Follow by Email

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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Day - First Sunday in Advent



I do recommend and assign Thursday ... next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.
George Washington
1789

This letter from Bishop Jerry is so important and critical that you read it, that we have put it right after the first President of the United States of America’s message.  If you read nothing else, read this.  We have seen what happens when we ignore God in our country.  If we want happiness, we need to follow His Will, His Directions, His Commands.  It matters not if you believe in Him.  He believes in you, thus you exist.  If we want our country to survive and prosper, we need to do what He wants us to do.  We cannot depend on others to do His Will, we must start, each of us, and NOW.  Please read this.

Thanksgiving 2014, Anno Domini
Letter to the Anglican Orthodox Church from Bishop Jerry L. Ogles, Presiding Bishop, Anglican Orthodox Communion - Worldwide

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. (Psalm 95:1-6)

            Each fourth Thursday of November we celebrate a National Day of Thanksgiving to our God.  It is a day sanctioned by a proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 in the midst of the War Between the States and an act of the Congress of the United States. Sadly, many in government and the public sector wish to diminish the meaning of the day by referring to it as ‘Fall Break” or “Turkey Day.” It takes a human turkey to call Thanksgiving by that latter name. It is irreverent to God and the meaning of the day to do so.

            When we read the passage quoted above from the 95th Psalm, one will labor in vain to find the invitation to come before the Lord with Thanksgiving limited to a single day of the year. In fact, our thanksgiving should be offered up every day, and every hour, of the year. But it is good that a grateful nation recognizes such a day each year. It is a time for gathering of family, friends, and loved ones for a meal reflecting the abundant blessings of God upon that family, and upon the nation. It is a blessing and comfort of Godly faith that families dine together. Our Thanksgiving Supper may even resemble that great Supper of the Lord where we sit down together with the whole church in the presence of the Lord for Communion. Love burns warmly in our hearts as we feast and celebrate our thankfulness to God, and to each other, for all of the blessings of the year. In view of the love and camaraderie that we feel during the Thanksgiving Feast, perhaps we should extend the practice to every meal of the family. Families that dine together stay together, as the saying goes.

            There are ample examples in nature that point to the spiritual. Let us consider the following illustration of thankfulness: “The circulations of the ocean currents constitute a plain and permanent picture of these relations between a human soul and a redeeming God. The sea is always drawing what it needs down to itself, and also always sending up of its abundance unto the heavens. It is always getting, and always giving. So, when in the covenant the true religion has been constituted, the redeemed one gets and gives, gives and gets; draws from God a stream of benefits, sends up to God the incense of praise.” Wm. Arnot

In the illustration given, it is worth noting that the waters of the sea are never diminished or exhausted by their giving. We ask only one thing of the Lord in the prayer He taught us to pray – the Lord’s Prayer. That one thing is our daily bread. In the Shepherd’s Psalm (23rd) we acknowledge that those who worship in spirit and in truth the Triune God are so blessed by Him that their Cups “runneth over.” These are cups of love, of faith, of plenty, of security, and of blessings. If the cups of our hearts are open to receive the grace and love of God, it will be impossible to want for a full cup regardless how much we give of our love and resources to others - is constantly being replenished and runneth over. It is a tried and true axiom that you cannot out-give God.

May this be a year of true Thanksgiving, national repentance, and renewed faith for a nation so well favored by God.

Happy Thanksgiving, and God bless you.
Jerry L. Ogles

Thanksgiving Messages 
from around the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide

Thanksgiving, most old-fashioned American holiday

Thanksgiving is syrupy occasion but should have significance as the most unrepentantly old-fashioned of American celebrations, a patriotic heirloom. It represents more than a litany of good tidings and an amalgam of turkey-time truisms.  There is a stubborn rectitude to the holiday itself, reminiscent of its stiff-necked Pilgrim forebears.  More than any other date on the calendar, Thanksgiving has remained private and personal, devoid of tinsel trappings.  Americans are allowed to be as prayerful or as secular as they choose, with no one complaining that they have somehow taken the thanks out of Thanksgiving.

No other holiday brings generations together without the lure of anything more tangible than a good dinner.  The merchants, media and politicians haven't ruined it yet.  Thanksgiving stands out as an oasis of tranquillity and a reminder of the values that once tempered America's materialism.  We should give thanks for the one holiday that cannot be bought.
Rev. Geordie Menzies-Grierson
AOC United Kingdom

Blessed Thanksgiving Day Dear Bishop and to all the saints at AOC Family Worldwide...
Rev. Shine in India

We give thanks today for the many blessings God has given us.  We also commemorate the celebration by the Pilgrims of their having survived the first year in a new land. 

A happy and blessed Thanksgiving to all.

And no, it isn't "Turkey Day".
Rev Ken Howe
Token Lutheran
Thanksgiving Day

Thursday brought us Thanksgiving Day; a day known primarily for the excess consumption of food in the company of all available family members.  Sometimes we forget the origin of the thanksgiving in Thanksgiving Day.  While we are, or certainly should be, grateful to God every day for the wonderful world, country and family He has given us, this is the day our country has set aside to give thanks to God.  Not thanks in general, but thanks to God.  If you look at other countries and other times, you cannot be but thankful to God we live here and now.  The list of things to be thankful to God is endless.  If nothing else, give thanks you are here now and able to praise Him.   Here is the start of our family list of things for which we are fortunate and give thanks for:

·      God's love for us;
·      Our great country;
·      Our families;
·      Our military who protect our freedom at great cost to themselves and their families;
·      Our church;
·      Our friends (that would be each of you)
·      Our health;
·      Our earthly great fortune;

Surely your list is similar.

The propers for Thanksgiving Day are found on pages 265-266:

Thanksgiving Day

The Collect.

O
 MOST merciful Father, who hast blessed the labours of the husbandman in the returns of the fruits of the earth; We give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase, to thy glory and our comfort; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle for Thanksgiving Day uses one of our favorite phrases “superfluity of naughtiness” and comes from the Epistle of St. James, the First Chapter, beginning at the Sixteenth Verse.  James counsels us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”  God is the perfect source of good.  What is good is of God.  Through His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, we have been given instructions on how to act.  Many of us have listened and claim to be followers of Christ.  But James warns us, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man be-holding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”  With so much about us, we need ask, what is it to do the work of the Lord?  The answer is simple, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

Being able to fluently and glibly talk the talk is meaningless, if you will not walk the walk.  You have to fulfill with your body the promises you made with your mouth.

