From the pulpit


The Collect

KEEP we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual mercy; and, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all thing profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In the Collect appointed for this morning, we beseeched…we begged God to Keep…to Guard…to Preserve his Church through his perpetual mercy. We are frail men who are summoned to great things. There is a spirit of great evil, manipulation and deceit in the world. It influences everything. It has quietly, slowly, and methodically inserted itself in our midst. It comes to us through what we hear on the radio, see on the television and contemplate on the internet. It comes to us through advertisements posted ever before our eyes in stores, in checkout lines, and on billboards. It lulls us to sleep. But it is there. Ask yourself when you watch or listen… “What message is being sent?” “What is this teaching me to believe?”… and you will see it.

O Lord, keep thy Church with thy perpetual mercy! Keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful!

This spirit of evil, manipulation and deceit teaches us to accept and tolerate things that are wicked. It teaches us to accept some things as inevitable…and once we accept those…it teaches us to accept more things as inevitable…then soon enough…we accept all things as inevitable.

I am blessed to remember a time when the Church was a visible force in society. I was in 4th  grade. 10 years old. Men were dressed in coats and ties. Families sat together. Hymns were heartily sung by all. Preachers preached like they were dying men preaching to dying men. Every Sunday the Church was full. It was impressive to this little 10 year old boy. At the end of one of the services some men came and made an appeal to the congregation to vote for candidates that were opposed to Roe v. Wade. I did not know what that was…so when I got home, I asked my parents and they told me. I lost some of my childhood innocence that day. How does a 10 year old boy process that? But the days of the Church being a visible force in society are gone.

Nevertheless, it was true and still is. The slaughter of innocent children still presses on in this nation…Protected by law. Conservative numbers are 50 million since 1973. (9 holocausts in America alone). Young men and young women manipulated by a hyper-sexualized culture and taught to do thing that ought not to be done…in the name of love. Taught to view the gift of life…children…as an unwanted consequence…as a reminder of past “mistake”…as a disease that must be “cured”. And so, they are manipulated further and told by grown-ups, the government, and public school teachers that it is ok to just come in and have a procedure done and it will all go away. (I sat through these classes in grade school)…50 million children torn from their mother’s womb…Through lying, manipulation, and deceit. Where was the Church? Where is the Church? That tolerates this…that never mentions it…because its too political? It’s not political. It’s a moral outrage…Legalized Abortion is a scourge on our people and nation…and it is one of the many, many things that must be opposed at every level as we gaze upon the crucified Christ…Because he alone, is the one who can cover and heal the souls of mothers and fathers who have the blood of children on their hands. He alone, in his mercy can teach us to oppose evil with all our might and yet be compassionate and call them to light and life. He alone, is the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world…ALL of them. The words of the processional hymn are still true for us today:

Rise up, O men of God! Have done with lesser things,

 Give heart, and soul, and mind, and strength to serve the King of kings.

Rise up, O men of God! The Church for you doth wait:

Her strength unequal to her task; Rise up, and make her great!

… “make her great”, not in the eyes of the world…but in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. In the eyes of the angels and our faithful forefathers…to one another as brothers and sisters…to our children and our children’s children…to those that are in the world and long to see another one.

How are we to do this? What is our responsibility? First, we must let these facts bother us. We must see the evil for what it is. We must know that there are 50 million souls of holy, martyred, innocent children under the Altar of God in heaven…and that they cry out to God for justice saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:9). It must be like a stone in our shoe. Always there. Always hurting us at every step. Until, we are taught what we should do about it. As a first small step, along with our other foreign brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and martyred as we speak…we must never forget them. As another very small first step, it should at least inform the way we vote. But most of all it should shape the way we live. As another starting point, let me humbly yet boldly tell you, my conclusion after 32 years of thinking and praying about this issue. This is the truth and I will take this conviction to my grave: It is NEVER permissible, under any circumstances, at any stage of his or her development, whatsoever, to murder a child inside or outside of the mother’s womb. This is the teaching of Scripture, The Church, Tradition and Right Reason. If we compromise on this…all is lost. Evil is sinister and will prey upon our emotions. We will begin to question, in the name of compassion… “in this case shouldn’t abortion be permissible” No. “to save the life of the mother?” No. Because a Natural Evil is not made right through a Moral Evil. “We’ll this woman was raped. Shouldn’t we end the life of this unwanted, undesired child…it will just be a reminder of that horrible crime…” No. Because crime is not made right through another crime. And sin is not remedied by sin. Love alone can conquer this. This is the truth.  This is why we must all turn and constantly gaze upon and contemplate the crucified Christ. We must pray and speak to him. Ask him. What ought I to do? What should be our response? Let him teach us.

