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Pastor at Resurrection Anglican Fellowship in Greenwood Village, CO

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Marks of the Kingdom Series III - Possession and Position

 Signs of the Kingdom Series III

October 19, 2021

Fr. Phil Eberhart

 

 

“Possessing the Kingdom – Our Position in Christ”

 

 

This is our third in the Kingdom Series of sermons here at REZ.  First the Kingdom of God is POWER for our powerlessness.  Second the Kingdom of God is the PRESENCE of the King.  This week I want to talk about our POSSESSION of the Kingdom and our POSITION in Christ.  Next week I will be talking about our PROFESSION of the Kingdom, our PROCLAMATION of the KING!

 

Jesus said to his disciples, “Fear not little flock; It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom!” Luke 12:32

 

Jesus told Nicodemus in his fear that God SO LOVED the world that HE GAVE…  He gave us His One and only SON!  Paul later asks the Romans, “How shall he not, with Him, give us all things?”

In fact, he goes on to tell us that there is nothing:

NO THING that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!  Romans 8,  It’s worth reading!

 

We come to possession of the Kingdom because of our position IN CHRIST.  We are given the authority to become a child of God, because we have received the Son.  John tells us this in the very beginning of his gospel.

 

This is what Jesus was talking with Nicodemus about that night.  The one who comes in faith believing that Jesus is the Son, is born a new, over again, from above, by the Spirit of God.  If you want to inherit the Kingdom of the Father you must become a Son or Daughter of the Father.

 

And this is the GOOD NEWS -  the GREAT NEWS – the BEST NEWS EVER!!

 

God has made the way for this to happen, through Jesus’ life and death on the cross, and through our faith-filled acceptance of His sacrifice for us!  We accept and receive Jesus and His work of reconciliation and we are then received by Him, we are received INTO HIM in what I call the GREAT EXCHANGE!!

17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.   [2 Cor 5]

 

So when Jesus, on the Cross, said, “It is finished!” and the curtain was torn by God’s hands, from top to bottom, this is the work that was done.  We were afforded access to the Father, through the Son, IN HIM in fact. 

 

We are IN CHRIST now.  I want to commend this for your study!  It is the stuff of a thousand sermons – a lifetime of study, all by itself.  He is IN US and we are IN HIM.

 

Paul said it this way, “ I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  [Gal 2]

 

You see, He is in you and you are in Him!  The great exchange!  This is what we mean by our POSITION in Christ.

 

Have you flown in a commercial airliner?  Do you listen when the pilot comes on and says “This is flight 7777, to Chicago.”  If you want to go to Chicago, does it matter if you’re on a flight to Phoenix?  

Well, YES!  Destination matters!

So you pay attention to destination, right?  It’s printed on your ticket; its on the overhead sign at the gate; its announced by the pilot and the crew. Check, double check, triple check!

Do ETERNAL DESTINATIONS matter?

DUH…

YES! YES INDEED!  MOST OF ALL!

 

But this life IN CHRIST is not JUST about the eternal destination, but about our earthly destiny.

Listen again to the Great Exchange in 2 Cor 5:21

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

 

BECOME … THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD!

 

In John 1, we are given AUTHORITY OR POWER to BECOME … Children of God.

 

Our earthly destiny is about our “becoming.”  The Kingdom is not just the Eternal Destination of the Plane called ‘IN CHRIST’ – The Kingdom is the daily being and doing of RIGHTEOUSNESS.  Matthew 6 tells of Jesus injunction at this point:

“Seek (strive) first for the Kingdom [of God] and HIS [it’s] RIGHTEOUSNESS …”

 

Paul had it right!  He said, “the life I live, here an now in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God.

 

Later, in his Roman letter, he chronicles this passage from death to life – the struggle of it and the triumph of it – through chapters six and seven till we come to Rom 8.

 

Triumphantly he emerges from this struggle declaring “there is no more guilty verdict!”  No more condemnation!  Why?

 

Because we have entered into CHRIST!  Because we have gotten on the right plane!  The plane whose destination, whose destiny, is the righteousness of God and the life of Heaven.

We are lifted out of the law of sin and death (gravity) because of a higher law, the law of the spirit of life IN CHRIST JESUS!

 

And the righteousness of God and the life of Heaven begin in the here and now!!   We are in possession of the Kingdom of God, because we are in position SEATED WITH CHRIST – IN HIM – ABOVE THE CLOUDS.

