About Me

My photo
Pastor at Resurrection Anglican Fellowship in Greenwood Village, CO

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Who do YOU say that I am? - Christ the King Sunday

 Christ the King Sunday

Nov 20, 2022
Fr. Phil Eberhart

 

Who do YOU say that I am?

 

Today we have two reaffirmations of Baptismal Vows and we have a baptism for Claira Early this morning.  It is so appropriate that it’s all happening on Christ the King Sunday!

 

This is a sermon for all of us, who witness these vows and reaffirm them ourselves, which we will do in actuality at the baptism in a few minutes.

 

The ultimate of ultimate questions in our world is “Who do you say Jesus is?”  Jesus himself posed the question to his disciples one day. Peter has some particularly special revelation in that moment as he answered Jesus for the rest of the disciples:  You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”

 

Jesus commended Peter and acknowledged the source of that knowledge: God Himself.  We call that the Great or the Good Confession.  That confession is the golden nugget at the heart of the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our apprehension of who Jesus IS is the door of our heart upon which we hear that knocking sound as He stands outside, wanting to come in and eat dinner with us. (Rev 3:20)  Paul tells us that we must “confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord” – Lord means sovereign – King of kings / Lord of lords!

 

What is means is the Death Star is NOT the ultimate power in the universe!  Nor is the “Force.”  Ultimate power and authority has a Name… and it’s JESUS.  He is alive – that’s the second part of the confession that Paul says must be believed in our hearts – that JESUS was “Raised from the dead.”  He is completely unique in that category!

 

Turn in your bulletin to the reading from Paul’s letter to the Colossians:  This letter was written to answer questions that were surfacing in the early Church about Jesus Divine Nature.  Some were saying, as they continue today, that Jesus was simply a man, an extraordinary man, but just a man.  A Son of God, but not THE Son of God, as He described Himself:  ONLY BEGOTTEN.

Paul delineates the whole picture in a few verses to the Colossian Church and to us by extension:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Let’s focus our attention on some key words here:

 

The IMAGE of the Invisible God…

I believe the Greek word here is ICON and the Latin is IMAGO…  He Is the “exact representation of the Father” – the perfect visible image of God – He is God with Us… with Skin ON!

 

All things were created through him and for him…

He was present as the voice that said “Let there be light.”
Father – Son – Holy Spirit all present and active in the act of creation – and continuously active even now, because

 

In him all things hold together…

Jesus is the binding “force” in the universe. It’s not a thing, the Force is a person!  A person that can be known and loved, worshipped and obeyed, talked to and heard from!

Paul later said to the Greek Philosophers:  In Him, we live and move and have our being!”

 

He is the head of the Body…
We get our marching orders, our moving directions, our motive force from Jesus!  The Church is today’s living expression:  Hands, feet, eyes, ears, mouth… nose to toes!

As He is, so are we in the world! 

 

At the end of Ephesians 1 Paul tells us that

22 … he [GOD] put all things under his [JESUS’] feet and gave him [Jesus] as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his [Jesus’] body, the fullness of him [GOD] who fills all in all.

Any questions?

 

And here is the ultimate qualification for Jesus:

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell

In our extensive research over the years, what does “all” mean?

ALL!

 

And “The fullness of God” – How full is that?

ALL OF IT!  ALL THE FULLNESS.

 

What did we just read from Ephesians?

“The FULLNESS OF HIM WHO FILLS ALL IN ALL”

 

Now here is the mind-blower:  In that sentence God is talking about US!

 

BOOM!   Purple smoke!!!

 

So, Who DO you say JESUS is?    

That is the ultimate question in the universe!

The answer that you give – that anyone gives – to that question determines everything that follows it!  EVERY THING!

Because the first thing that happens after that confession is the last thing in our reading from Colossians this morning:

through him to reconcile to himself
all things, whether on earth or in heaven, 
making peace by the blood of his cross.


Friends,  Jesus is KING not because of some “divine right.”   He isn’t king simply because He is the Son.  Jesus is King because He came, in obedience to God, the Father, and laid down His divine life – and then laid down his earthly life … for you and for me.  So that we can come home to Father, with him.

