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COMMUNION IN YOUR ‘CIVVIES’
Janet Daley writes in the UK Telegraph about a “movement among Church of England clergy in favour of going into civvies.” One of the things that the Church of England Synod is debating is the agitation some are having for dress-down Sundays, which would allow the vicar to take Communion in his shirt sleeves.
Doing away with ‘intimidating’ vestments the church hopes will be part of an accessibility outreach campaign in which priests could look more like ordinary people. Like schoolteachers who wear jeans instead of suits in the classroom, they want to demystify their own authority - to, as they say, ‘break down barriers’.
Almost 2000 years ago, another campaign to identify with common man—“to break down barriers”-- began.
“…Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
SOURCE: SermonCentral Staff. Citation: Janet Daley, “In tragedy and in joy, an unchanged church is best.” 10/07/2002. http://www.opinion.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/ opinion/2002/07/10/do1002.xml
Sermon Central Staff
WAGES, PRIZES, AWARDS, AND GRACE
Listen to the following from GW Knight, Clip-Art Features for Church Newsletters, page 53:
- When a person works an eight hour day and received a fair day’s pay—that is a wage
- When a person competes and receives a trophy for his performance—that is a prize.
- When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service—that is an award.
- But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award—yet receives such a gift anyway—that is a good picture of God’s unmerited favour. That is what grace is all about.
(From a sermon by Hylton Davidson, The Great Adventure - Sermon, 6/10/2010)
DOES GOD HAVE FAVOURITES?
One of the things that A BIRTHRIGHT carries with it is the PRIESTHOOD of the family. Fathers consecrate their firstborn sons to God (Exodus 22:29). They look after the family concerning their spiritual life in serving God. The firstborn has the responsibility of building and worshiping God at the altar (Genesis 22:9; 26:25; 35:1; etc.), as well sharing God's word and His promises to his family.
We all know the story. Esau sells his BIRTHRIGHT to Jacob because he is hungry for some stew. Red hair. Red stew. Red name. In the red regarding his BIRTHRIGHT. Edom (Red) is an appropriate name.
Hebrews 12:16 (NLT) says that Esau was "IMMORAL OR GODLESS" despite being a firstborn son. This is evident in that he "TRADED HIS BIRTHRIGHT as the firstborn son for a single meal". I suppose when this transaction was made it was made in front of witnesses for this to be official. "He showed CONTEMPT for his rights as the firstborn." (Genesis 25:34 NLT) Perhaps Jacob was doing him a favour. Esau was hungry for PHYSICAL things. Jacob was hungry for SPIRITUAL things.
It seems to me that if I am INDIFFERENT to Christ then I have DESPISED MY BIRTHRIGHT? The invitation is to believe in Christ. When I believe in Christ and what He has done for me by dying on the Cross for my sins I enter into the things that God has promised before the world was created. Chosen in Christ, loved and favoured with His grace.
"Heaven goes by favour. If it went by merit, you would stay out and ...
Imagine a man standing in the middle of some train tracks, reading a
newspaper. You’re standing to the side of the tracks, and you notice that he doesn’t
seem to be getting off. In the distance behind him, you can see the train coming
toward him, you can hear the noise it makes. Strangely, though, he doesn’t seem to
notice. You scream at him and wave your arms. Get off the track, you scream. He
looks at you, and calls, I’m alright here, I’ll do something when I need to. By now,
you have no idea why he can’t hear the train quickly coming up behind him. You can
feel the vibrations on the ground. Get off, get off, get off, you scream. There’s a train
coming!! But he just looks at you and calmly says, "Give me a few minutes, I’ve got
plenty of time. Let me finish the paper!" You pick up a handful gravel and start
hurling it at him. One stone makes a hole in the paper right on the article he’s
reading, so he gets a bit annoyed. "I told you to leave me alone! I’ll do it in my own
time. Just go - " and he never finishes the sentence.
