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Who are we?

The center of the Traditional Anglican Communion; adhering to the Holy Bible (KJV) in all matters of Faith and Doctrine, a strict reliance on the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, The two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, the Two Creeds, and the Homilies and formularies of the Reformation Church of England.

Verse of the Day

Friday, April 3, 2020

Second Epistle of John Part 02 – 3 April 2020, Anno Domini



L
OOK to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.12 Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. 13 The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen. (II John 1:8-13)

            Christ Himself is our full reward. Instead of searching out the sins and errors of others, let us first follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in cleaning out the unsavory refuse of our own hearts. John is actually relating, as he always does, to those principles which our Lord taught him: And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye(Matthew 7:3-5) There is plenty of sins to judge in our own hearts without seeking out the sins of others. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Christ offers no partial reward – His reward is always full and whole. Some may have heard the phrase, The whole is equal to the sum of the parts. Aristotle. That is normally true except in things spiritual. In Euclidean math, it is stated that the whole is greater than the part. This is true of the elect in Christ. 

            You remember the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ at Gethsemane the night of His betrayal? Please read carefully the plea of our Lord during that time of a troubled heart: I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. In a sense, both Aristotle and Euclid are correct since the one is addressing apples, the other oranges. 

            9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

            God needs no part of ourselves to make Himself WHOLE. However, in accordance with the prayer of our Lord, the believer has the distinct privilege to become One in Christ who is, in turn, One in the Father. If we are One in Christ, we shall also be united as One in the Father – only means by which WE are made whole!  This is a case in which the sum of the parts do not necessarily equal the whole, but we are received into Christ and the Father as like parts of the whole. If churches were One in Christ, there would be little room for constant contention and disagreement; but the lack of complete understanding of God’s Word results in those contentions – and a couple of tablespoons of pride, as well, might be added to that equation. Abiding in Christ, and He in us, is not a temporary arrangement. When Christ enters into our hearts to abide, that means to live there FOREVER! We live and have our being in Christ if we belong wholly to Him – and there is no such thing as PARTIALLY belong to Him. We are either IN Christ or we have nothing to do with Him.

John issues a dire warning to the believer regarding the antichrists mentioned in verse 7 of this same chapter. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. The doctrine of Christ does not change to accommodate changing social norms and mores. The intent of the Gospel is to change the world, not have the world change the Gospel. That Gospel is the same that our Lord Jesus Christ taught and that which is further illuminated by the Apostles. If God says adultery is a sin, then it shall remain so regardless our accommodating opinions on the matter. If God says that marriage is alone between one man and one woman, then one thousand angels proclaiming it not so will change nothing concerning the truth of God’s Word. 

Remember the important 1st verse of Psalm 1:1 – Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. We do not rub shoulders with reprobate sinners to discourse on the rights or wrongs of illicit behavior. That was the error of Adam and Eve by walking to the tree, stopping at the tree, and them conversing with the Serpent. It was King David’s sin as well by getting up at an ungodly hour of the night, walking on his roof, and watching a beautiful lady take her bath. That ‘small’ sin led to adultery, murder, and the death of David’s child of Bathsheba. We neither engage casually, take pleasure in, or walk with those who do not accept the truth of the doctrines of our Lord.

Beware the counsel of Paul concerning so-called ‘alternate life-styles: 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Have you discounted the Doctrines of Christ in the above passage from Romans? If so, you have no part with my Lord.

 Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. Speaking face-to-face has greater effect than epistles and commentaries. It is for this reason that Christ came in the body of a man to testify of His Father and to show us, in flesh and blood, the Father whom we could not otherwise understand through the words of the prophets and the laws. The warmth of personal love and friendship is multiplied when shared face-to-face. We have much correspondence coming into our National Office of the AOC every day. We feel that we have come to know many correspondents through those mails; however, there is a great void of warmth filled at such time as we meet those same believers face to face. The Holy Spirit seems to testify through their spirits to ours as to their genuine persons. It is for this reason that Holy Communion is observed in personal communion with one another as with Christ. The Articles of Religion of the Reformation Church of England forbids that which is referred to as reserved communion. 