I was on the flight a few weeks ago back from Tulsa and it was one of those days where we were flying above the 40,000 ft puffy clouds off to our left.  I was IN HIM, SEATED IN HEAVENLY PLACES.

 

Did I do anything to be there?  Well, I received a ticket – in our case today, a ticket that is purchased for us!  You just need to receive it.  And show up and take your seat, IN CHRIST.  HE DOES THE REST.

 

Let’s pray…

[would you stand, and imagine Jesus sitting on this Altar as His throne … ]  Pray after me. Silently or aloud…

 

Lord, I come.  Just as I am. 

I receive all you did for me on the Cross.

I confess I can do nothing apart from You.

I come.   Just as I am.

To be seated with you, to be seated IN You.

I enter into YOU.  Make me new.

I come.   Just as I am.

But not to stay as I am.  To be changed.

Into Your image, from glory to glory.

I come now.  As You are, I am.   Amen.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Marks of the Kingdom Series II - PRESENCE

 

Sermon Series:  The Marks of the Kingdom
Part II:   PRESENCE

Sept 12, 2021
Fr. Phil Eberhart

Isa 50:4-9 

Ps 116:1-16

James 2:1-18 

Mark 9:14-29

 

This morning I want to talk about the second mark of the Kingdom of God:  The Presence of the King!

 

The question isn’t IS God with us?  That is a settled fact, hidden in His Son’s name, “You shall call His name, Emmanuel, God With Us.”  Jesus said over and over again that He was “sent” from the Father.  But He also commented to Thomas in the upper room after he put his hand in Jesus’ side – “SEE! Thomas!  You believed because you have seen!  Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe!”

 

So the question is how do we know The Presence of the King?

 

I’ve known people who had eyes that could see into the unseen realm, the realm of angels and demons – a gift of discernment or a “seer anointing”.  I just call it the “oooo-eeee-ooooo” factor.  But they are few and far between. They tend to be wounded by the churches they are in, floating from church to church sometimes or out of the church all together, so wounded that they just don’t open their eyes any more.

 

Pollster George Barna, a couple decades back, asked if people had ever had a discernable encounter with the “presence” of God – no definition of that experience.  Just however you would define it, have you had that experience in church, … in worship?  Only about 10% said that they had.

So how do the 90% of us sense, feel, intuit, or otherwise know that God is WITH US?  I describe myself as an Eastern Colorado Wind Meter:  A Post with a log chain bolted to the top.  You know the wind is blowing hard when it’s whipping the links off the log chain!

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And in our experience of life there is a lot of evidence blowing in the opposite direction:  Paul describes it in 2 Cor 4 – his own lived experience.  The verbs are striking:

“Afflicted ;  Perplexed ;  Persecuted ; Struck down;  Carrying about death;  Given over to death.”

Ever feel that way, and you say, “where are you Lord?”

Said it this week?

But Paul’s perspective was different somehow.  The Presence of God in him – THE TREASURE IN HIS JAR OF CLAY – taught him to see those things differently.  Listen again…

[2Co 4:7-10 ESV] 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

Paul begins the chapter with the words, “we do not lose heart” and he repeats it here later in v. 16:  “So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen, for the things that are seen are transient (or temporary), but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

 

Friends, how can God be with us, when we’re “under the circumstances?”

What are the evidences that God is with us?  That His Presence abides with us and is even IN US!

Well, #1 is that He SAID IT WOULD BE.  Over and over. Jn 14 & 15…

“I will NOT leave you as orphans,” Jesus said.  “I will come to you. … In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”

And here is this Key to the Kingdom:

“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.  And he who loves me, will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

The disciples asked him the same question we are asking today!
“How is it that you will manifest yourself to us…?”

Jesus answered, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

As they walked from the Upper Room over to the Garden of Gethsemane, they strolled through a vineyard.  Jesus used the opportunity to teach, once more:

“Abide in me, and I in you… I am the vine; you are the branches. … apart from me you can do nothing.”

So the #1 proof of the Presence of God, isn’t a feeling at all, it is The Word of His Promise!  HE SAID HE WOULD BE WITH US.  PERIOD.

 

But like Thomas, still we want to see!  Jesus turns our old saying on it’s head:  ‘Seeing is believing.’  Actually in the KINGDOM it’s ‘BELIEVING IS SEEING!’