            I was going to go on to the Epistle and Gospel for today…but I think I have said enough already. Dear Lord! We need one another so, so much now…more than ever…to walk through this Wasteland as T.S. Eliot put it… to walk together through this land that is committing cultural and spiritual suicide…banded together as Christ’s “little flock”. I will leave you with the powerful words of the recessional hymn today, and commend you all to God, as we seek to carry out his will in this short span of time that we call “life together”.  

“Before thy throne, O God, we kneel; Give us a conscience quick to feel,

A ready mind to understand the meaning of thy chast’ning hand;

Whate’re the pain and shame may be, Bring us O Father, nearer to thee.”

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


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.


“But the scripture hat concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”  Galatians iii. 22

The Epistle this morning comes to us from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians. All was not well in the Church of Galatia. False teachers had infiltrated the Church and were leading this group of Gentile converts away from the Gospel that St. Paul had proclaimed to them. The false teachers were Jewish men who were saying in effect, that the One true God is the God of Israel. Jesus Christ, is first and foremost Israel’s Messiah. If anyone is going to be saved, and to receive the blessings of Christ, they must become a part of the nation of Israel by being circumcised and obeying the Law of Moses. Then, and only then, could the Galatians have any true hope of salvation.

St. Paul hears of this and immediately pens the letter that we have before us this morning. In this section of the letter, we encounter St. Paul’s teaching concerning Abraham and Moses and how the promise of God and the Law of God are to be understood. To be sure, these things may sound foreign to us. Nevertheless, as we shall see, this question has tremendous implications for us today.

Perhaps it may be made clearer if we begin by asking a couple of fundamental questions.

How are we made right with God? Are we made right with God by believing His promise or by obeying His Law? If we say that we are made right with God by believing his promises then why does he give us Laws that ought to be obeyed? If we say we are made right with God by obeying his Laws what is the point of his promises? For St. Paul, how we answer these questions is the difference between eternal life and blessedness and eternal condemnation.

The false teachers were arguing that we are made right with God by obeying the Law of Moses. St. Paul argues that we are made right with God by believing His promises. Let us see how St. Paul makes his case.

First, St. Paul notes that God’s promise to Abraham came first. 430 years before the Law of Moses was given to the nation of Israel, God had already promised to bless all the nations of the earth, in one of Abraham’s descendants. Furthermore, God makes this abundantly clear by limiting this promise to ONE of Abraham’s descendants.

“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ…AND this I say, that covenant [that promise] that was confirmed before by God in Christ, the law, which came 430 years later, cannot disannul…The giving of the Law cannot undo what God had promised.

In other words, God promised to bless all the nations of the earth in Christ, the descendant of Abraham…this is the true blessing and inheritance of every man, woman, boy and girl…and no amount of Law-giving and Law keeping can bring this promise to pass.  

Therefore, we see, that God relates to us on the basis of promises. Promises that are to be believed. Promises that are to be rested in. Our salvation rests in the hands of God alone. Salvation is of the Lord. We, on the other hand, are broken sinners who could not and do not obey the Law of God in all its perfection. In fact, this experience of knowing what we ought to do and failing in doing it points to the true reason why the Law of God was given.

