About Father Maney

The Venerable Kevin Maney received his PhD from the University of Toledo in Curriculum and Instruction, majoring in educational technology and minoring in educational leadership. He completed his studies for a Diploma in Anglican Studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA, and did his coursework almost entirely online. He was ordained as a transitional deacon in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) on February 9, 2008 and as a priest in CANA on May 1, 2008. He is now the rector of St. Augustine's Anglican Church in Westerville, OH, a suburb of Columbus. St. Augustine’s is part of the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word (ADLW) and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). In February 2020, Father Maney was appointed archdeacon by his bishop, The Right Reverend Julian Dobbs, to oversee the newly-formed Ohio Valley Archdeanery

Bishop Julian Dobbs: Real Living. Do You Know What it Looks Like?

Sermon delivered on Trinity 15A, Sunday, September 20, 2020 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

The bishop caught Father Bowser’s anti-writing fever so there is no text for today’s sermon. To listen to the audio podcast, click here

Lectionary texts: Exodus 16.2-15; Psalm 105.1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1.21-30; Matthew 20.1-16.

Ordained Ministry: Living Out Your Call (It Ain’t for Sissies)

Sermon delivered at the ordination of Dr. Jonathon Wylie to the sacred order of Priest, Friday, September 18, 2020 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of tonight’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: Isaiah 6.1-8; Psalm 119.33-40; Ephesians 4.7-16; St. Luke 10.1-9.

In the name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Tonight is your big night, soon-to-be Father Wylie (God willing and the bishop consenting), and already your ministry is in trouble. Instead of preaching at your ordination the bishop has called in the second string to preach. Perhaps you shouldn’t quit your day job quite yet. Or perhaps you’ve got even bigger fish to worry about. Cardinal Mercier in speaking to his ordinands once said, “Remember, God chose you to be a priest because he could not trust you to be a layman!” Maybe having a second stringer preach at your ordination is the least of your worries. I don’t know. 

All teasing aside, it is my privilege to preach at your ordination tonight. While I would never admit this in public, I know you are going to be a superb priest, young man—Oh wait. I just admitted it. Bishop, is it time to call in the third string? Father Gatwood is here with us tonight—and as such, I want to remind and exhort you to two sacred duties as a priest in Christ’s one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. There are more than these two duties but there are not less, and I take my cue from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in our epistle lesson tonight. 

First as you begin your ordained ministry, I urge you to be first and foremost a good pastor (shepherd) to the people you will serve. The work we do as clergy is above all else relational on all kinds of levels. We are called to party with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (and everything in between). You must be willing to forgive those who grieve you, especially the EGR folks (extra grace required—the bishop knows how to do this very well because he has to deal with EGR clergy like me all the time, so learn from him how it’s done because he does it superbly). Of course you must also be willing to forgive yourself when you miss the mark or get it wrong. It means you must be willing to confront folks pastorally when they go astray and gently try to help them get back on track. You must also be humble enough to let them do likewise to you when you miss the mark. This all requires that you love the people you serve, love being defined as desiring and advocating the best for yourself and your parish family, and that of course means pointing folks to Christ as the way to live their lives. We have an excellent example of what I am talking about in 1 Corinthians 5. There St. Paul confronts the church at Corinth about allowing a stepson to sleep with his stepmother, all in the name of “grace.” How can you let this kind of sexual immortality go on? St. Paul demands. Not even the pagans allow this kind of depravity! He continues by saying:

You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship. …I have already passed judgment on this man in the name of the Lord Jesus. You must call a meeting of the church…Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns (1 Corinthians 5.1-2, 5).

Notice carefully the apostle’s love for his people here, a love that made him confront them about behavior that clearly had the ability to destroy them as God’s people in Christ. But St. Paul did not advocate punishment for its own sake. The discipline he imposed had a restorative purpose. Yes, the man was involved in an egregious sin, but he was still dearly loved by Christ and worth the effort to seek his restoration to Christ’s body despite the man’s catastrophic moral failure. Love Christ’s people enough to help them get back on track and then help them keep on track. That’s the essence of being a good pastor to your people. Encourage them. Support them. Uplift them, and yes confront them when necessary, but always out of a deep sense of love for God’s people and out of a sense of profound humility. Remember, as St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23). We all are in desperate need of Christ’s love, mercy, and grace. Your job as a pastor to God’s people is to model this for them, however imperfectly you do so. God will honor your work done faithfully, whether you see it first-hand or not.

Aside from confronting folks, which very few of us like to do (and the ones who do probably shouldn’t be our fellow clergy), most people who go into ordained ministry like to pastor folks because they have a heart for God and his people. But there’s another aspect to pastoring that many of us are reluctant to do. As we have just seen, sometimes wolves infiltrate God’s people and try to disrupt and corrupt them via false teaching or whacky ideas or evil behavior. And what are good pastors to do? Like St. Paul, they shoot the wolves to protect Christ’s family. Corrupt ideas/behavior and bad teaching are like cancer. If you let them spread, the whole body gets infected and dies, and so you must cut out the cancer before it metastasizes. Nobody likes to do this and you must be patient, humble, and circumspect in doing so, always consulting with your bishop for guidance and support in this difficult task. But if you love God and his people enough and want to be a good pastor to them, you must be willing to shoot the wolves when necessary to protect those whom you serve (and yourself as well) when they rear their ugly heads. May God always give you the needed reticence, wisdom, grace, strength, toughness, and love to be a good pastor to his people. 

All this of course requires a good deal of prayer, self-examination, Bible study, and a willingness to be part of a community who loves you and will support you, and who will hold you accountable, both in good times and bad. Don’t make the mistake that many clergy do and try to be a rugged individualist in your work. That’s the last thing God’s people need, starting with you and your own family. Find folks, both lay and clergy, you trust and with whom you can share your joys, sorrows, trials, and tribulations (and as long as we have our current bishop, lean on him as well. He is a pastor par excellence). Trusted friends allow you to think, speak, and act badly in private so that you can act well in public. We are called to live life together as God’s people. Don’t make the critical mistake of trying to do your ministry in isolation. The world, the flesh, and the devil will conspire to pick you off.

