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Who are we?

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

Verse of the Day

Sunday, December 31, 2017

AOC Sunday Report

The entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Happy First Sunday after Christmas and New Year's Eve.

The AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!

There are excellent sermons from Bishop Jerry and Revs Jack and Bryan.  You will enjoy each of them.

As always, there are a lot of people who need your prayers.  Start with Shamu, Douglas, Mary, Michael and Bob, work out from there.

The upcoming year can be truly EPIC if you will accept God's help and guidance.

Go for it.

Godspeed,

Hap
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, CA

Sermon Notes - First Sunday after Christmas - 31 December 2017, Anno Domini

If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
The First Sunday after Christmas Day.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle Galatians iv. 1.

N
ow I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: but when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

A
nd it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (Luke 2:1-20) 

Today we shall observe three occasions in the Church Calendar – the continuing Christmastide, the Holy Innocents, and the coming New Year tomorrow.

 If we read the Bible as a strictly edifying historical work, we will miss the entire message of the Gospel, for the Bible is a Living Text that bears the same application to our lives today as to those of whom it has given account between its inspired and infallible covers.

               In brief, Christ is Light and Life to us. Consider the long night of darkness in which the people of God waited four hundred years for a word from God. From the utterance of the last Old Testament prophet (Malachi) to the birth of Jesus (the Gospels) four hundred years past. CURSE (Law) The Old Testament Book of Law ends with a Curse. What is the opposite of a CURSE of the Law? How about GRACE!

               How does New Testament end?  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Rev 22:21)

               Suppose your father or mother went a great distance away, but called you every day to let you know that all was well; but, suddenly, they stopped calling completely. There was not word from father or mother for a great period of time. How would you feel. You would worry and doubt their ever contacting you again. So was the dark silence that extended four hundred years between the last utterance of the prophet Malachi and the Gospel age.

During this Christmastide, we celebrate the coming of Light and Wonder into a dark world, and we do so both figuratively and formally; however, it would be wrong to believe that the Coming of Christ ended on Christmas morning. Christ is forever coming into our hearts if we have hearts that are open to His knocking. You will not find Him in churches that are not faithful to the Gospel, for He “stands at the door (without) and knocks.” If the door to your heart has grown callous with rusty from years of hard living, and is not open to Christ, you will not even find Him in a Church strong in its Gospel message. But no thing is beyond the arm of the Lord to traverse, and He may haply force open the corroded and barred door of the most egregious sinner in His time, and cause a joyful welcome to be proclaimed from lips that only spoke vulgarity in times past. If you wake up on the morning of July 4th with a prayer for Christ to live in your heart that day, even July 4th becomes Christmas to you. Do you get it? Is there some cruel irony in singing “O Come all ye Faithful” in summer? Not at all. We grow too rigid in our hymn-singing at times. Christ seldom observed a strict formality, but behaved in ways that set the teeth of the Jewish rulers on edge. Naturally, we must be reverent and orderly in worship, but not so staid that we condemn even Christ for healing of the Sabbath Day!

God is all powerful and able to work in the hearts of even evil men to accomplish His purpose. Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, yet the prophecies proclaim that Christ should be born there. (see Micah 5:2) The foreshadowing of Bethlehem as the place of Christ birth is even alluded to in 1 Samuel 16:1 - And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. Jesse is the father of David and, so, Bethlehem is called the City of David. 

These opening passages of Luke 2 are magically wonderful to my ears, for they were first repeated to me by my mother and, even then, they carried a charm and mystery to my young mind. I wonder how many young children in America today have been blessed by that experience? How nonchalantly does Luke refer to the occasion of Christ’s birth: “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.” And so it was? Yes, it certainly was so, and could have been no otherwise! God brought the power of Caesar into play to bring about  this Holy event. To all the world Jesus came as a Stranger and left as Redeemer. He was a Stranger to the woman at Jacob’s Well at the noonday hour, but that woman left having found a Friend who loves her beyond all human measure. Have you met that Stranger of Galilee?

We often place our clergy on a pedestal and believe that they somehow stand in greater grace than we. A minister is simply a fellow who, hopefully, by the grace of God has been called and responded to the call of God to preach. A minister can be, and often is, fallible just as you or I can be fallible – and often are! You will note that The Holy Angels did not proclaim the great news of Christ’s birth in the halls of government in Jerusalem, or even to “men of the cloth.” He proclaimed this wonderful news to men whose ears were open to hear it – common shepherds of the field. These men had no other distraction than to gaze upon the endless beauties of God’s star-studded heavens night after night. They understood, unlike most theologians, that there can exist mysteries in the Word of God which no competent theologian can define. They knew nothing of the conflicting teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees, or the subjects taught in the rabbinical schools by men such as Gamaliel, but they did know that God sat upon the heavens and created every bright point of light visible to them in that purple dawn canopy above them. So God chose the least among men to honor MOST with His Gospel News!

