Sermon for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity

Sermon for the Eighth Sunday After Trinity
10 August 2014
Holy Apostles Anglican Church, Pewaukee, WI
Mr. Zachary Braddock, Seminarian

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.- Rom 8:13

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

Our Epistle reading this morning comes from the eighth chapter of Romans, wherein Paul is writing on our living our life in the Spirit. This takes place within a larger discourse on Sin, Righteousness, and Faith. Last Sunday we read from chapter six, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free Gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We skip over chapter seven and these poignant words in verses 18-20,” I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh . I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what i do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.” In this morning’s reading, St. Paul says, “So then Brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh- for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.”

The verse that always gets me is 7:19. “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” St. Augustine put it this way: “Non posse non peccarae.” “You are not able not to sin.” This is what we call original sin: Our very nature has been corrupted. Our very nature no longer wants that which we should want, communion with God. Rather, we turn to the world, the flesh, and the devil. We know we should not sin. We know that Pride, Anger, Lust, Envy, Greed, Avarice, and Sloth are wrong, and yet we do them. Pride is not just puffing up one’s chest and saying, “Look at me.” Pride us also deliberately putting one’s self into an occasion of sin and thinking one can beat the devil. Anger is not merely being upset over something- it is the feeding of one’s control of oneself to one’s passions. Lust is not only something sexual- one can lust just as easily after pizza, beer, or coffee.

This is why we have the discipline of fasting, the discipline of mortification; why we place such an emphasis on virtue; why God has given us, through the Church, the sacraments. Most of us were baptized as children. The Prayer Book says that in Baptism, sin is washed away and that we die to sin, and are raised to new life. That which has separated us from God and cut us off from communion with Him can be overcome through life in Christ- not by our own merits, but His merits and by His grace.

Paul says in the verse immediately preceding this morning’s reading that “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

So, we have a choice to make. Yes, we are fallen and affected by sin, but the choice to accept Christ is our own. How we live is up to us. In many ways, it is the little choices we make which have some of the greatest impacts on our spiritual lives. Quite often, people view sin as “those evil things which other people do”; things involving only marriages and money. Pride, Anger, Envy, and so forth can manifest themselves in so called, “little sins,” and yet they can build up, one on top of each other, and like dust on a mirror, eventually prevent us from seeing God.

Through Jesus, St. Paul says, we have received the “spirit of sonship.” He is not denigrating daughters here, but making a point- we have not only been adopted by God, but we have been made heirs. We have been made heirs of the Kingdom, and fellow heirs with Jesus, that we may come into His Kingdom. For us to receive our inheritance, we must accept that which has been freely offered: Grace. God is working to redeem us, and he has offered this to us, but we must accept it. Just as we are free to sin, we are free to reject sin and to embrace Our Lord.

The Evil One will do everything he can to entice you. He will come and whisper in your ear and tell you that things are ok, and that if you sin just this once, it will be ok. In this, he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as our Lord describes. Reject the Evil One. When he pursues us, we must cling to the Cross, in order that we may come into our inheritance, that we may produce good fruit.

Fortify yourselves. Make good use of the sacraments; train yourselves and those dear to you in the practice and in the habit of the virtues. In a few minutes you will come forward to receive our Lord in the Sacrament. Before you do this, you will be asked to confess your sins to almighty God, with the intent of living in charity with your neighbor, following God’s commandments, and walking in God’s ways. We will confess that we have sinned, and we will ask God to forgive us our offenses, and we will ask for help “to walk in newness of life”.

It is this walking “in newness of life” that we are to work out in our lives, that we may bear good fruit, and do the will of Almighty God, not only in the big things, the things involving marriage and money, but also in the mundane, ordinary, every-day things. If we allow ourselves to be faithful in the small things, it will make being faithful in the extraordinary things so much easier, and it will help us to see that to which all the saints, the martyrs, the prophets, and the patriarchs have pointed: the Vision Glorious. May we come to sing with Blessed John Keble:

Hail, gladdening Light, of His pure glory poured
Who is the immortal Father, heavenly, blest,
Holiest of Holies – Jesus Christ our Lord!
 
Now we are come to the sun’s hour of rest;

The lights of evening round us shine;

We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit divine!
 
Worthiest art thou at all times to be sung

With undefiled tongue,
Son of our God, giver of life, alone:

Therefore in all the world thy glories, Lord, they own.