This is all captured in the scene at the cross of Jesus.  In the midst of the mocking, spitting, cursing, gambling… in the midst of all that was swirling around him; in the midst of excruciating (the very word comes from ex-crucia “out of the cross”) pain, Jesus spoke the words of forgiveness:  “Father, forgive them!  They know know what they are doing!”  And one who heard it, simply believed it.  One of the ones hanging near him.  Rebuked the jeering and sneering as he prayed the prayer of the ages:

 

JESUS, REMEMBER ME, WHEN YOU COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM.

 

Will you pray with the thief on the cross next to Jesus?  This is the answer to the ultimate question of the universe!  “Who do YOU say that I AM?  

JESUS, REMEMBER ME, WHEN YOU COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM.
JESUS, REMEMBER ME, WHEN YOU COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM.

 

SHALL WE PRAY?

JESUS, REMEMBER ME, WHEN YOU COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM.

JESUS, REMEMBER ME, WHEN YOU COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM.

JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY ON ME, A SINNER!

JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY ON ME, A SINNER!

 

YOU BECAME SIN FOR ME,

THAT I MIGHT BECOME GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS IN YOU!

I BELIEVE YOU ROSE FROM THE DEAD,

AND I RECEIVE YOU AS MY LORD AND MY KING.

 

JESUS, REMEMBER ME, WHEN YOU COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM.

JESUS, REMEMBER ME, WHEN YOU COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM.

 

AMEN.

 

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Choose Life ...

13th Sunday of Pentecost 
September 4, 2022
Fr. Phil Eberhart

 

Choose Life!


We hear a lot these days about “choice” don’t we?  We, here in the west, put a high value on our own ‘sovereignty.’  Personal sovereignty.  It’s my life … it’s my choice.  Literally anything is justified as being ok… even good … if it’s ‘My choice!”

 

Let’s talk about choosing this morning.

 

Our scriptures this morning are about choosing.  The very first words this morning set out the choices! I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. That is the basis of every choice we have in life.  Our big problem is knowing the difference, it seems!  We live in a culture that has started to fly upside down… at night!  We’ve lost our orientation to the horizon and where we are in relation to the ground.  It’s really easy to crash the plane that way!

 

So let’s talk about “orientation” for a moment.

 

Orientation is defined as a person or objects relative position related to its surroundings.  Orientation can relate to the compass:  North / South / East / West.  Orientation can relate to altitude, to latitude & longitude (its position on the globe).

Of course I’m talking about our physical space – the direction we’re headed or the position we occupy in space.  Orientation has taken on a much wider meaning than just spacial meanings today as well.  It has emotional meanings, even sexual meanings today.

 

Orientation begins to really matter to us at the moment that we realize that we have lost our way!  If you are flying upside down at night, and you don’t know it, you are in danger of pulling “UP” and flying into the ground!!  So orientation is pretty important!

 

Like I said earlier, our culture today is “flying upside down at night!”  It’s a culture that, how does the Bible put it?  “Calls evil good and good evil.”   Flying upside down, at night!

 

So how do we re-orient our life?  “Choose you this day,” God says.  Life and good … or … death and evil.  So how do we know and see the choices … the real choices… that are before us?

 

Life and death – good and evil.  Light and dark.  Ying and yang.  John warns us in his gospel that we have a leaning toward “loving the dark.”  But he also says that the dark will never overcome the light!  Have you ever done the experiment?  Open the closet door and see if the dark falls out?  No!  Why not?  Because the light always rushes in!  Never fails.  Darkness never wins!

 

So how do we switch on the light?  What is the source of the light in our lives?  Anyone know?  Psalm 119:105.  Can someone tell me what it says.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” 

So the source material for our orientation should be the source of light in our life.  The basis for orienteering is my relationship with the light (the sun) and the direction of my movement.  It’s true in our spiritual life as well.  The basis for orienteering my life is my relationship with the LIGHT * THE SON – and the direction of my movement (OBEDIENCE.)

 

OK.  There it is … the “O” word!  The very next words in our scripture reading from Deuteronomy were “IF YOU OBEY.”

Not our favorite “three little words.”  Something about the “O” word that causes us to…  ya know? 

Obey, Obey, Obey!

We just get our back up!

Why is following God’s rules so hard for us?

