Rev Jack brings the Propers together today. His sermon is below the propers and can be viewed on video RIGHT HERE -> https://youtu.be/eyRSxeR-yhc.
Today’s Collect acknowledges to God we acknowledge without God’s great goodness and divine intervention, we cannot be preserved in either body or soul. In the Epistle, Paul discusses the failure of the sacrifices of the old covenant and the difference with the new. The Gospel is another example of the Jews (in this case Pharisees) being very conversant in The Law with absolutely no grasp of its meaning. In the Gospel, Jesus explained to the Pharisees before Abraham had even been conceived, He was. In fact, Jesus was the one who created this Earth, so He has been around since before the beginning of the planet. The Pharisees could or would not grasp in their heads Jesus was who He claimed to be, the Son of God. They chose to try to destroy His ministry rather than follow Him. He was interfering with their comfortable way of living and deceiving the Jewish people. He was a threat to their system. They would not understand His Message, so they opted to try to destroy Him instead. Great stuff and it all comes together, listen or read to understand how.
The Propers for today are found on Page 132-133, with the Collect first:
The Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called
E beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
And due to the rubric, the Collect for the Day is followed by the Collect for Ash Wednesday, which is found on Page 124:
The first day of Lent, commonly called
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
¶ This Collect is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.
The Epistle for today came from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, starting at the Eleventh Verse of the Ninth Chapter. Paul summarizes both the symbolism and the substance of the Lord’s sacrifice on our behalf. Paul opens the secret of the One Perfect Sacrifice, One Time, for All Time and All Mankind. Paul is clearly appealing to the sense of the Jews when he asks them if the blood of goats will set aside or atone for sin, how much more can be done by the Perfect Sacrifice made on our behalf?
HRIST being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
This morning’s Gospel comes from the Gospel of Saint John, starting at the Forty-Sixth Verse of the Eighth Chapter and tells the story of Jesus’ confrontation with the Pharisees in the temple. Like much of John it is filled with deep explanation of Jesus and His purpose here.
Knowing them looking to find the worst in Him, Jesus asked, “Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?” In a point central to Christianity, he went on, “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” When we hear the term Jews here, we should hear the world in general, for He spoke to all who would not hear. When they would not hear, He pointed out He sought not glory or praise from them, but only from the Father whom in reality they knew not. Here He offers the singular benefit of Christianity, “If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” This concept being foreign to them, they asked if He thought He was greater than Abraham. That brought the crowning touch, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day.” Knowing He was only in his early 30s, they could not grasp how he could have seen Abraham.
In a demonstration of the non-linearity of God’s time, He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” As might be expected, this offended the Keepers of The Law.
ESUS said, Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you; but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.
 This response was similar to God’s answer to Moses’ question, “Who do I tell them sent me?”
Church of the Faithful Centurion
You can view Rev Jack's sermon on video RIGHT HERE!
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.
Consider these words from the Collect:
… thy people; … by thy great goodness … may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul …
In the Collect, we acknowledge without God’s great goodness and divine intervention, we cannot be preserved in either body or soul. This is a constant truth through ought the Bible, the New Testament in particular. Without God’s great goodness we simply cannot be preserved. What does asking for God’s great goodness mean for us? It means when we ask we might be governed and thus preserved by His great goodness, we are in effect asking for His Guidance for us, so we can be preserved in both body and soul. We acknowledge God is the ultimate good and is the source of all truth, and we need His Help if we are to succeed. This concept is constant throughout all the collects. It is constant because it is the truth. We can only follow the narrow uphill path towards heaven with His Goodness and His Guidance. As always, if we are left to our own devices and desires, we are lost. Guided means we need to ask, then listen to what He Tells us, then actually follow those instructions.
For those who are not perfect, following instructions can be hard at times but it must be done nevertheless. And I have found this holds true in all aspects of live not just our spiritual aspect. However, in all areas without His Guidance we are truly doomed. We must look to Him for the guidance we need to get through the spiritual and physical turmoils of this life. We must trust in Him and not in our own fallible guidance. We on our own volition cannot drive the narrow up hill path towards heaven safely, we must rely on the Holy Ghost as the perfect infallible lead car that we follow for that guidance. The Holy Ghost will always give us perfect directions, however it is on us to act on and follow those directions.