Perhaps, if you have not met God, it may be because you are too lifted up in pride and arrogance., If so, God can lower you until you arrive at a level at which you can be taught of Him. There could be no greater blessing for such a one.

The coming of Christ into your life does not signal an end to trial and hardship. Au contraire, it may be just the beginning. It was the beginning of sorrows for many mothers in Bethlehem. It was the beginning of sorrows for Mary, the mother of Jesus. She failed, seemingly, to profit from His teaching until after the resurrection, but a sword pierced her heart at the foot of that crude cross at Calvary.

So, we see, on the Day of Holy Innocents, the intentional murder of small children by the sword. At least, their murder was most likely more abrupt than the burning death of little babies in their mother’s womb by a “process of murder” we call abortion.  

            18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin(Gen 35:18) (Son of my Sorrow) Rachel died that her child should live. 19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. (Gen 35:19) The City of David where Christ was born also. A sword would also pierce Mary’s heart. 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed(Luke 2:35) 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not(Matt 2:18) 15 Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not(Jer 31:15)

Do we not hear those mother’s voices still crying out in the streets of Newtown. When evil rules the land, even the innocent suffer. As we embark on a so-called NEW YEAR, let us be mindful that swords, guns, and bombs have no conscience. They can neither be righteous or wicked. It is the heart of the man holding the weapon that is guilty of sins committed by any device of killing. Were we to remove every knife, every sword, every gun from the hands of man, do you believe we would have seen the end of mass murder? Historically, how have states behaved who have wielded the only means of force and violence? How did Hitler’s Germany behave, or Caesar’s Rome? 

New Years Day is not a Christian holiday, but a secular one. The only New Year we can truly enjoy is that New Day, New Year, and New Life in Christ. Heed, America, the counsel of Isaiah if you wish for the comfort and peace of a Holy people: When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. 20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. 21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever. (Isaiah 59:19-21)


Men, called of God: Have you lifted up the Standard? Have you received the Word of God – not of man – into your mouth to proclaim? Have we taught our seed to know and follow that Light which came at Christmas 2000 years ago? If not, then Stand To, and do your duty now as a good soldier of the Cross.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Fifth Day of Christmas - 29 December 2017, Anno Domini

If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!

T
hat which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  (I John 1:1-10)

The Collect
Christmas

A
LMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

      Once again, God, in His Holy Word, makes reference to the beginning. The beginning is a popular perspective of that gracious and well-beloved disciple, John. He begins His Gospel with a discussion of the ‘beginning’ and he introduces his epistle here with a like reference. He knows that we must know our beginning before we can make provision for our ending. We have already discussed how God relates to the beginning: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4) Please note that John closely associates the beginning with light for, without light, there could be no living thing. Moreover, light was the first element God called into being in the earth. But Light was not physically created for the first moment at Creation, for God is Light and has existed from Eternity Past. He spoke light into being in our world as a prerequisite for His creation of life on earth. Christ was the executive Person of the Trinity at Creation and Light must exist wherever He walks (for Christ is the Light of the world). 

      John opens his epistle with a gracious greeting and invitation. Having known the grace of Christ, and the comfort and security to be had therein, he invites us, as well, to know that same grace and fellowship. It is the heart’s desire of every man, woman, and child who belongs to Christ – that others come to Him as well for the Waters of Life and the Bread of Heaven.

       That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life. John would have us understand the depth of his testimony as an Apostle of Christ. He informs of the progressive revelation of Christ to himself and others during His earthly ministry. At the first, John sets forth the fact that Christ was ‘from the beginning’ but NOT the BEGINNING - for Christ precedes the beginning in Eternity. John tells us that first in revelation was the HEARING of Christ. The hearing of the Gospel is the beginning of faith: So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17) Next, John has witnessed the very face of Christ in a real way. Once Christ is looked upon in faith, there will be no forgetting His beautiful countenance. We have that very privilege in our labors and love to see the face of Christ in so many ways – the tender face of a child, the music that lifts our souls to higher heavens, and great art masterpieces that are created to replicate the beauty of God’s Creation.  An example would be Handel’s Messiah. Handel was unsuccessful in his efforts to establish his career in music until age 54 at which time Jonathan Swift asked him to compose this wonderful work of musical praise to God. The proceeds were donated to charity as it debuted in 1742. It took Handel only twenty-four days of intense composition, locked away in his private study. On the 24th day, his servant broke into Handel’s study believing that something was wrong. Handel had just added the last note to the Hallelujah chorus and stood with tears brimming his eyes. The servant asked him if he was ill to which Handel responded, I feel I have just looked upon the face of God! and perhaps he had!