St. Paul then turns and asks a very compelling question. “Is the law then against the promises of God? He answers with an emphatic NO! Never! May it never be. God’s Law and God’s promises do not contradict one another. They just different functions…

Listen closely to what St. Paul says…

If there had been a law given which could have given life, then righteousness would have come by the law…

But what is our experience? Does the Law of God bring life and righteousness? The Jews had the Law of God, they memorized it, sought to live by it, prided themselves on possessing it…did it bring life and righteousness? NO…instead it brought death…it brought all kinds of envy, greed and judgmentalism, and self-righteousness. It brought about the rejection and death of the Son of God…not because there was anything wrong with the law…no the problem was not with the Law…it is with us…the problem resides in the human heart that is devoid of the grace of God…it reveals to us just how wicked mankind truly is…and that is the point of the Law…Far from bringing about life, peace and righteousness…our sinfulness twists the Law of God to bring about death, sin and self-righteousness. This is why the God deals with us on the basis of promises. He deals with us on the basis of faith. And this is how St. Paul concludes his argument…

The Scripture, the Law of God has shut us all up under sin…it reveals to us that we are sinners every one…So that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Jesus Christ is the promised seed of Abraham, in whom all the promises of God reach their fulfillment. It is in him alone, that we have the hope eternal life and shall become coheirs with him of His everlasting inheritance. It is in him that all our tears will be wiped away and all wrongs will be made right. It is through Christ alone that all things will be made new. By being joined to him by faith and receiving Divine grace through the sacraments of baptism and the Holy Eucharist, we are made one body with him and he comes to dwell in us and we in him. Through the Law of God we come to understand the unruliness of our hearts, our profound weakness…God willing we learn humility and to live knowing and feeling our constant need for the mercy of God…and it is precisely here…in the moment of our greatest need that the Promise of God comes to us…  “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That …at the name of Jesus…every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear alligence… this is my Beloved Son…in whom I am well pleased…repent and believe in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ…and you shall be saved!”

O Jesus, thou hast promised To all who follow thee,

That where thou art in glory There shall thy servants be

And, Jesus, We have promised To serve thee to the end;

O give us grace to follow, Our Master and our friend.

Amen. +


The Collect

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

Very early in the Christian Church, she being led by the Spirit of God, discovered a very practical truth. We can call it the “law of the liturgy” or the “law of Christian worship.” Simply stated the law is this… “How you pray determines what you will believe. And what you believe determines how you will live.”  This is the reason why the Church has always had at its center the Lord’s Prayer. It is also why we pray the same prayers that our forefathers prayed. These prayers are powerful. They teach. They form us in correct beliefs and practices. They show us how to live. If we change them, disregard them, or ignore them…we will be changing, disregarding and ignoring the faith that our Lord Jesus and his Apostles taught.

The Collect for this morning teaches us that God is ALMIGHTY AND EVERLASTING.

We are taught that HE is always…always more ready to hear than we are to pray…because our hearts become cold, distracted and fickle. We also learn that he is willing to give us more than either we desire or deserve. Our desire for the great things of God is not too strong but too weak…and it is often reflected in how and what we desire. We often make 5, 10, or 15 year plans in our personal or professional lives. We set goals. We sacrifice and work hard to achieve them. What are the goals of your spiritual life? To become more disciplined prayer. To adopt a traditional devotion tested and approved by the Church. To pray well at least 1 hour a day? To make Holy Communion at least 52 times a year? To overcome some besetting sin. To correct some glaring character flaw of which we are ashamed? What is the great aim? It is to please God and to worthily magnify his name. To live in such a way that no one will be mistaken as to where our allegiance lies. To Know God. To Love Him. To win the eternal crown…through caring for the physical needs of others. By feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked brother, to give shelter to the homeless brother, to visit the sick or imprisoned brother, to ensure the dignified burial of Christian brethren. Or by devoting yourself to the spiritual needs of others…by instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, admonishing sinners, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving others willingly, comforting the afflicted, and praying for the living and the dead. Always bearing in mind the words of St. Paul, “For we all must appear before the Judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”  Oh, our dear Lord Jesus has so much to give us…more than we could ever desire or deserve!

The Epistle: 2 Corinthians 3:4

“Such trust we have through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God…”