Benediction of John
The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen. The Elect Lady was known by all the Church for her charity and hospitality to all. Such traits are the characteristics that mark all Christian people. I am not sure to whom John refers as the children of thy elect sister. It may be that some members of the same Church were present with John at this writing and who may fitly have considered the elect lady as a mother figure, or the reference may be to actual sons and daughters who labored with John and who were the actual children of this good lady.

            Here concludes the study on II John. We will next take up a study of III John.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Second Epistle of John Part 01 – 2 April 2020, Anno Domini


T
 HE elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; 2 For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever. 3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. 5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.   (2 John 1-7)

            There should never be a lapse of Christian courtesy and deference paid to the honorable estate of womanhood. No one comes into this world apart from that agency of motherhood. All mankind, made in the image of God, deserve respect; however, that respect is multiplied by faith and service in this case.

            Doubt not the detractors who challenge the author to be the Apostle John and not another John. The authorship of John was accepted by the early church fathers to include Irenaeus who was a disciple of Polycarp who, in turn. Was a disciple of the Apostle John.

            We have already written a series of studies on First John, and this now begins the series on Second John. This is a rather brief chapter that roughly outlines those principles elucidated in First John. But observe how John, the Apostle of Love, opens his salutation in this Second Epistle: “The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth.” The term ‘woman’ bore much honor in the time of the apostles and was used by our Lord to denote a high degree of respect for that status, but lady adds a certain gravity to the honor which the apostles John seems to intend based upon the good fruits of this particular lady’s accomplishments both as a mother and a devoted adherent to the Lord (in my mind both are the same). I, too, share John’s high regard for womanhood, and my own mother set that deeply held sentiment in my heart.

            Do not be stumped by the reference of John to himself as elder and not apostle for such was his custom in humility. Peter, too, referred to himself as elder though he definitely was an apostle. Please remember our studies in both the Gospel of John as well as First John how John magnifies the gift of LOVE in all his writings. He loved the Lord Jesus Christ with such a constant and uncompromising love that he alone braved the dangers and wrath of the Jewish rulers by remaining at the foot of the cross of our Lord until all was finished. Let us neither forget the courageous women who also, more than the other disciples, remained there at the cross that day of Redemption.

            The term ‘elder lady’ obviously refers to some especially sacrificial service this lady had provided to the Church. Is it not so today that there are women with an abundance of love and a deficit of pride who are able to arouse the local church body to a higher plane of love and service?

            Such strong women of faith do not fail to convey that blessing to their children. If they fail of her faith, it is not for lack of sound teaching and demonstrated faith and love. She evoked love from others by first giving that love away to them. Isn’t that precisely the example of our Lord? “19 We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

John and all of the Church loved this elder lady in truth. I have met men and women whom I have loved from the very first simply because I loved the truth in which they believed and lived. It seems that the Holy Ghost testifies mystically between the hearts of others of the conviction of Christ that is in them. The Christian must love, and never hate, the truth; and when one is filled with the truth of Christ, can we help loving them?

The salutation continues with a blessing: “Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” We can only enjoy the grace, mercy and peace of God in truth and love. Remember the words of our Lord to the Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s Well? “23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Simple belief is not enough with our Lord. Our belief must be demonstrated by a sacrificial love. We may have memorized the Bible from Genesis to Revelations, but if we do not harbor that Word with love in our hearts, and service to others, it is of no worth. Even the devil believes: “19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 4:19)

The merits of a mother are discernible in her children, and John brings that out here: “I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.” If we are bear hunters, we must know to follow bear tracks. If we seek a loving and good mother, we look to the tracks her children leave behind. 

