Come, true light. Come, eternal life. Come, hidden mystery. Come, nameless treasure. Come, ineffable reality. Come, inconceivable person. Come, endless bliss. Come, non-setting sun. Come, infallible expectation of all those who must be saved. Come, awakening of those who are asleep.
(Mystical Prayer of St. Simeon)
It is hard to believe, but Advent has arrived once again. Advent means coming and for Christians it means specifically the coming of Jesus Christ. His coming, for most people, means what he did two thousand years ago in ancient Israel. That was his first coming, rooted in past experience. To others it means also his second coming, when he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. This refers to his future coming, what is promised in his judgment at the end of all time. And between the two there is the now, time present, in which the Church reminds us that Jesus Christ is always coming to us, constantly addressing and challenging our present lives. In Advent we prepare for an approaching coming, His birth, the birth of Emmanuel, God with us and for us. This is not merely a past birth, but a present event whose celebration will be either another occasion for spiritual death or a fresh invitation into new life. St. Paul tells us this morning that now it is high time to wake out of sleep, and that now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed, (Rom. Xiii. 11). So in time present we might want to think about this; for time is always running out.
Time is always running out. Christ is always coming and we need to be ready for Him. He comes into our world to offer His new birth at Christmas. He comes to prepare for that birth now in Advent. That birth will not be easy to endure. His birth will be as hard and painful as any other. We anticipate it with premature enthusiasm. The coming of new life strikes us as one thing, and it turns out to be another. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (St. Luke xxi. 25-28) The Church’s Tradition teaches us that Advent is a season of penitential preparation. Advent is all about the four last things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. Our King is coming in order to discover where we are spiritually. His birth will call us into death, a death to all else so that His coming to us may yield new life. His birth will judge us, that we might awaken out of sinful sleep in order to cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armour of Light. (Collect) Should we embrace His light and be born again from the above through it, we shall wend our way to His Heavenly Kingdom. Should we refuse to embrace His light and choose rather to live in the darkness then nothing better than Hell awaits us.
According to the Church’s Tradition Advent has nothing to do with the secular world or with any Hallmark Card’s version of Christmas. Mother Church has no time for a syrupy sentimentality that forsakes the spiritual preparation that must welcome Christ’s birth. Mother Church teaches us that the birth we which anticipate can have lasting meaning and significance only if we struggle to die to world, the flesh, the devil, and ourselves. This birth will take place far from the palaces of earthly kings, removed even from any moderate comfort or ease, concealed and hidden from the eyes of earthly men. There was no room for Him in the inn then. But we must prepare for this coming by making room for His coming in the inn of our souls now. So we pray in today’s Collect: Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life. (Collect, Advent Sunday) Here and now, in time present, we are called to cast off and banish the sinful darkness of all ungodly desire from our souls. St. Paul writes, Now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed. (Romans xii. 11) Sleep-walking Christians end up in hell. We are called to wake up, smell the spiritual coffee and know that belief is never enough. God calls for action. And action means abandoning that spiritual darkness that has saturated our souls. Our urgent prayer should be to eliminate and expunge from our lives whatever does not reveal and manifest our desire for the light of Christ, and the light’s coming birth and growth in our lives. So our first wake-up call exhorts us to take ourselves each day into a quiet space, far removed from worldly world, into an inconspicuous and hidden space in order to ask the Lord to give us a new desire, a fresh longing for His coming light. To do so effectively, we must separate ourselves from other people, places, and situations. Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law, (Romans xiii. 8) St. Paul insists. The temple of our souls cannot become places of divine desire if we are busybodies in other men’s affairs. We cannot be healed inwardly and spiritually if we are stirred up and moved by the sins of other people. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Romans xiii. 9). Time is always running out.