St. Paul knew the fear of the Lord. He knew that Apostolic Ministry was not rooted in himself. The Minister is powerless, in and of himself to do anything for the sake of God or the good of the Church. So the Minister must be humbled in the dust quite often so that he never forgets that he is an ambassador for Christ…and not as an ambassador for his own plans, purposes, or projects. Here, God Alone must reign. And when God does, when his minister is sufficiently humble and God’s people respond with a good will and a good heart…something marvelous happens. As the members of the Church we become living epistles, hand-written letters of commendation, written by the Spirit of God that bear witness to the truth of the Gospel of God’s grace. We become living proof of the existence, plan and purpose of God. You are the proof and testimony of the gospel ministry which God has entrusted his ministers. Listen to how St. Paul puts it to the Corinthians, “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered to by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God; not on tablets of stone, but on the tablet of the human heart.” Who is sufficient for these things? No one. Our sufficiency comes from the Great God and Saviour whom we trust and obey. Certainly, he gives us more than we either we desire or deserve. Therefore, let us press on in the midst of so many dangers and toils. For our work and our prayers are not in vain. Let us set our hearts to love him more and worship him more acceptably. We all get into ruts. It has been especially easy to fall into them over the past five months…with everything that has been swirling about…If any one of you desires help and counsel on opening up the rich store house of Christian Prayer, please just ask. Simply say, Fr. Shannon I would like to know how to pray. Or “How can I pray better?” And we will get together and talk more about it face to face.

The Gospel: St. Mark vii. 35

“And straightway his ears were opened , and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.

In the Gospel lesson, our Lord heals a man who is deaf and mute. We should always remember that physical ailments in the gospel are also always pointing to a deeper reality. A person can be physically deaf…but they can also be spiritually deaf. Deaf to God, his teaching, the gospel and the commandments. A person can also be physically mute or speak in a halting way…but they can also be spiritually mute not be able to speak about the things of God or praise him freely.  This is captured in Charles Wesley’s Hymn, O for a thousand tongues to sing.

Hear him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb

Your loosened tongues employ;

Ye blind, behold your Saviour come

And leap, ye lame, for joy!

For all those with good will and a desire to love Christ, like the man in the gospel, he will take you aside from the multitude…all the distractions of the world…and he will teach you to hear his voice. He will heal your spiritual deafness and loosen you tongue so that you may live to praise and honour him. He is willing to grant you true joy that will cause you to forget about yourself. May he pour down upon us such an abundance of his mercy. Amen.+


The Collect.

O GOD, who declares thy almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity; Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Grace…what is God’s grace? It is something so great that human words fail. So, we try like little children to understand. Honestly, I think that Grace can only be understood by its effects in the soul. “Do I really believe that God IS, that he exists?  Do I love God? Do I have grace in my soul? Do I have a firm foundation for my hope that I may obtain his gracious promises and be made a partaker of his heavenly treasure? How do I know?” Let us ask ourselves this question… “Do I obey the commandments?” If you know the Freedom that obedience to God gives, then you know that God exists, grace exists and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Grace…God’s showing mercy and pity, are revealed through His people who run the way of his commandments. This reflects Jesus’ teaching:

“…if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” and “If ye love me, keep my commandments. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me”. “Follow me,” says the Lord. “Repent and believe.”

When the Lord’s commandments are obeyed, it shows that the life of God is in the soul of man. So, grace is not about feelings. The feeling of a guilt free conscience. The feelings of comfort and joy. These may come, but only after obedience and they are to meant to inspire a more steadfast obedience in the heart. Feelings are like little pools of refreshment along the way. They come when God desires to send them to us. If they do not come, we press on…trusting him to give us what we need. Divine grace strengthens our spirit, our soul, so that we may OBEY the commandments of the Lord. Obedience to God is the whole duty of man. It is the beginning, middle and end of our walk with Christ. As the hymn says, “Trust and obey for there is no other way…”…but it takes great humility and self-knowledge to understand this.

The Epistle. I Corinthians 15:1-11.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received…”

In the epistle this morning, St. Paul is teaching the Corinthians the true doctrine of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. But there is an interesting phrase that he uses that I would like for us NOTE WELL this morning. He writes,

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received…”

He wanted the Corinthians to know that what he is passing on to them is something that he received. He did not make it up himself, but received it from the Lord Jesus and is obediently passing it along to them. The Church and her ministers are only allowed to believe, teach and obey what has been received from Christ and His Apostles. This is what makes the Church truly Catholic, universal, steadfast and constant through the centuries. And it is grounded in humble obedience. The faith of the Holy Apostles, Prophets and Martyrs is the Faith which we must believe and obey today…and we must faithfully pass it on to our children so that they may believe and obey tomorrow. There is One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God and Father of us all. Any temptation or pressure to change this in Doctrine or Discipline must be firmly resisted. 