D
o not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man be-holding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

The Thanksgiving Day Holy Gospel came from the Sixth Chapter of the Gospel according to Saint Matthew beginning at the Twenty-Fifth Verse.  Jesus tell us to “Trust in God and Dread Naught”.  He reminds us that by worrying, none of us can add even one cubit, or one second for that matter, to the span of our life here on earth.  In a very graphic example He points out that not even the raiment of Solomon, the most glorious of all kings, could approach the beauty of a lily, who toiled not at all. Do as God asks, put your faith in Him and all you need will come to you.  Understand, this means doing as He asks, not just sitting by and watching the world go by.  Note the words of James in the Epistle.

J
esus said, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than food, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are ye anxious for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore be not anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Sermon – Rev Hap Arnold – Time and Action
The Collect acknowledges in effect God hast blessed the efforts of the workers as shown by the things they produce from the natural resources God provided and that we give thanks for this great harvest of useful things, food and others, and that we pray God will continue to guide us and help us so we can stay prosperous and happy to show how great He is and for our own comfort, by the way.

In his Epistle, James tells us all good is of God and if we are of God, we will act of God.  Saint Matthew reminds us we should not worry about how things will be or what we will do.  Just do what we are supposed to now.  For yesterday will never come again and tomorrow will never get here.  If we do not act today, it will not be done.

Few thinking people would dispute that our country is in trouble.  More than it has ever been before.  With the exception of the Civil War, in the past our threats have been external.  We were able to come together around a common core and eliminate the threat.  Today, our enemy is among us and attempting to divert people from our common core values.

Make no mistake, this has been a Judeo-Christian country since it was first inhabited, read General Washington’s proclamation regarding Thanksgiving.  From the beginning, people came here to worship in freedom, the greater part of them serious Christians, almost all nominal Christians owing their heart’s allegiance to our Lord.  But, almost all in the end feeling their world would be best served with freedom of religion.  None looked for freedom from religion.  Even the very few agnostics valued the Christian religion as the only one suited for a Republic.

Christians are exhorted to pray hard, love hard, work hard and yes, play hard.  We are not to be slothful in any thing, but moderate in all things.  To be respectful, conservative and happy.  We are not to be a burden on others, if possible. “…if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3) 

But, what do we find today?  People being exhorted to do what feels good, to take it easy, to accept the handouts instead of working.  To be slothful, disrespectful, immoral and illiterate.  All this by our government and its minions. 

What is the result?

Record levels with regard to:

·      Our country’s respect level at its lowest since 1776;
·      Increased crime;
·      Inflation;
·      Poverty;
·      Unemployment;
·      Suicides;
·      Illegitimate Births;
·      Cohabitation And Serial Habitation;
·      Unhappiness!
So, what is the cure?  Follow God’s instructions.

What can you do?

Act on those right next to you.  Spread the Gospel to the person next to you.  It is your job!  It is God’s commandment.  Start with yourself and work outward.

Accept nothing less that your best from you.  Maintain a positive attitude, encourage your family to maintain a positive attitude.  Attend church, so you can be around people with the right ideas at least once a week.  Work with members of your church to stabilize their lives.  Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.  Remember, we all die.  There are none so poor as cannot purchase a noble death.  Act like today is your last day.  Do what must be done.  Accept nothing less from yourself.  Encourage your friends and family.

God gave us a job to do.  We must not fail.  The country may survive, it may not.  That is not our concern.   I took an oath of office well over forty years ago agreeing “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”  Now is not the time to stop.

The oath of office I took lays out our job pretty clearly.  We must do what we can to insure our country is here for the future.  That means bring people around to the side of God.  We need to be on His Side.  God is never on our side, He expect us to come to His Side.  The country’s problems all stem from a failure to follow His Directions.  So, one person at a time, we need to bring people over to His Side.  Start with you and work outward.  If one out of a hundred of us had brought one person to His Side, things would be different soon.

Start today!  Read Scripture every day.  Figure out what at least one verse means.  It will take a while, but you have the rest of your life to complete your study.  Figure out what God wants you to do and do it.  Try to pay your own way everywhere.  If someone must owe, let others owe you.  Do your part.  Be part of the economic solution, not the problem.  Remember, debt is not your friend.  Be vigilant in protecting your civil rights.  Do not surrender civil rights for temporary and illusory security.  Take the time to talk to others and try to help them understand how much more freedom and hard work can bring compared to “free things” from a plantation government.  Support free enterprise and this country.  Remember you are free because of the blood shed on your behalf by those who have gone to war to protect you.  Do not give up the freedom they died for.

Do not despair!  All is not lost.  And, if all were lost, there would still be no room for despair, rather one last charge. There is a lot to be done.  Go forth and do His Work. 

This is a great country; not because God was on our side, 
but rather because it has always been on God’s Side.  
Let it stay that way!


First Sunday in Advent

Today was the First Sunday in Advent.  This is the first day of the new “liturgical year”[1], a New Year’s Day, so to speak.  

On Point
Someone asked, where do the quotes come from?  The answer is from the people who uttered them.  But, how did you find them?  Oh, that.  Some from Bishop Jerry, many from Rev Bryan Dabney, a few from other places, some from Rev Geordie Menzies-Grierson, but overall mostly from Bryan.  He always has some great ones to share.  On to the On Point quotes –

Rule of Law
Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.
Samuel Adams
essay in The Public Advertiser, 1749

The New Man
And now we begin to see what it is that the New Testament is always talking about. It talks about Christians ‘being born again’; it talks about them ‘putting on Christ’; about Christ ‘being formed in us’; about our coming to ‘have the mind of Christ’.

Put right out of your head the idea that these are only fancy ways of saying that Christians are to read what Christ said and try to carry it out—as a man may read what Plato or Marx said and try to carry it out. They mean something much more than that. They mean that a real Person, Christ, here and now, in that very room where you are saying your prayers, is doing things to you. It is not a question of a good man who died two thousand years ago. It is a living Man, still as much a man as you, and still as much God as He was when He created the world, really coming and interfering with your very self; killing the old natural self in you and replacing it with the kind of self He has. At first, only for moments. Then for longer periods. Finally, if all goes well, turning you permanently into a different sort of thing; into a new little Christ, a being which, in its own small way, has the same kind of life as God; which shares in His power, joy, knowledge and eternity.
Jack Lewis
Mere Christianity

tOh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
Psalm 107:21

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.
Proverbs 12:24

But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
Ezekiel 18:21
Thus speaketh the LORD of host, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother.
Zechariah 7:9

Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
St. Mark 7:7

Nothing is a greater prejudice to our joy in God than the love of the world; and the sorrow of the world, the consequence of it.
Matthew Henry
17th and 18th century English pastor and author

The Devil’s power is greatly and strangely enhanced by his system of worship, which, while it degrades, fascinates many people. The system of pagan worship and devotion is very powerful. It holds its devotees by iron chains. It is not a work of chance, and it does not spring from native religious instincts. It is a system of rare power and skill constructed by a graduate in the craft of seduction and delusion. Satan’s hand is at the root of all pagan worship — planning, ordering, and inspiring it. It is this fact that gives it strength and influence.
EM Bounds
19th and 20th century American theologian and author
Guide To Spiritual Warfare, p. 88

Peace either exists as a given condition or it is maintained by strong armies and ready deterrence. Peace cannot be found on the moral high ground, only [on] the mountains of the graves of the dead.
Daniel Greenfield
21st century American commentator

Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.
Thomas Jefferson
19th century American president and patriot

On perfection
The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.
Jack Lewis
Mere Christianity

Screwtape on going to Church
Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.

