The Collect.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain that which thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dost command; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect this morning teaches us to ask certain things from God, our Heavenly Father. Faith in God, Hope in God, and Love of God are essential virtues that Christians must possess if we are to reach the Kingdom of Heaven. If we are to obtain his promises we must love what he commands. How are we to do this? Have you ever noticed that when you fix your eyes upon what is going on around you, on the television, on the news, on the internet, on the radio, in popular songs…we see and hear lawlessness, Adultery, fornication, uncleaness, sexual lust, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, quarrels, the desire to one-up the other man, anger, strife, speech that incites and encourages people to rebel against duly constituted authority, the belief of false teachings about God, envy, murders, drunkenness, drug addiction, and rebellion.

In contrast, when we turn our eyes to God, in increased faith, hope and charity…we begin to understand that we are not made for this world. We do not fit. Nor are we intended to find soul-satisfying peace in anything that we see here. Instead, we are to open our hearts wide…not to the world…but to the Spirit of the living God. Whose commands and promises order all things aright…and this leads us to the epistle.

The Epistle. Galatians v. 16.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest…But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Laws are given by God to curb sin and lead to life. But his Spirit alone, can lead us to love the things that he commands. God is infinite love. He is supremely joyful, peaceful, patient, gentle and good. He is the standard of all faithfulness. The very image of strength under control. In his infinite wisdom he knows exactly how to order all things well. So Jesus tells us, “You shall God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” So that loving him…we will love what he commands…because he is trustworthy. And as we do, we will reap the benefits of peace and become perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.

The world issues its commandments: “you shall throw off all authority”, “you shall be distracted”, “you shall forget God”, “you shall disrespect your parents and siblings and neighbours.” Only in Christianity do we hear that every person stands before us as a sacred image of God…and that we are to love him or her as ourselves. “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” These two commandments, if sincerely and faithfully embraced in the heart and life…would be the picture of God’s kingdom on earth…and the fulfillment of our prayers, “Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And this is what the Church is meant to be. The place where God is worshiped, loved and adored. The place where his commandments are not only kept but loved. A place where the people are marked by fruit of the Spirit.

Human nature is meant to flourish…Our hearts are to be opened wide…they shall be…in one way or another. Let us make sure that we are opened to God and his Spirit rather than to the unholy spirit of the world. And so, we turn to the gospel for this morning.

The Gospel. St. Luke xvii. 11.

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at [the feet of Jesus], giving him thanks…And [Jesus] said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Jesus had met ten lepers who cried out to him for healing. They were unclean. Separated from society, their families, their friends, the temple…it was a very bleak existence. So they asked Jesus to heal them. He told them to go show themselves to a priest [Notice that Jesus is maintaining the order set according to the Law of God]…as they are going…they are healed…only one man returns and glorifies God. He falls at the feet of Jesus to give him thanks. And here we see a picture of ourselves. We suffer in this world. The constant bombardment of ungodliness destroys families, distorts minds, perverts innocence…it is a leprosy of the soul. So God calls us, out of the midst of the world…at least one day of the week…to Remember the Sabbath day and Keep it holy. So we come to Jesus, Sunday after Sunday, fall at his feet, glorify God with our voices and give him thanks for cleansing us from the spiritual leprosy that has tainted our souls through the past week. Here we are strengthened. Here we are made whole. Here we confess, “speak the word only and my soul shall be healed.” And we are healed…again and again and again…our faith, hope and love are increased and we are tangibly taught that if we love the things which God commands, we shall most certainly obtain his promises… “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.”

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

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