To show this more clearly, NOTE WELL these other words from the Apostle Paul:

Concerning the Holy Communion he writes:

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed, took Bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given for you; Do this in remembrance of me…”

Concerning the great need for everyone to firmly hold to the traditions of the Church he writes:

“Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.”

To do these things, takes great obedience and faithfulness on the part of all the members of the Church.

The Gospel. St. Luke 18:9-14.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of “God be merciful unto me a sinner.”

Finally, we come to the gospel. The proud Pharisee and the Humble tax collector. One is very religious, knowledgeable, and devoted to keeping the traditions of the Law of Moses. As we saw earlier, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being religious, profoundly knowledgeable, or zealously guarding tradition. The fault of the Pharisee was his inordinate pride and arrogancy in doing so. Heaping upon others, laws and commandments and traditions that he failed to keep himself. Woe, unto ministers and Congregations who do likewise. Jesus, commends the tax collector, the sinner, the swindling unpatriotic traitor, who, by grace, finally understood his condition before God. Before God we are all beggars. The beginning, middle and end of our walk with Christ should be accompanied by the sincere prayer, “God be merciful unto me a sinner.” Here we see the Pharisee contrasted with the Tax Collector. But what if, God were to break a Pharisee, with all his misguided religious knowledge, devotion and zeal. What if God were to make a Pharisee into a humble follower of Christ? Well, he did. His name was Saul of Tarsus and you and I know him as St. Paul. The one who said, in this morning’s reading, “For I am least of the apostles…because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the GRACE of God, I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all.”  


“And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. And he taught daily in the temple.”

In the gospel lesson for us this morning, we hear Jesus’ emotional response concerning Jerusalem as he entered into the Holy City one last time before his death. The gospel says, “And when Jesus was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things that belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes.” Jerusalem was also known as the city of peace. That is what the name Jerusalem means. The temple, which was the center of Jewish life and worship, was constructed during the peaceful reign of Solomon and was the pride and joy of the ancient people of Israel. However, the history of Israel shows us that the Jews had a problem with taking the presence of God for granted, turning away from Him, and following after the false gods of other nations and of their own hearts. The Most notable occasion of this type of idolatry occurred during the times of Isaiah and Jeremiah when God sent them to confront Israel sins. Nearly 700 years later, God would send his only begotten Son to the people of Israel…and the situation had not improved. In fact, it had only gotten worse. Ultimately, Israel would reject Jesus, persecute him and kill him, even as their forefathers had rejected, persecuted and killed the prophets who came before. However, killing God’s Son was worse than killing God’s servants and would finally reveal just how hard the heart of the Israelites had become.

So as Jesus enters into Jerusalem, he weeps. He weeps because he loves Jerusalem. He weeps because of the hardness of His people’s heart. He weeps because he knows that they will reject Him…His love…His salvation. Furthermore, the city and its inhabitants will be judged. Jesus predicts that the great city will fall…and it does. Some 40 years after the resurrection of our Lord. Rome digs trenches around the Holy City…burns it to the ground…and absolutely and finally destroys the temple in such a manner that “not one stone is left upon another.”

This is a brief picture of what is transpiring in the heart of our Lord as he entered into Jerusalem during that final days of his holy life.

So as he approaches the temple he enters in and finds a lot of religious busyness going on. To the common eye, things in the temple are going on like they normally do. Sacrifices are being offered. In fact, animals are being sold to worshipers who have made the long journey to Jerusalem for the Passover. To be sure, there is price gouging. But of course, the people from out of town would be willing to pay it for the sake of convenience. After all, who would want to have to keep up with sheep and goats on such a long journey if one could just pay a little more money and pick up a sacrificial animal at the temple. It was so convenient. And therein lies the problem. The people had reduced the worship of God to a matter of convenience. This is what our Lord sees as he enters the temple…and he is not happy. As he drives out those who are buying and selling he quotes the words of Isaiah and Jeremiah…words that tell us all what is really going on… Jesus says…it is written “My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.” The temple was to be a place of prayer. The place in which God communed with man. The place where God is glorified for his benefits and honored in all his majesty. The place where men show their thanksgiving and joy because of God’s provision, power and salvation. But it had been changed into a den of thieves. A place of self-seeking greed and manipulation. Our Lord, in his mercy, restores order to their worship so that he could teach the people, in the holy temple, one last time before his crucifixion..