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The 2nd proof of the Presence of God is FRUIT IN OUR LIFE.
But fruit grows.  Have you ever seen a tree, grunting and groaning, trying to produce apples?  Ever walked into a wheat field and heard millions of little groans and whining as wheat tries to grow and bring the heads of wheat out?

NOPE.  They just grow.  They root themselves deeply in good soil and wait on the things that make for growth, sun and water.

Paul prayed something like that for you and me in his letter to the Ephesians, in chapter 3:

“… according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 

Friends, this doesn’t happen by our trying harder!  Or wishing it so. It happens by our abiding and obeying.  That is why we are called Human BEINGS, not human DOINGS.  We turn it on its head every chance we get – we come to be known in our communities by what we do!

James tells us in our reading this morning that Faith without works is dead.  True that is, but works without faith?  Equally dead.  A bridge built to nowhere!  We end up nowhere, breathless!

The Kingdom is both Faith and Work.  Bound together as one.  Two sides of the same coin, tossed in the air or spinning on the table, where the two sides are almost indistinguishable from each other!  They cannot be separated.

The Fruit that Jesus talks of in John 15 is this combination of faith and work – of intention and outcome.

If you want to see the proof of the Presence of God, look at the Fruit of the Spirit in your own life!

 

LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF CONTROL.

Have you ever done a Word Study on those words?  Challenge for the week!!

Or the Character of Jesus called The Divine Nature in Peter’s 2nd letter:

Add to Faith – Virtue

To Virtue – Knowledge

To Knowledge – Self Control;

To Self-Control – Steadfastness;

To Steadfastness – Godliness;

To Godliness – Brotherly Affection;

And to Brotherly Affection – God’s Unconditional LOVE.

There is a seven week sermon series!!!  Or seven months!!

I call it Peter’s Ladder of Character!  And here is the Promise:

“… if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

God’s Presence in our lives is not primarily a feeling that we get in worship, though that is nice when it happens.  Tears and goose bumps are more common for others and we need not judge one another for having them or NOT HAVING THEM!

The real proof of God’s life in our midst is the FRUIT of our lives, lived in rootedness in His Love, and in the outflow of that rootedness; in the FRUIT that we bear in His Kingdom, both the internal fruit of His character, empowered by His Spirit; and the external fruit of lives that are touched and changed in our world, in our families, in our workplaces, our neighborhoods, again empowered by His Spirit in us.

Then the world, even our enemies will say of us:  “I think these people have been with Jesus!”

May the KING of the KINGDOM be seen to be PRESENT in the Church and to the World, in our lives and through us, in every place we set our feet, to every person we meet, and in every circumstance that we find ourselves under!

Let us pray…

 

O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Marks of the Kingdom Series I - POWER

 Sermon, September 5, 2021

Fr. Phil Eberhart

15th Sunday after Pentecost

 

 

Series:   The Marks of the Kingdom

Part 1:   POWER

 

 

I want to thank Jacob for that introduction!  We thought that it has been so long, maybe some might think I was a guest speaker!

 

It’s good to be back up front, and I’m sure you can tell me if its as good for you in a few minutes!

 

I’ve decided to usurp this spot here for the whole month of September!  Ethel that’s good news and bad news for you.  The good news is you don’t HAVE to preach next Sunday, the bad new is you don’t GET to preach next Sunday! 

 

It’s been so rare for me to speak 4 weeks in a row for the past decade that my mind is spinning about what to do or say.  But our readings this morning have given me a starting point for a series I’m going to call “The Marks of the Kingdom of God”.

 

Today is Part I – simply entitled POWER. So let’s begin.

 

Very often, in our Normal (American) Christian Life, as in life in general, we have a sense of powerlessness.

Whether it be from the swirling hurricanes, hail storms, news programs, political commentary or even our own health and life circumstances, I think that powerlessness is often a point of frustration and even anger in our lives.

 

Sometimes we’re mad at ourselves, sometimes at others, sometimes just circumstances and that leads us to God.  If we believe as most of us do that God is all love and all powerful … why?

 

The “why” question can lead us to some contemplation of our own complicitous thoughts, attitudes and behaviors, but often our circumstances are beyond the laying of blame.

 

Whose fault was it that I fell here on this stage more than a year ago?  God’s?  Mine?  The Robe’s !!  But God uses the things that happen to us, if we let Him, to help us gain in character, in patience, in love, in long-suffering, kindness, gentleness, so forth.

