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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, May 31, 2020

AOC Sunday Report - Pentecost, commonly known as Whitsunday


Happy Whitsunday!  The AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!

The Christian holiday of Pentecost, which is celebrated the 49th day (the seventh sunday) after Easter Sunday,[2] commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, as described in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:1–31).

The holiday is also called "White Sunday" or "Whitsunday" or "Whitsun", especially in the United Kingdom, where traditionally the next day, Whit Monday, was also a public holiday (since 1971 fixed by statute on the last Monday in May). In German, Pentecost is called Pfingsten, developed through contracting the Greek term pen[te]k[os]te, and often coincides with scholastic holidays and the beginning of many outdoor and springtime activities, such as festivals and organized outdoor activities by youth organizations. The Monday after Pentecost is a legal holiday in many European countries.

In Eastern Christianity, Pentecost can also refer to the entire fifty days of Easter through Pentecost inclusive; hence the book containing the liturgical texts is called the "Pentecostarion". Since its date depends on the date of Easter, Pentecost is a "moveable feast".

Pentecost is one of the Great Feasts of the Eastern Orthodox Church, a Solemnity in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, a Festival in the Lutheran Churches, and a Principal Feast in the Anglican Communion. Many Christian denominations provide a special liturgy for this holy celebration.

The term Pentecost comes from the Greek Πεντηκοστή (Pentēkostē) meaning "fiftieth". It refers to the festival celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover, also known as the "Feast of Weeks"[i] and the "Feast of 50 days" in rabbinic tradition.

The Septuagint uses the term Pentēkostē to refer to the "Feast of Pentecost" only twice, in the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit and 2 Maccabees.  The Septuagint writers also used the word in two other senses: to signify the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10), an event which occurs every 50th year, and in several passages of chronology as an ordinal number.

We have excellent sermons today from Bishop Roy, as well as Revs Jack and Bryan.

While there are always a lot of people who need your prayers, and today is not exception, we ask you pray in particular for the United States of American under siege by the forces of evil.

Take time, open your heart to the Holy Ghost, ACT.

Godspeed,

Hap
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Whitsunday - Explanation, Propers and Rev Jack's Sermon



Pentecost which is commonly called Whitsunday and the time of Whitsuntide
The Christian holiday of Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, as described in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:1–31).

The octave (8 days) following Whitsunday. In the Book of Common Prayer, the Monday and Tuesday after Whitsunday are Red Letter days, so called because days provided with a proper Collect (prayer), Epistle, and Gospel were marked in the calendar in red ink. "Whitsuntide" (formerly also spelled "Whitsontide") or "Whitsun Week" is derived from whitsonday, from Old English hwita sunnandæg, "White Sunday", in reference to the white ceremonial robes formerly worn on this day.


Whitsunday marks the Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on the 50th day after Easter. It ranks, after Easter, as the second festival of the Church. In the West, the Vigil of Pentecost soon became a secondary date for baptisms, with a ceremony resembling the Paschal Vigil Service. (Pentecost is the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks, which falls on the 50th day after Passover.) As the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles on this day (Acts 2:1), the name was applied to the Christian feast celebrating this event, popularly called "Whitsunday".

The holiday is also called "White Sunday" or "Whitsunday" or "Whitsun", especially in the United Kingdom, where traditionally the next day, Whit Monday, was also a public holiday (since 1971 fixed by statute on the last Monday in May). In German, Pentecost is called Pfingsten, developed through contracting the Greek term pen[te]k[os]te, and often coincides with scholastic holidays and the beginning of many outdoor and springtime activities, such as festivals and organized outdoor activities by youth organizations. The Monday after Pentecost is a legal holiday in many European countries.

Propers
Each Sunday there are Propers: special prayers and readings from the Bible.  There is a Collect for the Day; that is a single thought prayer, most written either before the re-founding of the Church of England in the 1540s or written by Bishop Thomas Cranmer, the first Archbishop of Canterbury after the re-founding. 

The Collect for the Day is to be read on Sunday and during Morning and Evening Prayer until the next Sunday. The Epistle is normally a reading from one of the various Epistles, or letters, in the New Testament.  The Gospel is a reading from one of the Holy Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  The Collect is said by the minister as a prayer, the Epistle can be read by either a designated reader (as we do in our church) or by one of the ministers and the Holy Gospel, which during the service in our church is read by an ordained minister.