I’ll follow Jesus, one woman says. But not now. How about when I’m older,
when I really need it. You hear a splat as the train hits her.
The Gospel sounds good to me, says the father with his two children. But I’ve
got a family to bring up. Tell me about it later. You can hear the bones crack as he’s
flung off the track into the ravine below.
Yeah, I believe it, says the teenager. But I’ll do something about it when I’m
older. I’ve got to have fun with my friends now. The broken body is crunched under
the train wheels.
You see, friends, this is a desperate situation. Paul’s demand is urgent. "Now
is the time of God’s favour, today is the day of salvation. " Don’t receive God’s grace
in vain by hearing it but not doing anything about it.
We don’t know when God will demand our life from us. A guy I went to
school who died from a stroke at age 16 didn’t know. The rich fool mentioned in
Luke 12 did not know his life would be demanded from him after he had built himself
all his massive barns to store his wealth.
And nor do we know when Jesus will return. Like a thief in the night, we are
told, when we don’t expect it. It could be now, it could be tomorrow. God is patient,
but he has set aside a day.
Two hundred years ago, on 25th March 1807, the British parliament voted in favour of a law that would have consequences all around the known world. This new law was the abolition of human slavery. This act of 1807 was one of the most humanitarian pieces of legislation ever enacted in a British parliament.
• But who brought it about? Well what’s important to note that it was proposed and supported and by a very small number of determined Christian’s? One prominent amongst this group was William Wilberforce (1759-1833) who entered politics at the age of twenty, But in 1785 at the age of 25 Wilberforce was converted to a personal faith in Jesus Christ.
• As a result he would later write on the 20th Oct 1789, ‘God Almighty has set before me two great objects the suppression of the slaved trade and the reformation of Manners" (morals).
BETTER THAN SILVER AND GOLD by Zachary Fisher, NY, NY. (Guideposts, 9/92).
My father was known as a bricklayer and a builder, but what mattered most to him was his good name.
I’m a builder. In my job I constantly find myself facing decisions. Some are easy to make, some are tough. And on some, to get help, I glance over at a silver-framed photograph on the credenza. I can’t tell you how many times that picture has helped me.
Some time ago, for example, after I agreed to purchase a quantity of air conditioners from a supplier for a building under construction, an offer for similar equipment came from another firm at slightly less cost. I picked it up from my desk and studied it. We had no binding contract on the first deal, only a verbal agreement that had no legal hold on it. Just a handshake on the deal.
Pondering the decision, I swung my chair to face the credenza and looked at that photo. It’s a picture of my mother and father. And when I look at it, I think of what my dad stood for. When Dad came through Ellis Island as a young man from Russia on July 14,1904, he proudly wrote down "bricklayer" as his occupation.
And although he owned little more than the clothes on his back, he carried with him something more valuable than a satchelful of gold ingots.
I was to find out how strong that something was when working for him as a young man. Dad was then a brick contractor on apartment houses in Brooklyn and Queens. I still remember the way his brown eyes flashed with pride when he pointed out "his" buildings to us boys. All three of us had gone to work with him as soon as we could.
I learned what hard work really was when I began laying bricks. It’s a job that never stops. You lay the mortar, and the bricks keep coming. You pick one up, butter the end with mortar, bed it securely and reach for another, brick after brick, minute after minute, always keeping one eye on the plumb line. You hardly have time to stretch, much less take a break.
At day’s end after laying 2,500 bricks, I knew how my ancestors felt in Egypt when lives were made "bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick" (Exodus 1:14). Dad, who really knew the Scriptures, had pointed this out to me as the earliest written record of our family’s business.
It was while laying bricks I learned the one thing about my father that means the most to me today.
We were building a six-story apartment house in Queens when a January ice storm followed by a raging blizzard stopped work for weeks. Meanwhile Dad had to continue paying expenses, and with his usual small margin we boys knew there would be no way he’d come out ahead on the job.