The reasons are obvious. In the first place the parochial organisation should always be attacked, because, being a unity of place and not of likings, it brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity the Enemy desires. The congregational principle, on the other hand, makes each church into a kind of club, and finally, if all goes well, into a coterie or faction. In the second place, the search for a ‘suitable’ church makes the man a critic where the Enemy wants him to be a pupil. What He wants of the layman in church is an attitude which may, indeed, be critical in the sense of rejecting what is false or unhelpful, but which is wholly uncritical in the sense that it does not appraise—does not waste time in thinking about what it rejects, but lays itself open in uncommenting, humble receptivity to any nourishment that is going. (You see how grovelling, how unspiritual, how irredeemably vulgar He is!) This attitude, especially during sermons, creates the condition (most hostile to our whole policy) in which platitudes can become really audible to a human soul. There is hardly any sermon, or any book, which may not be dangerous to us if it is received in this temper.
Jack Lewis
The Screwtape Letters

Propers
Today, the propers for today can be found on Page 90-92:

The First Sunday in Advent
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be repeated every day, after the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Day.

The Epistle for today comes from Paul’s letter to the Romans, starting at the Eight Verse of the Thirteenth Chapter.  Paul tells us to be self sufficient, but love and care for one another, do not commit adultery, do not murder, steal or lie.  But more than that, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”  For, if you love your neighbor, you will do no ill to him.  “Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”  We need to do this today, because the time of “our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.”  We hear often “The end of the world is near.”  And it may well be.  But for each of us, this world’s end comes when we leave for the next.  Have we treated our fellow beings as Jesus commanded us in God’s name?  Because in the answer to that is hidden the key to our next life.

O
WE no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Today’s Holy Gosel came from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, the Twenty-First Chapter, beginning at the First Verse.  It is the story of Palm Sunday when Jesus came triumphant into Jerusalem.  Jesus sent “two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.”  This was done that the prophecy of years gone past might be fulfilled of a triumphant entry of the Messiah into Jerusalem.  The people expecting a Prince of this World, “spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.”   Rather than assuming the crown of this world, “Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”[2]

W
HEN they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

THE EXHORTATIONS.
¶ At the time of the Celebration of the Communion, after the prayer for the whole state of Christ’s Church, the Priest may say this Exhortation. And Note, That the Exhortation shall be said on the First Sunday in Advent, the First Sunday in Lent, and Trinity Sunday. 

D
EARLY beloved in the Lord, ye who mind to come to the holy Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ, must consider how Saint Paul exhorteth all persons diligently to try and examine themselves, before they presume to eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. For as the benefit is great, if with a true penitent heart and lively faith we receive that holy Sacrament; so is the danger great, if we receive the same unworthily. Judge therefore your- selves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the Lord; repent  you truly for your sins past; have a lively and stedfast faith  in Christ our Saviour; amend your lives, and be in perfect charity with all men; so shall ye be meet partakers of those holy mysteries. And above all things ye must give most humble and hearty thanks to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for the redemption of the world by the death and passion of our Saviour Christ, both God and man; who did humble himself, even to the death upon the Cross, for us, miserable sinners, who lay in darkness and the shadow of death; that he might make us the children of God, and exalt us to everlasting life. And to the end that we should always remember the exceeding great love of our Master, and only Saviour, Jesus Christ, thus dying for us, and the innumerable benefits which by his precious blood-shedding he hath obtained for us; he hath instituted and ordained holy mysteries, as pledges of his love, and for a continual remembrance of his death, to our great and endless com- fort. To him therefore, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, let us give, as we are most bounden, continual thanks; submitting ourselves wholly to his holy will and pleasure, and studying to serve him in true holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. Amen

Bishop Ogles’ Sermon
We are oft fortunate to get copies of Bishop Jerry’s sermon notes.  Today is one of those Sundays. Today’s sermon starts off with the collect, and like always, it will give you a lot to consider in your heart.

Sermon Notes – Evening Gospel
First Sunday in Advent
30 November 2014, Anno Domini

The First Sunday in Advent
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be repeated every day, after the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Day.

T
HEN shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the doorwas shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 25:1-13)

As with all of the Parables of Christ, I love this one. The Words of Christ are full of life! Each time I read the Gospels, and especially the Parables, a new and meaningful insight presents itself as it does with all Scripture. Once, again, the central theme here is of a marriage supper an event extremely important in imparting the importance God attaches to the estate of matrimony as well as to His Church as the Bride of Christ.

The key thought in today’s message is that of having enough oil on hand to light our lamps. Have you considered the importance of Light, and of thanking God for the Light that He has given us? Here is an old illustration on the importance of Light and how we should be thankful for it:

Suppose the Sun Shouldn't Rise?
There is an imaginative story of that morning when the sun did not rise. Six o'clock came and no sign of dawn. At seven o'clock there was still no ray of light. At noon it was as black as midnight and no bird sang. There was only the hoot of the owl and the swoop of the bat. Then came the black hours of the black afternoon. No one slept that night. Some wept, some wrung their hands in anguish. Every church was thronged to its doors with people upon their knees. Thus they remained the whole night through; then millions of eager, tear-wet faces were turned toward the east. When the sky began to grow red and the sun rose once more there was a shout of great joy. Now millions of lips said, "Bless the Lord, O my soul." Why were these people so thankful? Just because the sun rose after one day of darkness. The very constancy of God's blessings sometimes seems to kill our gratitude. Whereas the wonderful thing about the mercies of God is that they are fresh every morning and new every evening.  —Henry Alford Porter

We observe in today’s text two different kinds of character and two different outcomes that ensue from each.

