Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc.
The Church in Central New York founded and consistently fostered by the GLBTQIS community. October 31, 2018 was the 35th Anniversary in our 36th year in Ministry.
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Sermon for May 29 and 30, 1999
Pentecost 1, Year A

The following are the Scripture readings as scheduled in the "Revised Common Lectionary," an ecumenical schedule of readings of Holy Scripture. Our sermons are based on these readings.

Genesis 1:1-2:4a
Trinity Sunday, First Sunday after Pentecost, (Year A)

1:1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,

1:2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

1:3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.

1:4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.

1:5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

1:6 And God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."

1:7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so.

1:8 God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

1:9 And God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so.

1:10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

1:11 Then God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it." And it was so.

1:12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.

1:13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

1:14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years,

1:15 and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth." And it was so.

1:16 God made the two great lights--the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night--and the stars.

1:17 God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth,

1:18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

1:19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

1:20 And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky."

1:21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

1:22 God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth."

1:23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

1:24 And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so.

1:25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

1:26 Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."

1:27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

1:28 God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."

1:29 God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.

1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so.

1:31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.

2:2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.

2:3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

This is the Word Of The Lord; Thanks Be To God.

Psalm 8
Trinity Sunday, (First Sunday after Pentecost), (Year A)

8:1 O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

8:2 Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

8:3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;

8:4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?

8:5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.

8:6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet,

8:7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,

8:8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

8:9 O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Trinity Sunday, (First Sunday after Pentecost), (Year A)

13:11 Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

13:13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

This is the Word Of The Lord; Thanks Be To God.

Matthew 28:16-20
Proper 5 (10), (Year A)

28:16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.

28:17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

28:20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Reader: This is the Gospel of the Lord; Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Brother Benedict, Sermon 176

Pentecost 1A, 1999

Genesis 1:1-2:4a

Psalm 8

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Matthew 28:16-20

This week we celebrate yet another Doctrine of Faith, Trinity Sunday. Perhaps placing this celebration the week after Pentecost may be to help us realize the tremendous gift we have in the fullness of the Divine Trinity living with us and living in us. There is no greater gift to humanity than Divine presence. God is with you, Christ is with you, and the Holy Spirit is with you. What else could we possibly need?

The Gospel reading today is Matthew 28:16-20. These verses have often been named "The Great Commission." Ray Of Hope Church was once asked by our former District Coordinator what our commission was, what our mission was. We wrote back and said we were not aware of any more appropriate commissioning or mission statement than the "Great Commission" found in Matthew 28. We wrote back and said our whole purpose was related to that section of Scripture in one way or another. Today I read those verses and something else jumps out at me. Today I am moved by the words of Jesus; "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me." (Matt. 28:18)

All authority.... I want to stop and invite you drink in the deep, eternal meaning of that concept. All authority has been given to Jesus. Our world is constantly defining authority. People are constantly seeking authority and power. We look for power and authority in military strength, economic strength, political strength, intellectual strength, professional achievement, and many other ways. In many ways some people define the success of their lives by how much power, ownership, and control over their own situation they were able to achieve.

Satan is always imitating God, and Godís plan for us. The examples I just gave of the worldís definition of authority are all corruptible, all fading away, all wilt with the passage of time. Military strength, economic strength, political strength, intellectual strength, professional achievement, and the other endless examples we could list, are very, very fragile. There is nothing permanent about any of them. While God may help us achieve some of these examples of worldly authority, it would only be in cooperation with Godís desire for us in the first place.

So is there an authority that is not corruptible? Is there an authority that is always trustworthy, always truthful, always interested in our well-being? Yes there is.

Our glorious and fully resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, Jesus the only way to reconciliation with God for humanity. God did not give some authority to Jesus. God did not share authority between Jesus and some other person. In fact God gave all authority to Christ. This is awesome and difficult for us to perceive. Our frantic search for authority, security, peace of mind, stability, and direction reaches its conclusion in Christ.

Christ accomplished our reconciliation to God. Having done the greatest missionary effort of all time successfully, God turned over all the authority of the universe to Jesus. Realize how close we are then to the wisdom of God, the mind of God, the heart of God, the way of God. All we need is ask and God is as close to us as Christ is to us.

How close is Christ to us? In His own words today in the Gospel, we read; "I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matt. 28:20) We are not alone, we are not left to wander and wonder where we are, who we are, or what we are doing. We are the Ambassadors of Christ. We are sent to this world, this region of Central New York, at this time to tell these people about this Gospel, this Christ, this God, this Way, this eternal life, this universal plan for all creation. It is Christ Himself who compels us to continually proclaim the tremendous plan of God for creation.