Only then can we be fit enough to ask the Lord to cast away and bring to death the works of darkness from our own lives. We must, in other words, be purged and cleansed of all evil habits. How do we do this? To be sure, this is no easy task. But we begin by beginning, with small steps in short intervals of time. We begin by setting aside an interruption and interval to our common course in life in order to make a moral inventory our sins. We need to turn off the TV, computer, and cell phone and to tune into ourselves in relation to God. Sunday morning service isn’t enough. God wants our time and a specific account of our dealings and doings –an acknowledgment of our struggle with the sins that so easily beset us and sorrow and contrition over the evil and vice that seem to entrap and define us. Our sins might be material and tangible. To escape stress, anxiety, worry, and even fear, perhaps we drink too much red wine or overeat. Or perhaps we seek release through the sinful lusts of the flesh. Then again we might become spiritually lazy and slothful, and thus tend to overcompensate with idle curiosity and gossip. The subtler sins of wrath and rage, resentment and bitterness, and vengeance and retribution might then fuel our passion and appetite. Perhaps we are jealous and envious or proud and hard-hearted. Whatever our sins might be, and it is probably includes some combination of them all, if we are like most people, they must be named and surrendered over to the Lord for death and destruction. Their elimination will not happen instantaneously. Like anything in human life, habits take time to form and then break. We must practice the art of claiming and confessing our sins with patience that all vice might be killed and all virtue brought to life. Time is always running out.
Some years ago Monsignor Ronald Know wrote these words about those who fail to take Advent’s warning seriously.
‘[Think about it:] Very few people feel sure that they are going to hell. Those who die in the faith, but without charity, mostly think, wouldn’t you say, that they are all right, they have just scraped through. And those who have lost the faith, or who die in sin outside the influence of faith, probably lay some flattering unction to their souls-it will be all right, they think, they will be given another chance. Up to the moment they are taken away, this world of creatures treats them no differently than any soul predestined to eternal life…So perfect is the illusion of security around them, that they forget God, and forget that they are forgetting him…And then, quite suddenly, the bottom falls out of that world…God, who gave that material world that he has come to all its reality, is now the only reality left; and with a great hunger of loneliness the heart that was made for him turns back to him-and God is not there. The sinful soul has created for itself, as it were, a godless universe.
Dear Friends in Christ, Jesus Christ has come into the world that we might inhabit not a godless but a God-filled universe. Jesus Christ has come into this world in order to help to remember and not forget that we are forgetting God. Perhaps today you are feeling that the bottom has fallen out of your world. If so, you are in good company. Welcome to the Christian Church! Every Christian has known this feeling at one time or another, and even when he is healed of it, if he loves his Lord, he feels it in the heart and soul of a brother or sister who has not yet found God. The good news is that God forever comes to us to make us new, to birth us again from above, and to fill us with that Grace that brings life out of death, light out of darkness, and love out of hate. Let us pray today as we begin our penitential season of Advent that we may see Christ’s coming light as that pure goodness that longs to enliven us, as that truth that strives to define us, and as that love that yearns to enflame our hearts with an incessant passion for Himself. Because time is always running out, let us awake out of sleep, cast away works of darkness, put upon us the armour of light now in the time of this mortal life, that the illuminating brilliance of Christ our love will not only be born in us, but through us will come alive in the hearts and souls of all other men, who though now walking through the valley of the shadow of death will be touched by the Light which loves them too… through us. Amen.
The day is at hand. (Rom. xiii. 12)
THIS word Day is to be taken in a four-fold sense. The Day is at hand. The day of mercy, the day of grace, the day of justice, and the day of glory. That Sun makes this a four-fold day, whose advent holy Church now celebrates. The day of mercy is the birth-day of the Lord, in which the Sun of Righteousness arises upon us ; or more truly, He Who made that day so glorious. The day of grace is the time of grace ; the day of justice is the day of judgment ; the day of glory is the day of eternity.
The Prophet Joel speaks of the first: In that day the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk. (Joel iii. 18)
The Day of Mercy is at hand. This is the Day on which our Lord has pity and compassion upon us. This is the Day on which He brings the Forgiveness of sins to us from Heaven. The new wine that drops down from Heaven’s Mountain is the Word made flesh. This is God’s Word of Mercy made flesh. This is God’s Forgiveness of Sins made flesh. In Jesus Christ we are offered the weaker drink of milk in conversion. In Jesus Christ we are offered the strong and potent draught of wine through His Blood in sanctification. His milk will bring us to repentance. His wine will bring us into death, His death, in which we die to all else but Him. His wine will bring us into new life as He resurrects us from sin and death and infuses us with virtues that condition us for the Kingdom. The Day of Mercy is the Day of Christ’s birth long ago in human history and as what shall come to pass in us on Christmas Day as the History of Incarnation proceeds.