Love was the predicate of a moral and Christian people – even from Eden until now. John returns to the core of all his teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ: “And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.” I know some churches in my local area who are known for the truth they preach and insist upon, but they have a shameful lack of that reinforcing love that sustains the truth. These become judgmental without setting an example of righteousness themselves. John reminds the elect lady that Commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ which is truly the only New Commandment the Lord gave us. Do you remember it, friends? “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)

Our Lord gave us the summary of the two Tables of the Law called the great Commandment – and both Tables were sustained by that Love the Christian has for both God and his fellows. Under the Old Testament Church, the Commandments were enforced by strict ordinances and punishments; but under the New Testament Church, the Commandments of God are kept without abrogation by the power of LOVE! “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.” Please observe a verbal assent only is not sufficient – we must put feet to our obedience in love.

How does truth and love prevent our deception by the Great Deceiver? “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” Any who deny that Christ came in the flesh and met all the marks and sanctions of the Son of God is an antichrist. We have emerging churches today that deny that faith in Christ is necessary for Salvation. That is preaching another Christ from that of the Gospels. We have some churches arising in Asia (example, Eastern Lightning), and spreading to America, that proclaim that Christ did not finish His work, but their own little leader has come to finish that work Christ could not finish.    What blasphemy! Others preach that we can become as God-given enough practice! Or others teaching that Christ is a good teacher, but not the divine Son of God.

If we love the Truth, and its Author, we cannot be deceived by counterfeit gospels and counterfeit saviors.

The times are filled with falsehoods that seem to overwhelm the imagination. Many politicians in our own beloved America stagger as drunk men in the policies they advocate which are clearly immoral and full of deception. When we had believed that the outrage could grow no worse, another infidel steps up with proposals of wickedness in high places that baffles the mind and heart.

In these days, let us take the example of the elect lady and train up our children in the Walk and Way of Christ; let us labor in love with others in our midst to be examples of Christian virtue and obedience. “17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:19) But if judgment of sin fails at the Church, where shall it be manifested? Churches, though commanded to judge sin, are fearful to judge sin in our day – they fear political correctness charges, or condemnation by the luke-warm of their church. We must stand up as men and women of backbone and label immoral behavior for what it is – SIN!


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Atheist Holy Day – 1 April 2020, Anno Domini




O
 YE sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing (falsehoods)? Selah. But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD. There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. (Psalm 4:2-8)

            In defiance of the guidelines of the CDC to minimize public gatherings, the National Organization of Deluded Atheists (NODA) has planned its annual gala celebration in San Francisco drawing untold numbers of adherents from Venezuela, Havana, Pyongyang, and Beijing (sorry, I forgot to mention Chicago, Seattle, New York and Washington, D.C.). Trusting in the little god of Marxist ‘dialectical materialism,’ they flaunt the God of Mercy and Light in allowing such a pestilence as today to threaten a nation formerly blessed by God for its faith. Surely their little god will shield them with his delusions of a Green New Deal and such ministers as have emerged lately in the persons of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan

         In their drive to follow the advice of the serpent in the tree, these members of the deluded class advocate the destruction of the human race which our Lord created in Eden to multiply and replenish the earth. They have a number of tricks in their baskets such as homosexual marriage (an abomination in the eyes of the Lord), abortion – or murder of innocents in their mother’s womb, famine, economic collapse, wars, and the very sort of pestilence we see assailing all levels of society today. They are even willing to use Sharia Law as a means of collectivization since that form of law does not observe the perfect law of liberty. Though they may not be the source and cause of such pestilence, they refuse to allow the opportunity it presents to go unappreciated. They follow close in the footprints of their Fabian fathers in such policies.

            The police resources of San Francisco are tasked with the serious duty of maintaining order among those masses who refute the order of traditional civilizations as ‘oppressive.’ Not only is there the threat that the police powers of San Francisco may be overwhelmed, but the Sanitation department will face a challenge unequalled in the annals of civilized society in restoring a semblance of sanitation in the wake of these smelly atheists.

            If you took the above comments too seriously, I apologize, after all, today is designated the national holiday for atheists around the world – April Fools Day! But much of what I have said above is true of their character and purpose.