This is a Parable of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a picture, if you will, of the existence in the Church of those who are burning and sincere followers of Christ, and those who are only nominal Christians who make no preparation or study to be accepted of God. These are the two different kinds of hearts that are depicted. The lamps represent those hearts and the oil, the grace and love. The virgins represent the purity of doctrine and faith in the church. The Bridegroom, of course, is Christ. It is true that all of the oil in the world will not benefit us unless we have used it to fuel the FIRE of our Light. There is a subtle reference also to two doors: an open door, and a shut door.

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. So far, we have ten virgins whose appearance seem very similar, but those qualities not seen such as wisdom and fool-heartedness  do not appear by simple observation.  Perhaps more than 50% (and most certainly so) of all professing Christian fall into the latter category of being foolish. But they all subscribe to the same faith and truth of the Gospel. They appear righteous.

They are good moral people for they are virgins. The church is comprised of both wheat and tares. The tares APPEAR to be wheat. They grow where the wheat grows. In every way, the tares look like wheat in texture, in color, and in size. So many Christians may have an intellectual assent of Christ, but they lack the oil and fire of true faith. They look like Christians. They talk like Christians. They attend church every Sunday. But they are lacking the testimony, love, faith, and grace of a true follower of Christ. The only Bible they know is that read by the minister or Lay Reader. They have hearts, but nothing to fuel the fire of faith in those hearts. Both the true Christians and professing Christians go forth to meet the Bridegroom. But five have a problem.

            They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them. Can you receive Christ in your heart but not love? These foolish virgins (professing Christians) took their hearts to Christ, but they did not allow Christ to enter those hearts. The oil that could have been purchased by Bible study and faithful service is lacking. Those who seem to strictly keep the commandments are often those whose hearts are the most devoid of love.

            But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. The wise virgins had made preparation for this expected moment. They had purchased oil and carried it in vessels to take with their lamps. We cannot follow Christ in darkness. These wise virgins were not at all casual in their faith, but earnest and sober.

            While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. (Note that all ten virgins slumbered and slept while the Bridegroom tarried.) Those of mild conviction slept alongside those who took their faith seriously. We all need sleep. Because of their lack of real faith, the foolish virgins were able to sleep not expecting the Bridegroom. The wise virgins, because they DID have faith, slept in peace because they had peace in their hearts toward God.

            And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. The custom in Israel was for a man to seek a bride for his son. When a suitable bride was found, a meeting would be arranged for the young man and young woman to meet. They would meet at the home, and with the girl and her parents, of the young lady. There would be a cup of wine prepared on a table around which the company gathered. The boy and girl would chat a bit. After a while, if the boy found the girl acceptable to his liking, he would drink from the cup. The girl, if she found the prospective bridegroom acceptable, would drink from that same cup! That exchange of sups from the cup formally signified the betrothal of the couple.

The son would then go to his father’s place and build a residence for his bride under supervision of the father. This may consume a period of one, two, or more years. When the father believed the provision constructed for the bride was acceptable, he would send the son to fetch the bride.

The bridegroom would send his groomsmen to fetch the girl. The hour was usually irregular for the sake of surprise, and most often at, or after, midnight. One of the groomsmen would sound a trumpet near the girl’s
home. This was the signal that the bridegroom had sent for her. She and her bridesmaids would need to grab whatever bags and provisions desired and rush out to meet the bridegroom.

How like that is the manner in which Christ will return for His Bride!  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed(1 Cor 15:51-52)

            The point here is that the true worshippers must be ready at all times to go with Him. There will be no time to set our affairs in order once the trumpet sounds.

            Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. See how similar are the actions of both groups of virgins! They BOTH arose, and they BOTH trimmed their lamps the foolish virgins were going through the motions still of being prepared, but they were NOT!

            “And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.” Those who are lazy and slovenly will always beg to enjoy the fruits of preparation of others. But in actuality, the wise virgins could not share their oil. There was only enough for themselves. That is true of faith. The faith of the most faithful mother in the world cannot be granted to a son to save him. We must all come to Christ by grace through that faith! But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you. The wise will always ensure that their faith is sufficient to receive sufficient grace.

            “But go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.” “Buy the word and sell it not!”  This is the approach the AOC has always taken toward the sharing of the Gospel – we share it without cost to the recipient. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1)

The wise virgins knew that it would be too late to purchase the oil and still meet the bridegroom, but they answer courteously and out of sympathy. If they did share, they knew that the oil would run out and both would be lost.

            “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage.” Only those who are ready will go with Christ when He comes. It will be then too late to study, to nurture faith, to love more, and to trust God. These wise virgins went into the marriage through and open door. That door will open for those who are worthy through the imputed merits of Christ. “..and the door was shut!” The door was open for those who were prepared and ready, but shut immediately behind them.

            Now we come to the SHUT DOOR! “Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. How seemingly tragic that many Christians will sit in church week after week and appear real and true Christians. The church door has always been open to them but, now, the door is shut in their faces at the end. They have put up a good front. They have worshipped God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him.

            Who shut the door? Was it the wise virgins? No, it was not. It was God who shut the door. Man has not the authority to shut the door of salvation on any man, but only God. Remember Noah and the Ark God commanded him to build. When the time was come, the Lord commanded Noah, not to GO into the Ark, but to COME into the Ark. Do you notice the important difference? Where God is, that is the place of safety. Where the bridegroom is, that is the place of blessing. “And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.” (Gen 7:1) So Noah went into the place of safety - the Ark. Then, after Noah entered the Ark, what happened? Did Noah shut the door of the Ark? No, man has no authority to close the doors of mercy on mankind - that is the prerogative of the Lord. “ . . .and the LORD shut him in(Gen 7:16b)

            “But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” If we do not take the effort to know Christ very well as intimate friend, Savior, Redeemer, and Sovereign, he will not know us either. For friends to be close, each party must know the other intimately. How tragic will it be to hear those words from the mouth of Christ!

            “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. There are a lot of pseudo-prophets today attempting to determine the exact day and time of Christ’s return. Why is it so important to them? Perhaps it is the money they make in selling books with such sensational predictions. But, perhaps a more important reason is that they do not desire to serve God presently. They prefer to hedge their bets and live according to the lust of their flesh for now, and then, as their presumed day arrives for Christ’s return, they will clean up their act, so to speak. It is the will and intent of God that we know not the hour or day of His return. We are to watch and pray in our lives each day as if that were the day of His Coming.