Concerning the second: Behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor. vi. 2)
The Day of Grace is at hand. The Grace of God comes to us as the Holy Spirit conceives, births, and perfects the Word made Flesh in us. The Holy Spirit will then work the Resurrected, Ascended, and Glorified Nature of Jesus Christ into our hearts and souls. The Grace of God brings salvation to us now as that for which we must yearn and desire first and foremost. If we place salvation as the end that alone can ensure the perfection of our natures and fulfill our deepest spiritual longing, salvation will begin to mold and fashion us through those motions by which the Holy Spirit works Christ’s redemption into our lives.
Of the third: The day of wrath, that day the day of tribulation. (Wisdom i…)
The Day of Justice or Righteousness is at hand. Wrath is a word used to indicate that we shall all be judged. The wrath and punishment of God is simply used here to signify the fact that all scores shall be settled and all men shall be judged. The righteous consider the Wrath of God as a blessing, for through it we fear God, repent, and intend to please Him with all of our lives. The wrath of God is merely a righteous anger and indignation that should inspire us to fight manfully against sin, death, and Satan. The wrath of God should be so shared with us through the Holy Spirit that we too become righteously indignant against the approach of sin. God will give to every man his due –to the righteous salvation and to the unrighteous damnation. The Christian sees it all as mercy since it reveals that God’s justice respects the integrity of created human nature by giving to each man what he has desired. Salvation cannot be forced. The Day of Justice is the Day of Judgment.
Concerning the fourth: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord not day, nor night ; but it shall come to pass that at evening time it shall be light. (Zach. xiv. 7) One day in Thy Courts is better than a thousand. (Psalm cxxxiv. 10)
The Day of Glory is at hand. The Day of Glory is the Day of Eternity. Glory should not be postponed to the future Final Judgment. Glory should be embraced now as God’s Eternal Being is offered to us in the Body of Christ and the animating power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus Christ we are reconciled to God the Father. In Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit brings alive all manner of virtue in our lives. As members of Christ’s New Body, we are being reconciled to God the Father if we submit and acquiesce to the motions of the Holy Spirit. This requires that we lose our lives in Christ in order to find them. As we begin to find our true identity and significance in Jesus Christ, let us embrace the Real Presence of His Glory. God’s Glory is that Eternal Weightiness or Heaviness that should envelop, embrace, and indwell our lives.
The birth-day of the Lord draws near, that devoutly the day of mercy may be celebrated and honoured; the day of grace that it may be received ; the day of judgment that it may be feared ; the day of glory that it may be attained. The Church celebrates the first: For the Lord is at hand. (Phil. iv. 5)
Let us prepare for the Day of Mercy by emptying ourselves so that Christ might be born in us
On account of the second: Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor. vi. 2)
Let us prepare for the Day of Grace by seeing that it alone can ensure our future salvation and deliverance by transforming and sanctifying us here and now.
On account of the third: Behold the Judge standeth before the door. (James v. 9)
Let us prepare for the Day of Judgment by asking the Lord to judge, measure, weigh, and sift our thoughts, words, and desires beginning here and now so that what is sinful may be brought to death and what is righteous might be brought to life.
On account of the fourth: Behold I come quickly, and My reward is with Me to give to every man according as his work shall be. (Rev. xxii. 12)
We best remember that this earthly life passes quickly. Before we know it, we shall be dead. Let us approach our death sooner rather than later but awakening out of sleep, but being stirred up to repentance and amendment of life, but making ourselves ready for the Lord who comes to us quickly either in our earthly death or in His Heavenly Visitation. Amen
Wherby He shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness.
(Jeremiah xxiii. 6)
Last week you and I reflected upon a sick woman who pressed through the crowded, noisome business of this world, with persistent faith, to touch the hem of the garment (St. Matthew ix. 20) that Jesus wore, hoping that her effort would rid her of a persistent disease. That woman’s faith stirred her on to reach out to Jesus, the source of all transformation and betterment. That woman was stirred up. Her faith should have inspired us to possess a zeal and passion for the cure that Jesus alone brings into the world, so that even today, on this The Sunday Next before Advent, we should be able to persist in praying for the effects of His cure. Stir up we beseech thee O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people. With her, if we have reached out to touch Jesus, our faith is ready to be stirred up into something stronger and more spiritually serious. Advent is coming, and it is a season of repentance and preparation. Advent will call us to look within, that the Lord may stir up fuller self-honesty and then deepest repentance and perfect sorrow for our sins. Perfect sorrow will then enable us to know our need for Christ the Saviour, Christ the provider, who will begin His visitation again with us at Christmas time.
