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Summary: If we desired the things of God, then we would not need to ask him for them for them. He would give them to us automatically, and we would not need to ask Him for the grace to receive them. Confused, read on and enjoy …

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Word Count: 1976

Deuteronomy 26:1-11 Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16 Romans 10:8b-13 Luke 4:1-13

Summary: If we desired the things of God, then we would not need to ask him for them for them. He would give them to us automatically, and we would not need to ask Him for the grace to receive them. Confused, read on and enjoy …

This sermon was delivered to the congregation in St Oswald’s in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 21st March 2010: by Gordon McCulloch (A Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).

Please join me in my prayer. Father, Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight. Amen

Our Gospel reading is taken from Luke’s Gospel, chapter 4, verse 1 to 13: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread." Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone.'

"Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'

"Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'

"Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time”.

Introduction:

Although we have had some good readings this morning, our sermon is taken from the collect, of all places. Do you remember what was said? Did you understand it? Let us see.

In today's collect, we asked God to “grant Us grace to love what He commands, and desire what He promises.”

Yes, we said it fast, we agreed with it as it is a nice holy sentiment, but I am sure most of you, like me, never really noticed it, but it sounds nice and it sounds like something everyone should hope for, but actually, not everyone believes it.

“Grant Us grace to love what He commands, and desire what He promises.”

Like a lot of things that are in the Book of Common Prayer, today’s collect makes good theological assumptions, and only when we understand what those are; can we really see what this phrase is getting at.

The first thing we have to realise is that it assumes that we do not do those things already. We do not love what God the way he commands us to love him, neither do we desire what God has promised us. Is that not strange, but it is true?

We do not love all our neighbours for example. Me, I love all of God’s creatures, but I would like to see some of them stuffed.

We do not desire what God promises, because if we already desired those things, then there would not be any need to ask God to grant us the grace to desire to do them. We do not ask God to grant us the grace to desire a bar of chocolate, or an ice cream, or the desire for financial security, because we already desire that. That would just be a waste of time.

By the way, there are no scriptures for Ice cream nor Chocolate, but there are plenty of scriptures where God has promised us financial security; and I am still asking.

Anyway, the collect begins by assuming that something is wrong and it needs to be fixed; and we are basically not all desiring something that God desires.

For example: some people take what might be called a “Creation-centered” view of the world. These people take seriously the story of Creation in the book of Genesis, where God created the world, “and believed it was good or even perfect.”

They say that God would not make anything that was not perfect and so while there might be a bump in the road here or there, but everything is basically good, and so there isn’t much left to ask God for “the grace to love, and desire what He commands and promises”; as they are already satisfied; they just need God to remove a few of the obstacles in there way.

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