The propers are the same each year, except if a Red Letter Feast, that is one with propers in the prayerbook, falls on a Sunday, then those propers are to be read instead, except in a White Season, where it is put off.  Red Letter Feasts, so called because in the Altar Prayerbooks the titles are in red, are special days.  Most of the Red Letter Feasts are dedicated to early saints instrumental in the development of the church, others to special events.  Some days are particularly special and the Collect for that day is to be used for an octave (eight days) or an entire season, like Advent or Lent. 

The Propers for today are found on Page 180-182, with the Collect first:

Pentecost, commonly called Whitsunday.
The Collect.

O
 GOD, who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said daily throughout Whitsun Week.

This morning’s Epistle came from the Second Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles beginning at the First Verse, which consisted primarily of a listing of all the countries and regions surrounding Jerusalem, or at least the hardest to pronounce ones, and a description of the actions of the Apostles when the Holy Ghost came upon them.  But, you will also notice that the coming of the Holy Ghost demonstrated the universality of The Word, for when they spoke in tongues, The Word spoke to each in their own language.  The Word was not some stranger’s language, but their very own! 

W
HEN the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilæans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judæa, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 

Today’s Gospel came from the Fourteenth Chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John beginning at the Fifteenth Verse: 

J
ESUS said unto his disciples, If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

Consider these words from the Collect:

… sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort …


When Jesus left on Ascension Day, we lost a teacher here on earth.  We still have Him in our memories as Redeemer and Savior; but what to do for understanding and that needed closeness to God?  In response to His departure, God sent us the Holy Ghost.

Who is this Holy Ghost and why is he here?

We worship the One True God, a triune God, that is Three in One; Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  Most people have no trouble understanding the concept of God the Father, Christians seem to get God the Son, but many seem to have a difficulty with the Holy Ghost, the Third God Guy.

The Holy Ghost has been there since the beginning.  He breathed life into the world, yet His actions seemed to be sporadic until Pentecost. 

Well, today is Pentecost, the time one normally thinks of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God, the Comforter.  When people do think of Him, they oft think of the actions described in the words of Saint Luke in the Acts of the Apostles.  The dancing and speaking in tongues.  All that happened so we might understand with the help of the Holy Ghost we might bring the Word to all mankind.  The Word of God is a universal language.  When the disciples spoke in tongues, the people around them heard the Word in their own language, not an odd combination of sounds that no one understood.  The disciples spoke and were heard by those around them in their own language, not Klingon.  It is not for us to speak in tongues without study; it was to show that  we were in fact to preach the Gospel to all nations, not just the nation of Israel, but to all the nations of the World. The many nations of the fallen race of Adam comprise those to whom the Good News is to be spread. Which is why God sent the Holy Ghost; so we would understand it is for us to bring the light of Christ into the world for all to see and believe upon. He is here so we can understand and then act upon His Word. He is here to provide us with the guidance and understanding necessary to preach and spread the Word into the far regions of the Earth. The Holy Ghost allows us to spread His Word amongst all the people in the world to give them the knowledge that they might open their heart to the Holy Ghost and believe. He opens our eyes to what is good for us and what is not good for us, so that we know what to believe and what not to believe. 

We need the Holy Ghost if we are to follow Christ’s Great Commission. He knew we would need the Holy Ghost if we were to have any success in this endeavor. However, He also knew He needed to leave if the Holy Ghost were to come and stay, so the Holy Ghost’s coming had to wait until after the Ascension. He had it planned out so the disciples would not be without a direct connection to Him for very long. 

The Holy Ghost also helps us to give the “righteous judgment” the Collect speaks of. This judgment is not the same as God’s final judgment on our performance, but it is a judgment based on Scriptural values, with the Holy Ghost’s help, we can make on our lives and others lives, based on how we see it through the lens of the Holy Ghost and Scripture. It is not to insult people, but to be truthful from the standpoint of Scriptures and be able to say certain behaviors in this world do not line up with Scripture, i.e. homosexuality and abortion. To say those behaviors are not Christian is a righteous judgment statement that the Holy Ghost helps us determine.  To stay on course we need to use the Holy Ghost for that righteous judgement so we can stay on the narrow up hill path towards heaven.

The Holy Ghost is also our direct connection to God. When Jesus left, the disciples were distant from God. When they were not near Jesus, they did not do as well as when they were with Him. This is why God sent the Holy Ghost that the Apostles and us might have that connection. As with the righteous judgement, the Holy Ghost helps us to align our actions and views with that of Scripture. The Holy Ghost helps us to properly understand and apply Scriptural principles in our own lives. Note Peter’s actions after the arrest of Jesus for an example, thrice denying His Lord. The Holy Ghost came so we would have understanding and a direct connection to God, wireless as it were, instead of having to be tethered to Christ.  This is how God can always be with us wherever we arer.