But before we are stirred up, we must refresh our memories with a few practical details about the condition of our spiritual lives. We must remember that God has made us for Himself, and that the chief created vocation and calling of human nature is the good of the soul and its realignment with the Mind and Heart of the Maker. Yet man’s subservience and acquiescence to God’s purpose is not instinctual or natural, but rather is rational and volitional. Man is made to be stirred up in mind and heart, to discover, know, love, and obey God. We are created to discover His necessary and omnipresent rule of the universe so that we might invite Him to dwell in us, that we might dwell in Him. (1 St. John iv. 13) We are created to know ourselves in God and then God in ourselves and all others. As the Bishops of the Church of England said in 1922: God’s revelation is a self-communication of the personal God to the persons whom he has made, and it can only be received through a personal apprehension and response. But men are capable of that apprehension and response only as God bestows on them, by creation and by the operation of Grace, the spiritual illumination by which to see…(DCE, p.43) Men are made to see God and to receive Him into their hearts and souls through an act of free will in cooperation with His Grace. Or, putting it another way, man is a capacity for God –homo est Dei capax. (CSDCC) Man’s nature is suited or fitted out to be a receptacle or container for the inwilling and indwelling of God’s truth and meaning. Man is made in the Image of God and so is capable of learning to know as God knows. To perfect his capacity to be like God, he must take what he knows and will it into habits of virtuous and godly living. But he can do this only if his desire, affection, and passion are stirred up to embrace the Grace of God as what is not his by nature but as the free gift of an all-loving Maker who intends his ultimate perfection in eternal joy and happiness.
So on this Stir-up Sunday, we are called to be stirred up. But we need to be careful not to confuse it with non-Christian forms of being stirred-up. In the past weeks we have been swept or stirred up by earthly demons that intend for us to become obsessed and possessed by immanent dangers and unpredictable disasters. The devices and desires of terrorists have cast a pall of doom and gloom over our world. Nations that have denied God long ago seem taken off guard and are surprised that anyone could oppose and threaten their nihilistic hedonism. Evidently, meaninglessness is related to something of value after all. If there is something that we must not threaten it is mindless men’s mania for meaninglessness! Thus we find that though outside forces are determined to annihilate them, they have been driven no closer to being stirred up to seek and to find God. People are as mad or insane after terrorist attacks as they were before with an unbridled passion and irrational fervor, minding earthly things and, quite frankly, forgetting to set their affections on things that are above. (Col. 3.2) So let’s be clear, despite earthly disasters that emerge from completely rational and predictable sources, that emerge from a sinful response to a sin soaked world, we are not called to be stirred up by the hungering and hankering after false gods who will only ever offer disappointing forms of deliverance from them. Rather, we are called to be stirred up to become the capax Dei, the capacity for God, as God fulfills what the world cannot.
I think that Jeremiah the Prophet, who knew only too well that the promises of this world are fleeting and unsure, can help to stir us up today. He lived some six hundred years before the birth of Christ, in a nation whose spirit had given way to unbelief, treachery, and despair. As a result of internal spiritual decay and disintegration, the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzars conquered Israel and Judah from the east with little resistance. Internal spiritual corruption generates a moral vacuum into which external invaders easily insinuate themselves. Israel abandoned all faith and hope and thus deprived herself of God’s protection and defense against foreign conquest.
And yet, in the midst of it all, Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah was moved and shaken, stirred up by the ever-present Word of God. The Lord stirred him up to consider the origin of his spiritual vocation. Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jer. i. 5) God stirred up Jeremiah to remember that He was the God of Israel, the God of forgiveness and deliverance, the God of sanctification and redemption. So God reminded Jeremiah that he was made to become the capax Dei, a capacity for God, whose future could have meaning only in so far as he remembered and obeyed the God of his salvation.