      Observe the building revelation of Christ that John recounts. Hearing came first. Perhaps John recalled that most precious moment of his memory when he labored on his father’s ship by the coast of the Sea of Galilee and heard, while his ears were yet tender with age and able to hear clearly, that beckoning voice that never let him go:  And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him. (Matt 4:18-22)

      Next, John tells us of his having SEEN Christ and all that He did. He saw the woman with an issue of blood healed by a touch, the little daughter of Jairus raised from the dead (as well as Lazarus), the lepers healed, and sight restored to the blind. He saw all of these things but, more importantly, he saw Christ. Next in the unfolding revelation is the touch of Christ which John has sensed. His old memory returns to the Upper Room where his young head rested on the bosom of Christ. I have no doubt that John’s head rests there today. So, the revelation of Christ to a believer is progressive: hearing, seeing, feeling, touching. Have you had these experiences?

      For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us. John tells us that Christ is the Word of Life (the same Word made mention of in John 1:1). There was bodily life in Christ just as is in all men, but that Life which is in Christ is more than that – it is eternal life which He makes available to all who are called and chosen as was John. Christ was with the Father before the worlds were made. But He came down from glory to a dark and dying world to make known to us that eternal life available in Him.

      That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. Please note the gracious love expressed here by John. It is the same kind of all-embracing love that every believer should have for those who have not known – who have not heard – of the blessed Gospel of Christ. John desires our souls to be saved by the same Lord who has saved him.  If we have believing fellowship with a fellow Christian, that fellowship will rise to that with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. If we are One with Christ and He is One with the Father, then we shall be One with all who believe. The One is existent in the Father Himself.

      And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. The more we know of Christ, the greater is our joy. If we are unjoyful in Christ, it is because we have known little of Him. So we are counseled to study diligently from the Scriptures that testify of Him and prove all things thereby that we cannot be deceive by the cunning of false professors. My wife invited me to lunch at a local restaurant. So I took a break from writing and went with her. As I was eating my meal, my mind wondered back to this text of today. My heart was simply melted to suddenly reflect on John’s words and how he must have felt when he remembered that first call of Christ in his youth by Galilee. My eyes moistened with tears to think of it. That is a consoling joy that no one at the other tables could have known at the moment.

      This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. I am quite sure that you have heard me speak enough already of light, but I must address the matter since it is at hand. If we have heard the truth of God, we must share that truth, for truth is light, too. It is the function of a living Church to be a light in a dark world. In order that we may determine in what sense the disciples of Christ are lights, let us read two cognate scriptures, one in the Old Testament, and the other in the New: ‘Arise, shine; for they light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.’ (Isaiah 60:1,2) That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among  whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the Word of Life.’ (Phil 2:15,16)

      From these texts we learn clearly that renewed men are first receivers of light; and then givers. They are not the source whence the light springs, but channels through which it is distributed. The Lord alone is the Light of the World; but He has been pleased to arrange his covenant so that those who receive his beams also spread them. It is so arranged also in the material world. Not much of the light which guides us in life comes in direct lines from the sun: most of it reaches us at second hand, ,reflected from surrounding objects. Thus in the spiritual sphere, the glory of the Lord arises and shines on Israel; then and therefore Israel is expected to arise and reflect the light around to attract the Gentiles. The Philippian converts, walking in the Light of God, are expected to shine among the heathen as lights. They are not rays, but reflectors; they give out with more or less of the truth and fullness, the light they receive from the Sun of Righteousness after He has risen upon them. (Rev William ArnotLesser Parables of our Lord, 1884)

      If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. We cannot truly have fellowship with Christ and continue in our old, dark ways. If we say we are Christians and walk after the manner of heathen, we are NOT Christians but hypocrites. Are Christians too sterile today to judge between apples and oranges of faith? 

      But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. Where light is found, there can be no darkness for light and darkness are not compatible. Darkness is no force at all. It is simply the absence of light. If we walk in the Light of Christ, and have fellowship with one another of like minds, we cannot help but be truly washed clean from all sin by His blood. I have a wonderful adopted daughter named Soyeon. She is an excellent example of a young and pure virgin. She has excelled in her studies and lived a life commendable before God and man. Now she must go away to University. She is worried that she may make church friends that are Christians in name only.  So, we chatted a few moments ago and I counseled her to know well those people whom she selects as friends before she ever calls them friends. They must first be brothers and sisters in Christ and walk in the light in order to be friends in fellowship. Amazingly, she agreed!

      If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Have we heard the proud comment: Oh, I have no sin. I am holy and perfect since my sins were forgiven? Rubbish! Certainly a Christian should attempt to lead a Holy life and one satisfying to God; however, just as many prophets before us, and Apostles of Christ, have done, we may commit sins of un-intention. We are not perfect, but we ARE being PERFECTED through the process of sanctification.


     If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. John is speaking to the choir here. He is writing to fellow believers. Naturally, he hopes his words may fall on believing ears of the heathen as well, but, primarily, his words are for us. We say the Confession at each service in our daily and weekly service. Those sins for which we seek forgiveness in the General Confession are both sins of commission as well as sins of omission. Regardless the earnest effort to the contrary, we shall sometimes sin for which we must seek forgiveness. Do not make God a liar by denying that you have sinned. Let GOD be true and every man a liar! (Romans 3:4b)