If we allow the Holy Ghost into our hearts, we will never be far from Him, and He will never be far from us. We have to consciously let Him into our hearts, He will not come uninvited into our hearts. The Holy Ghost helps us understand Scripture and gives us guidance on our earthly lives, as we work towards staying on the straight and narrow path towards heaven He will be a constant guiding presence in our lives, that will give us peace in times of trouble, and will help us guide and focus our minds in our worship of God.  He will give us inspiration and help us to do what is right for our fellow Christians and friends, while staying true to God. He will light our paths in difficult times and trials and will give us the guidance we need to finish our race for God.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that He would be leaving, but the Father would send a facilitator; one who whose presence, if we let Him into our hearts, would bring understanding of His Word into those self-same hearts.  The Comforter would bring the Love of God into our hearts to let us feel His Love.  He will help us understand we are striving to be one with God, with Jesus and with the Holy Ghost.  Our love is demonstrated by our actions.  Jesus points out those who do not truly love Him will not keep His Commandments. However, if we truly do love him, we must act for Him and by doing so will keep his commandments.  

If you think about it, you will recall the second half of the Book of Luke is titled The Acts of the Apostles.  It is not the thoughts, the beliefs, the feelings, the meditations, the inner feelings or any other touchy feely thing, it is the ACTS.  If you believe, you must act on those beliefs. The Holy Ghost is here to help us know how to act, we will just have to let Him into our hearts, and then ACT. 

We need the help of the Holy Ghost to learn what we are to do, how we are to do it and most of all to do it.  Action, not just diction.

Pray for His continual presence in your heart.

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

Friday, May 29, 2020

King Canute on the Seashore – 29 May 2020, Anno Domini



A
ND the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?   (Mark 4:35-41)

            Many Godly stories permeate the folklore of jolly old England. Most are informed by Holy Writ which has been written into the hearts of her people of old.  The very culture of England’s legacy reflects a rich Christian heritage. In fact, all of Europe shares in that legacy. The stories of the Brother’s Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, and others, reflect biblical principles and mysteries that enlighten the youthful mind on the tenets of the Holy Bible. Such stories are Sleeping Beauty (or Briar Rose), CinderellaSnow White & Rose Red, etc. These all have Gospel implications that stir the imagination of youth, and of elder men and women who have “become as little children” in the Hands of God.

            The following story is taken from “Fifty Famous Stories Retold” by James Baldwin (1896)

King Canute on the Seashore

A hundred years or more after the time of Alfred the Great there was a king of England named Canuté. King Canute was a Dane; but the Danes were not so fierce and cruel then as they had been when they were at war with King Alfred. The great men and officers who were around King Canute were always praising him. 

"You are the greatest man that ever lived," one would say. 

Then another would say, "O king! there can never be an-other man so mighty as you." 

And another would say, "Great Canute, there is nothing in the world that dares to disobey you." 

The king was a man of sense, and he grew very tired of hearing such foolish speeches. One day he was by the seashore, and his officers were with him. They were praising him, as they were in the habit of doing. He thought that now he would teach them a lesson, and so he bade them set his chair on the beach close by the edge of the water. 

"Am I the greatest man in the world?" he asked. 

"O king!" they cried, "there is no one so mighty as you." 

"Do all things obey me?" he asked. 

"There is nothing that dares to disobey you, O king!" they said. 

"The world bows before you, and gives you honor." 

"Will the sea obey me?" he asked; and he looked down at the little waves which were lapping the sand at his feet. 

The foolish officers were puzzled, but they did not dare to say "No."

"Command it, O king! and it will obey," said one.

"Sea," cried Canute, "I command you to come no farther!  Waves, stop your rolling, and do not dare to touch my feet!" 

But the tide came in, just as it always did. The water rose higher and higher. It came up around the king's chair, and wet not only his feet, but also his robe. His officers stood about him, alarmed, and wondering whether he was not mad. Then Canute took off his crown, and threw it down upon the sand. 

"I shall never wear it again," he said. "And do you, my men, learn a lesson from what you have seen. There is only one King who is all-powerful; and it is he who rules the sea, and holds the ocean in the hollow of his hand. It is he whom you ought to praise and serve above all others."

