Sunday, December 1, 2013

be ready

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today is the first Sunday in Advent, which means that it is the first day of our Church year, our 'New Year's Day' if you will. There is quite a contrast between the way the Church marks the first day of her calendar and the way the secular world celebrates New Year. For the latter there is fireworks, and parties, and all kinds of excuses to indulge in many types of excess. There is a hint at new opportunities and fresh beginnings with the tradition of New Year's resolutions, but as we all know, they rarely last.

The Church, however, begins with austerity and solemnity. Our new year begins with the Penitential season of Advent, a time that is traditionally one of fasting and abstinence … practices that are still observed with great rigour in that 'other lung' of the Church, the Eastern Christians. It is a penitential time because during this season we do not simply remember again that glorious moment when the Word became flesh; we also remember his promise that he would come again at the end of days to be the judge of the living and the dead.

It is that second coming that we hear our Saviour himself talking about in our Gospel reading this morning. And consider well what he compares that time to – the time of Noah and the flood, a time when many, indeed most, were judged and found wanting, and very, very few were saved. So it will be when the Lord comes again: two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left.' Thus says the Lord.

And just as the flood came suddenly upon the people of Noah's day, so also will the second coming of the Lord happen suddenly. Three times in these few verses he warns of this. First he says: But about that day and hour no one knows; next Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming; and finally: Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

And note well what he also says in those warnings: keep awake, be ready. We really can have no excuses, for we have been told, in the strongest possible terms, that he will come without warning and we must be ready. And the only way we can do that is by being ready at all times. Not one hour a day, or one day a week, or one month a year, but every minute of every day of every month of every year of our lives we must be totally and completely ready … a tall order you may think … but it gets taller, because we are also told elsewhere in scripture what being ready entails … and as I am sure you already know, it isn't easy! As we read in Romans today we must we must live honourably, leave aside revelling, drunkenness, debauchery, licentiousness, quarrelling, jealousy and indeed anything that has as its sole or main purpose the gratification of the flesh rather than living the life Christ calls us to.

And bear in mind you don't get to be a quarrelsome, cranky individual as long as you avoid being a drunk, or be consumed with jealousy over any and all things as long as you manage to resist the sexual impurities that you are tempted by. To be ready, you must do all this and more. You must, as we hear today from Isaiah, learn to walk in the way of the Lord. And that means not only keeping out of the darkness, but out of the shadows also, and treading only and always in the light.

As I said, a tall order … especially for weak and fallen humanity. Something that is impossible for man; but for God nothing is impossible; and it is his will that we be saved. That is why he sent Christ to redeem us from our sins; that is why he gives us the sacraments of the Church to strengthen with supernatural Grace; and why he sent his Holy Spirit to lead into all Truth the Church that was founded by his Son. And therefore we can be ready on the day when our Saviour comes again. But we must want to be and act accordingly.

And so, I end this morning with a suggestion. This is, as I said, the first day of the Church calender, our new year's day. Why not begin it with a New Year's resolution of a spiritual kind? The resolution to be ready when Christ comes again, to prepare yourself for when that day comes by walking in the way that he laid down for us, and to strengthen yourself in that commitment through prayer and a zeal for the sacraments? I pray not only that you will, but that you will indeed be ready on the day when the Lord comes again …

even as I ask that you pray the same for me. Amen. 



    Is it not ironic that those who claim that the Bible is filled with errors, contradictions, and is, in general an unreliable book, are the first ones to quote the Bible to support their doctrinal positions concerning God and His commandments?

    Is it credible to quote from the Bible to support a doctrinal position, if your primary source of authority is a creed book, a catechism, a so-called book of new revelation, or a statement of faith? If the Bible is not your authority for faith and practice; how rational would it be to quote from it to support your position?

    If the Bible and the Bible alone is not your authority and your authority alone, for faith and practice, then, to make a practice of quoting Scripture to prove a doctrinal point would not only be unreasonable and irrational, it would in fact, be dishonest.

    Either the Bible is your authority or it is not. You cannot have it both ways.


    The devil quoted Scripture when he temped Jesus in the wilderness. The problem was God's word was not his authority.(Matthew 4:1-11)

    Even though Satan knew God's word he was not obedient to it and lied about God's word, starting in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:1-13)

    To quote from the Bible to support or refute a position of faith or practice and not believe that the Bible is trustworthy and is the sole authority from God, is not only disingenuous, but irrational, and does not offer credibility to any position of faith expressed.



  2. Ah, Steve ... whatever about you comment, you never said what you thought of the sermon!

    I admit, I was in two minds whether to publish your comment, as it seemed a bit 'boiler-plate' but I decided to let it through.

    Would you care to point out where in scripture is it claimed that scripture is to be the sole authority? And how that fits in with Jesus' promise to send his Holy Spirit that would guide us into all truth; and the authority he gave to the Church that he founded?

    Every blessing for a joyous and penitential Advent season.