Likewise, I am constantly amazed at the number of clergy I know who have almost no semblance of a devotional life, and who ignore the rich devotional history/tools the Church provides, our Anglican tradition included, to give them the spiritual strength and compass needed to be a good pastor. Don’t become part of the vast spiritual wasteland that sadly exists among God’s people and ignore your spiritual health, my brother. It will undo you quicker than greased lightning. Make your devotions a regular and integral part of your daily discipline and when possible, do them with others. The Lord will surely bless you if you do. Again, as St. Peter warns us, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5.8). Don’t become another of Satan’s victims like many clergy have become on occasion. A robust devotional life will go a long way in helping you avoid the Evil One’s traps.

If you are a good pastor to your parish family, your second sacred function as a priest will be much easier because you will have built up good relational capital and folks are always more willing to listen to those whom they love and respect. What is that second function you ask? I’m glad you did because it will allow me to finish this sermon in short order. The second sacred function you are charged with is to teach those you serve their own Story as lived out in Word and Sacrament so that they too will be able to withstand the dark powers and their human agents that corrupt and destroy God’s good world and people. Time does not permit me to explore this in any detail. Instead, I want to exhort you to proclaim God’s word boldly and with power, God’s power, both in Word and Sacrament. We Christians have the only answer to the desperate times in which we live: the gospel of Jesus Christ. But over the last several centuries, at least in the West, holy Mother Church has lost her voice and her boldness to proclaim Jesus Christ, crucified and raised from the dead, to a world who desperately needs to know him. So help those entrusted to you to learn the Five Act Play as Tom Wright has dubbed the narrative that is contained in the Old and New Testaments: Creation, Fall, Israel, Christ, and the Church in the end times. We live in perilous times when godlessness and lawlessness seem to be winning the day. We are at each other’s throats more often than not, and if we continue this course, our nation cannot stand. But we are people of God and therefore have the power of God—a power made known supremely in Christ’s saving death and resurrection—to help us navigate through these times. How desperately the world needs to hear the central message of Scripture: That God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself (2 Cor 5.19). The Church cannot stand if she refuses to believe her own story. So teach that story contained in God’s holy Word and in the holy Sacraments of the Church. Don’t ignore either one. Preach and live the gospel of Christ boldly and expect your people to do likewise. Teach your people to feed on the holy power contained in the Sacraments. It is our only hope and this too is your sacred task as a priest. 

Remember, you are not called to save the world. God has already done that in Christ. As a priest in Christ’s body, you are charged with the sacred responsibility of equipping God’s people for the arduous task of living faithfully in this mortal life. None of us can do this on our own. But the Christian faith is not another version of human self-help that inevitably must fail. It is about the power of God to overcome all that is evil and corrupt, and it has the power to heal, transform, and redeem, despite our best efforts to the contrary and messy as that looks at times. If you will be a good pastor and bold evangel to God’s people, however well or poorly you do so, have the confidence that God will use your ministry to help bring his kingdom on earth as in heaven. This is the sacred privilege and task of every human being as divine image-bearers, especially God’s ordained ministers, and I charge you tonight, soon-to-be Father Wylie, to devote your considerable skills and talents to this call, all the while resting confidently in the Lord, who is your life and strength and power all the days of your life. The extent you are able to carry out these sacred duties is the extent God’s people under your care will grow up to the full stature of Christ—or to use OT parlance since you are an OT scholar, to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with their God (Micah 6.8)—so they have the ability to withstand all that assails them as Christ’s people. Again, remember always to rely on and trust in the power of him who calls into existence things that don’t exist and who raises the dead to life (Romans 4.17). I know you will do a great job with these daunting tasks because I know you do believe and trust in the Lord’s great love and power for his people and you. Be assured too, my dear brother, that you will have my ongoing prayers and affection as you live out your call to ministry. God bless you. To him be honor, praise, and glory forever and ever.

In the name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Judging vs. Judgmentalism

Our preaching series on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans concludes today. Sermon delivered on Trinity 14A, Sunday, September 13, 2020 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: Exodus 14.19-31; Psalm 114; Romans 14.1-12; Matthew 18.21-35.

In the name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

This morning we conclude our preaching series on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. Hang on to your hats and keep up with me because there is a LOT for us to cover. Before we look at what the apostle has to say today, I want to take a moment to review some of the highlights we have looked at over the summer. In the first 12 chapters of Romans, St. Paul has reminded us of the awful predicament we humans find ourselves in. We are all slaves to that outside and hostile power that Scripture calls Sin and it both corrupts and kills us. No one is immune to its power and no own can free themselves from its grip without the help of someone more powerful than Sin’s power. That someone of course is God and St. Paul has proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ to us: That at just the right time, while we were still helpless and enemies of God, God moved on our behalf to free us from our slavery to Sin and Death by becoming human and dying for us. Only by the blood of the Lamb shed for us can we hope to be spared from God’s just judgment on our sins and rebellion. For those who believe God has acted on our behalf in Christ by taking on his own judgment himself, there is now no condemnation for our sins despite the fact that the power of Sin still weighs us down in this mortal life. This is all a free gift given us out of the Father’s great love and tender mercy for us. As St. Paul tells us in chapter 11, “God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone” (v.32). Simply remarkable. But the apostle also makes clear that we are to respond to God’s great love and mercy by imitating our Lord in the living of our days instead of following our own selfish ways, relying on the powerof God to help us do so. In biblical parlance this is called repentance, turning back toward God in the power of the Spirit. As we have said repeatedly, the Christian faith is not another form of self-help. If that were the case it would have no Good News to offer and we would remain dead in our sins. 

Now in today’s epistle lesson, St. Paul continues to exhort us to holy living and reminds us in yet another context to rely on the power of God to do so. Here he addresses how we should treat each other as fellow Christians, both within our parish family and beyond. Before we look at what St. Paul says, we must keep in mind two very important points. First, underlying all his teaching here was St. Paul’s deep faith in the love and mercy of God made known in Jesus Christ. As we have seen, we were bought with the price of Christ’s own precious blood and are united with him by faith and through baptism. We are saved from our sins by God’s grace, not by what we do or don’t do. St. Paul summarized this nicely when he said, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10.9). It is faith in Christ that matters, a faith that heals hearts and minds and transforms life, however imperfectly and messy that looks. And because of that faith, we no longer belong to ourselves, but to Christ. 