Further to this thought, if we are looking to Him for guidance, we then need look to Him for safety. Safety meaning only the safety of our soul, our eternal life. It does not mean safety from dangers to the body here on Earth. Our bodies are still able to be physically harmed, but our souls are safe from eternal damnation, that is what safety truly means. It also does not mean we are to put ourselves at risk recklessly, but it means we are to have confidence that if we die while doing actions for Him, we are ensured that our souls will be safe and headed towards heaven.
However in order to get into heaven one must be perfect. But as we all know as Saint Paul says, all fall short. So how do we get in then? This is quite the accounting dlemma. How do you account us, who are very imperfect creatures as purified and perfect creatures? There is an easy solution for this and that is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Our only means of being accounted as perfect when we come before God is to rely on the sacrifice and intermediary priesthood of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ to account us as perfect before God on that final day. Christ has replaced the intermediary priesthood of the Jews with himself, our one and only High Intermediary Priest. Your AOC ministers, while officially titled as priests, are not intermediary priests! The day of the intermediary priests have come and gone for us with the Old Testament in the past. We need only Christ, there are no middle men between us and Jesus. He is our Savior, our Leader, our Teacher, our Master, our Example!
Christ came to succeed the Old Covenant marked by sacrifices of innocent animals; killing off animals in an effort to atone for our sins really did not do the job. However as we have stated before, the Old Covenant was a needed step before the New Covenant could occur. It was a way to prepare people for Christ’s coming. They would not have understood His Message otherwise without it. Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection highlighted that His Ministry was all about action. If we truly are believers of Him, we will ACT upon His Word and not just say it. There is truth to the saying that action speak louder than words.
In the Gospel, Jesus explained to the Pharisees before Abraham had even been conceived, He was. In fact, Jesus was the one who created this Earth, so He has been around since before the beginning of the planet. The Pharisees could or would not grasp in their heads Jesus was who He claimed to be, the Son of God. They chose to try to destroy His ministry rather than follow Him. He was interfering with their comfortable way of living and deceiving the Jewish people. He was a threat to their system. They would not understand His Message, so they opted to try to destroy Him instead. Note the word try. Try as hard as they might, the Pharisees could not interfere with Jesus’s ultimate action for us, his Death and Resurrection upon the cross. Even with the truth of who He was laid bare in front of them, they still chose not to believe. Time and time again we see them confronted with the truth Jesus offers and they always choose to reject it rather than embrace the truth.
This is a very common pattern with God’s enemies. Their names and appearances my change, but their inner hearts and souls have not changed over the eons. Their hearts have been blinded by their love of their selves, pride and greed. They cannot see the simple truths we see as followers of God. They look down upon us and think we are the ignorant ones, when reality is the other way around.
They cannot, or will not, see that the priceless gift Jesus came to offer us. Jesus came to save our souls and give us eternal life, eternal life starting right then. Not just for the Jews and Israel, but the whole wide world, Jew, Gentile, Greek and all others. Jesus brought salvation and life to the entire world. That was not what the Pharisees were looking so hard for with their magnifying glasses as they examined Torah and The Law. They were looking for what would be only a temporary power, power on this physical plane. This pales in comparison to safety and happiness forever, for all eternity. Pharisees were not big picture people, and as Calvin told Hobbes, We big picture people rarely become historians or Pharisees, I might add. The Pharisees were very obviously not big picture people; they misinterpreted the prophecies of the Messiah. Regardless, even though some people chose to misunderstand the prophecies, He came and He made that one sacrifice, at one time, for all mankind, for all time. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Who is Jesus? Our Savior? Indeed. But, more He has been since before the beginning of the world, for He is One with I Am.
Through His Actions, we are saved.
Do ye likewise:
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