No earthly king can claim the Sovereignty that belongs alone to the King of Kings – the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Forgotten Son of England – 28 May 2020, Anno Domini


G
REATER love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you(John 15:13-19)

There is one young British officer of the past whom I hold in the highest esteem – Donald Hankey[1](1884-1916). He was commissioned in the British Army but was not pleased with that position. He reigned his commission and did much missionary work among the poor class living under the same deprivation as his charges. Mr. Hankey began his academic career at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He aspired to become a cleric of the Church of England with emphasis on reaching the same kind of men and women of low degree to which George Whitfield had appealed. 

He became a notable writer for the Spectator. Among his popular works are those such as ‘THE CROSS,’ ‘THE LORD OF ALL GOOD LIFE,’ ‘A STUDY OF THE GREATNESS OF JESUS AND THE WEAKNESS OF HIS CHURCH,’ ‘THE BELOVED CAPTAIN’ (a favorite of mine), ‘ THE HONOUR OF THE BRIGADE,’ and ‘A STUDENT IN ARMS.’ Most of these are still available and would profit the reader to acquire.

Hankey rejoined the British Army at the outbreak of World War I in 1914, but opted for the enlisted ranks in order to have a greater impact on the spiritual lives of the common soldiers. Later, he was persuaded to accept a commission.

Hankey was a young man of particularly strong religious conviction. Here are some quotes of his from letters from the front (printed below) as addressed to his sister, Hilda. At the beginning of the Battle of the Somme on 12th of October 1916, the brigade was order to ‘go over the top’ – vacate the trenches and engage the enemy to the front. Hankey was heard to proclaim to his troops, “If you are wounded, Blighty (home to Britain); if killed, the Resurrection!” Hankey was killed in that battle and was buried on sight. His grave, to this day, is unmarked. 

His comments to his sister:

5 December 1914. – 

Almost all men are slaves: they are mastered by foolish ambitions, vile appetites, jealousies, prejudices, the conventions and opinions of other men. These things obsess them, so that they cannot see anything in its right perspective. 

For most men the world is centered in self, which is misery: to have one’s world centered in God is the peace that passeth understanding.

This is liberty: to know that God alone matters.

25 May 1915. –

In the hour of danger a man is proven: the boaster hides, the egotist trembles, only he whose care is for honour and for others forgets to be afraid.

It is blessed to give: blessed is he of whom it is said that he so loved giving that he was glad to give his life.

Death is a great teacher: from him men learn what are the things they truly value.

Men live for eating and drinking, position and wealth: they die for honour and friendship.

True religion is betting one’s life that there is a God.

In the hour of danger, all good men are believers: they choose the spiritual and reject the material. 

The death of a hero convinces all of eternal life: they are unable to call it a tragedy.

1 June 1, 1915.  –

have seen with the eyes of God. I have seen the naked souls of men., stripped of circumstance. Rank and reputation, wealth and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, manners and uncouthness, these I saw not. I saw the naked souls of men in battle. I saw who were slaves and who were free: who were beasts and who were men: who were contemptible and who were honourable. I have seen with the eyes of God. I have seen the vanity of the temporal and the glory of the eternal. I have despised comfort and honoured pain. I have understood the victory of the Cross. O Death, where is thy sting? Nunc dimittis, Domine . 

 Donald Hankey, A Student in Arms



[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Hankey

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Cornelia’s Jewels – 27 May 2020, Anno Domini



L
AY not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  (Matthew 6:19-21)

            We are today midway between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. It is a remarkably good time to consider the riches of loving parents.. Our true wealth is not denominated by gems, metals, estates or apparel – but rather from the storehouse of love we have vested in our children, or parents, or brothers & sisters, or our husbands or wives, and the romantic darlings of our lives. Those are treasures that do not rust or perish. In fact, the love we bear others is on deposit at a level that cannot be accessed by thieves. Our children are the very ultimate in value that we can claim. James Baldwin wrote a little book in 1896 that presents a number of short stories opening to our eyes the real gems of life. Below is one of those stories. It had a great effect on my young mind, but age does not limit the meaning of these stories. I hope you will enjoy this one today:

By James Baldwin, 1896

I
T was a bright morning in the old city of Rome many hundred years ago. In a vine-covered summer-house in a beautiful garden, two boys were standing. They were looking at their mother and her friend, who were walking among the flowers and trees.