 

We have a heart problem.  And we’re “hard of hearing.” 

At the other end of the Bible, John again, at the end of his life, sends these words from Jesus to the Church at Laodicea:

17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Flying upside down … at night!

 

What’s the answer?  Let’s look at our other scriptures this morning:

1 Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly,* nor stood in the way of sinners, and has not sat in the seat of the scornful;

2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, * and on his law will he meditate day and night.

 

Paul tells Philemon he is “confident of his obedience…”

Jesus tells us:  “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

 

Friends, our orientation is determined by our relationship to the SON and our direction in OBEDIENCE to His Word.  We call it a Biblical Worldview.

David reminds us in verse 2 of Psalm 1: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, * and on his law will he meditate day and night.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Show me your hand.  Hold it up!

Hear … Read … Mark … Learn … and Inwardly Digest.

 

C.H. Spurgeon comments that these disciplines are like cutting the wheat, grinding the wheat into flour, kneading it into dough and baking the bread but that meditation is sitting down and eating the meal!

It is clear throughout the Scriptures that the one who obeys the Word is “blessed in His/Her doing.”  James lays it out pretty clearly for us:

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

 

Obedience is the basis of blessing.  From Deuteronomy, actually from Genesis, to Revelation!  From beginning to end the basis of our getting oriented rightly in our life has been a relationship of obedience to God, through His Word.

 

John gave the invitation to the Laodiceans from Jesus:

19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

 

 

Let’s pray together:

O most loving Father, by your mercy you put away the sins of those who truly repent, and remember their sins no more. Restore and renew in us, your servants, whatever has been corrupted by the fraud and malice of the devil, or by our own selfish will and weakness. Preserve and protect us within the fellowship of the Church; hear our prayers and relieve our pain; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Show favor to your people, O Lord, who turn to you in weeping, fasting, and prayer. For you are a merciful God, full of compassion, long-suffering, and abounding in steadfast love. You spare when we deserve punishment, and in your wrath you remember mercy. Spare your people, good Lord, spare us; in the multitude of your mercies, look upon us and forgive us; through the merits and mediation of your blessed Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

And join me in our opening collect from your bulletin:

O Lord God, grant your people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and with pure hearts and minds to follow you, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Intercessory Prayer - Exercise in Persistence

 7th Sunday after Pentecost

July 24, 2022

Fr. Phil Eberhart

 

 

Intercessory Prayer – Exercise in Persistence

 

 

Is there anyone else here that suffers from guilt over not praying enough?  There are a pile of should’s and oughts that get added onto our spiritual lives, and this is one of the most common.  We know that we should pray – that we ought to pray about things – first or at all.  But we just get so busy going, going going and doing, doing, doing, that we just forget.  We forget God!

 

And that is a pickle when we get there.

I was talking to a friend the other day about a program that is on going in our diocese, and he admitted that he was frustrated with banging his head against a stone wall – lots of energy, lots of effort, lots of time and talent and treasure expended --- no results!!

Then it dawned on him he should pray about the program.  Whoa!!

All of a sudden, when he turned the program over to God, stuff started working!  Help came out of the woodwork!

 

This week I was personally convicted by Stacey and Jerry as they talked about their “secret place” time with God.

PRAY ~  LISTEN  ~  OBEY

 

This morning our scriptures point us in a very specific direction!  We see the story of the Intercession of Abraham for Sodom & Gomorrah.

We hear Jesus teach the disciples how to pray as He does.

And Paul gives us the context for such a life of prayer – a life of alignment with God’s purpose and lived in His power.

Get you pencil or pen out because I will give you some ways to mark up your bulletin this morning.  We are going to be reading with a highlighter, underlining and circling some words and thoughts.

 

Let me preface this by saying that as we enter into prayer we are entering into Jesus’ present ministry!  Scripture tells us that Jesus “ever lives to make intercession for us.” 

We readily admit that God has a plan for our lives and that it is good, but we rarely get still enough, especially in our culture of distraction here in the West – in the US of A – to actually hear what God is saying.

A few weeks ago we read the calling of Samuel as a young boy, as a pre-prophet!  It says in those days “the Word of the Lord was rare!”