            I like what Horatius Bonar, an old-time minister and hymn writer of the Free Church of Scotland, says about this Parable:

THE oil is the Holy Spirit. To oil he is likened throughout all Scripture, though in some places to fire and water, to wind or air. But it is as the light-giving oil that he is specially spoken of here; and the lack of him, as such, makes the difference between the foolish and the wise ; having not the spirit. (Jude, verse 19.) Thus a man may be very like a Christian, and yet not be one. He may come very near the kingdom, and yet not enter it. He may have all the outward features of a Christian, and be lacking the main one. He may have the complete dress of a saint, and yet not be one. He may have a good life, a sound creed, a strict profession; he may be one who says and does many things excellent; he may be a subscriber to all the religious societies in the land, a member of all their committees, or a speaker at all their meetings, and a supporter of all their plans; he may profess to be looking for Christ's coming, and going forth to meet the Bridegroom, and yet not necessarily a Christian. He may lack the oil the Holy Spirit. A religion without the Holy Ghost profiteth nothing. There is the religion of the intellect, of the sense, of the fancy, of the flesh, of the creed, of the liturgy, of the catechism, of nature, of poetry, of sentiment, of mysticism, of humanity; but what are these without the Spirit. Christianity without Christ what would that be ? Worship without God what would that be? So religion without the Holy Spirit what would that be ? Go to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. Not to men, or churches, or ministers, but to Christ. Go to him. He is exalted to give it, and he will. Apply to him ere it be too late

            Do we possess this oil? Do we have fire to cause the oil to provide light? Are you aware of the precious oil available in God’s Word to be replenished daily by your study? Perhaps we should all be better Scouts!

Be Prepared!

Bishop Dennis Campbell’s Sermon
Bishop Dennis is a brilliant speaker.  He is able to take biblical precepts and make them perfectly understandable, even to me.  Oft he provides the text of his sermons and I take the utmost pleasure in passing them on:

Hope
First Sunday in Advent
November 30, 2014

We have come to the time of year when we return to the doctrinal content of the Christian Faith.  We have been emphasising what Christians do.  Now we turn to what Christians believe.  Both are important, even indispensable parts of being Christian.  That is one of the major points of the book of James, who wrote, “faith without works,” that is Christian belief without Christian living, “is dead.”

The Christian life revolves around two poles: worship and service.  Worship draws us aside from the world to focus on the Being and works of God, especially His grace towards us in coming to earth as a Man, to die for our sins.  Real worship is not something we add to our lives when we become Christians, like accessories on a car.  Real worship is a way of life.  We often hear evangelicals say being a Christian is a relationship with Jesus.  Most of what they mean by that is incorrect, but the relationship with Jesus part is right.  It is the way that relationship is done that they misunderstand.  We relate to Jesus primarily through the means of grace, and we experience the means of grace in worship.  Worship, then, is the heart of what Christians do.

Worship, then, turns us aside from the world to revere the things of God.  Service sends us back into the world to do the things of God, to live holy, Godly lives.  Doing the things of God is not always what some imagine to be great deeds of valour.  Usually it consists of doing our jobs well, loving our families, dealing with the countless problems and temptations of life, mowing the lawn, cooking the meals, and going to Church.  But, if we really think about theses things, we may see that they are great deeds of valour, equal to writing great theology books, or building great congregations, or traveling the world preaching to millions of people.

I said worship and service are the two poles around which the Christian life revolves.  Let me change that metaphor to that of a building.  The Christian life is a building with two glorious rooms.  One is worship, the other is service.  But the ground on which that building stands is doctrine.  Without docrtine worship becomes an emotional experience which we work in our selves through psychological manipulation.  You can see this in most of the TV/radio churches, and in most of the congregations throughout the world today.

Real Christian life is a response to the revelation of God preserved in the Bible.  That revelation is not an emotion, it is propositional truth.  The Church calls that truth, “doctrine.”
Today we are looking into the revelation of God, and emphasising two of the foundational doctrines of the faith. Jesus has come.  Jesus will come again.

When we say Jesus has come, we don’t mean He came to visit our world, like a tourist.  He came to work.  He came to give Himself on the cross, by which He accomplished our redemption.  To say He visited our world is to declare that He is not of our world.  He is different from us.  It is to affirm that God became flesh and dwelt among us.  Some how, as only God can do, He remained God in Heaven, and, at the same time added human flesh and soul to Himself and became Man on earth.  Fully God and Fully Man.

Advent reminds us that this planet existed for generations in hope of the Redeemer.  In the Old Testament era, the law and the sacrifices reminded us that a fundamental dysfunction exists in nature, in humanity, and in every single individual person.  We are out of fellowship with our world, with one another, and even with our own selves, because we are out of fellowship with God.  The more we looked at the law of God, the more we realised that we fall short of its demands.  The more sheep we slaughtered to pay for our sins, the more we realised no amount of sheep could ever atone for the sins we have committed, and the more we realised our complete and total inability to make ourselves right on any front.  And yet, we were not without hope.  The very law that told us of our sins also told us of the One who would come to take away our sins.  The very sheep we knew could never pay for our sins, told us of the One Lamb of God that can pay for them.  And so we lived in hope.  We heard from the prophets that the Messiah was coming.  We heard He was coming to forgive sins, and to begin to re-make this world and us, into something that is far better than anything we could make on our own; something that is very much like the world before sin ruined it, and very much like man before sin ruined us.  In short, He would begin to reform us into something very much like Heaven itself.

Advent also reminds us that, though that great reformation has begun, it is not yet complete.  In fact, it is here in seed form.  It exists in the Church.  We are the society of the restoration.  The “world” remains in darkness.  So we still wait for the completion of the Messiah’s great work.  We live in hope that He will return and make all things right for His creation and His people.

Thus we come to the meaning of this First Sunday in Advent, hope.  We have hope.  Therefore, let us live in hope.  Let us put away the works of darkness.  Let us live in the Light.

+Dennis Campbell
Bishop, Anglican Orthodox Church Diocese of Virginia
Rector, Holy Trinity Anglican Orthodox Church
Powhatan, Virginia


Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
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. 

The First Sunday in Advent
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be repeated every day, after the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Day.

To cast off the works of darkness and don the armour of light, we must turn to Christ, who came to visit us, born in a simple and humble inn in Bethlehem.  As His manner of birth, we must be humble as well, not boastful and proud like the rich[3], but meek and lowly, to embrace light and cast off the works of darkness.  Though He came in a rather humble manner, He shall return in a glorious and majestic manner, a rather stark contrast to His original incarnation, leaving no doubt who has come to lead us.

We must not be for God in speech only, but in deed. For many in the very same crowd who cried “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday were there early on Good Friday.  What did they cry for then?

“Crucify Him, Crucify Him!”

Pilate asked for them to cry for mercy, they cried for vengeance on their Lord and Savior!

