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 August 28/29, 1999
Pentecost 14A

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.

Exodus 3:1-15
Thirteenth Sunday of Pentecost, (Year A)

1Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. 3Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” 4When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

7Then the LORD said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, 8and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. 10So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” 11But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”

The Divine Name Revealed 13But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”£ He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” 15God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD,£ the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.

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

Psalm 105

Psalm 105
God’s Faithfulness to Israel
1 O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works.
3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
4 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually.
5 Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered,
6 O offspring of his servant Abraham, children of Jacob, his chosen ones.
7 He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.
8 He is mindful of his covenant forever, of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac,
10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance.”
12 When they were few in number, of little account, and strangers in it,
13 wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people,
14 he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account,
15 saying, “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.”
16 When he summoned famine against the land, and broke every staff of bread,
17 he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 His feet were hurt with fetters, his neck was put in a collar of iron;
19 until what he had said came to pass, the word of the LORD kept testing him.
20 The king sent and released him; the ruler of the peoples set him free.
21 He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his possessions,
22 to instruct£ his officials at his pleasure, and to teach his elders wisdom.
23 Then Israel came to Egypt; Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham.
24 And the LORD made his people very fruitful, and made them stronger than their foes,
25 whose hearts he then turned to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.
26 He sent his servant Moses, and Aaron whom he had chosen.
27 They performed his signs among them, and miracles in the land of Ham.
28 He sent darkness, and made the land dark; they rebelled£ against his words.
29 He turned their waters into blood, and caused their fish to die.
30 Their land swarmed with frogs, even in the chambers of their kings.
31 He spoke, and there came swarms of flies, and gnats throughout their country.
32 He gave them hail for rain, and lightning that flashed through their land.
33 He struck their vines and fig trees, and shattered the trees of their country.
34 He spoke, and the locusts came, and young locusts without number;
35 they devoured all the vegetation in their land, and ate up the fruit of their ground.
36 He struck down all the firstborn in their land, the first issue of all their strength.
37 Then he brought Israel£ out with silver and gold, and there was no one among their tribes who stumbled.
38 Egypt was glad when they departed, for dread of them had fallen upon it.
39 He spread a cloud for a covering, and fire to give light by night.
40 They asked, and he brought quails, and gave them food from heaven in abundance.
41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed through the desert like a river.
42 For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant.
43 So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing.
44 He gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the wealth of the peoples,
45 that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws.

Praise the LORD!

(Year A)

Romans 12:9-21
12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God--what is good and acceptable and perfect.
12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
12:4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function,
12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.
12:6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith;
12:7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching;
12:8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

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

Matthew 16:21-28
Pentecost 14 (Year A)

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

Brother Benedict, Sermon 188

Pentecost 13A, 1999

Sermon #189
Pentecost 14 Jesus speaks to Moses 8/22/99

Exodus 3:1-15
Psalm 105
Romans 12:9-21
Matthew 16:21-28

Our story of the Chosen People of God continues with Moses receiving the commission to return to Egypt and lead the Chosen People out of slavery in the Name of "I Am Who Am" the eternal name of God.

Again, there has been a passage of time since our last reading of Exodus. Last weekend we were reading in Chapter one where Moses is found by Pharaoh’s daughter and given his name. This week the reading has Moses grown up and tending the sheep of his father-in-law Jethro. Obviously the lectionary has skipped over many important aspects of the story; for example, how Moses grew to be in charge of many Israelite slaves and an overseer of the building projects of the cities of Pithom and Rameses. Moses became the beloved prince of Pharaoh. Obviously too, the lectionary has skipped the part where Moses murdered an Egyptian and that is the reason this chapter places Moses in the desert rather than as a powerful prince of Pharaoh. By the passage of time for this reading Moses has fled Egypt for fear of his life and for fear of prosecution.

Today we are reading in chapter three of Exodus where Moses goes to Mt. Horeb, the mountain of God. Mount Horeb is where God spoke to Moses from the burning bush. Most of us can retell the story fairly well from this point. However, there is a very significant detail that is often overlooked. Notice, it says "the Angel Of The Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush…" (Exodus 3:2) Who is "The Angel Of The Lord?"

