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 Resurrection Sunday, 2000

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.

Acts 10:34-43
Resurrection Sunday (Year B)

34Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.

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

Psalm 118

1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let Israel say,
"His steadfast love endures forever."
3 Let the house of Aaron say,
"His steadfast love endures forever."
4 Let those who fear the LORD say,
"His steadfast love endures forever."
5 Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.
6 With the LORD on my side I do not fear.
What can mortals do to me?
7 The LORD is on my side to help me;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to put confidence in mortals.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to put confidence in princes.
10 All nations surrounded me;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
12 They surrounded me like bees;
they blazed£ like a fire of thorns;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
13 I was pushed hard,£ so that I was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
14 The LORD is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.
15 There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
The right hand of the LORD does valiantly;
16 the right hand of the LORD is exalted;
the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.
17 I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the LORD.
18 The LORD has punished me severely,
but he did not give me over to death.
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the LORD’S doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save us, we beseech you, O LORD!
O LORD, we beseech you, give us success!
26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD.
We bless you from the house of the LORD.
27 The LORD is God,
and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.
29 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Resurrection (Year B)
1 Cor. 15:1-11

1Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters,£ of the good news£ that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain. 3For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters£ at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.£ 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

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

John 20:1-18
Resurrection Sunday (Year B)

1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." 16Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’" 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

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

Brother Benedict, Sermon 218

The Resurrection Of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ April 23, 2000

Hasn’t this been a marvelous and most memorable Holy Week! I am so glad we separated Palm Sunday to celebrate just the Triumphant Entry complete with reading the Gospel of the Entry outdoors in beautiful warm spring weather, waving palms for all the world to see, and you sang the songs of procession so loudly and confidently. Then we celebrated the giving of the Holy Eucharist, with foot washing, marvelous music, powerful readings of Holy Scripture, sumptuous fellowship dinners, tears, laughter, hugs, and deep affection for one another. Then, on Good Friday the Stations of the Cross were profound, knowing we were praying all across Central New York Sate for the first time in Ray Of Hope’s story. When we prayed the Litany Of The Holy Name Of Jesus, I was keenly aware of our Members who are already in Heaven with Christ. They were praying with us, and some of you told me you noticed this too. The Irish have a way of describing moments like that as being at the thin places where Heaven and Earth are mystically almost seamless. And, now today, here we are filled with so much joy and confidence in the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Oh, Church, hasn’t this been so, so, so, very glorious!

I feel so grateful today! Further, I must say on a very personal level that I have been so deeply moved by the number of prayers you have offered this week in total thanksgiving for Ray Of Hope Church, for me as your Pastor, and for our holy ministry together. Your prayers of thanksgiving have been very profound and moving for me to hear and pray with you. It is so wonderful to know how strongly God is working with each of us and this came through in your prayers. They really were like praise reports all week long. I was in worship services with you last Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and tonight. That is six shared prayer sessions I have heard in one week. Your gratitude as expressed in so many prayers was wonderful to hear. God working with us was so evident, since all the Holy Week shared prayer sessions were filled with prayers of joy, thanks, praise, and gratitude for what God is doing for us.

There were also miracles this week that were reported. For example, we received a very large donation of books in one donation, and a second donation to our St. Benedict of Nursia Memorial Library. This large donation, over thirty boxes, came about after a simple introduction of two persons last weekend after a Palm Sunday service. Further, this week we have received great leads on new location possibilities for all three of our locations. There have been many calls on the 800 line this week and many emails generated by contact through our website. In summary, our cup is overflowing, ALLELUIA!