"Did you ever see so handsome a lady as our mother's friend?" asked the younger boy, holding his tall brother's hand. "She looks like a queen."

"Yet she is not so beautiful as our mother," said the elder boy. "She has a fine dress, it is true; but her face is not noble and kind. It is our mother who is like a queen."

"That is true," said the other. "There is no woman in Rome so much like a queen as our own dear mother."

Soon Cornelia, their mother, came down the walk to speak with them. She was simply dressed in a plain white robe. Her arms and feet were bare, as was the custom in those days; and no rings nor chains glittered about her hands and neck. For her only crown, long braids of soft brown hair were coiled about her head; and a tender smile lit up her noble face as she looked into her sons' proud eyes.

"Boys," she said, "I have something to tell you."

They bowed before her, as Roman lads were taught to do, and said, "What is it, mother?"

"You are to dine with us to-day, here in the garden; and then our friend is going to show us that wonderful casket of jewels of which you have heard so much."

The brothers looked shyly at their mother's friend. Was it possible that she had still other rings besides those on her fingers? Could she have other gems besides those which sparkled in the chains about her neck?

When the simple outdoor meal was over, a servant brought the casket from the house. The lady opened it. Ah, how those jewels dazzled the eyes of the wondering boys! There were ropes of pearls, white as milk, and smooth as satin; heaps of shining rubies, red as the glowing coals; sapphires as blue as the sky that summer day; and diamonds that flashed and sparkled like the sunlight.

The brothers looked long at the gems.

"Ah!" whispered the younger; "if our mother could only have such beautiful things!"
At last, however, the casket was closed and carried carefully away.

"Is it true, Cornelia, that you have no jewels?"  asked her friend. "Is it true, as I have heard it whispered, that you are poor?"

"No, I am not poor," answered Cornelia, and as she spoke she drew her two boys to her side; "for here are my jewels. They are worth more than all your gems."

I am sure that the boys never forgot their mother's pride and love and care; and in after years, when they had become great men in Rome, they often thought of this scene in the garden. And the world still likes to hear the story of Cornelia's jewels.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Hymn 519 - Once to Every Man and Nation – 26 May 2020, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)


A
ND Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions?  if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.  (1 Kings 18:21)

            Has the heart of man changed since the beginning of time? No, not as long as it remains in his ownership and will; but the heart of man assumes an altogether different nature when it is owned by the Lord Jesus Christ! That ownership is transferred from man to God by the secret and silent urgings of the Holy Ghost in the deep and unseen chambers of the heart. The Elect are drawn as if by an iron hook in the jaw to the shores of salvation by the mighty Fisherman of Galilee. There is a time for decision, and that time is ALWAYS NOW! When you consider what point in time we own, it is a razor thin sliver on the dial that represents merely the exact PRESENT. After saying that, the moment has already moved into history and we are at the next point of the present that has arrived and is gone into another instant. The very next second may be forfeited by death. So NOW is always the time for decision on matters of such great import as a man’s soul. As the apostle Paul counsels, . . behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor 6:2)

            Today’s hymn stands among the greatest ever written. It gravely warns of our lost condition and the remedy therefor. If improvement were not possible or desirable, what point would there be in a warning? The glorious truth stands as a monument at the door of our hearts: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt 11:28-30)

            This hymn was written by James Russell Lowell in 1845. It is sung to the tune, Ton-y-Botel (Ebenezer), Yn y glyn by  Thomas J. William in 1890. Lowell wrote the poem, The Present Crisis, from which the words for the hymn were taken. This poem was written to protest issues of slavery leading up the the Mexican-American War. Later, particular verses were extracted to build the great hymn. Though written more than a century and a half ago, this hymn stands as a cutting reminder of the Hand that rules the history of men and nations, and the One who will ultimately write the final chapter of this present world and which, in fact, has already written.

Once to Every Man and Nation

Once to every man and nation, 
comes the moment to decide,
in the strife of truth with falsehood, 
for the good or evil side;
some great cause, some great decision, 
offering each the bloom or blight,
and the choice goes by forever, 
'twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, 
when we share her wretched crust,
ere her cause bring fame and profit,
and 'tis prosperous to be just;
then it is the brave man chooses 
while the coward stands aside,
till the multitude make virtue 
of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burning martyrs, 
Christ, thy bleeding feet we track,
toiling up new Calvaries ever 
with the cross that turns not back;
new occasions teach new duties, 
ancient values test our youth;
they must upward still and onward, 
who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil prosper, 
yet the truth alone is strong;
though her portion be the scaffold, 
and upon the throne be wrong;
yet that scaffold sways the future, 
and behind the dim unknown,
standeth God within the shadow, 
keeping watch above his own.

 Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide, in the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side; some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight, and the choice goes by forever, 'twixt that darkness and that light. One salient point of this hymn is the burden that it places, not only upon the individual man, but upon nations as well to obey God and to honor His Law. If decisions to obey God are made in the hearts of  the people of a nation, that nation will also follow in like obedience to that Law. If we find that our beloved nation today has gone from following God to following after the world, it is because our ministers and churches have failed to call her citizens to repentance. When we begin to see national laws that forbid sin to be repealed, and those laws converted to the side of evil, then we shall know the extreme danger of our national condition. There is only one great decision – to follow God! All others are subordinate to that one immutable principle and subsist in the degree of faith with which we follow. As long as life continues, that choice remains operative, but when the curtain of life descends, our condition as either saint or sinner is fixed. There is no ambiguity about which is right, Heaven or Hell, for one is marked by abject darkness, and the other by brilliant light.

 Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust, ere her cause bring fame and profit, and 'tis prosperous to be just; then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside, till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied. We enjoy an extraordinary measure of liberty in America, but that liberty was not cheaply purchased. It came at the cost of the blood and treasure of our beloved Founding Fathers who gave us a nation ‘conceived in liberty’ and which recognized that all legitimate laws descend from God. This is the ‘wretched crust of truth’ which must be purchased at great cost ere the rewards become abundant. The man of the world will not stand for right and truth. He will shrink from any responsibility that places his personal safety in danger. The man of the world is, quite frankly, a coward. He knows no obligation to God or his fellow man, so he considers his own hide of far greater worth on earth than it shall be in Hell. Shakespeare says, in Julius CaesarA coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.

Once valiant men have purchased liberty at the cost of blood and treasures, the multitudes then may meekly follow for a while until they discover that they may vote themselves rewards from the public treasury. Then greed supersedes their claim to faith and righteousness. Stand with the Lord, and Liberty is assured. He is that Spirit of Liberty. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty(II Cor 3:17)

 By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, thy bleeding feet we track, toiling up new Calvaries ever 
with the cross that turns not back; new occasions teach new duties, ancient values test our youth; they must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth. Liberty is a grant of God and not of governments. Righteous government can only recognize that Sovereignty, and not impede the will of God for their citizens. How many pulpit-dandies, or TV evangelist, can you count that would go to the burning fires that the bodies of Cranmer, Hus, Ridley, and Latimer fueled in defense of a single issue of biblical truth? Not many, for most are in the business of extinguishing that truth in every manner imaginable. Our beloved Lord Jesus Christ bore a cross that was not truly His, suffered shame and humiliation that was ours, and died a horrible death that we should have died by right of law. He never wavered in His fervor to perform the full measure of sacrifice that was essential for our salvation. Did He not tell us to take up our crosses daily and follow Him? Have we done so? Have we suffered an iota for righteousness and faith? If not, it is time for serious introspection. The pursuit of truth and righteousness is no bed of red roses, but that Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering) upon which Christ trod two thousand years ago. It is a never ending road as long as earth and shadow remain. The light lit by the martyrs has grown to a bright and burning beacon for our day. Do we see that Light, or do we avert our eyes to the world-side of darkness?

 Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong; though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong; yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown, standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own. Are the people of the nation joyful when the wicked (like unto their own hearts) rule? No. Even the wicked mourn wicked rule and suffer. When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn(Prov 29:2) When the wicked rule, even the wicked mourn for justice. Classical art, music, and literature are called classical because they possess an enduring nature of beauty and meaning. True art extols truth and virtue, as well as imitates the great beauty of God’s Creation. If any form of art distorts that beauty, it is not art, but mere obscenity. It must always be a comfort to the elect of God that God sees their suffering in faith, but He also sees their valor and steadfastness in the face of threatening and seemingly insurmountable challenges. He stands at the far edge of the Battle Line and watches the valiant and courageous Christian push on to the great objective set before him by the Captain of His soul. He also sees the flagging and fearful souls who shrink from the line of battle and fall into headlong retreat back to the unprofitable sanctuary of the world.