So Samuel had to learn as a young man to recognize the voice of the Lord God when God was speaking to him.  Several times he mistook the voice in the night for Eli’s.  Finally Eli got it, and told Samuel to respond to the voice:  “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.”

 

Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.   Not a bad place to start, eh?

In our OT lesson Abraham was doing the speaking.  Over and over and over, with God apparently nodding His head and agreeing along the way!  We get a pretty good picture of what Jesus talks about in the Gospel reading when He says: 

[Luk 11:8 ESV] I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.

 

Interestingly, God isn’t put off by Abraham as He pleads for the righteous in the city.  And each request is readily granted to Abraham.  I’ve always been struck by this passage and the persistence – the impudence – of Abraham in approaching God in this way; but God seems perfectly OK with it.

 

When Jesus took up the request of His disciples to “teach us to pray” He gives them some pointers – a model prayer – and then immediately launches into a story of someone who goes across the street to get bread at midnight from a neighbor who is in bed.  The picture is one of a rare kind of persistence – the word that is used here in the Greek only occurs in this verse in the whole Bible!!  It can be translated “without shame” or “shameless.”  It is shameless impudence that is being highlighted by Jesus! What does that mean?

 

Our stance and approach toward God is not to be one of meekness, of embarrassment, of asking timidly or weakly for His mercy and grace, for His direction and empowerment.  We are to “Come boldly before the throne of grace.”

 

[Heb 4:14-16 ESV]  Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

The position of intercession is one which we are to take up with boldness.  Abraham stood in God’s way as He was about to destroy the cities – he was the in-between one – the “intercessor” who was standing “in the gap” between God and Man.  Prayer is often not a comfortable place.  It requires us to know our station, and yet to approach God with boldness. 

 

And what is our station here?  Turn in your bulletin to the reading from Colossians – or to your Bible if you have one with you.

Get your pen out and I want you to circle or underline the instances of the words IN HIM or WITH HIM in these few verses.  Take just a minute to do that.

 

 

 

Second Reading:    Colossians 2:6-15

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in himrooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

9 times in 9 verses.  The same is true of several other passages by the way, as Paul is clear that all that we are and do in the Kingdom and for the King is done “IN HIM”  and  “WITH HIM.”  Take a look at Ephesians 1 some time! 

We are all familiar with John 15:5 right?  “Apart from me, you can do nothing!”

The secret sauce here is abiding IN HIM and moving WITH HIM.  Abraham was not twisting God’s arm!  Abraham was interceding in ALIGNMENT with the will of God.  He took the place of intercession because God gave him a heart of compassion;  I’m certain that his love for his nephew, Lot and his family played a part in that.  But God allowed Abraham to enter into this place and granted each request without an argument.  Abraham was praying – he was interceding, according to the will of the Father.

 

So how do we enter into that place?

 

Do you remember that I’ve said many times, “when you see a need, you’re in the game!”  Stepping off the bench and onto the field, means you are stepping into Abraham’s place of intercession!

You are stepping into the place of Jesus, right along side Him in His intercessions!  He welcomes you there.  And the first thing you need to do is find our from Him what He is praying for!  What direction does God want to go here?

When God highlights someone to you; you see someone in need and feel that twinge from the Spirit of God, pray right then!  God what do you want me to do or say?  How can I be Your Presence in this situation?  How can I be a blessing?

That is what it means to ABIDE IN HIM!  Every moment, every circumstance, every person we meet!  We are “on mission” with Him.

We are the presence, the fragrance of Jesus, to those around us.

I want us to finish here this morning by re-reading the last part of the Gospel from Luke 11.  Will you turn to it and read with me?

Let’s begin at verse 9 and read to the end:

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

God is inviting us into His mission in the world and He is promising us that He will be with us,  IN US, as we go.  We’ve heard it over and over and over again:   Willingness … Availability … and Obedience.  Stacey told us that God is looking for those who are Faithful… Available… and Teachable!  And that obedience is the deal!  What God is asking us to do, we can’t do alone!  We can’t do anything apart from Him and we are called to do what we do TOGETHER WITH HIM because we are IN HIM. 

 

Let me say it again in the words of Paul:

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

 

Jesus said, ALL AUTHORITY has been given to me in the whole world,

Therefore GO!