In the gospel of John, we also learn something very profound about the temple. We learn that Jesus’s body is the true temple. That may sound strange to us, but we must always remember what the temple represents. The temple always signified the place of God’s presence. The place where God would meet with men. The place where men would come to meet with God. If this is the case, then it is easy to see how Jesus’ body is the true temple because Jesus Christ is God incarnate. To see Jesus…To be with Him…is to be in the very presence of God…and yet according to the New Testament…the temple is not merely Jesus’ physical body…by virtue of our baptism…by virtue of receiving the Lord’s Supper…we become members of the body of Christ and the Body of Christ…the Church, you and I, together with all the faithful united with Christ are called the new temple…we are the place where God has promised to dwell. We are the new temple indwelt by God’s Spirit.

In the epistle this morning, St. Paul says that he would not have us to be ignorant concerning the spiritual gifts. Through baptism, the Corinthian church had received the Holy Spirit and St. Paul is teaching us that the Holy Spirit gives each one of us gifts…gifts that we are to use to build up the Church. And it is here that I would like to pause and ask a few questions. What should be a proper response to the truths that we have heard this morning? Certainly praise. What have we done to deserve any of this? God has chosen you. God has chosen us. He has chosen to abide with us. He has chosen to call us to himself. To forgive us all our sins. To welcome us into his fellowship and to use us to bring others to Him. For instance, have you ever thought that your career is not really “your” career. Instead, perhaps it is your own mission field that has been given to you by God? Does it scare you a bit to think that God wants to use you to bring others to his Son? Let us not be afraid. Instead, let us be filled with courage and hope. He will not forsake us. Jesus will patiently teach us. We, however, must be open to him. We must learn to submit our hopes, our plans, and desires to his will. We must learn what it truly means to pray “Thy kingdom come…Thy will be done.” Since we are by God’s grace, the temple of the Holy Ghost…let us make sure that this temple is truly a house of prayer.

Which brings us to the Collect for this morning and shows us how the lessons connect together and teach us this morning. The Gospel teaches us that God’s temple must always remain first and foremost a house of prayer. The Epistle teaches us that the Spirit grants unto us spiritual gifts so that we may be faithful witnesses to Jesus and join Him in his Divine mission to “seek and to save that which is lost.” As the hymn says “The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth. Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also; The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever.”  We are God’s temple, by virtue of our baptism we are made members of Christ’s Body and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Through the Passion of Christ and the Sacraments of the Church we have been made into the temple of the Holy Spirit. This is what the epistle of 1st Corinthians teaches us.

Finally, The Collect teaches us to pray. It shows us that true prayer is centered on God’s will alone. True prayer does not presume. Instead it confesses its own weakness and asks the Lord to conform all of our desires to the pattern of His holy will and pleasure. As we seek to obey God’s will, let us learn to ask for his grace and will, moment by moment. Let us stay open to our Lord. His will. His grace. His high calling.

Let us pray:

Let thy merciful ears, O LORD, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants; and, that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the pulpit


In the Epistle for this morning, St. Paul sets forth two ways to live. One is life according to the flesh. The other is life according to the Spirit. He shows where they lead…The powers that drive them…And which one you and I must embrace if we would see good days and inherit the promises given to us by our Heavenly Father.

He begins by saying that we are debtors. In America, these days, most of us know what it means to have debt. It means we owe something…most of the time it means we owe money, but St. Paul, here flatly states we are debtors. And then he quickly qualifies it…NOT TO THE FLESH, NOT TO LIVE AFTER THE FLESH. This word “flesh” probably sounds strange to our ears. We do not usually speak like this. In the writings of St. Paul “Flesh” is the source/seat of our corruption. It extends to the corruption of our mind, the defilement of our heart…and applies also to sinful actions of the body…strong fleshly urges, anger, lust, gluttony.

