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Sunday, October 9, 2016
Twentieth Sunday after Trinity
Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction.
Consider the words of the Collect, “…God … keep us, … from all things that may hurt us; that we, being ready both in body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish those things which thou commandest …”
The Collect asks God to keep us from the things that are bad for us and make our hearts ready so we can do the things He wants us to do; this ties perfectly with the Epistle and Gospel as almost always it does. Thomas Cramner was one smart man is all I have to say; how he managed to theme the collects around the unifying message of the Epistle and the Gospel is nothing short of brilliant.
One word that intrigues me from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is “circumspectly”; which when I looked it up meant “wary and unwilling to take risks.” I believe Paul meant that today we should not be taking risks with our faith, but walking in that which has been tried and true for over two thousand years. He means we should not compromise our belief in the Gospel. We cannot risk comprising the integrity of the faith, with newfangled New Age spirituality, as some of the liberal mega churches are wont to do. See the Episcopal Church and the Lutheran Churches of today for an example of this. If God has not changed over the millennia, why would we change what we believe?
Indeed, we should not change our position, if it is truly derived from His Holy Word, then it should never change. Any sermon or talk from a minister or bishop must be scrutinized by how it matches up with the concepts in Holy Scripture. It must be reviewed to ensure it is in compliance with the Holy Word. If it conflicts with Scripture, then you know that minister is not in line with His Word and is not a fellow believer. We must all strive to be in congruence with His Word, be it bishop, priest, deacon or layperson. We are all working together in His Church to further His Cause. If we are not all on the same page, then we are not furthering His Work. We have to all work together to spread the Gospel, each person contributes to the much larger picture of spreading the Gospel.
Paul warns us against the dangers of drunkenness, but he does not mean never to drink wine, as some, (Puritans and certain Baptists, among others) would take, but rather have “moderation in all things”; which is a similar idea to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:12, All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Just because you can do something, like drinking or eating, does not mean you should do it to excess where it can cause you harm. He is warning against excesses in everything, and that we should do everything in a health dose of moderation. Eating too much can cause you stomach problems, something we want to avoid. Drinking too much can cause serious issues, not the least of which is hangovers. The worst is drinking to death.
Our Lord wants us to be moderate in our celebrations, not celebrating to the point of excess where bad things can happen to our bodies and our minds; but celebrating to where we are thankful to Him for all things, and for His Love.
This seems to be the unifying theme of both the Epistle and the Gospel for today. Rather than turn to the excesses of this world, Paul says we must turn to God and be filled with His Grace of the Holy Spirit. Making joyful noises to the Lord, be it in prayer or in song, and giving thanks always for all things to God.
Giving thanks always to God should be one of our top priorities. More often than not we seem to forget who made us, who created the world we dwell in, who created the fantastic beasts on land and on the sea. It seems very strange we forget to thank God for all of these things, but we do. Making a joyful noise unto the Lord is part of how we can do this, besides prayer and thanksgiving. Be it through songs, happy declarations to the Lord or joyful worship, these are all ways we can send our joy unto our Lord. This is part of the reason it is important to say prayers like the Gloria in the prayer book with “liveliness”, we are expressing our praise and thanksgiving unto God, for having sent His Son down to save us from our wicked selves. This goes with the collects reminding we should do all things he has commanded us to do cheerfully.
In our lives, we should be grateful to God more than we are. At least, I know I am often not thankful to Him, when I should be. I think we all suffer from that issue. That is the troublesome aspect of having free will, we so often exercise it, not to the Glory of God, but for our own means. We have to turn away from that temptation, and let the Holy Spirit in and guide us to thanking God for what He has done for us in our lives.
The Gospel’s story troubled me for a long time, wondering why the King cast out a man, whose only error appeared to be that of the wrong clothes. When I thought about it more, and in many discussions, I found in days of old, wedding garments were furnished by the host. Thus, if one did not appear properly clothed it was because they intentionally chose not to be. This brought me to the realization the wrong clothes was Jesus’ metaphor for one who is not prepared for heaven, not walking in God, not filled with the Holy Spirit, and that is why he was cast out of the wedding (Implied to be heaven. And the King stands in for God in the tale.) He was not prepared to enter the great feast of heaven. His incorrect clothing is a metaphor for many in our lifetime who are not in a prepared state to enter heaven, as they have neither confessed nor repented of their sins to our Lord and have not accepted Him as our savior.
This man is very much like Esau, when he sold his birthright to Jacob. Esau did not care enough for his birthright, he wanted food more than the permanent status of the birthright which seemed so far off at the time. It is the same with this man and many others in the world. Through Christ, we have a birthright of our own, the Kingdom of God, as God’s adopted children. However, some will gladly trade away this birthright for a bauble or trinket in the present, not knowing what a foolish mistake they are making. People will trade away this birthright when they reject the Gospel, not seemingly caring their choice is leading them to an eternity of misery. This is why we should not take risks with our faith but remain steadfast in our faith and working to spread the Gospel cheerfully.
The Collect, Epistle and Gospel tie together, laying out, detailing and reinforcing the same message ultimately. We have to be ready and willing to listen to God, and walk in God, and act with the Holy Spirit in us, in order to have the right “clothes” to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
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?
The time to act is NOW. Will you act? For whom will you act? Will you count the cost before you act?
Action, not diction, is what counts. It is by your actions you are known.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God