Second, it is critical for us to understand that here St. Paul was not talking about issues that define the Christian faith, e.g., Christian teaching that Jesus is the Son of God, fully human and fully divine, or his saving death and bodily resurrection from the dead that signaled the defeat of death and the inauguration of God’s new creation. These doctrines and others were clearly taught in the NT and over the years the Church developed a consensus that reflected its one mind about these issues, various heresies and false teachings that regularly spring up notwithstanding. For issues of first importance, issues that affect our salvation and standing with God, St. Paul and the early Church held a much different view than he teaches in today’s lesson. We can see this in his rebuke of the church at Corinth for allowing a stepson to sleep with his stepmother, all in the name of “grace.” Any kind of sex outside the context of marriage is a sin and Scripture clearly teaches this throughout, despite many in today’s world who try to persuade us otherwise. How can you let this kind of sexual immortality go on? St. Paul roared. Not even the pagans allow this kind of depravity!

You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship. …I have already passed judgment on this man in the name of the Lord Jesus. You must call a meeting of the church…Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns (1 Corinthians 5.1-2, 5)

Or consider his response to the Judaizers who had infiltrated and corrupted the church in Galatia by teaching that Christians had to be physically circumcised to be saved, violating St. Paul’s clear teaching on justification by faith and denying the power and efficacy of Christ’s death and resurrection. As far as St. Paul was concerned, those false teachers were wolves in sheep’s clothing. And what should you do with wolves who infiltrate Christ’s flock to corrupt and destroy it by teaching falsely? You shoot the wolves to protect the flock. Accordingly he told the Galatians, “I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves. For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters.” (Gal 5.12-13a).

Contrast this to what St. Paul teaches in today’s epistle lesson about issues of secondary importance, issues for which Scripture fails to provide a clear answer and/or which have never been settled in the history of the Church. In the church at Rome in St. Paul’s day those issues included dietary restrictions and the observance of holy days. In our day, the issue of the role of women in the Church or charismatic issues would be examples of these kind of secondary importance issues. Here St. Paul addresses the weak and the strong in faith. By “weak” St. Paul did not have in mind that these folks lacked faith in Christ but rather they didn’t understand that their faith in Christ meant that they were free from all previous legalistic requirements such as dietary laws or observing certain religious festivals. These requirements were not a basis for their Christian faith but rather part of their observance of it, i.e, they believed they had to follow these practices in order to walk with Christ properly. The weak in this context were most likely Jewish converts who struggled to cast off the old or at least blend them with the new teachings of the faith. 

For St. Paul, it wasn’t the fact that these Christians observed dietary regulations/religious festivals. If doing these things helped them grow in their relationship with Christ, he would have been all for it. What the apostle is concerned about here is that by doing these things the weak would not perceive themselves as weak but rather saw themselves as upholding high religious standards and principles, all the while looking down their noses at those who didn’t uphold these practices (the “strong”) because the strong didn’t see them as important for growing in their relationship with Christ. For them, Christ’s death and resurrection had set them free from their slavery to Sin and Death so that they didn’t have to observe such religious regulations. To use an example from our day, tomorrow is the Feast of the Holy Cross. There are devout Christians who will observe this feast as part of their devotional/discipleship practices and St. Paul would approve. However, if those who observe Holy Cross Day believe that those who don’t are somehow inferior Christians or that their rescue from Sin and Death depends on them observing it and other Feast Days of the Church, rather than trusting in the efficacy of Christ’s death and resurrection to save them, then St. Paul would likely take issue with these “weak” Christians of our day. Who are you to judge a fellow Christian for whom Christ died? We have a word for this and it’s called judgmentalism.

The problem of judgmentalism wasn’t just with “weak” Christians. “Strong” Christians also looked down their noses at those who did follow such practices. To despise a fellow believer in Christ suggests that the “strong” held their “weaker” family members in contempt out of some sense of superiority. Why are you weak guys observing dietary laws or religious holidays? You don’t need any of them to have a relationship with Christ. Christ has truly set us free. Make sure you stay free. Stop engaging in things that aren’t necessary. Loser. 

Again, keeping in mind that St. Paul is talking about secondary issues here, the apostle warns both sides not to judge the each other. We need to be careful about terms here, my beloved. When the NT warns us not to judge, it is not telling us to suspend moral judgment on behavior and thinking. There is far too much perversity in this world and to be living sacrifices to God requires us to make those kinds of judgments! What St. Paul is talking about here is the sin of pride and presumption. Each side condemned practices (or lack of them) out of a sense of superiority and sadly we continue to do this all the time to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Just look at Father Maney! He eats and drinks too much and preaches lousy sermons. He can’t be a Christian in good standing! And why does Father Sang cross himself? That’s just weird. Or Dr. Falor. Why he hasn’t prayed the daily office since Moby Dick was a minnow! I pray the office everyday and I’m pretty sure that makes me a better Christian and more pleasing in Christ’s sight! And how about those wussies who didn’t come back to chapel today to worship like we have? Second rate Christians for sure! Real men don’t eat quiche and real Christians don’t stay away from church. You get the idea. Nowhere does St. Paul prohibit vigorous discussion and debate over issues of second importance, only our presumptive judgment on our opponents. Iron sharpens iron. Presumptive condescension produces rancor, ill will and hopeless division. It separates rather than unites. This same argument would also apply to interdenominational conflicts within the Church regarding secondary issues. It’s one thing to prefer your own tradition. It’s quite another to condemn those who don’t see it your way.

Looking beyond our parish family and the Church catholic we see this kind of presumptive pride and sneering all the time, especially in politics today. It’s the way of the world and we are not to participate in it. Our sin is not that we disagree with those who do not share our political views. Our sin is in presuming our views make us more pleasing in God’s sight than our opponents. Still don’t believe me? When you heard St. Paul ask, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister?” who did you think of first? The person who has passed judgment on you and your views/practices and got you all hot and bothered, or did you think about yourself? If you’re like me, you probably thought about instances where you have been wronged rather than the times you served as a stumbling block to another’s faith. That, my beloved, is a sure sign of pride and presumption and St. Paul has some stern words for us here: Be careful of your judgmentalism and the proud presumption behind it. We all have to stand before God’s judgment seat and give an account of our lives to God. This should be enough to strike fear in anyone who takes the judgment of God seriously.