We carry these propensities within us. The flesh is ever ready to rear its head and defile a man body and soul. So St. Paul says, we do not owe a thing to the flesh. If you live after the flesh, you must die. For it is because of the works of the flesh that the wrath of God shall come upon the earth. Christians, those baptized in Name of the Trinity, we are called to mortify, slay, put to death the deeds of the body…that is the works of the flesh. We do this through the leading of the Spirit. “but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” This is not fanaticism or enthusiasm. The Spirit of God leads the sons of God to sanctification and true holiness. And this brings up for us, many wonderful questions…How does the Holy Spirit work in our lives? Can we know it is him?

St. Paul goes on to tell us some things about the Spirit…and helps us to discern his work among us. He says that Christians, have not received a spirit of bondage again to fear, but The Spirit of Adoption…so fear, hopelessness, a sense of slavery, boredom and drudgery does not characterize the Spirit of God nor Christian experience. Fear, hopelessness, slavery characterize the man who is living according to the flesh. The pleasures of sin may satisfy for a brief moment but they will torment for eternity. That’s why selfishness and pride inevitably leads to despair. The Spirit of Adoption on the other hand leads to Prayer, Communion with God, Worship, Joy, Patience in Suffering and finally Glory. Our lives are hid with Christ in God. We walk a similar path that he walked while among us. The true Son teaches us to call God “our Father” and that he truly his through the Spirit of Adoption. Each and every time we call out to our Father…The Spirit is bearing witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God…and if children then heirs: heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ…if we suffer with him…you see this opposition by the world, the flesh and the devil is very real. We do suffer. But the Spirit of God is with us all along. Convicting us, leading us, sanctifying us and assuring our hearts before God.

And we must never forget, that Christianity is not some private religion that is meant to be kept to oneself. We love, serve, suffer and rejoice together. I pray for you and you pray for me. We all know this, but sometimes it is nice to hear from others exactly what is going on…and how they are praying….so I would like to share with you exactly the types of things that I pray for each one of you…

I pray that God would give you

  • the grace of profound humility.
  • Fill you with perfect charity toward your neighbours
  • Detachment from things of this world, love of poverty and love of the poor
  • The gift of holy wisdom and purity of heart and body
  • Conversion and amendment of life and growth in grace
  • Perfect Sorrow for Sin and Perfect obedience to the Father’s will
  • Mortify your outward senses
  • Great contempt for the world
  • Patience in carrying the cross everyday
  • Horror of Sin, Love of the Cross, the grace of a good death.
  • Lively faith
  • Firm Hope and great longing for heaven
  • Holy wisdom to know, love and practice the truth
  • A true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary


  • The grace of perseverance, increase in virtue and the eternal crown prepared for you.

These and like things, I know are the will of the Father and so we pray for them with great boldness, knowing that whatsoever we ask according to His will, we shall receive.

And we rest, knowing that “those who are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” Amen.

From the pulpit


“And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness.”

From time immemorial, the perennial question of all who seek the truth could be fashioned upon this question of the Disciples of Jesus… “How can a man be satisfied in the wilderness of this world?” Let us look more closely at the Divinely Inspired words of the gospel this morning and discern the answer.

“In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers [for many] came from far.

Jesus is on Gentile soil. Earlier in the gospel he has fed 5000 Jews. Here he feeds 4000 Gentiles.

And these Gentiles have been following him into the wilderness, listening to his teaching for 3 days and have had nothing to eat. Recall the fasting of Jesus in the wilderness at the beginning of His ministry. He was alone in the wilderness and was hungry. The devil tempted him to turn the stone into a loaf of bread. Jesus rebukes Satan with the words “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out to the mouth of God.” These Gentiles certainly seem to be men of good will. They are not living by bread alone, but by every word that proceedth out of the mouth of God Incarnate. They have fasted for three days, and would have willingly fasted all the way home. But the Son of God is too good to let them. He is moved by their faith shown forth by their actions. He says, “I have compassion on the multitude, BECAUSE, they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat.”

This is what prompts the disciple’s question: “From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness.”  This is the second time that the disciples have been in the wilderness. It seems as though they would have remembered. But they have forgotten. We forget too. So he asks the disciples, “How many loaves have ye? And they said, seven. And he commanded them to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.”

Do any of those words sound familiar? He took the bread, gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before the people.

Remember the words of Jesus at the Last Supper? When he instituted the Eucharist? Remember the words that we hear week after week?