            In a Florida court case not many years past, certain plaintiffs had brought a case protesting the official observance of the Christian Holiday of Easter. They argued observing a Christian holiday was contrary to the US Constitution (though it makes no mention or restriction thereto) unless there is designated a similar holiday for atheists. The judge dismissed the case based on the lack of legal standing on the part of the atheists. The judge ruled that the atheists did, indeed, have such a designated holiday – April Fools Day.

            The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good(Psalm 14:1) Unrestrained government is the ultimate goal of the atheist – socialization of every venue of life – medicine, labor, association, education, and commerce. Once they control these, they can control who eats and who perishes, who profits from corrupt government and who pays the price of it. A greater damage has been done to our nation by corrupt Presidents of the recent past than all the pestilence from 1776 to the present have inflicted. The loss of life in the fight for freedom is preferred to bondage. 

            The fool places a far greater value on the outward appearance than they do on the inward worth. The reputation of the fool precedes him. A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left.  Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool. Ecclesiastes 10:2-3 (KJV) There might be some spiritual connection with God’s reference to the right and left hand. The right hand is the hand of authority and by which we swear oaths of loyalty or obligation. It is also the side of honor – a senior military officer always walks on the right side of his subordinates. But look at the position of the lambs of God compared to the goats on the day of accounting: When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left(Matthew 25:31-33)  

Fools do not follow God and neither do goats follow the Shepherd. The goat foolishly believes he needs no leading or shepherd, and he will have no shepherd on the last day. The Lord will receive into His Kingdom those sheep on His right hand, but the smelly goats on the left are rejected. In a sense the left and right designation reminds me of modern-day political powers. If the foolish goats are not received, into the Kingdom, what resort is left them: 41  Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:  I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:41-46) 

I have been astonished that fools and unbelievers (all unbelievers are fools) will promote thieves in government, hypocrites in the pulpits, ignoramuses in the schoolroom, and murderers in the abortion clinics. Do they presume that they will not face the same fate of all who are oppressed by such practices. Why promote a house built on sand when the Rock of our Salvation is available for the foundation thereof? 

The benefits of faith are enjoyed even beyond the bounds of belief in our society. Those who are called by His Name, i.e., Christians, who are faithful to the Commandments of God, are a benefit all levels of society beyond the walls of the church. Science, education, medicine, an ordered society, and the lifting of the unbecoming yokes of the poor are just a partial mention of those benefits. Blaise Pascal was perhaps the greatest mathematician to ever live and the father of the science of probabilities. He also was a Christian cleric. He composed a simple (perhaps over-simplified) proposition of the benefits of faith in God called Pascal’s Wager: 

One of Pascal’s most famous works was the Pensées (Thoughts), which was published posthumously in 1670. It is in this work that we find what is known as Pascal’s Wager.

The gist of the Wager is that, according to Pascal, one cannot come to the knowledge of God’s existence through reason alone, so the wise thing to do is to live your life as if God does exist because such a life has everything to gain and nothing to lose. If we live as though God exists, and He does indeed exist, we have gained heaven. If He doesn’t exist, we have lost nothing. If, on the other hand, we live as though God does not exist and He really does exist, we have gained hell and punishment and have lost heaven and bliss. If one weighs the options, clearly the rational choice to live as if God exists is the better of the possible choices. Pascal even suggested that some may not, at the time, have the ability to believe in God. In such a case, one should live as if he had faith anyway. Perhaps living as if one had faith may lead one to actually come to faith.

Of course, a calling and faith are prerequisites since we cannot be righteous in and of ourselves. It is the imputed righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ that makes us appear righteous in the eyes of God.