The reason Jesus sends us out to baptize all nations in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is God knows the only way to survive the challenge of sin is through total saturation into the person, into the real presence of God. Sin exhausts the natural body. Tension, stress, failure, injury, meanness, jealousy, selfishness, etc. Are all exhausting on our bodies. Satan is determined to wear us down through sin, grief, fatigue, and failure. Satan is convincing our society that we are innately, intrinsically lonely, abandoned, wicked to the core, desirous of violence, destined for poverty, rejected; Satan is convincing society that this is Hell on earth. Why do so many in society lack self-esteem? Why are our elderly cast aside and made to feel completely alone, useless, worthless? Why are our streets filling up with more unemployed people? Why are our children learning less and less in schools and truancy on the increase everywhere? Where are they going when they leave the school building during the day? Why is there a new teenage pregnancy, which also usually means outside of marriage, every thirty seconds in America? Why are kids shooting kids? Why is unprotected sex on the rise with our teens and college age people? Why is it our teens do not realize a person does not become pregnant unless they are engaging in sexual practices are the highest risk of HIV infection? Why are suffering the increase of hate crimes? Why are so many people pretending to be Christian so that they can manipulate the words of the Holy Bible for their personal campaign of hatred towards every person who is different than themselves? Why do leaders in the so-called churches cooperate with non-spiritual people in pursuit of money, power, worldly greed and worldly status? Why does the Church of Jesus Christ decrease in membership on a daily and even an hourly basis?

Could it be because we have not recognized who is in charge? Could it be related to our failing to accept the authority of God in our lives? God gave Christ all authority. Could our problems, all of them, be related to our failure to place ourselves under the appointed authority of God, Jesus Christ?

If Christ has been given all authority, there is no authority apart from Him. He is the seat of all wisdom, all knowledge, all goodness, all esteem, He is Godís vessel of everything that is Godís Will. Jesus expressed this Doctrine when He said: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me." (John 8:12) The Christ whom God invested with all authority in heaven and earth said that! How dare we take any other position than Amen, I will obey.

In the Thursday night Bible study we were discussing how obedience follows the love of true faith. One wants to obey out of love for Christ. Our faith in Christ sets our hearts on fire and then we want to please God, we want to do Godís Will, we want to obey the Will of God, we do not want to sadden the Holy Spirit. We do not want to break the heart of God. We have indescribable desire to follow the plan of God and place ourselves happily under Godís authority. Once a person is Spirit-filled we have a burning love that compels us to seek out the authority of God over our lives.

If we stop and momentarily consider people we know who are not believers, who are not born again in the Holy Spirit, they also do not seek Godís authority in their lives. So many people outwardly reject the covering of Christís God-given authority in their lives. So many will boldly declare that Jesus is nothing to them. When a person takes this position they are wandering through life without the ownerís manual!

Aimless wandering seems to be overtaking our society by ever increasing numbers of people. People seem to have fewer and fewer goals. The answer is turn to Jesus because He alone has the authority over all creation.

The ever-present Christ calls us to love as He loves, to respect as He respects, to do the same works He does and even greater ones. What does this call us to in reference to the created planet we love on?

All of creation belongs to God and for that reason alone deserves our total and utmost respect. We reject the concept of human superiority that supposedly gives the human race divine permission to use and abuse the planet bringing about its eventual destruction. All of Godís creation shares with us the Divine Presence of the Trinity. Therefore, all of creation should be reverenced and respected in such a was as is fitting for any gift from God.

This respect for all created things brings our brief thoughts on these readings to a close. In the second reading Paul is teaching his congregation with admonition to them for right behavior. He wrote; ".. agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss..." (1 Cor. 13:11-13) Being under the authority of God in Christ, we are expected to live in the world as witnesses to Godís plan for humanity. When there is fighting in the Church there is injury to the Body of Christ. When there is dishonesty, and all the other typical sins we see in church and society, there is no life, only death. Paul is exhorting the Church to be the example to society by showing society how humanity should be living in harmony with each other, harmony with creation, and harmony with the One Triune God.

As this season of Pentecost begins we are asking everyone to spend time alone with God in prayer. Express your desire to be obedient to the authority of God made known in Christ. Expect a season of growth. Expect to develop a desire for obedience, a desire for discipline. Expect results from the Holy Spirit in your lives. Then, once firmly under the total authority of God, ask God for understanding so that you can know the Will Of God and accept full authority from God in your life. This will give each of us such perfect peace of mind, solid self-esteem, firm sense of direction, and the desire to carry out the Great Commission, to immerse everyone we know in the Real Presence of Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

. May Almighty God bless all of us, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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