The first reading is our witness statement for what is happening here at Ray Of Hope Church. In Acts 10:34 Peter says: "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him." This is our hymn of proclamation to the world-wide Church. Namely, we proclaim with Peter that anyone, everyone, all who will, those who, all who, believe in God, respects God, does what is right in God’s sight, is saved. Our witness to the church of the 21st century is to say we are living proof that anyone who believes will be filled with faith, and will have a personal relationship with Christ. Our victory in Jesus is to call upon the world-wide church of the 21st century resurrect the primitive Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Yes, the primitive Gospel, the original Holy, Apostolic, Universal or Catholic, Christian Faith. The so-called church of the 21st century must make a serious study of a review of the earliest records of the Church, the true Body Of Christ and reclaim the primitive, first faith. One aspect of restoring the Holy Apostolic Catholic Faith is to openly reclaim the words of today’s first reading: God shows no partiality, but anyone who believes is saved. We are saved because of what we believe not by our sexual orientation, or our living under forced vows of chastity, or celibacy. All people in our society, therefore, could just as easily and joyfully believe and be genuinely moved by the primitive faith, where one is saved by what they believe. The last sentence of the first reading reads: "All the prophets testify of Him and everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name." (Acts 10:43)

Additionally we are grateful today for the obedience of Christ to God’s Will. We must remember, if Christ had not been obedient to death so that He was raised from the dead there would be no forgiveness for sin. Imagine what it would be like to have no forgiveness of any of our sins in life! Imagine the state of mental health in a society that had no access to forgiveness for sin. Christ offers us the sacrament of forgiveness for confessed sin because in Him, through His death and resurrection, sin is destroyed once confessed with true Godly sorrow. We here at Ray Of Hope Church experience the sacrament of forgiveness of confessed sins very often. In fact every time we gather for worship we experience confession, forgiveness, and restoration usually within the first ten minutes of the worship service.

No wonder, then, today’s psalm begins with: "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 118) The love and loyalty of God can never be destroyed. Only we humans walk away from God’s Will in our lives. God never walks away from us. Further, God is not controlled by our leaving God’s plans for us and going after our own plans. Further, God doesn’t come along in our rebellion and play our scheme as we walk away from God’s Will. Instead out of His true and steadfast love for us, God waits in sorrow and pain for our belief, trust, sorrow, confession and repentance. For those of us who are faithful to Christ we can sing with the psalm: "The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous..." (Psalm 118:14, 15) Praise the Lord, we have been filled with glad songs in our homes, in the mall, in our cars, on the street, in the woods, at the lakeside, in the grocery store......everywhere. We are filled with glad songs of Christ’s victory always and everywhere. Isn’t that marvelous?

With Christ we sing the seventeenth verse: "I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord." (Psalm 118:17) Christ went through death to resurrection to show us what must be done in order for us to be eternally in the household of God. Therefore we sing also: "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)

The second reading today is one I refer to often. This is the place that shows how many people the post-resurrection Christian Scriptures record having seen Jesus in His physical body during the 40 days after His resurrection. Jesus appeared to Cephas, then the 12, then more than 500, then James, then to all of the apostles. Church, even without adding all of these we come up with at least 524 persons saw Jesus in the flesh, risen from the dead. (1 Cor. 15:5,6) Halleluia! It only takes two and sometimes only one witness to convict a person in court. The Christian Testament provides us with over 524 eye witnesses. Oh, no wonder we are so joyful today.

With today we enter a seven week celebration of the Resurrection of Christ that will culminate with the Feast Of Pentecost. I believe we can continue in the wonderful spirit of gratitude we have seen and heard this week.. Six weeks ago I invited you to enter into the season of Lent, a season of self-examination, a season of confession, a season of reconciliation to God and to God’s Church. You have all been so faithful to that invitation and I personally thank you as your Pastor in Christ. Many of you made it to all six weekends and all the Holy Week Services, and I know you feel so rich for having come through the season of renewal. Today I joyfully invite each of us to enter into this season of joy, celebrating Christ’s resurrection, celebrating your own spiritual resurrection in faith now as a born again believer, and looking forward to your own and all believer’s physical resurrection. We can make our resurrection season one of tremendous joy because we truly know He is alive and among us. As we travel together through this holy season of Resurrection Joy, let’s be able to say with Mary Magdalene; "We have seen the Lord." (John 20:18) Thanks be to God!

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

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