This angel, which means messenger is Jesus in His pre-incarnate (pre-Bethlehem) self appearing in the Hebrew Scriptures. One way to be certain of this is to remember that Jesus’ name translates to English as "Our Salvation Is With Us." Whenever the pre-incarnate Christ appears in the Hebrew Testament He is always there to bring salvation to His people, Israel whom He calls His "brethren". Certainly the Angel Of The Lord is about to bring salvation to His people by sending them Moses to lead them out of Egypt. In this way, Moses is prefiguring the very work Jesus would later do for us Gentiles. Verse two clearly says "the Angel Of The Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush…" At verse six the same one in the flame in the bush says; "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." No regular angel, which simply means "messenger" would ever claim to be "the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" as The Angel Of The Lord does in this paragraph of Holy Scriptures.

When supposedly Christian theologians, pastors, evangelists, and teachers fail to show the people the significance of Jesus Himself appearing as The Angel Of The Lord, a very key, central, and important fact of the story is lost. Jesus is about to enact a great theophany and bring about salvation. That is what He always does, He saves His people. To not reveal the identity of the pre-incarnate Saviour is strip the central theme of the event out of the Bible.

Salvation always comes at a price, a very high price. The Egyptians paid dearly for the salvation of the Chosen People. If Egypt had listened and converted.., the story would certainly have changed! However, as we all know, Egypt did not turn from those false religions that we mentioned last week, and the people of Egypt did not accept the free offer of Salvation given to them from God through the pre-incarnate Christ and his sent servant, Moses. Egypt’s stubbornness turned out to be very costly resulting in the loss of crops, livestock, fishes, even the grass on the Earth, and worst of all the firstborn sons of Egypt were sacrificed to death because of Egypt’s obvious choice of Satan and His ways and the resulting hardness of heart.

Are we much different than Egyptian people of that day? Like them, we are faced every day with the choice of serving the intentions of evil or serving the Will of God. This is the challenge of the Christian life as we try to live God’s Will in a world that is professing to be neutral when it comes to one religious system as opposed to another. The professed neutrality carries the suggestion that religion is an unnecessary option for successful living at the end of the 20th century, that somehow we are now too smart and educated for superstition and religion. Our modern thinking also suggests humanity is neutral as far as being good or bad and religion is therefore not needed to produce a world that works together for the common good.

First, I do not find any place in the Holy Scriptures that suggests our assignment from God is to make the world a better place or to make it into the Kingdom of God. No, in fact, the Scriptures are quite clear that Satan himself is the god or ruler of this world system and that fact alone should make it unmistakably clear where the course of this world system is headed. Often writers accuse those of us who simply read the Scriptures and clearly see this is the course of the present world system of holding a "pessimistic" view of the world.

When "mainline" "educated" clergy make this claim they are implying that true Christians would never see the present world situation as "lost" and would realize the Church will triumph in the present world because they claim Satan is already judged and powerless. Therefore, they wrongly claim, the Gospel of Christ will convert the entire world to Christ and at that point they say He may return, though most of them say only spiritually if at all, and the converted world will end (such an "end of the world" is NOT in the Bible) and the new mystical heaven will be established to spiritually go on for ever. When I hear this grand tale told and retold I usually visualize this "mystical" "spiritual" heaven as a misty substance floating somewhere out there with misty souls and clouds, etc.

What a story! What a mess! This story is not Christian and it is not Biblical regardless of big and powerful the denominations are that regularly teach various versions of it. Their version of the "end of the world" isn’t at all what the prophets, Jesus, or the Christian Testament writers explained as God’s future plans for this world. The Holy Bible clearly speaks of a physical kingdom on this earth with Christ himself reigning in Jerusalem for one thousand years when He returns at the end of this age! The end of this age is NOT the end of the world!

Every "Good Friday" we remind ourselves that when Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king, Jesus said yes. When Pilate asked Jesus in so many words where His kingdom was, Jesus clearly answered that His Kingdom was not of this world. How much clearer could that be? Further, when Jesus is about to ascend to Heaven, forty days after the Resurrection (see Acts, chapter one) the Apostles sound desperate when they again ask Jesus if this was the hour that He would establish His Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven. He clearly says no this isn’t the time, but it will come when God is ready to establish it! How can the "modern" "mainline" "educated" so-called "Church" avoid these two very clear moments in the chronology of Jesus on earth where He clearly says He is not the king of this world, and such a kingdom will happen when God is ready to establish that kingdom? How can the "mainline" "modern" "educated" "Church" ignore the Christian Testament references that name Satan as the god of this world, the ruler of this world, and the prince of the powers of the air?

