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 February 27, 2000
Eighth Sunday after Epiphany (Year B)

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.

Hosea 2:14-20
Eighth Sunday after Epiphany (Year B)

Hosea 2:14-20

2:14 Therefore, I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.

2:15 From there I will give her her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she shall respond as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

2:16 On that day, says the LORD, you will call me, "My husband," and no longer will you call me, "My Baal."

2:17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more.

2:18 I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety.

2:19 And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy.

2:20 I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD.

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

Psalm 103:1-13, 22

103:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits--

103:3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,

103:4 who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

103:5 who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

103:6 The LORD works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.

103:7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.

103:8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

103:9 He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever. 103:10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

103:11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

103:12 as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.

103:13 As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him.

103:22 Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul.

Eighth Sunday after Epiphany (Year B)

2 Corinthians 3:1-6

3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we?

3:2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all;

3:3 and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

3:4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.

3:5 Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God,

3:6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
This is the Word Of The Lord; Thanks Be To God.

Mark 2:13-22
Eighth Sunday after Epiphany (Year B)

2:13 Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them.

2:14 As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him.

2:15 And as he sat at dinner in Levi's house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples--for there were many who followed him.

2:16 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

2:17 When Jesus heard this, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners."

2:18 Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"

2:19 Jesus said to them, "The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

2:20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.

2:21 "No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made.

2:22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins."
Reader: This is the Gospel of the Lord; Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Brother Benedict, Sermon 209

Eighth Sunday after Epiphany (Year B), February 27, 2000

It is Godís total agenda to find and sustain that holy people who want to spend eternity serving God as priests. God is looking for those individuals who are willing to die to their self-made agendas and come together into the Body of Christ and become remade into Godís Holy people who are re-formed for God to declare Godís praise, adoration, with thanksgiving. (See Isaiah 43:21; 1Peter 2:9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).

God has used the image of marriage to speak of the total intimacy, the total oneness of mind, heart, will, etc., that God is intending to share with Godís own people. There are numerous references throughout the Bible where God self-reveals as the bridegroom and refers to the people of God as the bride.

This image was at the foundation of the Gospel reading today, but I would guess that many people didnít catch this aspect of the reading. The Gospel begins with the call of Levi, the tax collector. Levi is Matthew. The response of Matthew to Christ is in itself enough for a full sermon. Oh that we would respond so thoroughly to the call of Christ on our lives. Next we find Jesus at dinner in Matthewís house. Also at the dinner are some so-called "sinners" and other tax collectors. Notice, we are not told what it is these people are known for that is so obvious that they are labeled "sinners" as a group. Are there any sinners here? If you have committed sin in your life raise your hand. Oh, I see we are all sinners. Once again, the ordained of the day, this time the some of the party of the Pharisees, were incensed that Jesus was not following the expected social behavior of other professional clergy of his day. Obviously, the clergy of the day would not be seen in certain neighborhoods, social hangouts, or with certain kinds of people, ah, "sinners" to be exact.

Jesus responds and defends His choice of associates as Godís Will. We expect that He would. Then, some accused Jesus of not properly forming His disciples (students) by not teaching them to fast as Johnís disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Of course, Jesus had no difficulty explaining this situation either. However, did you catch what He said when He defended their lack of fasting? He said: :The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day." (Mark 2:19-20)

At first one may think Jesus is simply choosing an easily recognizable situation to compare the present reality with, after all, everyone understands a wedding reception! Yes, but for those of you who are Born Again and alive in the Holy Spirit, your praise alarms should be ringing!!

Of course He meant exactly what He was saying, literally. He is the Bridegroom, and the Church, made of all the saints from all times and all places, is His Holy Bride. These disciples likely didnít not yet understand they were being made into a new people of God, the Church of Jesus Christ. What Jesus was clearly saying was there would be no need for fasting as long as He was alive and with them on the Earth. It would be during the Age of the Church, which had not been announced yet, that Jesus would be physically absent, and that would be the time for fasting, praying, studying, and seeing the fruits of faith - good works that give honor and glory to God. Before leaving this glorious moment, lets review the doctrine of Christ the bridegroom and the Church the Holy Bride.

First of all, we will be fully consummated as the Bride of Christ at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb Of God.

Rev. 19:7 "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has been made ready."

Rev. 21:9 "Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying; ĎCome, I will show you the bride, the Lambís wife."

John the Baptist knew Jesus was the bridegroom and the new people of God, the bride. John the Baptist said: "You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ĎI am not the Christ,í but ĎI have been sent before Him.í He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroomís voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:27-30)

One last choice reference is found in Romans 7:4; "Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another - to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear the fruit of God." I particularly like this one because Saint Paul is telling the congregation which he had led into formation that each one should see themselves as married to Christ.

This relationship with Christ brings about a Holy Union within the Church. Christ working in us, through us and with us. Christ in all, with all, and through all who believe and are Holy Spirit filled. We know that Christ makes this supernatural relationship possible through the forgiveness of our sins. Last week we looked at all the Scripture references that tell us Jesus forgives and forgets our sins. Why? Because He totally desires all of us to be with Him forever in the Kingdom, in Holy Union with The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Did you catch this doctrine taught in our first reading too? In Hosea God calls the Hebrew People Godís Bride. It says: "On that day, says the Lord, you will call me ĎMy husband,í (Hosea 2:16) I will take you as my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord." (Hosea 2:19, 20) While some theologians understand the Church to be the heir of all the promises made to Israel and Israel as eternally lost, others (and we are in this camp) believe the promises made to Israel are hers alone. The Church has its own promises. Here in this reading then, Israel is promised a spousal relationship with God forever.

We know there will eventually be one kingdom where all our sad divisions shall cease, and Jew, Gentile and all groups of people will be united to praise God. These readings are meant to raise our hearts to holy expectation that causes us to desire to stay on the Way of Jesus the Christ so we too may be united with Him and the Father and the Spirit for ever and ever. 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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