So what’s going on here? Is this the same Paul who earlier proclaimed the Good News that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ? If no condemnation, how can St. Paul say something like this, both here and in 2 Cor 5.10? St. Paul is not talking out of both sides of his mouth. What he is reminding us is that only God knows our hearts and minds and only God has the power to judge. It simply won’t do to make God’s grace an idol. We can’t presume because we say the right words and do the right things that God owes it to us to not condemn us. When we presume God’s mercy and grace on us while at the same time we are unwilling to extend them to others, or when we see ourselves as being superior to others because of what we do (or don’t do) compared to them, we are setting ourselves up as de facto judges and claiming moral superiority over them. Remember, we have been bought with a price. We are saved only by the blood of the Lamb shed for us to free us from our slavery to the power of Sin, a free gift from the Father’s loving and generous heart. Without that, none of us has any real hope to be spared from the fires of hell because as St. Paul has already warned us in chapters 1-3, all have sinned and all will therefore be judged. 

This in no way negates what he has said earlier. God did bear his own judgment on our behalf when he took on our flesh and became human. At just the right time Christ did die for us, even while we were helpless and still God’s enemies. There is indeed nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God made known in Jesus Christ. But this is God’s gift to give out of his tender love and mercy for us, not ours to presume. And because it is God’s free gift to us, it is God’s prerogative to withhold them from us if by our lives and our tongues we demonstrate clearly that we see the cross as nothing more than a get-out-of-jail-free card for us so that we can continue behaving as badly as we did before we knew Christ. We cannot and dare not presume God will rescue us from his judgment just because we call ourselves Christian or we read snippets of the Bible, come to church regularly, and partake in the Eucharist while all the time running down and sneering at our opponents. Our life and death are God’s, not our own, and we dare not presume otherwise. To be sure, we can rely on God being good to his word and promises to us that he has indeed rescued us from Sin and Death and from his terrible judgment in and through Christ. But we dare not presume it and show our presumption in how we mistreat or judge others with haughty contempt. 

Christ tells us virtually the same thing in his parable in our gospel lesson this morning. The first servant had an impossible debt to pay, just like we cannot save ourselves from God’s just judgment on our rebellion and sin. The king took pity on the servant and forgave his impossible debt at great cost to the king. And what did the servant do? Did he realize the great grace and mercy offered him? Did he resolve to treat others similarly? Not a chance! He went after a fellow servant who owed him a manageable debt and refused to offer him the same grace he had begged the king to grant him. And our Lord’s punchline? If you want God to forgive you, you’d better do likewise. Don’t presume you have it automatically. Forgiveness is God’s prerogative and God owes us nothing other than judgment. So if you want God to forgive you, you’d better forgive others freely. We pray it every week in the Lord’s Prayer. Do you pay attention to it or dismiss it as inconvenient?

This warning not to presume God’s mercy and grace provides us with a healthy balance to help us live out our faith. We’ll surely get it wrong and no amount of do gooding will make God obligated to rescue us from his judgment. The knowledge that we all must stand in front of God’s judgment seat and give an account of our lives is the great equalizer and provides us with a much needed dose of daily humility. Yet we also dare to approach his throne with hope, trusting in God’s promise that there really is now no condemnation for those who put their hope and trust in Christ and live out their faith, however badly that might look at times. When we realize God owes us nothing but judgment but has moved instead to rescue us from that judgment, we can have confidence that the Holy Spirit will use that knowledge to heal and humble us and so be made ready to receive the eternal crown of glory in the new creation. To him be honor, praise, and glory forever and ever. 

In the name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Father Santosh Madanu: The Debt of Love

Our preaching series on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans continues today. Sermon delivered on Trinity 13A, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, click here.

Lectionary texts: Exodus 12.1-14; Psalm 149; Romans 13.8-14; Matthew 18.15-20.

Prayer: Lord Jesus we thank you for choosing St. Paul the Apostle, who inspires and encourages us to have passionate love towards God and genuine love towards one’s neighbor.  Bless our family of St. Augustine to be changed by God to make a difference for God

Even we write millions of books about love of God- Jesus Christ and teach and preach millions times about love of neighbor as yourself, still there is message yet to preach about love of God and love of neighbor.  Because the infinite love, God the Father has for us, and the reality of love of neighbor has  to be taken not as a dream or ideal but the authentic nature of God that we need to have that should enable us to share our goodness, kindness, concern and love to our fellow human beings.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

What Jesus Christ said about the love of Neighbor as the second  greatest commandment, St. Paul repeats it, saying any other commandments are summed up in this word, “ Love your neighbor as yourself”………..

What does it mean?

True Christianity is based on the realistic world. Love of neighbor is not a great idea or ideal like communism.  Communists think of that the rich share their wealth with the poor. It should not be taken as a beautiful ideal commandment. But it should be taken as great commission one has to practice indeed.

If at least half of the Christians in the world taken it and practiced it in their lives- embracing all human beings with the sincere love, there will be transformation of human beings and the world will be changed into happiest place in turn it becomes heaven on earth.

A measure of self-respect may come from living according to the twin principles, “owe nothing to anyone,” and “no one owes me anything.

The apostle Paul speaks to the Christian community in Rome; Romans 13:8-14. There, he calls believers to live according to the principle that one obligation can never be settled: the debt of love.

Paul unfolds his gospel of grace in chapters 1-11. In light of that gospel, he calls his audience to offer their bodies “as a living sacrifice” (12:1-2). The rest of chapters 12-13 begin to show the practical outworking of sacrificial living. Paul’s audience can begin to see what it means to “be transformed by the renewing of [their] minds” so as to “discern what the will of God is” (12:2).

It means thinking and acting in a way so as not to please oneself but others (verses 3-8), and it means making one’s love for others genuine (verses 9-21). Paul addresses the Christian community’s relationship to governing authorities in chapter (13:1-7), recalling his appeal, “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (12:18). Now in 13:8-14, he recapitulates the theme of love for others. This sets the tone for the exhortations of chapters 14-15, in which Paul calls stronger and weaker believers to live together in mutual love (14:14).

The catchword “owe” connects 13:7 to 13:8. Paul shifts from addressing obligations to the governing authorities to addressing obligations to one’s neighbor. His audience is to have no outstanding debts except to love one another. The reason for this debt is, “for the one who loves another has fulfilled (pleroo) the law” (verse 8b).