We were walking home from temple one morning when I spoke up: "Dad, why don’t you do like some other contractors and tell the builder he’s got to come up with some more money or we walk off the job?" Dad said nothing for a moment as we trudged along the snow-covered
walk. Finally he said, "I’ll show you why."
At home after we hung our coats, he went to the bookcase and pulled out the Bible.
He opened it to a page and ran his finger under a line. "Read," he said. It was from Proverbs (22:1): "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold."
"You see?" he said. "The builder and I shook hands on the deal. And when it comes to choosing between a good name and money, well.…” His dark eyes bored into mine. "Maybe, Zachary, you should study this book more."
We lost money on that contract, and on some others too. But there were always more builders out there wanting us to lay their bricks. "You can trust Fisher," was the word. "His handshake is as binding as the mortar in his work."
I continued looking at the tall, thin man in the silver-framed photo. He had been gone for some years now and our business had grown far beyond his dreams. But I’d never forgotten that proverb he pointed out so many years ago: "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold" (Prov. 22:1 KJV).
I had my answer. I put the new offer aside. We already had a handshake on the deal.
DYING WAS MORE USEFUL THAN LIVING
In the 4th Century there was a Christian called Telemachus who decided that the only way to protect himself from the corruption of the world and to serve God was to become a hermit and live in the desert.
One day as he rose from his knees, it dawned on him that if he wanted to serve God, he must serve people. By staying in the desert he was not serving God, and the cities were full of people who needed help. So he set out for Rome - the greatest city in the world.
By this time the terrible persecutions of the first 3 centuries were over. Christianity was the official religion of the Roman Empire. The Emperor was a Christian, and so were most of the people. At least, in name they were Christians, if not in fact. As strange as it sounds, calling yourself a Christian in 4th century Rome was the politically correct thing to do, if you wanted to be in favour with the Emperor!
Anyway, Telemachus arrived in Rome at a time when Stilicho, the Roman general, had gained a mighty victory over the Goths. So to Stilicho there was granted a Roman "triumph" with processions and celebrations and games in the Coliseum, with the young Emperor Honorius by his side.
Remember, Rome was supposedly a Christian city, but one thing still lingered from its terrible past. There were still the bloody games in the Coliseum. Nowadays Christians were no longer thrown to the lions; but still those captured in war had to fight and kill each other in front of the Roman citizens who roared with blood-lust as the gladiators fought.
Telemachus went to the Coliseum. 80,000 people were there. The chariot races were ending. There was tension in the crowd as the gladiators prepared to fight. Into the arena they came with their greeting, "Hail, Caesar! We who are about to die salute you!"
The fight was on and Telemachus was appalled. Men for whom Christ had died were killing each other to amuse a supposedly Christian population. He leaped down into the arena and stepped between the gladiators, and for a moment they stopped fighting.
"Let the games go on," roared the crowd. The gladiators pushed the old man in the hermit’s robe aside. Again he came between them. The crowd began to hur...
Two hundred years ago, on 25th March 1807, the British parliament voted in favour of a law that would have consequences all around the known world. This new law was the abolition of human slavery. This act of 1807 was one of the most humanitarian pieces of legislation ever enacted in a British parliament. • But who brought it about? Well what’s important to note that it was proposed and supported and by a very small number of determined Christian’s? One prominent amongst this group was William Wilberforce (1759-1833) who entered politics at the age of twenty, But in 1785 at the age of 25 Wilberforce was converted to a personal faith in Jesus Christ. • As a result he would later write on the 20th Oct 1789, ‘God Almighty has set before me two great objects the suppression of the slaved trade and the reformation of Manners" (morals).
Brian La Croix
“Access is not mere liberty of approach; it is ’introduction.’ Christ did not die simply to open the way of access to God, but actually to introduce us into his presence and favour.” (A Commentary on Ephesians, Charles Hodge.)