 

But in the midst of our malady, our plight, our power-less-ness, there is an in-breaking from time to time.

An ln-breaking of the Kingdom of God – a different kind of reality, that moves in a different direction than our circumstances.

 

We experience that in-breaking initially as HOPE or JOY.

It cuts through the weight of sadness or the frustration we are caught in;  it severs the cords of sadness that surround us – the Bible talks about PEACE that “passes our understanding!”

 

I’ve heard people who are struggling with health issues talk about that PEACE that they can’t explain – that sense that GOD’S GOT THIS. 

 

All of our readings this morning speak of this in-breaking!  Listen again to the phrases…

 

And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly

 

 

Ps 146: 7 Who does right to those who suffer wrong; * and who feeds the hungry. 8 The Lord sets prisoners free; * the Lord gives sight to the blind. 9 The Lord helps those who have fallen; * the Lord loves the righteous. 10 The Lord cares for the strangers in the land; he defends the fatherless and widow; * but the way of the ungodly he makes crooked.

 

27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

 

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
    and the thirsty ground springs of water;

 

Over and over and over, and not just in these passages, but throughout the testimonies of God about His Kingdom and His plan of salvation, these SIGNS are present.

 

Jesus pointed to them when asked by the disciples of his doubtful cousin, John the Baptizer, about his ministry:  “Are you the One or should we look for another?” 

“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them.”

 

He almost repeats what I call His “job description” from Isaiah 61 and Luke 4:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
        to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to let the oppressed go free”

 

This morning I want you to hear that The Kingdom of God is coming – it’s breaking in with POWER. 

 

It’s breaking into our lives at the point of our need – whether you need GOOD NEWS or RELEASE or RECOVERY OF SIGHT or FREEDOM FROM OPPRESSION.

These can all be both physical and spiritual realities in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

 

I was struck over and over as I read these verses at the ACTION OF GOD… and the IMMEDIACY of His answers, both in and through us.

 

I wonder what could happen if wherever we went, we asked the simple question:

 

Is there anything I can pray for you about?

 

What might happen? 

 

We’ve talked over and over and over for a decade about willingness and availability and obedience.  Here it is.

 

The inbreaking of the KINGDOM OF GOD is NOW!  It is available TO US…  and to others THROUGH US.

 

It’s a breakthrough of POWER into a powerless world.

 

It doesn’t matter what our own circumstances are – you can ask that question to someone setting you up for chemo!  To your surgeon for hip surgery!  To the PA you see, or the nurse you meet along the way. 

 

God wants to break into our own lives as we live them, but more than that He wants to Break Out from our lives, into the world and the lives we intersect with

day by day.

 

There is a prayer in Acts that I want to pray with and over you this morning:

 

The church prayed this prayer in the face of persecution in Acts 4 but I want to pray that boldness in the face of the sense of powerlessness in our own lives and in our culture.

 

Stand up if you want to get an anointing this morning of the Power of God to be His Witnesses, with Peace, with Hope, with Love, with Healing…

 

Let’s pray:  If you would, open your hands and hearts to God:

 

Lord, open our eyes to the circumstances around us, and open our lips granting to your servants to speak your word with all boldness,  while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  Shake this place and fill us with the Holy Spirit that we may speak the word of God with boldness.

 

Now lift one hand up to God…

 

Place your other hand on your heart and repeat after me…

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…  (repeat)
    because he has anointed me …
        to bring good news to the poor…
He has sent me …

to proclaim release to the captives…
    and recovery of sight to the blind…
        to let the oppressed go free…

 

 

Now Lord, I receive your anointing…

And commit my way to you…
Send me as you were sent …

To seek and to save …

That which is lost.

 

In the Name of Jesus the Messiah…

the Prince of Peace…

 

Amen and Amen.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Built Together, A Holy Temple

 8th Sunday after Pentecost
July 18, 2021
Fr. Phil Eberhart

 

Isa 57:14-21 

Ps 22:23-31

Eph 2:11-22 

Mark 6:30-44

 

Welcome this morning, to a special Sunday in a string of Sundays!!  We have special guests here this morning as the first in about a month of speakers and friends who we pray for and support as partners in ministry around the world.

 

The readings this morning, once again, are providential for the timing of our life together and the work that is being completed around us.  I’m sure you noticed the new stone, and see the new windows behind me.  It’s amazing that our readings refer to being built stone on stone as a Temple for the Holy Spirit this morning!  Don’t know if you caught that reference in the Ephesians reading.  I’ll come back to it.