America has turned her back on God. Yes, there remain SOME faithful, but their numbers have shrunk fantastically from those of four generations ago. It is never too late to make a decision to follow God. Do we have the intestinal fortitude to do so – as men and women, as boys and girls, as a Church, and as a nation? There is a simple remedy for the proliferation of sins and misery in America – turn back to the God of our fathers. If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land(II Chronicles7:14) America must ask herself a question – a very OLD question: And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD(Joshua 24:15)

Dear Christian and American: can you hear that charge of Joshua echoing down the centuries and millennia to our hearts. Whom will you and YOUR house serve?

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, May 24, 2020

AOC Sunday Report - Sunday after Ascension Day


Happy Sunday after Ascension Day!

The AOC Sunday Report can be downloaded RIGHT HERE!

We have great sermons from Bishops Jerry and Roy, as well as Revs Jack and Bryan.  Each is different,  I am aware I say that most Sundays, but that is because it is true.  I think it is even more true today, but you can be the judge.

There are a lot of people who need your prayers, in particular Shamu, Bob and Matt.  Spend some time praying, please.  Please pray also for all our countries around the world that their governments might properly assess the Covid danger and act accordingly.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, the day we remember those who have given their lives in defense of our freedoms.  Please take a bit of time to reflect on the sacrifices made on your behalf before you give up any of that precious freedom.

There is a great week ahead, with the help of the Holy Ghost you can find it, but you have to invite Him into your heart.

Godspeed,

Hap
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California

Sermon Notes - Sunday after Ascension Day - Woman at the Well - 24 May 2020, Anno Domini


The Sunday after Ascension Day.
The Collect.

O
 GOD, the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven; We beseech thee, leave us not comfortless; but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us un-to the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.  Amen.

The Collect for Sunday after Ascension follows logically the observance of the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is perfectly timely and natural that we, having observed our Lord ascend, should now desire the promised comforter - I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.  (John 14:18) This word ‘leave means, in the Greek, to divorce or to sever all legal connection. Christ will not disown His people even if He has departed to a High Station. Many of our friends may forget who we are if they advance to high political or social office, but not our Lord Jesus Christ. His very Ascension was for our benefit. We have been left with a close and intimate intercessor who will ALWAYS testify of Christ to us and point always to His benefits. 

T
HE woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he 27 And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? 28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, 29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? 30 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. 31  In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. 32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. 33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? 34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. 35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. 37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. 38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. (John 4:31-38)

            The stronger part of today’s lectionary text is not in complete context, so I have added the introductory verses for further clarification. The Bread and Water of the Lord is sourced at a far more exalted Fountain than our wells and tables of earth. Even earlier in this passage from John 4, the Lord asked the woman to give Him water. This was not only intended to establish a friendly rapport, but to introduce a mild covenant. 

            In the custom of the East, to partake of the courtesy of a drink from the enemy, the recipient cannot be treated otherwise than as an honored guest.

            Sometimes, I want to revisit that old well of my grandmother’s in Dawnville, Georgia, to taste that cool refreshing water. It is not simply the water that I desire, but the simpler and more innocent days that existed in that country then. I am not alone in this sentiment. We see that David experienced the same: “14 And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. 15 And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! 16 And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD. 17 And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men. (2 Sam 23:14-17)

            In our Gospel text today, we find our Lord Jesus Christ resting by such a well of water that is still common in the Middle East. Every adobe village has a well outside the gate where the women gather at sundown to draw water, either by a bucket let down into the well, or else walk down a corridor to an open stream that has been dug out for them. I have witnessed these women many times sauntering around those wells with animated talk (and most likely, gossip).

            In the prelude to today’s text, we find that it was no accident that our Lord met this woman of less that stellar repute at Jacob’s Well. In fact, it had been decided in eternity past that He would have this appointment in Samaria: “And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.” John 4:4-5 (KJV) The Lord had a reason for making this more tiresome journey through the rough country of Samaria, and that reason was for this Woman at the Well, and the many villagers who came to believe on Him through her testimony and their own personal witness to His teaching. He searches out diamonds among the rough, unhewn stones of the world. The great Christian professor and author, Dr. James Stalker of Scotland, illustrates fittingly the woman who met our Lord at the Well that day in Imago Christi:

Discovery of the African Diamond Mines. — "I have heard that one of the diamond fields of South Africa was discovered in this wise. A traveler, one day, entered the valley and drew near to a settler's door, at which a boy was amusing himself by throwing stones. One of these stones fell at the stranger's feet, who picked it up, and was in the act of laughingly returning it, when something flashed from it which stopped his hand and made his heart beat fast. It was a diamond. The child was playing with it as a common stone; the peasant's foot had spurned it; the cart wheel had crushed it, till the man who knew saw it and recognized its value. " The story often comes to my mind when I am thinking of the soul. Was it not the same careless treatment the soul was receiving when Jesus arrived in the world and discovered that soul.  In every child of Adam whom He called He perceived the diamond. The rags of the beggar could not hide it from His eyes nor the black skin of the savage, nor even the crimes of the evil doer." 