BEHOLD, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jer. 23.5)
And so Jeremiah was stirred up to recall his people to the promises of God. Jeremiah would stir up the Jews to remember that they were made to know God, trust in God, hope in God, and wait for the promised Redeemer of Israel. He would prophesy and proclaim the coming of a King who would fulfill God’s promise and who would give them power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which [would be] born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (St. John i. 12, 13)
So how can we become capax dei –the capacity for God’s presence, like the Prophet Jeremiah? Perhaps in the coming Advent we ought to work on discovering our real spiritual need. Like the people in today’s Gospel, we ought to start admitting that we are hungry for something that God alone can give. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? (St. John vi. 5) Jesus asks His disciples a rhetorical question, whose answer He alone can provide. God’s Word alone can satisfy man’s innermost hunger. Human nature is capax Dei. Earthly goods give off ephemeral and temporary sustenance that then passes away. Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. (St. John vi. 7)
To be stirred up to hunger for what is more than the earth can give, we might begin to sober up spiritually by reflecting with William Law in this way:
If my religion is only a formal compliance with those modes of worship that are in fashion where I live; if it cost me no pains or trouble; if it lays me under no rules or restraints; if I have no careful thoughts and sober reflections about it; is it not great [stupidity] to think that I am striving to enter in at the ‘strait gate’? If I am seeking everything that can delight my senses, and regale my appetites; spending my time and fortune in pleasures, in diversions, and worldly enjoyments; a stranger to watchings, fastings, prayers, and mortification; how can it be said that I am working out my salvation with fear and trembling? If there is nothing in my life that shows me to be different to the infidels and heathen…why should I think that I am amongst those few who are walking the narrow way to heaven? (Serious Call…, 29)
For the heart to be stirred up the conscience must be startled into deepest candor about what Christ expects of us. With Jeremiah we must see that the creation will not save us. The empty and desolate world can never fill and satisfy our forlorn and depleted souls. And so with the poet we must long to be stirred by the Heavenly Motions that come to us in the Birth of Jesus Christ:
Yet let my course, my aim, my Love,
And chief acquaintance be above;
So when that day and hour shall come
In which Thyself will be the Sun,
Thou’lt find me drest and on my way,
Watching the Break of thy great day.
(The Dawning: Henry Vaughan)
When we are stirred up with spiritual appetite for what God alone can give, we shall discover, with the hungry multitude in this morning’s Gospel, that just a few morsels of bread and a sip of wine, in the end, will be sufficient for an earthly hunger that is now wholly secondary to our primary zeal, passion, hunger, and thirst for God’s mercy and truth. Then we shall begin to perfect the capax Dei, the capacity for God, because our inner spiritual hunger has stirred up within us a desire for the knowledge and love of God in the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas time once again. Amen.
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made ns meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. (Coloss. i. 12)
THE Apostle teaches us in these words that we should give thanks to God the Father for three great benefits, which He has granted to us through Jesus Christ. The first benefit was our justification: Partakers of the inheritance. The second benefit is our liberation from the power of the Devil : Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness. The third benefit is translation into the eternal kingdom: And hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.
We should give thanks to God for the great benefit of being Known and Desired by Him from all eternity. God knows us and desires that we should be saved. His knowledge and desire is one for all men. It is up to us to choose and accept His Grace so that we might find our place in His Kingdom. All men will face God, see God, know God, and experience the rule and governance of God in the eternal state. The hitch is that some will know and love Him in Heaven and others will do the same in Hell. Hell is inverted Heaven. But in both places men are saved according to God’s Grace. In both places men experience God’s everlasting Judgment and Love.
(2) Justification: Unto him shall be given the chosen gift of faith, and an inheritance in the temple of the Lord. (Wisd. iii. 14)
For those who choose God, the gift of faith will grow within them so that they begin to inherit their eternal reward. We should give thanks to God because His Grace grows faith in our hearts so that we become members of the Body of His Son, Jesus Christ.
(3) Eternal glorification: Now is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints. (Wisd. v. 5)
If our faith persists and grows holy habits and virtues in our lives, we shall receive not only a foretaste of glory on earth but also an eternal glory in Heaven. We thank God for the promise of eternal union and communion with Him in Everlasting Glory.
We thank God for promising to deliver us from the power and service of Satan. He does not promise us that we shall not wage spiritual warfare against Satan. This is part and parcel of sanctification, whereby we die to sin and come alive to righteousness. But we must ask ourselves today if we have truly been waging a spiritual battle with our past and present sins. Have we been facing the lives we have led with the knowledge that unconfessed and unpardoned guilt is present in us and will continue to corrupt us until we repent and allow His Grace to work sin out of our lives?
(2) By illuminating the darkness of our ignorance by the light of His doctrine : The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. (Isa. ix. 12) Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light: which in time past were not the people, but are now the people of God : which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. (1 St. Pet. ii. 9, 10)
We thank God that He desires to call us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. We thank God that He desires to make us into His peculiar people who are defined and moved by mercy and forgiveness, by faith, by hope, and by love.