So happy Fool’s Day to all atheists for your days under the sun will be your most happy days if you deny Christ and suffer damnation at the end of days – poor fools that you are!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Devotion on Hymns of the Church - Hymn 406 – Art Thou Weary Art Thou Languid – 31 March 2020, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord


A
T that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes26  Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.  27  All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.  28  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls30  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:25-30)

            Perhaps equal interest to the lyrics of this ancient hymn is the story behind its origin. Atop an isolated prominence overlooking the Kidron Valley and the Dead Sea – about 10 miles from Jerusalem – is the monastery of Mar Saba. The monks of that monastery adhere to a very strict disciplinary regime, and most remain isolated in that desolate fortress-like mountain citadel throughout their lives. There were three men of that monastery who served there from around 725 AD to 794 AD – St. John of Damascus, St. Cosmos, and St. Stephen - the younger of the three who entered the monastery at the age of ten years and remained there until his death sixty years later (never having left that gloomy isolation). It is sad to realize that those lives may have been spent more profitably for the Lord had they gone forth into the world and preached the Gospel rather than secluding themselves in monasteries for the sake of growing personally more holy. But those were days of a different kind, a time when men and women were actually pleased to give their life-blood rather than deny faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. The monastery today is home to twenty monks of the Orthodox Faith.

            Imagine life in such desolate isolation! In evening hours, wolves and jackals would gather at the base of the cliff upon which Mar Saba rested and add their sorrowful howls to the already dark and unbecoming halls of the monastery. It was in this joyless atmosphere that St. Stephen composed the lyrics to our hymn. The hymn has survived intact for more than 1200 years. The monastery still stands amid the gloom of stone and darkness.

            The tune for the hymn is, STEPHANOS, by Sir William Henry Baker in 1868, and the English translation was rendered by the Anglican clergyman, John Mason Neale.
            
Art Thou Weary, Art Thou Languid

Art thou weary, art thou languid,
art thou sore distress'd?
"Come to me," says One, "and, coming, 
be at rest."

Has he marks to lead me to him,
if he be my Guide?
"In his feet and hands are wound-prints, 
and his side."

Is there diadem, as Monarch,
that his brow adorns?
"Yes, a crown, in very surety,
but of thorns."

If I still hold closely to him,
what has he at last?
"Sorrow vanquished, labor ended,
Jordan passed." 

If I ask him to receive me,
will he say me nay?
"Not till earth and not till heaven
pass away."

Finding, foll'wing, keeping, struggling,
is he sure to bless?
"Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs
answer yes." 

            Art thou weary, art thou languid, art thou sore distress'd? "Come to me," says One, "and, coming, be at rest." After centuries of futility in keeping the Sabbath of the Lord Holy, to which had been added many mundane ordinances by the Jewish religious rulers, comes the Lord Jesus Christ – our Burden Bearer – to fulfill the true meaning of Sabbath Rest – not just for the seventh day, but every day of the week. Our rest is in Him regardless the physical efforts we expend. He takes our burdens upon Himself and gives us rest. All our works are His works. It is Christ who works in, and through, the Christian. Only those works done out of our own motives and will are those to which we may lay claim, and they are all empty of worth.

           Has he marks to lead me to him, if he be my Guide? "In his feet and hands are wound-prints,  and his side."As the prolific blind hymnist, Fanny Crosby, exclaims, 

I shall know Him, I shall know Him
And redeemed by His side I shall stand,
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
By the print of the nails in His hands.

            I believe we shall know Him without need of any physical manifestation. The Holy Spirit will so powerfully abide upon the elect of God that all mystery of His being shall be revealed in a flash.

           Is there diadem, as Monarch, that his brow adorns? "Yes, a crown, in very surety, but of thorns." The crowns of kings in ancient times were very heavy – some weighing as much as 200 lbs, believe it or not!. I suppose the weight of the crown was intended to symbolize the great weight of responsibility that the role of a king bore with it. But the crown of Christ was not made of gold, silver and precious gems. Its frame was of course vine, and its adornment was of exceedingly long thorns (approx. one and a half inches). Not only was this crown placed upon His brow, but it was pushed down on his head with much force so that the large thorns cut gashes into His scalp which bled exceedingly. 

           If I still hold closely to him, what has he at last? "Sorrow vanquished, labor ended, Jordan passed." The waters of Jordan loom ahead for each of us. If we will enter the promised land, as did the Children at the end of their Wilderness journey, we will need a hand in crossing – and that Hand is the hand of our Lord Jesus Christ. With faith in Him, we shall not cross Jordan alone, but hand-in-hand with Him on dry ground. Without Him by our side, we shall perish in the flood waters.