 

Father in Heaven,  We hallow Your Name.  Make your Name Holy and wholly renowned through us.  Jesus, we want to make You famous.  Let your Kingdom come – reign among us here on this earth, just like you do in heaven.  Let Your will be done in our lives.  We give them over to You fully this day.

Save us, Lord God, from the time of trial and the day of temptation. Put the world, our flesh and the Devil under our feet.

Give us what we need to live for you:  Our daily provision, like the Manna you provided day by day in the wilderness.

Apart from You, Lord, we can do nothing.  Be our sufficiency, our competence, and the one who brings fruit, more fruit and much fruit.

Let your glory be ours, as Jesus prayed, as we are One In Him and One with each other, that the whole world may know.

For the sake of the Kingdom of God and the Fame of Jesus Name, we pray.

Amen.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Our Independence - One Nation, Under God

Independence Weekend

July 3, 2022

Fr. Philip Eberhart

click here to watch video

 

 

Yesterday afternoon I listened to a reading of theDeclaration of Independence, and I commend it to you.  It takes about 10 minutes of your day and tomorrow would be a marvelous time for us to reflect again on the words that are therein!  Let me prime the pump a bit:

This is just the first section of the document, down to the listing of the “usurpations:”

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

 

And here begins the list of the overreach of the tyranny of King George in England through which the colonists had come in their founding years.  Actions which later informed our own Bill of Rights and Constitution, just as the Liberty and Justice did which the original pilgrims sought as they fled the religious persecutions of the Old World and came to the New.

 

How long has it been since you spent any time at all refreshing or even making a memory of these events; of the times in which our Founding Father’s lived, just 246 years ago; of the fates of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence; who put their names to the document swearing: 

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

 

I want to commend to you a Paul Harvey monologue on YouTube on The Founding Fathers.  Again about 10 minutes out of your life, but well worth the listen, as Paul Harvey draws our attention to the price of freedom for these 56 men and their families who pledged their Lives, Fortunes and Sacred Honor.  It is a sobering reminder that freedom is never free!

 

I want also this morning to commend to you an extraordinary resource that I picked up when we had a breakfast here at REZ this past spring, with the Truth and Liberty Coalition, and historian David Barton.  David is the historian who oversaw this Founder’s Bible and its contribution to the literature of our providential history in these United States.  I also commend the website he curates: https://wallbuilders.com

 

Over and over in public arenas we say a Pledge ourselves: we call it the Pledge of Allegiance:  “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands: One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, With liberty and Justice for all.”

 

ONE NATION:

In our prayer book there is a prayer for the Nation, which we will pray in a few moments this morning.  I try to use it in our morning prayers at least once each week.  There is a line in it that says: “Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues.”

Our national motto, in fact, E PLURIBUS UNUMOut of Many, One! Speaks to the unity which undergirds our nation – a unity which we only find fully in the common life, the KOINONIA, of the Body of Christ, rightly understood and rightly lived out in society.  That is why the next phrase is so important to this nation:


UNDER GOD!

 Added to the Pledge by Dwight Eisenhower in 1954, the year of my birth, it was the result of a sermon one Sunday!  Here are just a few lines of that sermon by Rev. Docherty: [Feb 7, 1954; New York Ave Pres Chur]

"Early American history was caught up with a sense of destiny that was broader and deeper than simply personal ambitions and the desire to be a success.  The Puritans triumphed because they made success the by-product rather and the end of their lives.  Lincoln in his day, say this clearly.  Under God the nation would know a new birth of freedom. And by implication it could only be Under God that "government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

It is only as we live our lives UNDER GOD that we come into the freedom, the liberty, the justice for all, that we speak of.  There is no other place where it is available! 

I have said over and over that we have a choice to live our lives in two ways:   With a pen-knife or with a highlighter!  Our approach to our history – whether we read it in The Bible or in The Declaration of Independence and Constitution or Bill of Rights are subject to these mindsets of ours:  If we read with a pen-knife, poised to remove the sections that are uncomfortable or that we deem out-dated, we place ourselves “over” the Bible or the historical document that we are reading.  We are after all, as one Episcopal Church bishop was heard to say, “the Authors of the Bible; we can change the Bible!”  Today we have many who take this approach to history, to scripture, and to truth.