 The Feeding of the Israelites in the wilderness, The Feeding of the 5000 Jews, The Feeding of the 4000 Gentiles are pointing us too the Feeding of the Church in the wilderness of the world.

The gospel tells us that they eat and were filled…but they would hunger again. Only the true bread from heaven, Jesus Christ himself, gives eternal life. Those who come to him with hearty repentance and true faith…they shall eat and be eternally satisfied…for he who has compassion on the multitudes says: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever:  and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

To restrain people from the bread of life is the gravest of offenses. And to cut people of from it is spiritual suicide. “Lord have mercy upon us, for we know not what we do.”

“LORD of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts a love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

From the Pulpit


“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and reverence.” 1 Peter 3:15

In the epistle for this morning, Peter is writing to churches scattered throughout the ancient world. And he gives to all the church throughout the ages a pattern of teaching, a way of life. This way of life is how ALL Christians should live, despite what type of government they find themselves under. It shows that our duty to God and to our fellow men never changes no matter how “good” or how “bad” the external situation is. Let us consider closely what St. Peter has to say through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, please listen carefully…listen closely.

“Finally be ye all of one mind [literally…think the same thing…the gospel of Christ is what unifies the Church…this should form all our thinking…this is the one thing that cannot be compromised…not diversity…not an emphasis upon difference…but unity in the gospel], having compassion one of another [to suffer with one another…Christians must be together], love as brethren, be pitiful […have bowels of compassion, to feel in one’s the guts, it is a powerful physiological reaction that moves one to pity and action…Jesus was moved in this way when he saw the multitudes as sheep without a shepherd ], courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; (Remember the words of Jesus “but I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”) Why ought we to behave this way…St Peter tells us…knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

Furthermore, St. Peter quotes Psalm 34 as the reason for his admonition to live this way…why should we live this way…For or because “he that will love life and see good day, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips that they speak no guile…guile means crafty and deceitful ways of speaking. Christians must be men, women and children who are frank, upright, and straightforward in their speech. There “yes” must be “yes” and their “no” must be “no”.

Let him eschew (reject, shun) evil and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil…and then St. Peter asks a question.

“and who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? Who is going to punish you for being compassionate? Who is going condemn you for being peaceful? Reason should tell us that no one should condemn you for these things…however we are in a spiritual war…and we know that Jesus was the absolute perfection of all these things…and that he suffered unjustly to an infinite degree. St. Peter knows this so he goes on to address it. He says but and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy [blessed] are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; He echoes, once again, the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the mount. Our Lord says, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.”

The epistle ends this morning with another command…when this happens, when you are persecuted for righteousness sake, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.” Hallow, set apart as Holy, the Lord God in your heart.

This epistle shows to us a few things about being first being good citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven and also how to live as good citizens of the United States of America.

The gospel calls us to act like Jesus, to follow in his steps, at all times and in all places. To suffer with Him…so that we may reign with him.

The testimony of our Christian past reveals to us that The Eucharist is essential…not an online service…not praying at home…but in person gatherings to worship Christ, not necessarily in the Church…but nevertheless in person…it was their treasure…their pearl of great price…and they sought it by any means possible…in the dead of night, in caves, in catacombs, in the desert, in foxholes in times of war…in the freezing gulags of Soviet Russia…at the risk of peril, danger, torture and execution…Through plague, pestilence, and famine…in Islamic countries under Sharia Law, in Atheistic countries under brutal dictators, our Forefathers in the faith knew and our suffering brothers in the faith know that they need the Eucharist. To hold this zeal and faithfulness in contempt or to regard it as foolhardy and unsafe…is to condemn the heritage of the righteous. No, perhaps it is time for us 21st American Christians to close our mouths, calm down, and listen to our past…to open our eyes and ears to the testimony of present day believers who know the fellowship of suffering…in ways you and I cannot imagine…and who, nevertheless, seek the Eucharist anyway.  

Our work has just begun. The sermon is not ended. We must think and pray and ponder these things continually if, we too, would be faithful to Jesus Christ and his gospel during our short span of 80 years.

Only one life

Twill soon be past

Only what’s done for Christ

Will last.

Let us pray:

Grant, O LORD, we beseech thee, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the Pulpit


“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.