           If I ask him to receive me, will he say me nay? "Not till earth and not till heaven pass away." How do we know for certain that we are secure in our salvation? Have we been blessed with the gift of faith and grace? Do we believe with humble hearts and love the Lord without mixture of compromise. If so, the Holy Ghost has moved in our heart and drawn us to the bosom of Christ, and those whom He has been given will never be forsaken by Him. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:37-40)

            Finding, foll'wing, keeping, struggling, is he sure to bless? "Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs answer yes." We need no further explanation here than the Lord’s own promise: “ 5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.  (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

AOC Sunday Report - Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called Passion Sunday



The AOC Sunday Report is available RIGHT HERE!

There are really great sermons today from Bishops Jerry and Roy, as well as Revs Jack and Bryan.  Each is quite different, though they cover some of the same Scripture.  You should enjoy each of them.

There are always a lot of people who need your prayer, today is no exception.  Please start with Bob and Shamu and work out from there.  In particular, we ask you pray for the governments around the world to be guided into appropriate reaction and scientists find cures and vaccines and that the corona virus pass each of us by.

There is an epic week ahead, with very little travel predicted.  But, you will not find it without help from the Holy Ghost, take it and use it!

Godspeed, 

Hap
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California

Fifth Sunday in Lent - Passion Sunday - 29 March 2020, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)


The Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called
Passion Sunday.
The Collect.

W
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
Ash Wednesday.
The Collect.

A
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.

W
HICH of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.  51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52 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. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54 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: 55 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. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by(John 8:46-59)

     God speaks to His own, and His own hear His Voice. If we are born of God, we shall surely enjoy His counsel and comfort. When God’s Word is proclaimed with power and conviction, no argument can stand against it. Since the enemies of God cannot brook the preaching of the Word, and cannot refute it, the weapon of choice is to attack the messenger. Their great problem in attacking Christ is not only the fact that He is the Messenger, but also the Message. How often have we seen their futile attempts to trap Him in His Words redound to their detriment? Even the Church has often struggle with faith. The Church of the modern era no longer struggles with faith – they have lost it! Can it be true that those who believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ shall never see death? If we believe God, we will believe all that He has told us. Every material entity in a material world must fade away and die, but those who are born of the Spirit in Christ have spirits that shall never perish in death or Hell. What is it that makes a man own a reputation of character and strength? It is not his own bragging of himself for reputations are established by more than mere words – it is the testimony of others who know the man and his life that establishes strong reputation and character. Christ did not testify of Himself because His Father in Heaven had already given, and was giving, a Holy Testimony and Revelation of His Son. When we are under God’s care and protection, the most violent of criminals cannot lay hand on us without the Father’s permit.

          46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? Has any man present brought charges against Christ? How often did they tempt Him to make a misstep, but He always turned the tables on clerical rascals every bit as greedy in nature and egregious in false teaching as those modern day wonders who populate pulpits across America in our own day. Even when He proved to them their error, they never turned from it. To be honest, they could not turn, for they were of their children the devil.

         47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. I never heard the counsel of another father and mother in my own home though it was given in every home in my neighborhood. I heard only the counsel of my own God-given parents.  If we are sheep of our Special Shepherd, we may even hear the mumblings of other shepherds with other flocks, but is the Voice of our own shepherd that we hear and follow. It is a fact that wolves will not hear the gentle commands of the Good Shepherd. It is not their intent to hear, but to tear and destroy the sheep. They do not hear and follow because it is not in their nature to hear and follow.

         48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devilSince Christ has truly identified these culprits as not true members of the family of God, they return to their old, trite argument of bloodlines. They call Christ a Samaritan (which they do not consider members of Israel). Suddenly, just by merely speaking words of reason and logic – and doing or saying nothing vile – Christ is labelled as having a devil! Need I remind you that rulers of the Jews have committed blasphemy and, this, not the first time?

