THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
July 5th AD 2020
“I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” –Romans viii. 18.
“O God, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
– The Collect for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity (1928 Book of Common Prayer)
The collect from this morning teaches us somethings concerning God, ourselves and our purpose in this world. In echoing the words of Holy Scripture, this short prayer reveals never-changing principles that are at the heart of our Christian faith.
- God alone is the protector of all who trust in Him
- Without God, nothing is strong, nothing is holy. Apart from him, everything becomes common and profane.
- God’s mercy, his governance, his guidance shall keep us unto eternal life.
- Temptation comes to us through temporal things…things that belong to time.
In short, eternal life is our goal, our final aim. The unspeakable feast…the joy of heaven…Seeing him face to face.
Right now, we live in a place where two Kingdoms are constantly vying for our allegiance. We know Christ and his Kingdom. We know Satan and the kingdom of this world. By God’s grace, we have a knowledge of how things ought to be…How they ought to be in our nation, in our towns, in our families and in our Churches. And we also have a knowledge of how things seem to be going…
We live and are at times tortured by the way things are and the way things ought to be. It is a huge source of frustration and bitterness for so many people. As we evaluate ourselves, our families, our schools, towns and nation before the face of God…the words of Isaiah the prophet become our own… “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am an man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. For mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
We groan within ourselves for better things. We long for things to be made right. It is right here, in this situation, that the words of the Apostle Paul come to us this morning…
“I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us…for we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain until now…”
Let us pause here and notice St. Paul’s words…he uses the image of child-birth to describe our entrance into the “glorious liberty of the children of God”…to describe our entrance into heaven…when all is finally made known…all is finally made right…and the difference between “what ought to be” and “what is” is finally banished forever.
The creation groans for us to be born finally into the new heavens and the new earth…for that means that the rest of creation will be set free from its bondage to futility and corruption.
We groan within ourselves…longing to be freed from our corrupt fleshly principles…our indwelling sin…and the constant tension and battle that we feel within our hearts…we groan for the day when we will enter into that true liberty for which we were created and redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. We have fleeting glimpse of that peace and liberty here. We find it most often at Church…in the Baptism of a Baby…in the Holy Communion…at an Easter or Christmas Service…in the hymns we sing together …through the encouraging words of a faithful Christian…God provides for us fleeting glimpses of hope…that help us onward in the fight…as we continue to groan for the eternal inheritance promised to us by the Father.
We also notice that the Holy Ghost, God himself, groans within us…praying for us…interceding for us…forming and shaping us in the womb of this world…so that we may safely be delivered into the Kingdom of Heaven.
This year, Trinity Season began with the Baptism of Titus Milton Clark. We heard Jesus’ words… “You must be born again.” St. Paul is giving us a little more insight into just what that means. Travail and suffering, in this fallen world, always accompanies our Natural Birth…Travailing and suffering always accompanies our New Birth into the Kingdom of Heaven too…it is just a different kind of pain.
Natural birth is primarily brought forth through natural and physical suffering.
The suffering that accompanies spiritual birth is primarily spiritual…and spiritual suffering is often times the most harrowing of the two.
Nevertheless, St. Paul, who was no stranger to either physical or spiritual suffering…gives us these unshakable words of hope…
“I reckon [I count, I am certain] that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy [not even worthy!] to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us…
Let us hear his words and believe…Let us believe his words and hope…Let us hope and let us love…for love never faileth. God’s love never fails. Amen.