            There are several spiritually significant points to our Lord’s resting by Jacob’s Well outside Sychar. The first is the request the Lord made of the woman: “Give me to drink.” vs 4:7 The woman was astonished at this request from a stranger of the Jews. Why? It is because the Jews considered the Samaritan’s to be a fallen race of people and unclean. No self-respecting Jew would drink from a dipper from which Samaritans drank. There is something else significant about our Lord’s request for water: He did not need to request such a favor as He could have spoken the water into existence as He had spoken the water in the jars to be changed into wine at Cana of Galilee; but the Lord knows that we learn by all our senses. Experiential learning may often trump that which comes by way of hearing only. He gives us a hand in serving, and He does not judge our persons by race or reputation. His mission is to change souls from lost to found as much as to change water into wine. 

            There were several astonishing truths that the Lord taught the woman in the brief encounter by the Well.

1.     That He was the promised Messiah; “I am He who am speaking to thee."
2.     That He was Himself God: By revealing to the Samaritan woman the hidden secrets of her conscience, He manifested His omniscience.
3.     That He is full of grace and truth:  The living water which Jesus gives is His divine doctrine and grace – not the water to be found 80 feet below the ground in that well at Sychar.  His doctrine and grace give supernatural and eternal life to the soul, which, without grace, is dead and in a state of mortal sin. The human soul thirsts for truth and happiness, and our Lord satisfies this thirst by His doctrine and grace.
4.     That His Love abounds to sinners: In spite of His exhaustive travels, He took time to linger by Jacob’s Well to save the soul of a woman of whom even her own people had little regard. 
5.     That the coming to terms with the Lord of a single sinner may lead to the salvation of multitudes.
6.     That the world will be surprised at our love and concern for fallen man: “And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?”John 4:27 (KJV) She was not, in the mind of the disciples, a woman worthy of the Master’s company. Little did they realize that neither were they, or any others.

The disciples prevailed upon the Lord to eat, but He surprised them yet again: “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” The wisdom of God does not make sense to the world. We seldom can comprehend the beauty that transcends the divine laws and principles of Heaven. Do you remember when you were very young that you became so engrossed in playing games outdoors with your friends that you literally forgot to eat. Mom would come to the door more than once and call you to the supper table – and with each call, her voice grew more emphatic. What was this meat that the Lord had to eat which the disciples knew not of? It was that joy of the Shepherd who searches out His lost sheep (it was His even if lost) and returns rejoicing. That was the bread of the Lord upon which His soul and Spirit thrived!

The poor disciples were bewildered at His saying. “Who gave the Lord bread to eat?” they wondered. “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” My wife often calls me in late afternoon to ask me to come home for dinner; however, I may be in the midst of writing something that I value more than my dinner concerning the truth of some biblical truth. I do not want to lose the joy of the moment until I get all reduced to writing. That does not come close to the bread for which our Lord craved; but it is as close as this mortal can come to understanding it. 

We think of harvests to come in each due season. Sure, there must be ground breaking, planting, weeding, watering, etc.; however, every season with God is harvest season. The tassels of the fruit-laden wheat is forever white and bowed down for reaping. The work of the harvester is never done while seed-time and harvest remain. Paul counsels us “1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”  (2 Tim 4:1-4)

I am somewhat taken aback by Paul’s counsel above, for it seems that we have already come upon that day when the church itself will no longer abide sound doctrine, that teachers and preachers are sought out who will satisfy the itching ears of many for a ‘different and worldly’ Gospel. Maybe so, but not as long as there remain thousands of faithful to the Lord in the land, we might conduct ourselves as courageously as the naval gunners aboard the Battleship Bismarck whose crew continued firing their naval cannons into the sky as that great vessel began to list and go under the cold waters of the North Atlantic.


In what season of your Christian walk are you, my friend? You will note that, though Christ was resting beside the Well, His heart was active to reach the woman’s heart to reveal His Person; and is every season a time of harvest and refreshing, or perhaps a time of sharing as we rest beside the Wells of Living Water.