Posts Tagged ‘Good News’

“THE Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings”

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.


Fr. Massey Shepherd said that today’s lesson describes “the saving, missionary work of the Messiah.”  This lesson from Isaiah is especially important as Christ read it publicly in the synagogue to announce the beginning of His public ministry in St. Luke iv.18-19.  Let’s take a closer look at it.

The 61st chapter of Isaiah begins:  THE Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me;

You can’t chose the prophetic mission; God chooses you.  When God gives a mission, he always provides the means to accomplish the mission.  The Lord does not make a promise that can’t be kept.  Like a priest and priestly gift of the Holy Ghost given in the sacrament of ordination, he who is called is given the necessary things to complete the mission.  St. Paul says in II Corinthians iii.5:  “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;”

Isaiah continues:  because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek;

In telling of Christ reading the passage in the synagogue, St. Luke reads “poor” instead of “meek”.  In the early Third Century, the author Origen wrote, “By the poor He means the Gentile nations, for they were poor, possessing nothing at all, having neither God, nor Law, nor Prophets, nor justice, and the other virtues.”  This certainly agrees with the Great Commission, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”  Christ came to preach the Good News to the Jews first, but also to all nations.

Isaiah continues:  he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

The “brokenhearted” are wounded and need healing.  Psalm cxliii.3 reads:  “He healeth those that are broken in heart, * and giveth medicine to heal their sickness.”

St. Cyril of Alexandria said:  “He calls those broken hearted, who are weak, of an infirm mind, and unable to resist the assaults of the passions, and to them He promises a healing remedy.”  St. Basil agrees:  “He came to heal the broken hearted, i.e. to afford a remedy to those that have their heart broken by Satan through sin, because beyond all other things sin lays prostrate the human heart.”  In other words, the brokenhearted are those who are weak and infirm by sin and uncontrolled passions, which is the condition we all share until redeemed by God.

Isaiah continues:  to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

Proclaiming liberty to the captive is associated with the year of Jubilee.  Leviticus xxv.10:  “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”

Sometimes we think that liberty means that we can do whatever we like.  But liberty and restoration to God’s good order are intimately related; we were originally at liberty in the Garden before the Fall distorted our wills.

St. John Chrysostom sees this:  “But the worst captivity is that of the mind, of which he here speaks. For sin exercises the worst of all tyrannies, commanding to do evil, and destroying them that obey it. From this prison of the soul Christ lets us free.”

St. Luke reads “to set at liberty them that are bruised” instead of “them that are bound”.  St. Cyril of Alexandria explains:  “For the darkness which the Devil has spread over the human heart, Christ the Sun of Righteousness has removed making men, as the Apostle says, children not of night and darkness, but of light and the day. For they who one time wandered have discovered the path of the righteous. It follows, To set at liberty them that are bruised.

Isaiah continues:  to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God;

A liberal Protestant who commented on this verse said that the word “Vengeance” here is “dubious”.  But the Venerable Bede did not think so:  “After the acceptable year of the Lord, he adds, And the day of retribution; that is, the final retribution, when the Lord shall give to every one according to his work.”  Salvation and judgement go hand in hand.

Isaiah continues:  to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

Comforting those that mourn is prominent in Isaiah.  When those who came back from the Babylonian Exile returned, they had high hopes.  But what they found was chaos, degeneracy, and sin.  They mourned “in Zion”.  Isaiah spoke the good word of God to them, giving them hope.  And today, these words give hope to those who mourn as well.

The lesson concludes:  that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

“Trees of righteousness” will be what those redeemed and comforted become.  And why? “that he might be glorified”; so God might be praised.


We are glad at the Good News; joy rises in our hearts and out our mouths when we hear and experience it.  We are called to be righteous within the call of the Good News and inside the joy over the salvation which it proclaims to us.  Gospel, joy, righteousness, salvation:  They all go together.

If righteousness doesn’t come after the glad tidings and joy and salvation, then these had no effect.

Therefore, upon hearing the glad tidings with joy, we are to strive for that righteousness which is part of our salvation.  Not that we can do it all by ourselves, but the good news is that we are not by ourselves.  God speaks to us, and we are never the same.  We become a holy people consecrated for God.  We are set apart.  We are saved.  We are joyous.  And being changed, we must love and spread this good news, these tidings of salvation which causes joy and effects righteousness.  Our growing in righteousness, our joy, and our spreading the Good News are all intertwined.  We must grow both personally and together as a holy people, and we must share these glad tidings.  This is who we are.  We are people who are redeemed by God, because God came down from Heaven and became one of us.  We are forever changed when we look into the eyes of Christ.  The holy angels veil their faces to the presence of God in Heaven, but we look God full in the face in the person of Christ our Lord.