Paul clearly means the Mosaic Law, because he lists four of the Ten Commandments: do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, and do not covet. It may seem that he contradicts what he went to great lengths to establish earlier in the letter, that through Christ, believers have died to the law to live anew in the Spirit (7:4-6).

Paradoxically, however, believers have died to the law so that the law may be fulfilled in them. Paul’s audience may recall the last time he appealed to a commandment. In 7:7, he explained how sin took advantage of the commandment, “You shall not covet,” to produce covetousness.

Nevertheless, he says, the law itself is not equated with sin, but is “holy and righteous and good.” Rather, sin is what makes the commandments deadly (7:11). The solution, then, is not to dispose of the law altogether, but to deal with sin.

God sent Jesus to break the relentless hold of sin and death over human beings, “in order that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled (pleroo) in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4; see 13:8b). For those who are in Christ and living by the Spirit, Paul can now say that, “You shall not covet,” with the other community-oriented commands listed, is constitutive of the law of love (13:11-14).

This is what Jesus said: All the law and the prophets hang on two commands, love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:34-30; see also John 13:34-35). It is also what Jesus himself did.  Paul presents Christ himself as the example to follow: “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, Jesus lived for the sake of others, making his love for others genuine at the cross. Jesus says Love one and another as I have loved you.

In 13:11-14, Paul shifts the vision of his audience to see the command to love one’s neighbor in light of the future day of salvation (see 8:18-25). He writes of the salvation approaching “us,” highlighting its community orientation. The appeal to awaken from sleep and lay aside the deeds of darkness evokes the appeal not to be conformed to “this world/age” (aion) in 12:1-2.

Paul also writes about this idea elsewhere, explaining that Jesus “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” (aion; Galatians 1:4). Those who are in Christ belong to a new age with new values. 

Since believers belong to the age of light and day, they are to put on the armor of light (verse 12). This is synonymous with putting on the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 14). In the context, to put on Christ is to imitate him in loving one’s neighbor through self-sacrificial service. The love that believers express is a weapon against the darkness and the flesh as the community moves together towards the day of salvation.

The debt of love can never be settled because we grow up into the salvation that is ours in Christ by loving our neighbor through the work of the Spirit. The working out of our salvation is a community undertaking, making impossible for us to live as free agents.

For salvation is near to us now St. Paul says.  What does that mean?

It means when I believe Jesus is real, he is my Lord and my savior,

It means when I believe the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Bible are living word.

It means when I believe that Jesus died for my sins on the cross and rose on the third day

It means when I transform my life and put on Christ

And it means when I love my neighbor as I love myself.  This is what it meant to be salvation is near to me.

Let us hold fast the salvation that is given as a gift right now.

Let us reflect the word of God from the book of Exodus of today’s reading because it is very relevant in today’s situation – Covid 19:

God the Yahweh, made true indelible mark on the people of Israel with the event of Passover- It is the Passover of the Lord because he alone is true living God. Our God is very clear about executing judgement on Idol worship and worshiping other gods like Hindus, who has thousands of gods like Ganesh, Rama, Kristina, Venteshvarudu, Vishnu etc.

God the Yahweh says “the blood shall be sign for you where you live” The blood of Jesus Christ on the cross is the only sign that we live.  For we believe in His justification, Jesus made satisfaction on behalf of all humanity and washed away the sin of the world through His precious blood.  That is why we remember and celebrate every Sunday this Lord’s Supper- the Eucharist.

God the Father says” I will pass over you and no plague shall destroy you”.  Yes, God the Father is passing over us – over St. Augustine Family.  Be prepared to welcome Him.  Because, we need this plague, Covid-19 should be destroyed and we will be saved.  This day, Sunday. September 6/2020 should be the day of remembrance for us.  We celebrate it as a festival to the Lord today.  For the Lord delivered from this Covid19.

Prayer: May the indwelling holy spirit direct us to take the commission of Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves and to make the difference in the lives of many. And to live like Jesus, love like Jesus and not to water down our own witness to Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Lord Jesus we thank you for choosing St. Paul the Apostle, who inspires and encourages us to have passionate love towards God and genuine love towards one’s neighbor.  Bless our family of St. Augustine to be changed by God to make a difference for God

Even we write millions of books about love of God- Jesus Christ and teach and preach millions times about love of neighbor as yourself, still there is message yet to preach about love of God and love of neighbor.  Because the infinite love, God the Father has for us, and the reality of love of neighbor has  to be taken not as a dream or ideal but the authentic nature of God that we need to have that should enable us to share our goodness, kindness, concern and love to our fellow human beings.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

What Jesus Christ said about the love of Neighbor as the second  greatest commandment, St. Paul repeats it, saying any other commandments are summed up in this word, “ Love your neighbor as yourself”………..

What does it mean?

True Christianity is based on the realistic world. Love of neighbor is not a great idea or ideal like communism.  Communists think of that the rich share their wealth with the poor. It should not be taken as a beautiful ideal commandment. But it should be taken as great commission one has to practice indeed.

If at least half of the Christians in the world taken it and practiced it in their lives- embracing all human beings with the sincere love, there will be transformation of human beings and the world will be changed into happiest place in turn it becomes heaven on earth.

A measure of self-respect may come from living according to the twin principles, “owe nothing to anyone,” and “no one owes me anything.

The apostle Paul speaks to the Christian community in Rome; Romans 13:8-14. There, he calls believers to live according to the principle that one obligation can never be settled: the debt of love.

Paul unfolds his gospel of grace in chapters 1-11. In light of that gospel, he calls his audience to offer their bodies “as a living sacrifice” (12:1-2). The rest of chapters 12-13 begin to show the practical outworking of sacrificial living. Paul’s audience can begin to see what it means to “be transformed by the renewing of [their] minds” so as to “discern what the will of God is” (12:2).

It means thinking and acting in a way so as not to please oneself but others (verses 3-8), and it means making one’s love for others genuine (verses 9-21). Paul addresses the Christian community’s relationship to governing authorities in chapter (13:1-7), recalling his appeal, “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (12:18). Now in 13:8-14, he recapitulates the theme of love for others. This sets the tone for the exhortations of chapters 14-15, in which Paul calls stronger and weaker believers to live together in mutual love (14:14).