A swift 180° turn from “Hosanna to the Son of David”.  How quick are men to turn upon that of a good thing. As Charles Spurgeon said "It is an astounding thing and a proof of human depravity that men do not themselves seek salvation. They even deny the necessity of it and would sooner run away than be partakers of it."  This is due to our natural inclination to choose the fruit of death rather than the bread of life, which comes from the Baker of Life, Jesus Christ. 

I was reading Genesis 40 the other day with my parents and it struck me how the tale of the baker and the butler of the Pharoah, with each with three days to their eventual fates, was a parallel to Christ.  Why the two had differing fates is not clear in Scripture, but for certain Christ is the Baker of Life, and who in three days arose from the dead to have conquered death. The Bread of Life is Christ’s sacrifice for us, and every time we partake of it in Holy Communion and listening to the Gospel and the Epistle, we must always remember the cost of our freedom from death. Also with the cost comes conditions, namely that we profess Christ as Our Saviour and to put Him first in our lives, love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves. We have heard this before in the Summary of the Law. This is what the Law of God condenses down to, and this is what all our laws that we set forth must be based upon, for there is no other rational or foundational base so great and solid as Christ. He must be the Chief Cornerstone in our lives, if our lives are to have any meaning. There are those who He is not chief in, and they are those who may vainly profess His name with their lips, but not in their actions. This is a great sorrow for them. They have not kept the Word of God in their hearts, though they may shallowly profess it with their lips. It is action and not diction that counts!

We must not be like them.  We must put on the great Armour of Light and to reject our former lives of sin and vanity. We must switch from our old selfish lives to a new unselfish, Christ filled lif. It is something that we always will be struggling  with, but god never gives up on us. As long as we repent from our sin and turn back to God in our private prayers and devotion, he will wipe our slate clean. I know I have a hard time keeping on the straight and narrow path, so I am glad He left the Scriptures to guide us.

Through following His Word and Instructions, we shall be given a greater reward than anything existent on the Earth; past, present or future, that gift of immortal life, life for all eternity, that will outlast this physical world. To don the armour of light is not merely putting it on, you have to utilize it, and utilize the helmet, the buckler and sword (Scriptures and Christ’s teachings).  You need the who complement of weaponry to go into combat with the Prince of Darkness in this fallen world.

Make no mistake, we are engaged in a World War with the Prince of Air, the Prince of this world for the souls of men, starting with our own, a World War which which has been going on since the beginning of time. But we know the ending is in our favor for certain, for the Book of Revelations tells us so.

As individuals we may not experience victory here on earth. We may struggle with problems in this world and our own, our whole lifespan on this planet. We may not know that savor, but we know that in the end, He will be victorious as we know the Savior.  We will win, for we are on His Side.

Cast off the dull worn robes of darkness, which lack luster, give no warmth, protect not from the heat, and put on the shining glorious armour of light.  So kitted up, we walk in light, not in darkness where we may stumble and fall.   Unlike moths, for us light is life, not the destruction of darkness.

Come, put on the Armor of Light and go forth to destroy that last enemy, death!

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

Roy Morales-Kuhn, Bishop and Pastor - St. Paul's Anglican Church - Anglican Orthodox Church
Bishop Roy is pastor of the biggest AOC parish West of the Mississippi and is in charge of the Diocese of the Epiphany.  

First Sunday in Advent 
Psalm 46 • Isaiah  28: 14 – 22 • Hebrews 12: 14 - 29
30 November 2014

As we reflect on the three passages of scripture we heard this morning, let us look at themes that come out in each set of verses:

·      Repentance
·      Salvation
·      Peace
·      Kingdom come

   Let us take time to reflect on the Word of God, reflect on His great gift to us, His Son Jesus, let us use the time at hand to delve into the Word made flesh, Immanuel.

Psalm 46. Deus noster refugium.

G
OD is our hope and strength, * a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be moved, * and though the hills be carried into the midst of the sea; 
3 Though the waters thereof rage and swell, * and though the mountains shake at the tempest of the same. 
4 There is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God; * the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most Highest. 
5 God is in the midst of her, therefore shall she not be removed; * God shall help her, and that right early. 
6 The nations make much ado, and the kingdoms are moved; * but God hath showed his voice, and the earth shall melt away. 
7 The Lord of hosts is with us; * the God of Jacob is our refuge. 
8 O come hither, and behold the works of the ord, * what destruction he hath brought upon the earth. 
9 He maketh wars to cease in all the world; * he breaketh the bow, and knappeth the spear in sunder, and burneth the chariots in the fire. 
10 Be still then, and know that Iam God: * I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth. 
11 The Lord of hosts is with us; * the God of Jacob is our refuge. 

In Psalm 46 we read:

There is tumult and fury, “nations in uproar, kingdoms fall”   “come see the works of the Lord, the desolation he has brought on the earth.”    And yet out of this chaos we get peace.

 “He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.” 

And then the promise;

 “Be still and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations.
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

                                The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress.

This last verse brings us back to the first verse in this psalm as a full circle.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

In this refuge, this citadel, this stronghold, God protects his own.  We have that promise that even in the times of trouble, chaos, confusion, ‘the God of Jacob is our refuge.’

In the Isaiah passage we get a glimpse of the coming Christ as Isaiah warns the people of Israel to be careful, to stop sinning, to repent, and to come back to God, because there will be justice, there will be judgment:

16 Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. (Isaiah 28:16-17)

And yet even in all of this judgment and justice mete out by God, he still gives us hope, that hope that comes in the Name of the One chosen to bring Salvation to the world.  That covenant with death is void, your contract with hell is null, but be mindful to not mock the Gift of God, don’t scorn His gift that He sent as a baby. 
18 And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.

22 Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord God of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth.”

The whole Hebrews passage is a warning against refusing God.     

22 But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”

He who came, He who is coming, He who is here.

25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
29 For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:25-29)

These words were written to the Hebrews who for the most part had rejected Christ the promised Savior.  The author is giving the Hebrew readers a chance to understand that this same Christ is the promised Messiah from the Old Testament prophets.

As we think upon these verses and passages of God’s word, let us reflect on the great gift that was sent us by way of the baby Jesus, when he came the first time those so many years ago.

Let us try to use this time when things are so busy, activities are bustling, no one seems to have the time to stop and pray; to STOP, BE STILL, and know that He is God. 

Take the time to refresh yourselves on the Word.  Peace be still.