In today’s Collect, we prayed:  “Grant that the same light enkindled in our hearts may shine forth in our lives.”  When put to the flame of God’s love, we ignite and become light by which others see God.

Nashotah House seminary has a prayer for those who are trained there:  “so penetrate them with your Spirit and fill them with your love, that they may go forth animated with earnest zeal for your glory; and may your ever living Word so dwell within their hearts, that they may speak with that resistless energy of love which shall melt the hearts of sinners to the love of you.”

When we hear the Good News of Christ and are filled with the Holy Ghost, we simply must pass on what we have experienced.  As Our Lady sings in that great hymn the Magnificat:  “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”  We burn without being consumed by the loving-kindness of God himself.  People will notice!

But hearing the glad tidings, hearing the Gospel of Christ forces a crisis.  You either believe or not believe.  You cannot punt on this decision.  You cannot split the difference or decide not to decide.  And to our shame, many of us did not believe at first.  We humans are weak.  We are scared creatures.  It is a big world and without God we are terribly afraid of death.  Even Churchmen struggle with the little deaths of humiliation and poverty and shame.  This is not good.  This is not right.  But there it is.  Telling what the Lord has done for us forces a crisis in the hearer.  For better or worse, it is done.

And yet, the joy in our hearts propels us to share it.  We tell our friends when we find a really great deal at the store.  We pass on the accomplishments of our children and grandchildren with our neighbors.  We will even complain about the government, about the weather, about our favorite television show getting cancelled.  But people balk when it comes to sharing the Gospel.

I think it is because so much is on the line, so much is at stake.  You can pass up a great deal or a free meal, but passing up eternal salvation is more important than that.  Or perhaps we think it rude to make someone else uncomfortable.  And if we are slapping people around with big ole floppy Bibles, then we’re not really sharing the Good News, are we?  No.  When we share those glad tidings which we have heard, which caused joy to erupt in our hearts, which changed our lives for the better, making us holier, more righteous, purer in heart, cleaner in thoughts, then we have to share it.  We are changed for the better.

I like to tell people how I have improved over the years.  It was awkward “coming out” as a minister when I was younger – people remembered me all too well from childhood.  One of the things I love about my relationship with my wife Angela is that she has known me for a long time.  Certainly not as long as some of you have known each other, but she and I have known each other for our entire adult lives.  And we’re pretty sure that we met and I offended her when we were teenagers.  But when things are difficult and down, she knows that I have grown in Christ.  I’m getting better.  As for me, watching her blossom in the Lord has been a beautiful thing.  Of course I love the Lord, for He has wrought such great works in our lives!  Not that I don’t still mess up.  Not that I don’t have bad days, painful days, difficult days.  Not that everything is wonderful all the time.

But I attest before you and the angels in Heaven that God showed me a “more perfect way”.  Christ has shown me loving-kindness without bounds.  Of course I will stand up and preach!  And when your life has been touched by the Lord, you too will tell of His greatness, His loving-kindness, His overwhelming and gracious forgiveness, and the joy that sings out from your heart.  I’m not saying you have to walk around with a stupid grin plastered on your face.  I’m saying:  When your life is better for Christ saving you, you should speak your mind in your own voice.  You should tell your story, your part of the Greatest Story Ever Told.

If you walk through those red doors which symbolize the Blood of Christ and walk out into the world, you will meet untold numbers of folk in ashes, who mourn, who know all too well the spirit of heaviness.  They long for relief.  They subject themselves to trivial nonsense to dull the pain and take attention away from despair.  They inoculate themselves with false hope so that the return of disappointment does not crush them.

But the good word of the Lord offers them “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness….”  They think that they live lives of their own making, selfishly thinking of themselves, but they, like us, are also called so “that they might be called Trees of righteousness.”  The Revised Standard Version, sounding mighty English, says instead “oaks of righteousness”.