 

But what if we read it with a Highlighter?

What if we Hear, Read, Mark, Learn and Inwardly Digest the words of these documents, as if they matter… greatly… for our life and for our salvation!  What if we live in such a way that the Bible and dare I say, our foundational documents of Freedom, are “OVER” us, not US OVER THEM!  What if we allow them to speak into our lives, and motives, and our very being where we live?  What if what they said really mattered?

 

INDIVISIBLE

What does that word even mean?  How about UN _ DIVIDE-ABLE?

How do we even begin to live into that word, that concept, in today’s culture of division?  I noted in my mind, as I read the Declaration that the word united in the first sentence is not yet capitalized.  “United” was an adjectival descriptor, not a Proper Name!   Today it is a proper name: The United States of America.  But friends we are in the gravest danger we have been in since the Civil War, I believe.  The forces of division are afoot – in word and in deed, and we must be vigilant to both act and speak as ONE NATION - UNDER GOD.

Unity does not, indeed it cannot come from inside of us, it comes from a place where every knee has bowed and every tongue confessed – where we have ‘surrendered’ – yielded our selfish autonomy and prideful ways to the Lordship of the ONE WHOSE NAME IS ABOVE EVERY NAME THAT IS NAMED IN HEAVEN OR ON THE EARTH!  The KING of KINGS and the LORD OF LORDS, JESUS.

Apart from HIM, we can do … No thing!

 

WITH LIBERTY & JUSTICE FOR ALL!

He hath shown thee, O man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God”   Micah 6:8

One of our other Prayerbook prayers says it this way:

“…especially we pray for thy holy Church universal, that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life” 

[#40, For all sorts and conditions of men, BCP 2019, p. 658]

 

Dear friends,

On this eve of our celebration of Independence Day, I want to commend you to the resources I’ve mentioned.  You can access them on my REZPADRE Blogspot, and they are live links in the sermon there.  Just click to watch or to go to the resources.

Let us spend just a few minutes tonight or tomorrow considering the cost of our freedom and our independence and let us, as we watch the fireworks or eat the bounty of our land, let us give thanks to God, first of all, for our freedoms and liberties;  Let us give God thanks for the sacrifices made by our Founding Fathers, by our military and those who today protect our freedoms around the world!  Take this bulletin home and sing the songs again, paying attention to the words.

Paying Attention!  I think we can all benefit from Paying Attention!

God’s hand is evident in the calling, in the formation, in the history, the letters and documents of our nation.  My prayer in these final days is that the Lord not pass us by because we have so often passed Him by!  

Lord have mercy upon us!  

Christ have mercy upon us!  

Lord have mercy upon us.

Let us stand to confirm and affirm our faith in the words of the Nicene Creed and in our prayers this morning.  Please stand with me.

 

Father Philip D Eberhart

July 3, 2022 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Easter 5 - New Every Morning

 5th Sunday of Easter
May 15, 2022
Fr. Phil Eberhart

 

NEW EVERY MORNING

 

This sermon may be more appropriate for Lent -  or at least it has its roots in our Lenten disciplines of coming to God through Jesus in repentance and prayer.

I was blessed to be given a seat at the table with some friends this past Wednesday at the Colorado Prayer Luncheon and an old friend was the speaker, Pastor Robert Gelinas from Colorado Community Church, Aurora.  Robert and I were youth pastors at the same time, he at 1st Pres in Golden and I at Christ Episcopal Church, Denver.  Today the work he does is large and it richly blesses the city and the area.

He spoke, of course, on prayer!  What a novel idea for a prayer luncheon!!  He turned our attention to a simple prayer, that we know well, from our Morning Prayer and our Eucharistic Offices that says simply:

"Lord, have mercy!

Christ, have mercy!

Lord, have mercy!"

You’ve heard of the 8-word prayer:  “O God! O God! O God! O God!”

This is the 9-word prayer!

 

He talked about driving and praying on Colfax from east to west.  Something I’ve had the occasion to do as well, with groups and individually a few times.  He urged everyone there, and the Colorado Convention Center was full to the brim, to pray that 9-word prayer over the streets of our city “as we go.”