         49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. Christ has accused these men of nothing that is not an absolute of the Holy Scriptures. Since Christ honors the Word of God the Father, and these men do not, which of the two have a devil? The Pharisees and Jews refuted, in custom, tradition, and action, the Word of God. They dishonor God thereby and even so His Son.

         50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Christ came to redeem and not to judge. The judgment has already been made by God’s Holy Word. It is by the standard of that Word that men are judged. If we are IN Christ, we are not under the terms of the Law and condemnation. But these men were far from the gates of the Holy City of God. Their deeds would judge them by that perfect standard of the Law.

         51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. This solution is too simple – too plain bread – for the sophisticated oracles of Judaism. How short a stride from hate and condemnation to freedom and liberty in Christ, but East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet: 

                     OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,     
                     Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;

     Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936)      

         52 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 deathThey are actually accusing Jesus of denying that Abraham followed God. They know that there is a grave in Machpelah that contains the bones of Abraham. Their dim wits, lighted by darkness only, cannot comprehend (or refuse to) the words of Christ. All they know and understand is the “here and now”. An eternal Heaven escapes their imagination. They may make allusions to that Heaven, just as false professor of our own time do, but they do not believe any “educated” marvel could ever seriously believe it.

        53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyselfThey know DEATH, but they do not know LIFE! Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Their scale-covered eyes do not see because they have dwelt in darkness so very long that they are blinded by Light.

        54 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: How can men know intimately a great King and not recognize His sons and daughters? It is actually impossible. The King sends His Son to greet those who claim His sovereignty. He forewarns them of His son’s Coming. He has written to them of it, spoken of it to them by the prophets whom they killed, and now the genuine Article stands before them and they know it not – or DO they?

         55 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. It is likely that the Jews have a head knowledge of God, but they have changed His character and description from that which He claims to be, to one which suits their own passions. When we know God of a truth we cannot disavow His sayings as the Chart and Compass of our lives.

        56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Quite often we fail to remember that Abraham was a Christian like unto the true Christian of this day.  His view of Christ was ALL of faith. He looked forward, in faith, to the Coming Redeemer in Christ. He was preached the Gospel and he believed the Gospel. Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.  And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed(Gal 3:6-8)   It was not the Stones of Sinai, or of Moses, that saves, but the Grace of God in Christ Jesus.

        57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen AbrahamGod is the God of the living and not the dead. Of course, Jesus has seen Abraham. As a matter of fact, grasp this: He saw Abraham before Abraham saw himself.

        58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Yes, He was before Abraham, He was before Adam, He was before the worlds (which He made) were cast into orbit by the artful Finger of God. He was before Gabriel and all created angels. Don’t we recall that He was before the beginning of all things? There was never a time when Christ was not in the Eternal Presence – I AM!

        59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. Ah, yes, the Ancien’ Regime! Destroy all opposition – if not by words, then, by all means, with stones. Though truth may lie trampled beneath the iron heel of hate,  it cannot be destroyed. Like the Spirit Itself, Truth shall arise time and again after the futile attempts of the ungodly to silence it. But, alas, it was not the appointed time of Christ to offer Himself. Though they would have stoned Him, He wonderfully passed through them, out of the Temple, under cover of Light. So may we all be protected from the wiles of the devil!

            It is a great comfort to realize our Lord is Eternally Present with His people, and He passes by unobserved by those who reject Him. Do you know the Presence of Christ in your heart today?

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called Passion Sunday - Explanation, Propers and Rev Jack's Sermon

Passion Sunday
Passion Sunday is the fifth Sunday in Lent, and the first Sunday in Passiontide, the last two weeks of Lent, beginning on Passion Sunday and ending on Holy Saturday (the Saturday before Easter). 