Let us pray,

A
LMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

O
 GOD, who hast prepared for those who love Thee such good things as pass man’s understanding; Pour into our hearts such love toward Thee, that we, loving Thee above all things, may obtain Thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O
 GOD, who hast made all those that are born again in Christ to be a royal and priestly race; Grant us both the will and the power to do what Thou commandest; that all Thy people may have the same faith in their hearts, and the same piety in their actions; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, the Comfort of the sad, the Strength of sufferers, let the prayers of those that cry out of any tribulation come unto Thee; that all may rejoice to find that Thy mercy is present with them in their afflictions; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

H
EAVENLY Father we studied your word today, seeing your hand down through the halls of history.  Help us to live according to Your Word as we have no excuses today.  The word of God is both in our hands and has been manifest by the Son Jesus, who was born of a virgin, grew to adult hood, began his earthly ministry, was tried under Hebrew and Roman law, was crucified, died, was buried, and rose again to new life.  He gave us the hope of resurrection by his perfect example.  Let us intend to lead Godly lives today and as we leave here today and go forth into the world.  Let us show the world we are God’s children, we are children of the kingdom.  These things we pray in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,    Amen

God loves a cheerful giver, give as you are able, and be blessed.
Rev Bryan Dabney of Saint John’s Sunday Sermon
We are fortunate to have Bryan’s Sunday Sermon.  If you want people to come to The Truth, you have to speak the truth, expouse the truth and live the truth.    This is really a good piece and I commend it to your careful reading.

First Sunday in Advent 

Consider I Thessalonians 5:3-9:

For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

Reflect on the words: For when they shall  say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye... are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief... For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul was meticulous and straightforward in his presentations. He was given God’s word to inscribe and he did so with the passion of a man who was filled with the Holy Ghost. And as we have the word of God before us, we Christians are obliged to heed its several warnings concerning the coming wrath of God. We know from Scripture that it is not a question of if but when. For while we have not been given the day or the hour, an integral part of our Christian witness has been to proclaim our Lord’s return, and in light of that we ought to persuade as many as we can to come to God through the shed blood of his only begotten Son. 

Now our adversary the Devil is a very wise and crafty being who has on numerous occasions attempted to use the reticence of God to deceive men that they might continue living sinful lives. He has insinuated into the hearts of the unregenerate the notion that our Lord will not be returning anytime soon. He has also led men to believe that peace and safety can be had by their own works apart from a lively faith in the LORD their God. Satan has so successfully blinded the minds and hearts of the unregenerate masses that they have failed to grasp— and history is filled with examples for those who dare to research them— that human desires for peace, prosperity, gain, empire, etc. while attainable, are never lasting. He has over the ages convinced men that the things of this world are worth the effort because it holds for them glory, honor and wealth—vehicles which swell their pridefulness and pave the way for their ultimate downfall. 

Consider the verse in our epistle lesson, For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape (v. 3). How many treaties have actually led to a lasting peace between men and nations? In just the twentieth century alone, our country has signed treaties ending the First World War; the Second World War; an armistice with North Korea and China ending the Korean Conflict; an accord with North Vietnam to end our participation in the Vietnam; an accord with Iraq to end the First Gulf War; along with numerous arms control agreements with Soviet Russia. Still, in spite of all these paper promises, wars and conflicts have continued. In spite of all the efforts of presidents and secretaries of state, those agreements have not brought us lasting peace and allayed our fears of further confrontations. In fact, the ideals of Peace and safety seem to be wafting away as I am writing this sermon. War between Israel and Iran might come at any time. It should be understood that any attack on Iran could result in a war with both Russia and China. There is also the likelihood that such a conflict might include the use of nuclear weapons. And if they are used, there is no telling if they will be used in a limited fashion, that is, regionally, or if their use would take on a more global application. There can be no peace and safety with such a “sword of Damocles” hanging over our heads. 

History teaches that reliance on a piece of paper— a treaty— to protect one’s country is incredibly naive. But that is what our leaders have done over the last half century, or so. They have opted to sign pieces of paper which have no real power to prevent the very catastrophe which those documents were meant to forestall. Some will say that weapons treaties, and the like, have helped to allay fears and ease suspicions; but in reality they have only masked the real issues and given our populace a false sense of security. Consider the several treaties and agreements which were signed in Europe over the last thousand years and you will readily see that none of them ever led to a complete cessation of hostilities. To the contrary, they either created parenthetical periods of peace, or they laid the groundwork for future conflicts as nations [rose] against nation and kingdoms against kingdom (St. Matthew 24:6-7)

In today’s world, it seems that with each new attempt at conflict resolution, the potential for new and even more devastating conflagrations have increased. As a result, our government has become like the mythical Sisyphus: who was cursed by the gods to perform a seemingly never-ending task. Couple that with our country’s unique ability to determine the time of victory in a conflict apart from an end to hostilities, and you have the makings for a tragedy of epic proportions. Our country’s leaders have become like certain charismatics who claim that if one simply speaks a thing, then it will be so. They believe that they can appoint the time of battle, and then say precisely when that victory has been achieved. Can’t you hear them now: Well, there it is— we’ve won; the conflict is resolved; the issue has been handled; our people are safe; and the homeland has been secured; and it was all due to the efforts of President So-in-So or Ambassador Such-and- Such.” Translation, “It was all about mortals and had nothing to do with God.” But God has everything to do with any good we might experience because we know that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (St. James 1:17)

Truly, our country was once blessed by Almighty God — as one collect reads— “with substantial industry, sound learning and good manners.” We possessed those things because we used to be a people who were for the most part true believers in the Godhead and accepting of his word. Unfortunately, our country has been in decline for many years. Look about our society and you will find an ever-diminishing number of Bible-believing Christians. There should be little doubt that our declining national life is directly proportional to the actual number of truly regenerated souls who are present within our society. 

If one really desires to see what is coming in our national life, we need only look at II Chronicles 36:15-16 regarding the kingdom of Judah wherein it was written that ... the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. The Bible tells us in those verses that God’s patience with the people of Judah had run out. And so, by extension, would you think he will do any less regarding our wicked society? Either we repent and turn from both our national and our personal sins and trespasses, or the Lord will deal with this country in his hot displeasure. Just by the way things are going should be evidence enough that God has begun to do just that. 

But God will not remove his hand from around those who have been born- again of the Spirit; neither can such be taken from his hand by the evil one. No, my friends, we have not been called to experience the wrath of God, only his mercy and grace. The word of God to the apostle Paul in our epistle lesson is sure and certain: But ye... are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief... For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. . 

