
ET every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves condemnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
The Holy Gospel for today came from the Eighth Chapter of the Gospel of Saint Matthew beginning at the First Verse.
HEN he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion, Descanso, California
His sermon can be viewed on video here -> https://youtu.be/u9cDZpNhuZ8
Consider these words from the Collect:
… who knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright; Grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations …
In the Collect, we acknowledge that God knows the dangers, toils and snares with which we must contend, which so often keep us from the upright acknowledgement and defense of that which is true and correct. The frailties of our mortal and free will nature sometimes cause us to stumble. With these infirmities, our only hope is that certain hope of His help to support us, not to get out of the problems, but to make our way through them to His Glory. We are praying for Him to assist us in these times of trial and difficulties. The Collect acknowledges that our sinful nature makes it so we cannot always stand upright, but with God’s help, he can help right us and face those dangers, trials and temptations we will face for the rest of our natural lives here on Earth. We just have to let Him into our hearts, and guide us. And by guiding us, we have to act upon what He tells us. He will not force us to act, we have to act upon His Word with our free will.
Paul points out in his epistle that as we are all here on Earth, earthly rulers are subject to God and His Rules and they ultimately need to defer to Him for their authority, not look to themselves for that authority. Their authority derives from God not from man. He points out that whosoever rejects the powers or the knowledge that the powers they are given come from God are rejecting/resisting God himself. In this day in age that is become more and more common in the leadership of countries nationwide. We can even see it in the Governors of California and New York who are actively trying to get legislation passed that is in effect rejecting God and His Principles. It is a sad trend of life that this occurs, but it stems from these leaders rejecting God and His Leadership. They do not realize that everybody would be far better off if they followed God’s Word. Alas, these leaders are blinded by mammon and thus will not receive the Holy Spirit and thus continue to abuse their power. Paul says that the rulers that abuse their power will receive condemnation. They are not called to bow and serve the wicked doers of this world but of God and they will in the end face consequences for not doing so. We do not have to worry about giving them consequences, for it may not be possible in this life, but we know that God has that covered.
Of course, to paraphrase Solomon, this is nothing new. Man has always sought to supplant God as the ultimate authority on earth. We see that with the Tower of Babel among other cautionary tales. It is a tale that is as old as time. Man is naturally incline to turn away from God and not towards Him and this is the reason why power corrupts so many. This is the whole basis behind both communism and National Socialism. There are slight differences between both mainly the means of production, but the end result is very similar in both. They both seek to supplant God and His Authority here on earth, and make the State a non-God based church on earth, where instead of worshiping God, they worship man, basically worshipping Satan instead.
Paul says if we are doing good then we need not be afraid of the power from God that is on loan to the rulers who are ministers of God in a way. The only people who need be afraid of them are evildoers, who the ruler is appointed to use the sword to bring before God for justice. However, if the rulers that be are not punishing evil doers put people who are good doers, then we know they are not worthy of the power that God has bestowed upon them. Again, this is becoming more and more apparent across the globe. We are not in the business of condemning people’s souls to one eternal destination or the other, that is God’s job. But, Paul points out that we can arrange for the meeting to happen, when people violate God’s most sovereign laws.
Paul goes on to say that through the authority invested by them in God, people need to pay the rulers tribute, to which it is due, the customs to custom, fear to fear, honor to honor. It goes very much hand in hand with what Jesus said on the subject “Render unto Caesar’s which is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.” There is respect which ought to be paid to the rightful people who are the representatives of God ruling the people. That respect ends however, when those representatives reject God’s authority and are no longer worthy of the respect.
This also goes back to the honor thy father and thy mother concept. As long as they are doing their best to raise you up in a Christian way and showing by example to follow Christ to get to heaven, then they are worthy of that honor. But if they are doing the opposite, then they are not worthy of the honor. It is still worth behaving in a Christian manner to both unfaithful rulers and parents, but realize they become unworthy of that honor when they reject God and His Authority. This does not mean to treat them spitefully or wrathfully, but to simply recognize that they are no longer worthy of that honor when they reject God and His Authority.
Christianity is not a solitary religion, one all about the individual, though it certainly depends on individuals as part of the Team lead by Christ to carry it out. It will not work as a solitary religion, it must be a team sport so to speak. God has given each of us varying talents and varying capabilities. We must each of us do that for the Church that which we do better than others and respect those who we work with. No power comes from God, rather special responsibilities, leaders who lead with His Will in mind must be accorded the respect they are due by virtue of their position. They must also lead with His Will in mind, for a leader following the ways of this world and the Prince of Darkness is not worthy of respect or followership. We must put faith in those to whom faith is due.
Faith and action, is what Christianity is all about. Christ’s actions upon the cross the solid base that our faith is based upon. His death and resurrection is the key principle behind Christianity. Actions are a crucial element of our faith. Christ’s faith accounts us as perfect before God because of His Actions. The centurion of this week’s Gospel is a symbol of faith and what appears to be inaction is his action. He is also the person for whom our parish draws its name. The centurion was the basic leader symbol of the Roman Empire. A group of eight to ten soldiers was led by a Contubern. Ten Contubernium formed a Centuria, which was led by a Centurion. Six to ten of these formed a Cohort, also led by a Centurion. He was an important man, able to reward or punish at will. He knew power and how to wield it.
When the Centurion came to Jesus, he knew who He was and His Power. When the Centurion told Jesus of his servant’s illness, the Centurion knew all Jesus had to do was will the wellness and it was done.
There was no question in his mind, the Centurion knew Jesus. His action was the seeming inaction of acknowledging his unworthiness and telling Jesus, “I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.”
We are all unworthy. The best of us is not worthy that He should come under our roof; yet we know if He will speak The Word only, our souls shall be healed and all will be accounted well before God. That is all He asks, “Let Me speak The Word only.”
There is but one way to heaven.
That easy to find, easy to follow, easy to hike path does not lead to the summit where eternal life in the real world awaits. Open your heart to the Holy Ghost, use His Power to follow our Lord to God who awaits in heaven.
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