The catchword “owe” connects 13:7 to 13:8. Paul shifts from addressing obligations to the governing authorities to addressing obligations to one’s neighbor. His audience is to have no outstanding debts except to love one another. The reason for this debt is, “for the one who loves another has fulfilled (pleroo) the law” (verse 8b).

Paul clearly means the Mosaic Law, because he lists four of the Ten Commandments: do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, and do not covet. It may seem that he contradicts what he went to great lengths to establish earlier in the letter, that through Christ, believers have died to the law to live anew in the Spirit (7:4-6).

Paradoxically, however, believers have died to the law so that the law may be fulfilled in them. Paul’s audience may recall the last time he appealed to a commandment. In 7:7, he explained how sin took advantage of the commandment, “You shall not covet,” to produce covetousness.

Nevertheless, he says, the law itself is not equated with sin, but is “holy and righteous and good.” Rather, sin is what makes the commandments deadly (7:11). The solution, then, is not to dispose of the law altogether, but to deal with sin.

God sent Jesus to break the relentless hold of sin and death over human beings, “in order that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled (pleroo) in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4; see 13:8b). For those who are in Christ and living by the Spirit, Paul can now say that, “You shall not covet,” with the other community-oriented commands listed, is constitutive of the law of love (13:11-14).

This is what Jesus said: All the law and the prophets hang on two commands, love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:34-30; see also John 13:34-35). It is also what Jesus himself did.  Paul presents Christ himself as the example to follow: “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, Jesus lived for the sake of others, making his love for others genuine at the cross. Jesus says Love one and another as I have loved you.

In 13:11-14, Paul shifts the vision of his audience to see the command to love one’s neighbor in light of the future day of salvation (see 8:18-25). He writes of the salvation approaching “us,” highlighting its community orientation. The appeal to awaken from sleep and lay aside the deeds of darkness evokes the appeal not to be conformed to “this world/age” (aion) in 12:1-2.

Paul also writes about this idea elsewhere, explaining that Jesus “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” (aion; Galatians 1:4). Those who are in Christ belong to a new age with new values. 

Since believers belong to the age of light and day, they are to put on the armor of light (verse 12). This is synonymous with putting on the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 14). In the context, to put on Christ is to imitate him in loving one’s neighbor through self-sacrificial service. The love that believers express is a weapon against the darkness and the flesh as the community moves together towards the day of salvation.

The debt of love can never be settled because we grow up into the salvation that is ours in Christ by loving our neighbor through the work of the Spirit. The working out of our salvation is a community undertaking, making impossible for us to live as free agents.

For salvation is near to us now St. Paul says.  What does that mean?

It means when I believe Jesus is real, he is my Lord and my savior,

It means when I believe the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Bible are living word.

It means when I believe that Jesus died for my sins on the cross and rose on the third day

It means when I transform my life and put on Christ

And it means when I love my neighbor as I love myself.  This is what it meant to be salvation is near to me.

Let us hold fast the salvation that is given as a gift right now.

Let us reflect the word of God from the book of Exodus of today’s reading because it is very relevant in today’s situation – Covid 19:

God the Yahweh, made true indelible mark on the people of Israel with the event of Passover- It is the Passover of the Lord because he alone is true living God. Our God is very clear about executing judgement on Idol worship and worshiping other gods like Hindus, who has thousands of gods like Ganesh, Rama, Kristina, Venteshvarudu, Vishnu etc.

God the Yahweh says “the blood shall be sign for you where you live” The blood of Jesus Christ on the cross is the only sign that we live.  For we believe in His justification, Jesus made satisfaction on behalf of all humanity and washed away the sin of the world through His precious blood.  That is why we remember and celebrate every Sunday this Lord’s Supper- the Eucharist.

God the Father says” I will pass over you and no plague shall destroy you”.  Yes, God the Father is passing over us – over St. Augustine Family.  Be prepared to welcome Him.  Because, we need this plague, Covid-19 should be destroyed and we will be saved.  This day, Sunday. September 6/2020 should be the day of remembrance for us.  We celebrate it as a festival to the Lord today.  For the Lord delivered from this Covid19.

Prayer: May the indwelling holy spirit direct us to take the commission of Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves and to make the difference in the lives of many. And to live like Jesus, love like Jesus and not to water down our own witness to Jesus Christ.

 In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Father Philip Sang: Sincere Love

Our preaching series on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans continues this morning. Sermon delivered on Trinity 12A, Sunday, August 30, 2020 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

Father Sang continues to boycott the written word, so if you want to listen to the audio podcast of his sermon, click here.

Lectionary texts: Exodus 3.1-15; Psalm 105.1-6, 23-26; Romans 12.9-21; St. Matthew 16.21-28.

On His Feast Day 2020, St. Augustine of Hippo Muses on the Sacraments

iuYour Lord is seated at the Father’s right hand in heaven. How then is the bread His Body? And the chalice, or rather its content, how is it His Blood?

These elements are called Sacraments, because in them one thing is perceived by the senses and another thing by the mind. What is seen has bodily appearance; what the mind perceives produces spiritual fruit. You hear the words “The Body of Christ,” and you answer “Amen” [so be it].

—Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 272.

Becoming What You Already Are

We continue our preaching series on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. Sermon delivered on Trinity 11A, Sunday, August 23, 2020 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: Exodus 1.8-2.10; Psalm 124; Romans 12.1-8; St. Matthew 16.13-20.

In the name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

This morning we continue our preaching series on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. In our epistle lesson, St. Paul urges us not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind so that we can present our bodies as living sacrifices to God. What in the world is he talking about? Is he here exhorting us to try harder to be a good Christian or advocating for  a more robust self-help program (like we need even more delusional thinking than we already have)? If you heard our epistle lesson like that this morning, you probably missed that little adverb “therefore” at the beginning. What is the therefore there for, you ask? I’m glad you did. Maybe now I can get into the heart of this sermon.