 

Just about 4 years ago, Lawrence and Jody came and saw this place for the very first time and God planted in them a vision that has come, stone by stone, to fruition!  To our confounded amazement, the money has come in, from a myriad of ways and means both natural and supernatural, but always from God’s gracious hand and through the sacrifice of this family of God together to move forward into God’s destiny for REZ.

 

Now, as we near, the completion of the renovations of the land, we turn our attentions more fully to the inside of the building and to the work of God that this building and property enable for us all to do together!

 

We are planted in the midst of a large Jewish community, three doors west of an Orthodox Synagogue named Aish, “fire” in Hebrew!  God’s sense of humor is unending! 

 

We believe that God has placed us here on this Holy Hill to be a light to the city, Greenwood Village, to Denver Metro, to the State, the Nation and even to the world.  I self describe us as a HOBBIT Church, small in stature but with a big, hairy foot print!  4 other churches currently meet and use this facility, which is a bit of a dance in itself.  

 

We are back in “start up” mode, after the effects of the pandemic, the flood, the “fall” and God-knows all the other things that happened in 2020 and so far in 2021!  By His Grace and Favor we have come through because as the stone on our property says, “Thus far the Lord has helped us!”

Turn to your Ephesians 2 reading…  at the end of it:

19  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God,  20  built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.  21  In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord;  22  in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

 

From The Passion…

“21 This entire building is under construction and is continually growing under his supervision until it rises up completed as the holy temple of the Lord himself. 22 This means that God is transforming each one of you into the Holy of Holies, his dwelling place, through the power of the Holy Spirit living in you!

 

Friends,  God is the architect and the builder here!  Lawrence will tell you as will I and Jody and all the others who have been intimately involved with the processes of this work over the past 4 years:  God’s Fingerprints are everywhere!  His direction and His direct intervention have paved the way for us to be sitting here; for us to be worshipping together today in this house of God; for us to be poised to reach our Jerusalem, our Judea, our Samaria and the ends of the Earth!

 

As one of the videos on our website used to say, “WE are God’s plan!”  And God doesn’t have a plan B!  And God continues to work in us and through us day after day!  I laughed to myself when I saw the Gospel story today of the feeding of the 5000.  OF COURSE, that would be the reading today.   The schoolboy’s lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fish – measely!  In the face of a 1.89 MILLION DOLLAR pricetag!

We had less than 10% of that in the bank, in,  are you ready for it …  wait for it … wait for it … The LOAVES AND FISHES fund!  There was also the FUTURE AND HOPE FUND from the early days of dreaming about a property of our own.  Frankly, the dream had died, in me. 

 

BUT GOD.   God had to resurrect the dream.

 

And so here we are today, the story is yet to be fully written.  I believe that God has commissioned me to “finish His work” in this place.  Not sure all that that means, but we are seeking hard after His face and His voice as He is the Head of this Church and is the Director of this Orchestra!

 

Thus far the Lord has been our helper!  And we continue to move with Him, cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, as His presence moves us forward, as our Archbishop quoted some years back:


FORWARD, 

        ALWAYS FORWARD, 

                EVERYWHERE FORWARD!

 

Just one final thought:  In Isaiah 57, we are encouraged, even commanded:

“Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstacle from my people’s way.”

 

A few years ago this land was known as “the abandoned church on the hill.”  Today, let it be said, “We are no longer abandoned!"  


From The Passion Translation...

Isaiah 62 For Zion’s sake, how can I keep silent?

    For Jerusalem’s sake, how can I remain quiet?
    I will keep interceding until her righteousness
    breaks forth like the blazing light of dawn
    and her salvation like a burning torch!
Nations will see your victory-vindication,

    and every king will witness your blinding radiance!
    You will be called by a brand-new name,[a]
    given to you from the mouth of Yahweh himself.
You will be a beautiful crown held high in the hand of Yahweh,

    a royal crown[b] of splendor
    held in the open palm of your God!
You will never again be called the Abandoned One,

    nor will your land be called Deserted.
    But you will be called My Delight Is in You,[c]
    and your land My Beloved Wife,[d]
    for Yahweh finds his delight in you
    and he married your land.