Lord, have mercy!   Christ, have mercy!  Lord, have mercy!

 

This morning I want to explore a bit, the mercy of God. Some of our favorite scriptures and favorite songs are about this subject.  One of mine is actually both – a couple of mine in fact!  What a surprise, I know!

 

“ He hath shown thee, O Man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee:  But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God!”

 

“The steadfast love of The Lord never ceases;  His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning, new every morning, Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord!  Great is Thy faithfulness!”

 

If I could just leave you with those two songs rolling around in your brain this week, my job would be done here!  But wait there’s more!

The words “mercy, mercies, or merciful” show up over 200 times in the Bible!  Here is a brief survey:

The place where God’s presence rests in the Tabernacle is called…
The MERCY Seat – it is the top of the Ark of the Covenant.  It is the place where Jesus, after the resurrection, brought the offering of His own blood to pour out for the sin of the world!  Once for all, in obedience to the Father:  on The Mercy Seat.

The Lord God begins to reveal this to Moses on the mountain, as He passes by:

Exodus 34:6

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,

And this self description by God is then repeated over and over and over again throughout the Old Testament:

Nehemiah, chapter 9;  Psalms 86, 103, and 145; Joel 2; and Jonah 4.

 

The hymn of Jeremiah in Lamentations 3, that we sang a moment ago:

Lamentations 3:21-23

21 But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

 

The mercies of God are the motivation for our self-presentation as living sacrifices in Romans 12:1;  our awareness of God’s mercies to us, both individually and corporately, form the basis of our becoming “living sacrifices” – worshipping God genuinely and whole heartedly, which Paul then calls our “reasonable service of worship.”

 

JB Phillips translates those verses this way…

12 1-2 With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.

 

Mercy is the stuff of the prayer that Jesus pointed his disciples to as a model of repentance from the publican (the tax collector) vs. the prayer of the “righteous” Pharisee:  We call it “The Jesus Prayer.”

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”

 

And as I pointed out in my first song, it is what I call God’s TRIFECTA:

Micah 6:8  “He has shown you, O Man, what is good and what does the Lord require of you:  But to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”

Justice / Mercy / Humility

 

Does what we do today have these three marks?  Because these marks are the marks of the People of God – they form the stuff of the fragrance – the incense of His presence – in the world!

Paul tells us that we are to spread the fragrance of His Victory, and this is what it smells like!  How would people in the world respond to that fragrance, when they are used to harsh judgement and condemnation from Christians.

a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,

How can we show people this God?

Jesus said it, in our Gospel reading this morning:

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

The mercies of God are the outworking of His nature, which is Holy Love.  Holiness absolute to the degree that He had to cover Moses eyes because he would not have been able to survive seeing!  Love great enough that He had to show Himself, and eventually came to speak to Moses, face to face, as a friend of God.

 

The Mercy of God is captured in the Blessing of Aaron that we say or sing every week.  The Lord … “MAKE HIS FACE SHINE UPON YOU, BE GRACIOUS TO YOU.  THE LORD LIFT HIS FACE TOWARD YOU, AND GIVE YOU PEACE.”

Have you ever lifted a son or daughter above your head?  Sometimes you throw them into the air and catch them over your head!  Think about what the Lord is saying here:   The Lord LIFT HIS FACE TOWARD YOU.  Where are you in that picture?  If God’s face is lifted toward you, He is below you.  He has picked you up and is tossing you into the air.  It is the most joyful and intimate moment that a parent can have with their child!

This is the picture I want to leave you with this morning.  God loves you radically.  Mercy is His DNA!  He cannot do otherwise!

 

If you have a God-image that is something else – anything else – then you need to study this message over and over and over again.  Get God’s Mercy into YOUR DNA!  Marinate in God’s MERCY –

 

a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,

Pray with me:

Lord, Have Mercy!  
Christ, have mercy!   Lord, have mercy!

Look mercifully, O Father, on our infirmities; and, for the glory of your Name, rescue us from all those evils we now endure; and grant that in all our troubles we may put our whole trust and confidence in your mercy, serving you in holiness and purity of life, to your honor and glory; through our only Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Sung:

Holy God,

Holy and Mighty,

Holy Immortal One,

Have mercy upon us.