Those mournful, despairing, confused people out there are called by God through you sitting here today that they might be sturdy oaks of righteousness so “that he might be glorified.”  We are made to praise the Lord.  This is the chief and highest end of man.  Why are we given free will, that is, why do we have conscious and reflective choice?  So that we may choose God.

But our wills, our minds, and our hearts are so damaged by the great Fall we experienced that we cannot begin to save ourselves.  “So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  We are saved by the action of our loving Father in Heaven, who sent His only-begotten Son into the world, being born a baby in a manger in Bethlehem, so that He may save us from death, disease, and sin, by His Crucifixion and Resurrection, and then sent God the Holy Ghost to set us on fire to serve him in righteousness, joy, truth, and most especially loving-kindness.

I want you to commit to two things today:

First, believe the Good News in your heart and joyfully live it in your life.

And then, carry it out into the world and tell of those good tidings.


“THE Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings”

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.



Read Full Post »

“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.


Good tidings of great joy


Holy fear is a gift of the Holy Ghost.  It is the appropriate awe of God and the deep recognition of his otherness.  God is creator; he creates.  We are creatures; we are created.  We are utterly dependent upon him; God, thankfully, takes great pity upon us.

There is an impassable gap between Heaven and earth, between the realm where God splendidly lives in ineffable light and this mortal realm where those we love grow sick and die, where we constantly struggle against sin and each other, where even after a good day’s work we ache.  We and God are far, far away from each other.

Sadly, we are the ones who caused this gap, this distance between God and ourselves.  Our ancient ancestors, Adam and Eve, first sinned.  Ah, true, they were tempted.  But temptation doesn’t make a sin.  The sinful heart turns that opportunity of temptation into a sin.

That original disobedience from our Heavenly Father thrust us out into a world of our own making.  I don’t know about you, but I can spend a lot of time on a project, going over and over it again, and still find mistakes on the finished product.  I would rather live in a world of God’s making rather than one of my own.

Or at least I tell myself that.  In fact, I prove with my every act of rebellion against God that I want to live in my own world that is centered on me.  And I am not the only one.  If you listen to your own heart, you too will hear it beating for yourself and not for another.

For God, who is our creator and is so high above us, to become man, He had to abase Himself, to set aside His rightful place, to bear indignities for our sake.  Philippians ii.6-7:  “[W]ho, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:”

Imagine if you had to become again a helpless newborn baby.  You would go mad from lack of control over your own body and from the indignities you would face.  Yet God the Son created the universe from nothing, created all life and our very race from dust, and He voluntarily came down to live amongst us in such a limited fashion.  But even as a baby, He was still fully God the Son.

For what is great in the eyes of man is not great in the eyes of God.  The shepherds are lowly in the eyes of this world, but in the eyes of God the Father, they are worthy for his angelic hosts to sing the announcement of God the Son’s human birth.

The word St. Luke uses for glad tidings has the same root as evangelize and evangelist.  Those “glad tidings” are truly the Good News, for God has come to redeem his people.  We are no longer alone in the cosmos.  We are no longer ultimately separated by sin and death from our loving creator.  Heaven bowed down and kissed earth that night in Judea.  The world will never be the same.

And indeed, the world never has been the same.  Around the world the Good News of Christ our Lord spreads.  In this last year, Christians in the Congo, in Egypt, and in Nigeria have lost their mortal lives amidst the business of saving their eternal lives.  The world today is as sinful and difficult as it was for those shepherds on the hill outside of Bethlehem the day before Christ was born, with one difference:  God is now with us.  Our savior has lived among us.  He comes to us in every celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

And just as Christ first came into this world quietly in a stable, so He will come again to right every wrong, to lock sin and death away for all eternity, so that we might live with Him in glory everlasting with God, with the holy angels, with the holy martyrs, and with all our spiritual brothers and sisters.

It is on this day of Christ’s birth that the world changes.  Christ comes and turns the world upside down.  What is expedient in the ways of the world is revealed to be wicked.  What is foolish in the ways of the world is revealed to be holy.  Loving-kindness replaces selfishness as the smart way to live your life.  Loving your neighbor as yourself kicks loving yourself first and foremost off its idolatrous pedestal.

But it is not only we poor creatures huddled together for warmth in the face of the cold night outside for whom Christ comes.  Christ comes and redeems the whole world, for in saving us, He also saves the world:  The world of all humanity, by craftily subverting the faithful into living lives honoring Him and not the world:  But also the wider world of all creation, for it is on Christmas Day, on the Feast of Christ’s Nativity that God the Son sanctifies the material world with His very own presence.  The supernatural and the natural, the spiritual and the physical, the immaterial and the material meet in Christ.