 

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
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Homily for Candlemas

A Sermon for the Feast of Candlemas
Mr. Zachary Braddock, Seminarian
Holy Apostles Anglican Church
2 Feb 2014

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

We celebrate this morning the last feast of Christmas. This is one of the oldest commemorations on our calendar, and we can see this from the great proliferation of names which it has accumulated: The Presentation of Christ in the Temple; The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Candlemas; The Meeting of the Lord.
Today, forty days after we commemorate Jesus’s birth in a stable, we read in The Gospel according to St. Luke that Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem, as good Jewish parents always did for their first born son, as the Law commanded. Make no mistake, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph make a small, but obedient Jewish family. There they meet an old man named Simeon. Simeon takes up the child Jesus in his arms and he says, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)
There is a lot in the scripture readings this morning. But there are two main things i want to focus on.
First, Throughout this Epiphany season, our readings have concentrated on the revelation of Christ. On Epiphany itself, we read how a star led the gentile wise men from the east to bethlehem, where they offered gifts and fell down and worshipped the Christ child.
The next Sunday, our Gospel reading was the story of the boy Jesus in the Temple, staying behind after his parents left to hear the teachers and converse with them.
On the Second Sunday after Epiphany, we fast forward twenty or so years to Jesus’ baptism; where, upon his rising from the water, the Holy Spirit appears as a dove and the Father says from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Last Sunday was the Wedding at Cana of Galilee, where Jesus performed his first miracle. We are told in the Gospel according to John that Jesus manifested forth his glory in doing this, and that because of this sign, Jesus’ disciples believed.
Today, Mary and Joseph present Jesus in the temple. A devout and holy man of Jerusalem, named Simeon came in at the same time. Simeon’s desire was to see the Lord’s Christ, which he had been told by God that he would see before his death. When Simeon takes the child up in his arms, he says:
LORD, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, etc.
Simeon then says to Mary: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel…” He also also says to her, “A sword shall pierce your own heart also.” Jesus’s earthly life, his birth, his preaching, his death, and his resurrection, this earthly life is the hinge on which history hangs. There is a reason we count years AD, or Anno Domini… “The year of our Lord.” Mary, the mother of our Lord, is presumably the only person who saw the entirety of this life. And this is the woman to fed carried Jesus in her womb, nursed him at her breast, saw him take his first steps, and saw his entire life, up to and including his hanging on a cross and his rising from the dead. It is incredible enough to read about it and to experince it through the life of the Church two thousand years later. To witness your own son living that life… A sword piercing the heart indeed…
Before they leave the temple, an eighty-four year old propphetess named Anna meets them and she predicts that he will be the redemption of Israel. This child is barely forty days old. And yet he has been worshipped by the Magi, and identified as Messiah by Simeon and Anna. Not to mention Mary and Joseph. We can only imagine their thoughts at this time.
My second point is that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant. I’ve known a number of people who have argued, quite heatedly, that Jesus was not Jewish. He must be Jewish. If Jesus is not, then the Gospels do not make sense.
It is for this reason that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are going to the temple in the first place. Mary, being sinless, has no need of purification. And yet she goes up. Jesus, being the Son of God has no need to be “made holy for the Lord,” for he himself is the Lord, just as he has no need of Baptism. And yet, they submit to the law, for as Jesus will say later in his life at the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)
And so here my two points tie together. The Epiphany has also been called the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. If you recall, there is some consternation in the Acts of the Apostles and in some of Paul’s epistles as to whether or not a gentile could be a Christian or wether he or she must become a Jew first. Simeon tells us this morning, that Jesus is to be a light to enlighten the gentiles and is to be the glory of Israel, in the New Israel, the church.
We, my brothers and sisters, are to be the New Israel. We are to carry the light of Christ out into the world. As our prayer earlier this morning at the blessing of the candles said, as our candles cast beams of light upon us, so we ask God to send the Holy Spirit to enlighten our hearts.
There are times when this world is a scary place. There are times I consider getting cable and then hear about Disney channel’s newest idea and quickly decide that, no, I’m fine without it. There are times when the sin that is so evident in the world, or evident in myself, is simply terrifying. I’m sure all you have seen and experienced this. But we cannot despair. We must have faith, and we must have hope. We must have hope, because Christ is the light which illuminates all things, and dispels all darkness. Take your candles out into the world with you, and take your souls, full of the Holy Spirit, and light the world on fire for Christ.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.