Our principal duty in this life is to serve our Lord by being obedient to his word. While we cannot change God’s plan for this world, we ought to commit our cares and concerns to him concerning our roles in these last days. We ought to trust and not worry about the state of things which must come to pass. We are suppose to occupy till his comes again, which means that we should be working, studying , and living our lives in faith. We ought to be engaged in intercessory prayer for those who oppose themselves across the whole of our society, that God would give them the spiritual insight to see the dangers ahead (II St. Timothy 2:24-26). As Abraham asked of God for a stay in his plan to deal with the wicked of Sodom and Gomorrah, so we must also pray that our country and its leaders will see the error of their ways and turn back before it is too late (Genesis 18:23-32)

Scripture tells us that great and terrible things will come upon the children of disobedience, so we should endeavour daily to pull as many as we can from the fire (St. Jude 23). While we have not been called to experience God’s wrath, we nevertheless understand from our study of his word that evil will triumph prior to his coming in glory. However, as it is manifesting itself, God will pour out his vials of vengeance and judgment upon the wicked. 

The Peace and safety crowd will eventually declare victory whether it is after a horrible world conflict, or after some global leader has convinced the nations to accept his offer of universal peace via their participation as members of a giant global superstate. The prison planet is coming. It might already be here. As terrifying as that may sound, we ought to keep in mind that those things are going to come to pass and to prepare our hearts for the second advent of our Saviour. Our Lord repeatedly warned us to avoid deception and so let us go forward each day serving him by proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ who has offered us true peace and safety in his coming kingdom. 

Let us pray,

F
ATHER, we pray that thou wouldest help us as we fight the good fight of faith, and stand our ground in this time of our mortal life; that in our warfare and in our work we might do those things which are pleasing and acceptable to thee as we occupy until our Lord Jesus Christ returns; for these things we ask in his most blessed name. Amen. 

Have a blessed week, Bryan+ 

What is the “Liturgical Year”?
Liturgy based Christian churches who consider themselves catholic, or universal, use a Christian Calendar which has a pre-set annual cycle of liturgical seasons which determines when Feasts, Memorials, Commemorations, and Solemnities are to be observed and which portions of Scripture are to be read. 

Distinct liturgical colors are used in connection with different seasons of the liturgical year. The dates of the festivals vary somewhat between the Western (Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Protestant) churches and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, though the sequence and logic is the same. 

The dates of many feasts vary from year to year (Moveable Feasts) due to the variation in the date of Easter, and all other dates follow from that. The extent to which the fasts and festivals are celebrated also varies between churches; in general Protestant churches observe far fewer of them than Catholic and Orthodox churches, and in particular are less likely to celebrate feasts of the Virgin Mary and the Saints.

The liturgical cycle divides the year into a series of seasons, each with their own mood, theological emphases, and modes of prayer, which can be signified by different ways of decorating churches, vestments for clergy, scriptural readings, themes for preaching and even different traditions and practices often observed personally or in the home. 

In churches that follow the liturgical year, the scripture passages for each Sunday (and even each day of the year in the Anglican tradition) are specified by a list called a lectionary.  Anglicans and Lutherans have traditionally followed the lectionary since the days of the Protestant Reformation.  Since the 1960s, the adoption and use of lectionaries in other Protestant churches (Methodist, Reformed, United, etc.) increased. This has led to a greater awareness of the Christian year among Protestants in the later decades of the 20th century, especially among mainline denominations.

Biblical calendars are based on the cycle of the new moon. The year is from the first new moon on or after the spring equinox to the next new moon on or after the spring equinox, rather than an arbitrary starting point like the modern calendar. 

Western Christian liturgical calendars are based on the cycle of the Roman or Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, including Lutheran, Anglican, and Protestant calendars since this cycle pre-dates the Reformation. 

Generally, the liturgical seasons in western Christianity are:

  • Advent
  • Christmas
  • Green Season (Time after Epiphany)
  • Lent
  • Easter
  • Green Season (Time after Trinity)
·         
Advent From the Latin adventus, "arrival" or "coming", the first season of the liturgical year begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Historically observed as a "fast", its purpose focuses on preparation for the coming Christ.  

Although often conceived as awaiting the coming of the Christ-child at Christmas it also points towards the final coming of Christ.

This period is marked by the Advent Wreath, a garland of evergreens with four candles. Traditionally, the wreath is made of four candles in a circle of evergreens. Three candles are violet and the fourth is rose. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent.  Although the main symbolism of the advent wreath is simply marking the progression of time, the church attaches themes to each candle, most often 'hope', 'faith', 'joy', and 'love'. Color: Violet or Blue. On the third Sunday of Advent, also called Gaudete Sunday, Rose/Pink is used.



Historically, the primary sanctuary color of Advent is Purple. This is the color of penitence and fasting as well as the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the King. Purple is still used in Catholic churches. The purple of Advent is also the color of suffering used during Lent and Holy Week. This points to an important connection between Jesus’ birth and death. The nativity, the Incarnation, cannot be separated from the crucifixion. The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world, of the "Word made flesh" and dwelling among us, is to reveal God and His grace to the world through Jesus’ life and teaching, but also through his suffering, death, and resurrection. 

To reflect this emphasis, originally Advent was a time of penitence and fasting, much as the Season of Lent and so shared the color of Lent. In the four weeks of Advent the third Sunday came to be a time of rejoicing that the fasting was almost over (in some traditions it is called Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for "rejoice").   The shift from the purple of the Season to pink or rose for the third Sunday Advent candles reflected this lessening emphasis on penitence as attention turned more to celebration of the season.   Churches other than Anglican have changed colors and emphasis on the whole wreath, we remain true to tradition.  Maybe we are just slow learners or not so open to change for change’ sake.

The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival. " The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate. Scripture reading for Advent will reflect this emphasis on the Second Advent, including themes of accountability for faithfulness at His coming, judgment on sin, and the hope of eternal life. In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. That acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live "between the times" and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people. So, as the church celebrates God’s entry into history in the Incarnation, and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which "all creation is groaning awaiting its redemption", it also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to "love the Lord your God with all your heart" and to "love your neighbor as yourself. "



[1] If you would like to know what the liturgical year is all about, there is an explanation near the end of this report.
[2] Sometimes quoted as a reason for the church not to have rummage sales, the sellers were thrown out as they were cheating the people, selling the one legged sparrow in the morning as a “perfect specimen of an unblemished dove” without fault for a sacrifice, then reselling the same sparrow in the afternoon.  They were indeed making the temple a den of thieves rather than a place of worship.
[3] It is not worldly wealth is, in and of itself, bad, but rather the attitude it can bring, one of self-worth beyond that which is correct.  Wealth often brings to us a “better than thou” attitude, which soon turns to “Holier than thou.”  The kind of thing that was referred to when Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”  Mark 10.25