 

Let us pray:

Almighty God, you have built your church upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone:. Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen 

Sunday, July 4, 2021

God... Bless America!!?? July 4th, 2021

 

Sixth Sunday of Pentecost

July 4, 2021

Fr. Phil Eberhart

 

God … Bless America?

 

 

Welcome to the 4th of July!  I hope that you are planning to celebrate America today somehow.  I want to take these moments this morning to urge you to do more than have beer and brats this afternoon or watch fireworks tonight.

 

 I think that many today feel that we are a nation on the brink – we are in a moment of decision; a moment of destiny in many ways.  I guess the question for me is, ‘What are we on the brink of?

 

The service this morning is a strange mix of patriotism in the music for the 4th and the amazingly appropriate words from Scripture that were just read.  I felt it was almost a set up!  As I often do, when the lections; the readings match so amazingly, what we actually NEED to hear that day!

 

Turn in you bulletin to Ezekiel.  He was being called as a prophet to Israel – called to stand and listen and then to speak what he heard.  The prophet’s job was not easy in Israel – just as it isn’t easy today.   Jesus discovered opposition in his own hometown in our gospel;  Ezekiel found it in the very nature of the calling and in the place to which he was called!  Paul found the difficulties that accompanied his calling had a purpose:  to keep me from being too elated.”  We’re never sure what Paul’s thorn was, but his life was never an easy one, as he brought the Words of Life and Light to the Gentiles.

 

If you have Ezekiel in hand, look with me at his call:

1.  Stand up…  in other words ATTENTION!!

2. Listen!! … for God’s Words, not yours.

3. Speak only what you hear God say, not what you think should be said…

4. Brace yourself !!  They’re not going to like it !!

 

If we hear one message through our readings this morning it’s STAND / LISTEN / SPEAK.

 

 

 

STAND

 

In our day, perhaps as much as at the beginning of our nations history, we are being called on to STAND FOR SOMETHING.

 

This nation was not founded as a White Supremacist Experiment.  In fact just the opposite is true.  It was an experiment in freedom – it IS an experiment in FREEDOM!  But freedom isn’t free.  It’s never been free!

 

Our founders had to STAND.  They had to put an end to tyranny by standing for freedom and defending it with their very lives.

 

But what they stood for wasn’t some selfish, individualistic goal of personal gain or profit at the expense of others – it was standing FOR the OTHERS.

 

Just listen:  "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.    [and at the very end:]  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."

 

We are being called to STAND.

 

LISTEN

 

There was a group of leaders in the days before the revolutionary war and before the declaration of independence, and the bill of rights and the constitution that came to be called THE BLACK ROBED REGIMENT.

 

These men were the pastors and leaders of the colonies at that time.  They were the ones who spoke of freedom and the necessity of a revolution in their day.  The name was given them by the British, in recognition of their strong opposition to the crown and their eloquent influence on both people and leaders in the days coming up to the war of independence.

 

The Black Robed Regiment were not speaking their opinions – they were speaking the Word of God.  And their words made their way into these documents we celebrate on this day. 

 

Like them, today we must LISTEN to the Word of God and speak accordingly to the seats of power in our land.  For far too long the American Church has been asleep, lulled into a stupor by luxury, apathy and greed.  We must Stand again, Listen to God and speak His truth into our culture today…

 

SPEAK

 

The time for silence has gone!  The Church and the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only hope that we have as a nation today.  The Church is God’s Plan A, and there is no Plan B!! 

 

Ezekiel, Paul and Jesus all had opposition to their messages and ministry in their days – and we are promised the same!  Do Not Fear!  

 

On this 4th of July, as we celebrate our past and the founding of this nation, we must remember where we have come from and look carefully to where we are going! 

 

Silence is no longer an option – it’s really never been one! 

 

In the words of the Psalmist this morning we pray:

           Unto you I lift up my eyes, * you who are enthroned in the heavens.

Even so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, * until he show us his favor.

 

 

And with Paul’s confession:

 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 

 

There is a destiny appointed to our nation, and today that destiny depends on us, “We The People”.  We must Stand, Listen and Speak.

 

May God help us, and May God Bless America, Again.

 

Let us pray:

 

God… bless America, land that I love. 

Stand beside her and guide her,

through the night with a light from above. 

 

From the mountains to the prairies,

to the oceans white with foam…

 

God… bless America, my home sweet home,

Oh God… bless America, our home sweet home.

 

In the Name of Jesus the Christ and for His glory.

Amen