St. Francis of Assisi, one of my favorite saints, made the first Christmas crèche in Greccio on Christmas Eve 1223.  He made a scene with a live baby surrounded by live animals.  He did this so that we would not only understand with our heads that God is very near us, but so that we could feel in our hearts that God is very near us.

In the nativity scene I grew up with, the Holy Family gathered in the middle while animals were off to each side.  Above them, angels kept watch and sang the Lord’s praises.  All three levels of creation were visibly represented to me there:  The angels up above, creatures of pure spirit; the animals on either side, creatures of pure flesh; and the Holy Family in the middle, creatures of both flesh and spirit.  Christ came to become one of us, and in doing so, He redeemed every part of God’s creation.

The angelic host of Heaven sings with joy and celebrates the Advent of Christ into our lives.  All God’s spiritual creatures sing out with gladness for the great love and mercy which the Father has bestowed upon us, which the Holy Ghost has made possible, in that the Son now breathes with a boy’s nostrils the air of our earth.

We regale each other with stories of how a president slept in a specific house or how some famous figure touched the lives of one of our ancestors.  But here we speak of the True King of all that ever was, that is, and ever will be living amongst shepherds and sheep and lying in a manger.  The idea is too wondrous for us.  We choke on it, thinking that He must not be so majestic to live with such common folk.

And friends, that is what the world will tell you tomorrow.  Foolishly thinking Christmas to be over, they will tell you that this Christ is not so majestic after all.  “He’s a fable, a story.  He’s so far lost in the mists of mythology that we actually don’t know anything about Him at all.  He’s all well and good for the fools and simpletons who need Him as a crutch, but I am important and have things to do.”  And indeed, some desperate souls will think these things.

But for those of us who travel with Him to that manger crib in Bethlehem, we have met our Lord Christ.  That is why I have included in each bulletin a Christmas devotion I encourage you to use throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas – right up until January 6th, the Epiphany.  But whether or not you use this particular devotion, think on the gift of God’s presence both now and into eternity from our God and Savior Jesus Christ:  I warmly encourage you to give Christ yourself in return.  After all, before we loved Him, He loved us first.



Christ came to us to take His place amongst us as flawed and fallible people struggling against temptation and living between birth and death.  Never before had God taken upon Himself such vulnerability.  Never before had God come, not in booming voice or cloud or fire, but in human flesh, not simply appearing like one of us, but actually becoming one of us.  We can say Christ is our brother more truly than we can call an angel or a horse our brother, for Christ truly is born of a woman into the family of Man.  Christ knew the love of a child for his mother.  He knew the sweat and exertion of physical toil with his earthly father.  He knew the camaraderie of the disciples.  He knew temptation, betrayal, suffering, and death.  And He is the first of all men to know the eternal reality of Resurrection — but He won’t be the last.

For it is through this veil of His human flesh that we come to enter into Heaven.  We are able to enter into the Holies of Holies in Heaven “by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;”  Christ does not only come to earth and become a newborn Jewish boy in Bethlehem to live alongside of us.  No, He comes down to us and becomes one of us so that we follow Him up into Heaven, into His Resurrection, into the presence of God the Father in the Holy Ghost forevermore.

Our human world, our world of family, of temptations, of nations and wars, of sickness and death, this our human world has on Christmas morning been pierced with the lava-hot loving-kindness of God’s own presence.  God is this day with us.  Christ our Lord is born in Bethlehem so that He may live amongst us, to the end that He might show us His love, become the way to salvation, die upon the Cross for our redemption, and leave us His Church.

And tonight we remember and recollect that blessed night over two thousand years ago when God the Son came to us in that little child.  Tonight we celebrate the invasion of this world of sin and sadness, death and decay by the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Alpha and the Omega.  We look forward to when that little boy will come again as a conquering king on the Last Day, when He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

Because God became Man in Christ our Lord, we are free.  We are free from the sins and mistakes of our past. That is what makes this night so special.

So tonight, let us gather around the Christmas crib and forget ourselves for a moment, letting ourselves rest and worshipping Christ our God and our Savior.


“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.


Read Full Post »

My beloved children and dear brother, please turn in your Prayer Books to page 179.  Let us read together the Collect for the Sunday after Ascension Day:

“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 unto 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.”

