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 October 31, 1999
Pentecost 21A
Feast Of ALL SAINTS the Seventeenth Anniversary of Ray Of Hope Church

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.

Revelation 7:9-17
Pentecost 21 The Feast Of All Saints, the Seventeenth Anniversary of Ray Of Hope Church, (Year A)

The first reading of the Holy Scriptures is found in the last book of the Christian Testament on page 164 of your NRSV. The reading is Revelation, Chapter seven, verses nine to seventeen.

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!" And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen." Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?" I said to him, "Sir, you are the one that knows." Then he said to me, "These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

This is the Word Of The Lord! Thanks be to God!

Pentecost 21 The Feast Of All Saints, the Seventeenth Anniversary of Ray Of Hope Church

Psalm 34

1 I will thank the LORD at all times. My mouth will always praise him. 2 My soul will boast about the LORD. Those who are oppressed will hear it and rejoice. 3 Praise the LORDís greatness with me. Let us highly honor his name together. 4 I went to the LORD for help. He answered me and rescued me from all my fears. 5 All who look to him will be radiant.£ Their faces will never be covered with shame. 6 Here is a poor man who called out. The LORD heard him and saved him from all his troubles. 7 The Messenger of the LORD camps around those who fear him, and he rescues them. 8 Taste and see that the LORD is good. Blessed is the person who takes refuge in him. 9 Fear the LORD, you holy people who belong to him. Those who fear him are never in need. 10 Young lions go hungry and may starve, but those who seek the LORDís help have all the good things they need. 11 Come, children, listen to me. I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12 Which of you wants a full life? Who would like to live long enough to enjoy good things? 13 Keep your tongue from saying evil things and your lips from speaking deceitful things. 14 Turn away from evil, and do good. Seek peace, and pursue it! 15 The LORDís eyes are on righteous people. His ears hear their cry for help. 16 The LORD confronts those who do evil in order to wipe out all memory of them from the earth. 17 ŽRighteous peopleŻ cry out. The LORD hears and rescues them from all their troubles. 18 The LORD is near to those whose hearts are humble. He saves those whose spirits are crushed. 19 The righteous person has many troubles, but the LORD rescues him from all of them. 20 The LORD guards all of his bones. Not one of them is broken. 21 Evil will kill wicked people, and those who hate righteous people will be condemned. 22 The LORD protects the souls of his servants. All who take refuge in him will never be condemned.

Pentecost 21 The Feast Of All Saints, the Seventeenth Anniversary of Ray Of Hope Church (Year A)

Romans 14:1-12

The second reading is found in the Letters of the Christian Testament on page 158; First John, Chapter three, verses one to three.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

This is the Word Of The Lord! Thanks be to God!

Matthew 5:1-12
Pentecost 21 The Feast Of All Saints, the Seventeenth Anniversary of Ray Of Hope Church (Year A)

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

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

Brother Benedict, Sermon 195

Pentecost 21A, October 31, 1999 The Seventeenth Anniversary of Ray Of Hope Church

Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34
1 John 3:1-3
Matt. 5:1-12

"See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." (1John 3:1) That is how our second reading opens today and it is a beautiful summary of who we are and why we are here celebrating the Feat of All Saints. It is the tremendous love of God that has sought us out, to find us individually, and to bring us into the eternal Kingdom. This is why we are Saints in the fullest sense of that word. All who believe in Jesus and acknowledge Him as the eternally begotten only son of God are Saints. Saints then come from all times and all places and all kinds of people. Today we celebrate the feast of All Saints.

The word saint comes from the Greek word hagios and means separated, kept aside for a specific purpose. When a person gives their heart, soul and mind to Jesus they become separated for Godís way, Godís road, Godís plan. If God had not loved us enough to save us from our choices and our self-centered decisions we would certainly have perished. Look at our lives now. Letís be honest. We all make many decisions that are not in our best interest. Every one of us has made decisions that are harmful to our immediate and long term welfare. Am I speaking the truth? How many sitting here have made decisions that were harmful to yourselves? How many people sitting here have always made every decision with Godís best interest and desire being the final deciding factor? Imagine, then, if we were left completely to our own natural abilities to fight evil and choose God! Thank God we havenít been left here alone to find God on our own natural resources!

"See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are." (1John 1:1)

"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in t name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18) What part of that do we not understand? Jesus was not given to humanity to send us to eternal hell. No, Jesus was given to humanity to assure our entrance into the eternal Kingdom of God! This is a wonderful and magnificent work of God. You are SO loved, loved in this way that you have been given the grace and favor of God and welcomed into Godís eternal presence in spite of the fact that we have sinned, we continue to sin, and as long as we are alive we shall sin. This is what mercy really means.

God can not receive sin into His presence ever. However, God will receive those whom Jesus covers with His blood. This is the greatest favor you have ever received! Give God hand of thanksgiving and praise for caring so much for you. Thank Him, Praise Him, Exult His Holy Name.