All crosses, pictures, images are covered with opaque purple veils and Gloria Patri is often omitted during this period. Passion Sunday is so-called because in the gospel for that day (John 8:46-59) Jesus begins his sufferings by being stoned out of the temple.  Under the old calendar, Passion Sunday was also known as Judica Sunday, after that day's Introit: Judica me, Deus (Judge me, O Lord) from Psalm 42 (43), and was called Black Sunday in Germany. This alternate name originates from the fact that after Passion Sunday, the Judica Psalm was not said again until Easter; the German title comes from the old practice of veiling the crosses and statues in the church on that day.

The Roman Catholic Church has completely suppressed Passiontide and eliminated Palm Sunday during the course of abandoning much of the Christian history and doctrine.  They now refer to Palm Sunday as Passion Sunday.  Traditional catholics[1] still observe Passiontide as well as its rites and ceremonies.  Passiontide is observed in the Anglican Communion.


[1] In this case the word catholic catholic (derived via Late Latin catholicus, from the Greek adjective (katholikos), means universal) comes from the Greek phrase (kath'holou), meaning on the whole, according to the whole or in general, and is a combination of the Greek words meaning about and meaning whole.  The word in English means including a wide variety of things; all-embracing in particular as relating to the historic doctrine and practice of the Western Church.   It was first used to describe the Christian Church in the early 2nd century to emphasize its universal scope. In the context of Christian ecclesiology, it has a rich history and several usages.  The term has been incorporated into the name of the Roman Catholic Church, arguably not actually a Christian church, though with many Christian members, under the Bishop of Rome.  Other Christians use the term catholic (normally with a lower-case letter c) to refer not to the Roman Catholic Church but the Christian Church and all believers in Jesus Christ across the world and across the ages, regardless of denominational affiliation.
-------------------------------
The Propers for today are found on Page 132-133, with the Collect first:

The Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called
Passion Sunday.
The Collect.

W
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
Ash Wednesday.
The Collect.

A
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 comes from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, the Ninth Chapter, beginning at the Eleventh Verse:

C
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.


Here endeth the Epistle.

This morning’s Gospel comes from the Gospel of Saint John, starting at the Forty-Sixth Verse of the Eighth Chapter:

Glory be to Thee, O Lord

J
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.

Praise be to Thee, O Christ

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California
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 and 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 us who are not perfect, following instructions can be hard at times but it must be done nevertheless. For if we do not follow His Instructions, we will never make it. Fortunately for us We have His guidance through the Holy Spirit available to help us make progress on the narrow uphill trail towards heaven. 
                                                                     
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. The body is just a temporary shell for our soul to be carried in while we do our best to do what God asks of us. We aren’t asking God for safety from the dangers to the body; but more importantly, we are asking safety for our soul. When our bodies fail and die here on earth, it is not a big deal compared to what happens to our souls after Death. What we need above all is protection from what we deserve by our own nature; eternal damnation.  So, the safety of us on this plane of existence is not nearly as important as in eternity. 

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 only need 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. It has always required Jesus’s sacrifice. The Old Covenant simply existed because it had to be on Earth first to prepare the people for the coming of the New. He established the New Covenant marked by His death on the Cross for our sins; this has done the job intended. God knew He had to set in place the Old before He could set in place Jesus and the New Covenant. People simply would not be prepared for Jesus’s message otherwise.

Going back to the concept of action, not just diction, Jesus commanded us to follow this concept by spreading the Gospel, the story of Jesus’ death and sacrifice for us for all time, and for all mankind, to all nations. In this, He said very clearly if we are His followers, we will do as He asks, in acting for Him. Action, not just diction, is what He is looking for. So, let us act for Him! 

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. 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 the enemies of God. 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[1].

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:

ACT

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



The Propers for today are found on Page 132-133, with the Collect first:

The Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called
Passion Sunday.
The Collect.

W
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
Ash Wednesday.
The Collect.

A
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?

C
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.[2]”  As might be expected, this offended the Keepers of The Law.

J
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.



[1] If the text of this sentence seems familiar, it is John 3.16, probably the most widely quoted text of the Bible.
[2] This response was similar to God’s answer to Moses’ question, “Who do I tell them sent me?”