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.


Christ has become man, taught us, suffered for us, died for us, rose from the grave for us, and ascended into Heaven for us.  Christ has sent the Holy Ghost to comfort us and lift us up to Heaven, where He has gone to prepare a place for us.

Christ will come again in power and great glory to judge us and bring us to Heaven.  We must be ready for Him, and the Holy Ghost is with us and in us to prepare us.  We find in St. Peter’s letter that we must prepare by soberly assessing our situation and carefully watching in prayer.  We are heading to Heaven, where we will live with God forever in perfect love.  Therefore, we must practice loving each other in the fullness of loving-kindness.  The deep and abiding loving-kindness we have for one another will cover a multitude of sins.  To prepare ourselves for Heaven, we must practice hospitality with each other without grudging.  This means that we do not count another’s sins.  We do not compare ourselves with each other.  We do not form sides or parties opposed to each other, for that is against Christ, against the Holy Ghost, against charity, and against hospitality.  To prepare ourselves for Heaven, we must open our hearts and our hands and accept our brothers and sisters in Christ as brothers and sisters in our hearts.  We will fail and hurt each other and sin against each other, but shrouded in loving-kindness and open hospitality, Christ will forgive us our sins and fill our hearts with love by the Holy Ghost.

But make no mistake:  We will suffer for holding fast to Christ.  He came into this world to save us, and the world put Him to death.  When we follow Christ, we also will die.  We will suffer public humiliation when we choose the way of Christ over the way of our friends and neighbors.  We will suffer pain and disease and death in this fallen and broken world.  We will suffer ostracism when we speak boldly and plainly for Jesus Christ.  We cannot be ugly or ungracious, but neither can we back off an inch from what is true.  Christ says the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, is the Spirit of Truth.  We must speak plainly and lovingly and take our lumps.

We will be tempted to shut our mouths; we will be tempted to temper the truth in order to spare the feelings of others; we will be tempted to relativize God’s Son and His teaching so we fit in better with our modern, secular, and pluralistic society.  But we have been bought with a terrible price by a mighty God who loves us more than a mother loves her child.  We must share the Good News of Jesus Christ with our words and with our lives.  Visitors to our little parish must be able to pick up the Bible and read of Christ in the Gospels and then look at us and say, “Right there!  These people love each other as Christ loved them!  I want to love God and my fellows and be loved in return with them!”  We must put away our silly and childish notions of fairness and thinking that we can rightly discern the hearts of others and take the great risk of opening up ourselves to Christ and to other people in loving-kindness through the Holy Ghost.

David sang, “The Lord is my light, and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?”  When we love Christ and we understand in our deepest self that He loves us, when we are fortified with the sacramental power of Christ, when we profess the Gospel of Christ, we are on solid rock and can be touched by no man.  We may follow Christ to be crucified ourselves, but we know in our gut that we are His and He is ours.  We cannot be moved.  When we fear God, then we fear no man.  With joy and gladness we open our hearts to each other and bear one another’s burdens.  When our brother falls, we bend down and pick him up so that he might finish the race.  Only Satan wants us to kick dust in his face and mock him.  When our sister cries, we draw near to her and comfort her, like a father lifting up his daughter.  Only Satan wants us to tell her to stop her weeping and get with the program.

The Devil is watching each one of us closely.  When we stray from the righteous and just path of Christ, we are easy pickings for our wicked and supernatural foe, that evil angel.  He will turn our hearts to hatred and evil under the guise of being right.  Satan seeks to build up in us the vices of pride, lust, greed, gluttony, anger, envy, and sloth.  He wants us negligent in our religious and family and work duties.  He wants us to compare ourselves to other people and resent their easy lives and dwell on our bad luck.  He wants us to raise our hackles and get mad at other folks in their faults and stupidities.  He wants us to satisfy our every desire and complain when we must make do without.  He wants us to earn more, save more, give less, and rely upon the security of our worldly treasure.  He wants us to give in to the passions of our bodies and imaginations through fantasy, pornography, and sex outside of holy matrimony.  But most of all, he wants us to think of ourselves first, to think of our families first, to think of our people and country first, and think of our own parish first.  He wants our every desire and concern to revolve around what we feel, giving no thought to actually listening to others and what they feel.  Satan wants us to decide for ourselves the value of other people, their opinions, and their feelings.  Satan wants us to throw Christ off his throne in our hearts and decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong.  He wants us to kill God.

