Skip to comments.The Rev. William Klock: "The Supreme Priority"
Posted on 02/19/2007 6:26:04 PM PST by sionnsar
The Epistle reading for Quinquagesima is 1 Corinthians 13, the famous chapter on love, which the Apostle Paul tells us is the greatest of the three virtues of faith, hope and love. Thus the sermon this week from the Rev. William Klock of Christ Church REC in Oregon is titled The Supreme Priority since it is based on this chapter as well as Luke 18:31-34. Fr. Klock begins this sermon thus:
Today is the last Sunday in what the Prayer Book calls the Pre-Lenten Season. These gesima Sundays take us from the festival seasons of Christmas and Epiphany into the penitential season of Lent as we prepare for Easter. The lessons of the last two Sundays, Septuagesima and Sexagesima reminds us of the nature of our life as members of the Body of Christ how in a very real sense, our new life in Christ is like a race of like a fight. We have to persevere to the end and we have to work hard to fight evil and to do good. Last week's lessons from St. Pauls letter to the Corinthians was a reminder though, that our success in the fight isnt our own success it belongs to God. Its only by his grace that we came to him in the first place and its his grace that sustains us as we run the Christian race. Last weeks was a lesson in humility. In these three Sundays before Lent, the lessons focus us on the real essence of what it means to be a Christian that our life is a fight, that our victory is not our own, and now, this week, that the fight is fought on the grounds of love and that the victory is won in charity. In the Old Testament lesson from Morning Prayer today we have a reminder in Deuteronomy 11 from God to his elect people that he saved them from slavery in Egypt and made them his people because he loved them. In our Epistle Lesson we see St. Pauls grand description of what godly love is. In our Gospel we see Our Lord making his last journey to Jerusalem, knowing that he would die there for us it was a journey of love. Today the Church reminds us of love in all its glory and wonder: the love of God to man, the love of man to God, and the love God enables us to show to our brothers and sisters.If this whets your appetite, please read the rest of the sermon--another good pre-Lenten sermon!
As we come to Lent we know where we stand before God. We know that were totally dependent on him for our salvation. Each and every one of us is a sinner. Each and every one of us deserves Gods eternal punishment. His absolute holiness demands our separation from him. But in the Gospel Christ announces his journey to the cross. He leads us on a journey. We begin Lent with him in his fellowship as we follow him. In him we find love. The Epistle lesson from the Love Chapter that were all so familiar with has even greater impact when we look at it in the light of Christs announcement. Look at that chapter again as a description of Our Lord's ministry: Give away all I have deliver my body is patient and kind does not insist on its own way is not resentful bears endures all things never ends. If our fellowship with Christ is to be real and if our journey with him is to eternally bless us, the first step has to lead to Jericho. We need to be the blind man sitting next to the road begging, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. Be my salvation. For thy names sake take my hand and lead and guide me. In thee, my Lord, I put my trust. Let me never be ashamed. Deliver me in thy righteousness. The blind man in the Gospel is sort of a gateway to the Passion. The love of God opens our eyes so that we can see the redeeming love of God in what happened at the cross. Jesus opened the blind mans eyes because he begged thats the ministering love of Christ.
I think that we have a tendency to think of Lent as being cold Ive know a lot of Christians who dread its coming each year and just think of it as a time of more formality or for beating yourself up spiritually. What we learn from our lessons though, is that Lent should be a season that we enter with love love is the entrance to it, love is the spirit of it, and growth in love should be the object of it. If we pay attention to what we learn from the lessons, Lent should be a happy time. Our acts of self-denial, through love, will be willing offerings. Our increased devotion will bring us greater joy. The spiritual activities that we throw ourselves into for Lent should become permanent in our lives as we grow in Christ and become more useful to him. The object of Lent is the object of the Christian life: to grow into the character of Christ and to conform to his image. Christs ultimate characteristic is love and the more we become like our Saviour, the more we will posses and be possessed by a godly love.
This Quinquagesima homily from Fr. Dennis Sossi at St. Peter the Apostle ACC in Virginia complements Father Klock's. May we all take this Lenten opportunity to ask for the gift of sight.