The therefore reminds us that St. Paul is not talking about human power, the power to make ourselves better, an oxymoron at best. No, St. Paul is talking here about the power of God. And this should make sense to us if we review quickly how St. Paul has gotten us to this point. Recall that in Romans 1.18-32 he talked about a good amount of wrong thinking, the kind of thinking that darkens our minds, makes us hostile to God, and begins to erase God’s image in us so that we behave more like animals than humans. It results from humankind’s universal enslavement to the power of Sin as St. Paul emphatically states in Romans 3.9. This kind of wrong thinking produces in us lusts of all kinds, malice, envy, murder, and strife. It makes us inventors of evil, faithless, heartless, and ruthless. Left to our own devices—and that’s the key phrase—we refuse to submit to God’s rule and are quick to blame others for our problems and the problems of the world, rather than acknowledging that we too are every bit as enslaved to Sin’s power as those we blame and rail against. It started with Adam and Eve and has continued unabated ever since. No wonder St. Paul talked about the futility of self-help in Romans 7! Try as we might, the human race does not have the power to fix itself from our sin-sickness and all that alienates us from God and each other.

That’s the bad news, of course, and to our detriment we avoid talking about it like the plague. After all, who wants to talk about God’s judgment on our sins? But St. Paul has also proclaimed the gospel boldly to us in this letter, reminding us that to truly be Good News for us, we have to see what he teaches as the power of God working on our behalf to heal us and reconcile us to himself and to each other. Hear him now from previous chapters in Romans:

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory (Romans 5.2)

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners (Romans 5.6)

[S]hould we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, (Romans 6.2-5, 6a-9b).

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins (Romans 8.1-2, 4).

And then from last week’s epistle lesson, perhaps this most remarkable statement of all: “For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone” (Romans 11.32).

In all these statements St. Paul reveals to us the character and power of God. The operative agent is Christ, not us. In Christ’s death and resurrection, we are freed from God’s terrible but just judgment on our sins and are promised healing, reconciliation, and new life forever in God’s new heavens and earth by virtue of what Christ has done for us. Here’s what this means for us as Christians. It means that our broken minds, bodies, and relationships will be restored, partially in this life and fully in the age to come. It means God is our friend and lover, not our enemy, so that we really do have nothing to fear, not even death and dying. We have these gifts and promises, not because of who we are, but because of who God is made known supremely to us in Christ. Christ died to free us from our sins and draw us to him so that on the last day he can raise us up to everlasting life, complete with new bodies, to live in a world where there will be no more tears or suffering or injustice or fear or alienation. All that was broken will be made new. Christ keeps us united to him by the power of the Holy Spirit who makes Christ known to us. We deserve judgment and death. Instead those of us who have a relationship with Christ get mercy, pardon, and life. This is the kindness of God and the power of God at work in his world and our lives to save us from ourselves and to free us from our slavery to the power of Sin, thanks be to God! Amen?

This is why the therefore is there for. St. Paul wants to remind us again that we aren’t transformed by our power—if that were the case, he would be laying a supreme guilt trip on us in a most cruel way because we are bound to fail—but by the power of God. He reminds us that we already are new creations, people who have God’s image restored in us by virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. Yeah, I know. If you’re like me it doesn’t feel that way very often. I still am conformed to the ways of the world more than I want to be. I still get discouraged and frustrated and angry more than I want to be, but as St. Paul reminds us here, it isn’t about me. I can’t raise myself from the dead. I cannot heal my sin-sickness. Only Christ can (and does) do that in me by the power of the Spirit, and he does that in you as well. Don’t rely on your feelings as a valid basis to judge if Christ is working in you to renew your mind and transform you into the image-bearer God created you to be so that you can run his world on his behalf. Feelings in this matter are notoriously fickle and unreliable because like us, our feelings are weighed down and distorted by our sin-sickness. Instead, St. Paul encourages us to let God renew our mind so that we can think rightly and faithfully about our new status before God and what that means for the living of our mortal days with all of its flaws, imperfections, sorrows, injustices, and evil. 

So how do we do this? If St. Paul is talking about the power of God at work in us by virtue of our relationship with our crucified and risen Lord, does this mean we can just kick back, act snotty, and wait for the Lord to fully heal and transform us? I don’t think so (unless you are an incorrigible slacker like Carl or Father Bowser or my wayward Methodist friend who is with us today). No, God thinks too much of us not to make us invest in his great love and mercy for us so that we can slowly be healed and transformed by Christ in the power of the Spirit. God expects us to put in our sweat equity and God will do the rest. What does that look like? It starts with worship, reading and studying Scripture, and regular partaking in the eucharist—there’s more to it than these things, but not less, and I am only going to focus on Scripture today because of time constraints. As Christians, we should be able to retain chunks of Scripture to help us in the living of our days. We should memorize and rehearse snippets from the psalms, from Proverbs, from the prophets, and from the gospels and other NT writers. As we have already seen today, there is a rich treasure of wisdom and Truth in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. How much of it can you pull up right now to reflect on? Then of course there is 1 Cor 15 and Rev 21.1-7 that talk about Christ’s resurrection and the promised new world. This should be stuff we think about, talk about, and rehearse every day. That’s our sweat equity. We see it at work in our gospel lesson. St. Peter clearly knew enough of his Scripture and had seen enough of his Lord to declare him God’s promised Messiah. Christ commends him by telling him that he didn’t come up with this revelation on his own. He did so by the power of God. This is what transformation looks like when God renews our minds. It’s not necessarily spectacular or sexy. It’s just real and good and healthy and wholesome; we see reality much more clearly. But as we will see next week, St. Peter quickly reverted back to the mindset of the world when he denied that his Lord would have to suffer and die. Whoever heard of a crucified Messiah?? This earned him a sharp rebuke from Christ and this poignant story reminds us that until Christ returns to finish his saving work, we must get used to living in a messy world where things are not always cut and dried, much as we would like them to be. 