(3) By putting to flight the darkness of our sins by the light of His powers: Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light. (Eph. v. 8)
We thank God that He puts to flight the darkness, meaninglessness, incoherence, powerlessness, and death of sin. We thank God that His light longs to make new life in us out of His persistent and determined love.
III. On the third head it is to be noted, that the Lord makes a three-fold translation of the holy ones.
(1) He translates them from the darkness of exile to the light ofthe vision of His glory: Enoch pleased the Lord, and was translated. (Ecclus. xliv. 16) Into paradise, which is the place furnishing the vision of God which is the blessedness of saints and angels. And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom thou hast sent.
We thank God that He longs to translate or carry us out of the warfare with Satan and Sin and into the light that will open our eyes to His Eternal Glory. We thank God for the hope of being able to see and know Him in the light that illuminates Paradise. We thank God that with the Saints and Angels we shall be incorporated into the Body of Jesus Christ, which always contemplates and loves the Father. We thank God that in Jesus Christ we shall know even as we are know, that we shall love even as we are loved.
(2) He translates them from death to eternal life: We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. (1 St. John iii. 14)
We begin to pass from death to life here and now as we die to sin and come alive to righteousness. What is key is that we are truly dying to sin. Some people have lived ungodly lives and think that understanding or knowledge will make all of the past better. We must confess our sins against others. We must confess that with others we did not live godly lives, did not love the brethren, and did not open our hearts to God’s rule and governance. We must confess that our past relationships were perverse and profane, immoral and impure, unclean, unholy, and unrighteous. We must ask forgiveness for the habits of life in which we colluded with others not for God’s Grace but for our own selfish and narcissistic ends.
(3) He translates them from this wretched state to the inheritance of the heavenly kingdom: Unto the kingdom of His dear Son," &c.
Ultimately when we have worked out our salvation in fear and trembling, we shall be rewarded with God’s Heavenly Kingdom. At the Final Judgment we shall be given our Resurrected Bodies. Then we shall take our place either in God’s Presence or not. Let us endeavor this day to journey into deepest repentance and sorrow for the sins of our past lives. Let us look at ourselves and see where we are not healed because we have run away from our former selves. Let us face our former selves and ask the Lord to heal us of sin’s punishment. Amen.
That ye may be sincere and without offence, till the day of Christ. (Phil. i. 10)
THE Apostle in this Epistle exhorts us to three things. Firstly, to the avoiding of sin. That ye may be sincere. Secondly, to all love: Filled with the fruits of righteousness. Thirdly, to the possession of a right intention: With the glory and praise of God.
(2) That we should avoid doing injury to our neighbours. Without offence: Giving no offence in anything. (2 Cor. vi. 3)
If we are sincere, then our love of God will extend to our love for God in others. If we would perfect God’s Image and Likeness in ourselves, we must honor it not only in ourselves but through ourselves in others.
(3) That we should persevere in both courses. Till the day of Christ,i.e., till after death; when the day of man is ended the dayof Christ begins.
We must persevere with all diligence and determination in the double love that is offered to us in the Person of Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit. We ask Jesus to love in and through us continuously. We ask Jesus to enable us to run the race that is set before us. This is the race in which we desire to be moved by love of God and love of neighbor.
Rectitude of will is choosing the pure and perfect good because it is what alone perfects the will. The will is the seat of desire. Thus we must honor, respect, and revere our will through our minds. What we then must do is intend to perfect the will by obeying God alone.
(2) To the having a delight in that which is good. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness; which are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. (Gal. v. 22, 23)
Choosing the good is essential to our perfection. But God intends that we should also find joy and delight in the acquisition and perfection of the virtues. Rectitude of mind includes finding satisfaction in the ongoing growth of virtue in our lives. As these virtues begin to become habits in our lives we must cherish and treasure them as the unmerited gifts of our loving God, who longs to bring the means of Glory alive in us.
(3) To the having perfection in good, being filled. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (St. Matt. v. 48)
Rectitude of mind stirs us to desire perfection and final union with God. To be perfect is not easy, but Christ urges us to seek perfection, the perfection of our Heavenly Father, because He intends to share His perfection with us, even forever. So today let us have a right-thinking determination to please God with all of our lives and to receive His Grace that we might show forth His Glory. Amen.
St. Michael and All Angels Sermons