The day you realize the depth of what I am saying, you will enter a state of eternal gratitude toward God. What other attitude could even start to be appropriate? Wake up and praise the Lord!

In Revelation 21:7 Jesus says, "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son." Inherit all things? All things? That means the entire universe itself! Saints, everything Science is trying desperately to understand and discover is to be inherited by the sons and daughters of God in Christ. We do not have spend billions of dollars to lift tons of steel into the atmosphere, such work! We shall soon inherit all things and that includes far more than any of our space vehicles have been able to timidly explore! God doesnít lie, God canít life it isnít possible because it isnít in Godís nature to lie.

The first reading was from Revelation 7:9-17 and in it Jesus is showing John the beloved disciple what worship sounds like, what it looks like, and what it shall always be. John sees a multitude so great that no human mind could count it! That doesnít sound like a mean and vengeful God who is supposedly trying to condemn everyone! It sounds like only a very small portion of humanity will be stupid enough to insist on being eternally lost, eternally self-centered rather than God-centered. In this chapter John sees the billions of billions who have made it to the eternal presence of God. God is in the center of the saved multitude John is looking at. This really means the saved souls are God-centered, literally! God is the center of our lives! God is the center of our thoughts! God is the center of our intentions and goals! Once a person has placed God at the center, everything in life and in fact in eternity takes on a new and consequently a real purpose. Nothing is real in our lives until we place God in our center. Until we do this our lives are off center, out of balance, etc.

John sees that the saved are from every tribe, and every people, and every language. There is no ethnic group that has any greater claim to the eternal kingdom than any other group. All nationalities, all ethnicity, all varieties are seen here in the saved Kingdom. This is why there is no room for prejudice among the saints now or ever. Again, if one is prejudiced they are so focused on themselves that they fail to see co-equality of everyone around them. God has made and God has called all people and their varying ethnicity to celebrate their sexual orientations, other interests, or family blood lines as a gift from God.

This is the company of persons we are members of for ever.

The Gospel we have been entrusted with to proclaim is the very information every human needs to live in this glorious kingdom of holy people, chosen people, Godís special people, the kingdom of priests to serve our God. If we understand the power, the reality, the destiny of the saints we should be motivated to tell everyone we know about this.

The psalm says; "I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed. This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord, and was saved from every trouble." THEN, listen to this: "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them." These were verses 2-7 of Psalm 34. I suggest we celebrate these verses this weekend because every one of us can make these verses our personal song of praise. All of us have sought the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and He has chosen to hear and answer us and to love us with His eternal love. This last sentence is very significant where the Angel of the Lord promises to be personally present to those who fear Him and He promises to deliver the believer from danger. This is exactly what Jesus, who is the Angel of the Lord, has promised in the Gospel; to never leave us orphaned, to be with us always, even to the end of the age. It is this mission, it is this Gospel, it is this promise of real presence while we labor to proclaim it that has called us together into this body of believer, this ministry of the Gospel of Christ known as Ray Of Hope Church.

With this weekend we begin our seventeenth year of ministry in Central New York State. This weekend is our anniversary. I think it is wonderful that the anniversary of Ray Of Hope Church is on Reformation Weekend and All Saints Weekend. Are we participating in a reform? Yes, we absolutely are reformers. What are we reforming, or re-shaping? It is the special call of this congregation to join other congregations who boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people who believe. There are many voices in the so-called church today who loudly proclaim condemnation for persons who are different than themselves. They are not proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus, the one based on His word, based on His promises. They are teaching a message of their particular denominations, their particular bias and daring to call it Christianity.

God has called us to unashamedly proclaim the full Gospel of Jesus, making it clear and easy to understand. This is what the reformers of every age and pace have tried to do. Our motivation comes from the Holy Spirit. Our measure of success is easily seen in how faithful we are to this special call we have received. Ray Of Hope Church has made it through sixteen years, thanks to God. I seriously doubt any of us knew eighteen years ago that we would inherit the task of this mission, this presentation of the Gospel to be passed on here in Central New York. Moreover, who could have known we would be entrusted with the future of this work of God? Further, who would have known that we would not only be sustaining this expression of Godís Will, but that we also would be the ones to take it into the next Century?

That is exactly what has happened. You and I are called to raise up an example of church where the diversity of the Body Of Christ is clearly celebrated as good and holy. We are called to witness to our respective communities and show them the only real connection to Christ is through the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and the Saints. We must show our community that it not only is unnecessary, but, in fact is sinful to abandon the Christian faith, especially in results to the sins of people in the church.

I invite you to consider our Statement of Faith, and our Statement of Purpose in your meditation time this week. Let us continue in total commitment to this great gift God has called us to proclaim. It is my joy to wish all of you a happy anniversary on this Reformation weekend, and the Feast of All Saints. Let us embrace our call with tremendous resolve, tremendous gratitude, and tremendous motivatio

"See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." (1John 3:1) sly so that we can continue to evolve as better ambassadors for Christ.

To His Name be the glory 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.

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