This is a serious error! This is a serious deception and is grossly misleading! As a result, people are led to believe once they have "been saved" or "converted to the faith" or "given their lives" to Christ He is Lord of the World (personal world as well as global world), King of Kings, Ruler Of All, etc. and all their problems are now solved or now they are members of the great triumphant and militant Church on Earth charged to bring the whole earth to Christ. A few days later most of these new converts face a horrible reality; we all struggle with sin, and we often want to choose evil and temptation, and very frequently we all find choosing Christ’s Will in some situations unpleasant, and even seemingly impossible. What are people to think when the so-called "church" is telling them they can now be victorious over sin and those who are really saved or really in grace are free from sin? Of course that is confusing! Of course that makes the conversion and saved thing seem like nothing more than a temporary emotional high that just makes you think you can now conquer all your inclinations toward evil, when failure sets in one often thinks their reality proves in fact "salvation" is really nothing at all. Monday comes and you seem just as self-centered, and challenged by temptation as last week.

To me, this serious error on the part of the "educated" so-called "mainline denominations" is the most pessimistic view and is so seriously off the course with what the Bible clearly says that it is a major cause of popular rejection of Christianity. This "mainline eschatology" is not Christianity at all and is only managing to hold our modern population in the bondage of despair and doubt.

Let’s tell the people the truth! The true and lived reality of being a Christian in this world is a daily encounter with evil. We shall struggle against sin and evil every day of our earthly lives. We are members of the spiritual Kingdom of God by virtue of our confessed faith in Jesus. However, we are a pilgrim people traveling through a world where Jesus clearly explained that evil and good would exist side by side. We know that we are not neutral when it comes to our innate ability to choose God’s Will over evil. We know that only Christ in us can give us the suggestions we need to choose the road to God. We also know we will never be forced to stay on that road to God, not even for one minute, that our staying must be one hundred percent a daily and often hourly conscious choice on our part. We know that God has not set this up this way to make it impossible or unfair, rather, God wants us to choose to love God, and choose to dwell in God’s Kingdom "on Earth as it is in Heaven" when God is ready to establish it.

We are not left to struggle against sin alone. Christ is truly with us. However, we live in a world system that is not Christian. Therefore we must be very aware of the claims of some that they can be "good" without Christ or the "god thing." We know that isn’t possible and though the speaker may be unaware, they have already made their choice by rejecting Christ. We must be careful, then when we are in decision making positions that will effect others and the person or persons we are making decisions with is not born of Christ and alive in a living relationship with Jesus Christ through faith. Though they may be "good" by the world’s standards, but we are not function by the world’s standards. We need to be on guard for Christ’s sake, and be aware of what we are agreeing to, voting on, and endorsing by our presence.

We can ask the popular question; "What would Jesus do?" Or, is this what Jesus wants me to do? If you would sit for awhile and contemplate the magnitude of this responsibility and the effect our decisions may indeed have on our world you would realize your awesome responsibility as ambassadors of Jesus Christ.

While we are in the world, we do have Christ in us and with us as He Himself promised. Therefore those who are truly reborn in Christ actually do practice the Kingdom principles by listening to the Holy Spirit, reading the Holy Scriptures and taking our cues from them on how to spiritually survive while passing through this world and still be Kingdom bound.

Our second reading today is loaded with principles to live by as we pass through this valley of darkness and cling to the light of Christ.

Paul starts out with the summary: ".. hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good.." (Romans 12:9) The words "hate" and "cling to" are extreme opposites. Hate evil and cling to good, any questions? What part of that is so complicated and heady that we need a theologian to explain it to us? Do we live by that command? The next verse is equally as clear; "love one another with mutual affection.." (Romans 12:10) Did I hear someone say "ouch"? Mutual affection….. ponder that for awhile. We are not to have favorites in the Church, and I am speaking about truly born-again Christians. All born-again Christians are equal in God’s eyes and must be equal in our treatment of them. People need to be held accountable for their actions, but we give mutual affection to all members of the Body Of Christ. The reading continues; "Rejoice in hope.." (Romans 12:12) Our world system says do not tolerate hope, demand results right now! Irritate everyone until you get what you want. Christ, is outside of our world time table. One day is as a thousand years to Him…. We should be content to wait on God’s timing and enjoy the vision of hope that God shows us as God fulfills every promise.

Our time is truly run out. I commend to your meditation every phrase of today’s second reading. You will find many rich holy principles to guide your journey as we move together through this valley of darkness. We fear no evil because Christ is with us using His rod and staff to comfort us. He will continue to prepare His Table before us, even in the presence of the enemy and the cohorts of evil.

Praise the blessed and holy Name of Jesus Christ both now and forever, Amen.

May almighty God bless you, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

TOTUS TUUS! Totally Yours, Lord Jesus Christ.

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

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