The word which means to kill God is deicide.  The only difference in spelling between decide and deicide is that extra ‘I’.  I decide where God fits in my life.  I want what I want.  I want my ego in charge of my life.

This way leads to endless sin, disease, sickness, and death.  We must throw down the ‘I’ from our heart and praise Christ Who reigns within our hearts through the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.  We must say, “Get behind me, Satan!” and rush into the loving arms of God our Father.  We must shut our mouths and listen . . . to the direction of the Holy Spirit of God.  We must follow Christ.  Following Christ is a hard path, and it will lead in our death, but through the veil of His holy Flesh, we will pass from death into life everlasting.  Washed in the blood of Christ, God claims us for his own.  Like the Jews in Egypt who put lamb’s blood on their doors to keep away the angel of death during the Passover, so we have the blood of the eternal Lamb on our souls so that we might stay alive and stay with God.

Christ has gone up to prepare a place for us.  In Hebrews we read:  “Seeing that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Christ has passed into the heavens.  When we claim Christ and He claims us, we can approach the throne of grace that our sins may be forgiven and that we receive heavenly grace in our present trials and temptations.  We have an ‘in’ with the master of the universe.  We are connected; we are family.  When my great-uncle returned from Italy and France after the Second World War, his sister’s husband, my grandfather got him a job at the plant.  My uncle had an in, he had a job, he had a place.  We also know the boss; we know the ruler of heaven.  Christ is there right now interceding with His Father in Heaven for us.  We must turn to Him and receive the healing balm which our cracked and soiled and bruised soul needs.  He will pour on us grace, unmerited favor, the loving-kindness of Heaven upon us to heal our inward parts.  He will give us those things we need for our outward parts as well.

We sang a few minutes ago the words of Caroline Maria Noel:  “In your hearts enthrone him; / There let him subdue / All that is not holy, / All that is not true: / Crown him as your Captain / In temptation’s hour; / Let his will enfold you / In its light and power.”

The Holy Ghost is working on each one of us right now.  He is working and guiding our most cherished matriarch with scores of years of faithfulness.  He is working and guiding the perpetrators of that horrible beating down at the riverfront last week.  We cannot control God, but we can *try* to cooperate with him.  When Christ knocks on our door, even if we can’t open the door, even if we can’t say, “come on in”, then at least we can unlock the door and stand aside.  Christ will come and reign in our hearts.  And with our great captain and high priest reigning inside of us, He will root out “all that is not holy, all that is not true.”  When tempted, we do not fall limp like a silly person and just fall in with whatever we feel.  No!  We stand firm and rely upon Christ who reigns within us and we fight against those temptations.  We will sometimes fail, and God will forgive us.  But our forgiveness was purchased at great price.  Every sin we commit is like flushing diamonds down the commode.  Every sin we commit is like splattering mud on a palace.  We wash our cars and go out to spas and salons.  We give more thought to our outward appearance than we give to our souls!  Talking about misplaced priorities!  Our hair will fall out and our truck will rust out, but our soul is going either to Heaven or Hell for all eternity.  Which do you think we should look after first?

The Holy Ghost is ready and waiting closer to us than the air in our lungs, and he is ready to guide us and hold onto us no matter what befalls us.  It is not an act of courage to allow Christ to reign within us; it is an act of desperation.  Times are tough, they always have been since the Garden of Eden, and we had better hold on to the best thing that comes to us.  And Christ comes to each of us.

I’m going to stop preaching soon.  While we dress and set the altar and the collection plate goes around, you all are going to have some time to think, time to prepare.  We will pray for the church and the world.  We will confess our sins and receive forgiveness for them.  All of us together will join in the great prayer of our Holy Mother Church, the Bride of Christ.  We will follow Christ in praying like He taught His disciples to pray.  And then we shall come to the Body and Blood of Christ, given to us.  I will say, “The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving.”  After our thanksgiving we will praise God singing songs of worship and adoration.

Each one of us has to make a choice.  We have chosen before, but today is a new day, and we have to choose again.  Will we worship and praise our God and Savior Jesus Christ in Heaven?  Or shall we throw Him off the throne of our hearts and rule ourselves all the way down to Hell?


“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 unto 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.”

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

Read Full Post »