And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Todays gospel lesson our Lords healing of Bartimaeus, a blind man, outside the city of Jericho, is reported in all three synoptic gospels, albeit with slight variations. The significance of the lesson, however, lies not so much in the fact that our Lord has the power to overcome physical afflictions, but rather that he has both the power and desire to overcome our spiritual afflictions.
Blindness, as a simile of mans ignorance and of his walking in darkness, is a common theme throughout both the Old and New Testaments. The effect of spiritual blindness in a person reveals itself in many ways: in our inability to perceive the beauty that surrounds us, in our inability to see where our lives are leading us, in our getting in the way of others and leading them astray, and in our inability to stay on the path God has set for us.
We are blind to the beauty of Gods Creation. All too often, we go through life failing, not only to stop and smell the roses, but failing even to notice that the roses are there. We are so preoccupied with the cares and concerns of our daily lives that we eliminate from our perception all the beauty of Gods created universe. The first chapter of the book of Genesis concludes with the verse And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good... We are surrounded by examples of what God beheld as being very good the daily raising and setting of the Sun, the constant cycle of life, the delicate balance of nature yet we consistently focus not on this beauty, but upon the sores and scars the devil and sinful man have inflicted upon this beauty, and we are blind to our own individual actions which pollute, damage and destroy a Creation which we acknowledge as the reflection of its Creator.
We are blind to where our lives are leading us. Most of us are so consumed with today that we fail either to notice or care where our actions or our inactions are leading us. Almost any runner will tell you that if you focus only on your feet or what is just in front of you, you will either stumble or falter. You must keep focused on the distant goal, you must be aware of the obstacles and turns and hazards. A physically blind man stands no chance running in a cross-country race; and a spiritually blind man stands no chance in running the race of life which has been set before him.
In our blindness we hinder not only ourselves, but others. The physically blind man, afraid of bumping into unseen obstacles is constantly searching his way with cane or outstretched arms requiring those with sight to adjust their movements to compensate for his. The spiritually blind, so concerned about his own inability to see the obstacles of life which lie around him, flails forth with anger and indifference, causing those with whom he comes in contact to adjust to him. Saint John writes, he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not wither he goeth, because that darkness has blinded his eyes.
And in our blindness, we fail to follow the path God has set before us. In the spiritual blindness of sin envy, lust, greed, and selfishness we lose sight of the markers along the path of life. When we blind ourselves to the Word of God, we blind ourselves to the promises of God. When we as individuals or as the Church become so enamored with mans abilities that we lose sight of the fact that we are directed by a higher power, then we stray into the ditches of apostasy and heresy.
Like Bartimaeus, however, even in our blindness we struggle to reach the light. And Jesus Christ is the Light the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. And, like Bartimaeus we must seek him, call him, beg him for mercy and for forgiveness, but most of all we must ask him for sight. Perhaps that is the most important message of this whole story. Our Lord requires us to acknowledge our blindness and to request our sight. There can be no doubt that an omniscient God realizes that we are blind. There can be no doubt that a God of love will have mercy upon us, even though we are ragged beggars sitting upon the wayside hearing the multitude go by; there can be no doubt that an omnipotent God has the ability to grant us all that we need, but these are not enough. It takes our action to institute his reaction. It takes our act of faith in coming to him, in acknowledging him and in asking him for that which we lack or that which we need. We must voice our petitions both as individuals and as members of a corporate body in order to receive that which he is most capable and willing to give.
As we enter into this Lenten season, let us examine our own lives our lives as individuals, as a parish, and as members of the living body of Christ. Let us determine whether we are showing signs of spiritual blindness let us check our ability to see the beauty of Gods creation which surrounds us; let us see if we are becoming myopic, failing to focus on where are lives are leading us; let us observe ourselves as we make our way though the crowded room of life whether we can see well enough to walk calmly or whether our anger is causing us to lose focus and constantly push on others; and let us find out where we are on the path to salvation and everlasting life. Are we following the commandment of God and walking in His Holy ways, or are we trying to establish our own Highway to Heaven? Let us use this Lenten season to seek these answers. Then let us, each and all, call upon the Son of David, the Son of the living God, the light of light. Let us, like Bartimaeus say unto our God, "Lord, that we may receive our sight."
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Thank you. This further confirms my decision.
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