So we read Scripture and worship God together and feed on our Lord’s body and blood together to open ourselves to the power of God. God will take our sweat equity and use it to further heal and transform us by renewing our minds. Here are two quick examples of how God’s transformational power might work. I’m sure you will find many parallels in your life to which you can apply this dynamic. I have a friend whose father effectively disowned him when he left home to attend college at an out of state university. Sadly, he and his dad never reconciled and his father has since died. It’s as sad a story as you will ever hear because reconciliation and redemption are no longer possible. My friend has carried his heavy burden very well but you can see the hurt bubble up from time to time and anyone with an ounce of compassion and empathy, themselves gifts from God, understands the underlying pain that continues to roil just beneath the surface and can never be adequately resolved. How can God heal that deep and awful hurt? Well, since both father and son were (and are) Christian, despite their breach, God can use the promise of full healing and restoration at the renewal of all things made possible only by their relationship with Christ who was crucified and raised from the dead to give my friend real hope (expectation) and promise. By an informed faith he can meditate on the love, mercy, and power of God made known in Christ along with God’s promise to restore all things to himself for those who are in Christ. The unresolved conflict becomes a season of hurt rather than a permanent failure with its accompanying hurt, allowing God to bear the brunt of the pain on behalf of my friend. How that will happen is not up to us or in our power. But it is in God’s power made known supremely in Christ’s death and resurrection and God will use that knowledge to transform and heal my friend if my friend will let God do so. I’m not talking about a quick fix solution. I am talking about my friend reminding himself in a sustained way about the love and power of God made known in Christ and letting God start to bring about real, if only partial, healing in this mortal life. Complete healing will have to wait for God’s new world, but what a blessed hope and promise to anticipate! What hurts, heartaches, and sorrows in your life do you need to let God begin to heal (transform) by the renewal of your mind?

Or consider our upcoming elections—and you are going to hear a lot from me on this topic in the coming days because the Church needs to be bold in our leadership by living out the high standards of our gospel proclamation. Our nation is torn apart by bitterness, division, and rancor. We are quick to condemn our enemies and love to play the blame game. There are people on both sides of the divide who truly loathe their enemies and are ready to call them all kinds of vile things, sometimes even wishing for their death! This is being conformed to the ways of the world where we look to our own false righteousness instead of God’s to justify our darkened thinking and behavior. So how can the power of God renew our minds so that he can begin (or continue) to transform us back into his full image-bearers again? Consider this. What would it look like the next time we are ready to lambast our favorite political enemy if instead we reflected first on the reality that Christ died for that person too, whether he/she believes or accepts that fact or tries to live by it? What if we stopped and remembered that we too are sinners unworthy of Christ’s love but who enjoy it anyhow and have therefore been made into new creations, warts and all, because of our relationship with our crucified and risen Lord? If Christ has forgiven us, why can we not forgive our enemies in the power of the Spirit and speak kindly and/or gently about them (or simply remain quiet)? To be sure, this isn’t easy to do. But if we resolve to reflect on Christ’s love for our enemies and his command to us to forgive those who mistreat us, then we may find ourselves less willing to engage in ad hominem attacks on those whose views/behaviors disgust us. If we get to that place, we will know that God is indeed transforming us by renewing our minds. Can you imagine how differently our country would look if Christian voters resolved to open themselves to the transformative power of God to renew their minds? Can you imagine what this little parish might accomplish if we all availed ourselves to the power of God made known to us in the death and resurrection of Christ? 

This is what it means to offer our bodies, i.e., our entire selves, as living sacrifices to God. For you see, my beloved, our transformation must always lead to changed behavior, speaking, and thinking and that takes place within the framework and context of our bodies. It must mirror what we already are and what we will fully become when Christ ushers in God’s new creation. God gave us bodies and intends to raise them from the dead one day. He therefore calls us to use our bodies in his service and service to others. When we do, we are assured that we are seeing the fruit of our transformation, the power of God at work in us so that we can live to become the fully human beings that God created us to be, the people we already are because we are united with Christ. This isn’t about self-help. This is about the power of God at work in us. Rejoice and be thankful for God’s great gifts and mercies he showers on you. It may not feel like you are making any real progress. In fact, sometimes you may feel like you are actually regressing! But don’t be afraid or get discouraged. That’s your fallen self trying to prevent God from transforming you by renewing your mind. God is greater than your fear and doubt. So let us encourage each other and remind each other that we are already new creations, even when that reality is hidden from our sight. Let us also read Scripture together and serve and worship the Lord together, rejoicing that we love and serve such an amazing, generous, kind, and loving God. To him be honor, praise, and glory forever and ever. 

In the name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Dr. Jonathon Wylie: He Will Not Leave You or Forsake You

Sermon delivered on Trinity 10A, Sunday, August 16, 2020 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

Dr. Wylie was trained at Wisconsin. He therefore doesn’t believe in sharing his written manuscripts. He’d rather make you listen to him actually preach his sermon (you have our condolences). To do that click here.

Lectionary texts: Genesis 45.1-15; Psalm 133; Romans 11.1-2a, 29-32; Matthew 15.10-28.

V-J Day 2020: Honolulu HI Celebrates V-J Day in 1945

From Vimeo.

[On V-J Day 1945] my Dad shot this film along Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki capturing spontaneous celebrations that broke out upon first hearing news of the Japanese surrender. Kodachrome 16mm film: God Bless Kodachrome, right? I was able to find an outfit (mymovietransfer.com) to do a much superior scan of this footage to what I had previously posted, so I re-did this film and replaced the older version There are more still images from this amazing day, in color, at discoveringhawaii.com

On this, the 75th anniversary of V-J Day (Victory Over Japan Day), a wonderful snippet from time. Watch it all and remember. Give thanks as you do for the greatest generation who have largely passed from our view.

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Remember V-J Day, 2020

vj-day pict

Today marks the 75th anniversary of Victory Over Japan (V-J) Day and the end of World War II (the formal, unconditional surrender was not signed until September 1, 1945). Stop and remember the brave men and women who fought against the evil of Nazism and Japanese militarism in the 1940s.

Remember too our brave soldiers today who are fighting against another form of evil and keep our soldiers in your prayers.

From the History Channel.

On this day in 1945, an official announcement of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies is made public to the Japanese people.

Read it all.

Also read the text of President Truman’s radio message broadcast to the American people on September 1, 1945.

From here:

My fellow Americans, and the Supreme Allied Commander, General MacArthur, in Tokyo Bay:

The thoughts and hopes of all America–indeed of all the civilized world–are centered tonight on the battleship Missouri. There on that small piece of American soil anchored in Tokyo Harbor the Japanese have just officially laid down their arms. They have signed terms of unconditional surrender.

Four years ago, the thoughts and fears of the whole civilized world were centered on another piece of American soil–Pearl Harbor. The mighty threat to civilization which began there is now laid at rest. It was a long road to Tokyo–and a bloody one.

We shall not forget Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese militarists will not forget the U.S.S. Missouri.

The evil done by the Japanese war lords can never be repaired or forgotten. But their power to destroy and kill has been taken from them. Their armies and what is left of their Navy are now impotent.

Read it all as well.