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 5th SUNDAY B 5/21/00

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 8:26-40
RESURRECTION Week 5, Year B SUNDAY 5/21/00

26Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south£ to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) 27So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” 30So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. 32Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. 36As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?”£ 38He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip£ baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

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

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;£ 3 he restores my soul.£ He leads me in right paths£ for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,£ I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely£ goodness and mercy£ shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.£

RESURRECTION Week 5, Year B SUNDAY 5/21/00
1 John 4:7-21

7Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

13By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 17Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19We love£ because he first loved us. 20Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters,£ are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister£ whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters£ also.

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

John 15:1-8
RESURRECTION Week 5, Year B SUNDAY 5/21/00

1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes£ to make it bear more fruit. 3You have already been cleansed£ by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

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

Brother Benedict, Sermon 220

The Fifth Week of our celebration of the Resurrection Of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ May 21, 2000

Acts 8:26-40 Psalm 23 by pastoral decision 1 John 4:7-21 John 15:1-8

We have come to the beginning of the fifth week of our glorious celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. During these, the "Great Fifty Days" as they are called we are reviewing the Scriptures that show how powerfully Jesus worked among the Apostles and Disciples immediately following His death on the cross and resurrection. These Scripture readings are designed by the Holy Spirit to encourage us to listen and follow the Real, the True, the Actual Presence of Our Lord Jesus in the Church today.

The Real Presence of the risen Jesus was again so obvious last week in worship. Once we again experienced the gifts of prophecy through the preachers of Ray Of Hope Church as Christ designed that beautiful sermon Larry Fuller gave on being obedient so Christ can continue as our Shepherd. Prophetically, although the sermon had been written weeks in advance, and though the readings were taken directly from the Lectionary, the sermon addressed internal situations of our church where we have associates who are so determined to not be obedient to Christ and His Church. Last week disobedience attacked us again, and here was Christ with this beautiful sermon all written, typed and approved for preaching, predicting the very situation we were experiencing... namely, some acting like hirelings who run and leave the flock... We all sat here amazed and in awe. We are all still grateful for that glorious message from the Lord. He was right there with His rod and staff to comfort us and reassure us that we need only follow His voice and He would protect us.

There is one more aspect of that sacramental moment I want you to see..... namely, once again this is living proof that Christ is truly among us. He knows what we need before we know.. He knew we would need those readings and that sermon at this time. To be honest with you, as I was reviewing Larry’s outlines and drafts for that sermon I wasn’t too excited... I mean, he was teaching the holy catholic and apostolic faith by what he was saying, he was staying with the theme of the lectionary, and had a good word for practical application, that word being obedient. So, I wasn’t interfering with the process as Larry listened to the voice of the Lord and submitted his sermon preparations for my review. I had no idea, however, how powerfully those words were going to be exactly on the mark for us in just a few short weeks. So, again, here was Jesus, knowing what was coming down the pike for us, knowing we were going to be mistreated again, and He was right there with the exact readings and the exact sermon through which He spoke loudly to us. What did Christ say through the readings last week?

Jesus said; "I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep and they know me. Follow me, I am the gate for the sheep. I will not leave you though others who call themselves leaders leave you, they are hirelings, I am with you always, I will lead you and guide you through the highs and lows of life, and yes even through the valley of the shadow of death. Do not be afraid. I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Follow me, I will refresh you, I will give you rest, I will restore your soul, and I will feed you directly with my word, and with my own body and blood I prepare a table for you even in the presence of your enemies. Do not focus on them, keep your eyes, your minds, your hearts stayed on me. I will lead you safely to my Father’s House." That is what Jesus is saying to us right now, right here, right in this place, right in this congregation.

Our experience over these eighteen years as Ray Of Hope Church has shown us it apparently is very difficult for most people to follow Christ.

I often wonder why it seems so difficult for so many. Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t because we are in a society that glorifies transitions, change, buy it, use it, throw it away, don’t like this school or this job or these people then resign and move on, move up, better yourself, seek self-fulfillment and all that. Christ is, again and as always, very counter culture in this regard, extremely so.

Christ teaches eternal principles like, stability, firm foundation, building the church spiritual stone by stone, soul by soul. Christ teaches things like, "come away with me and rest a while," meditation, I can here Him saying "stop, look, listen for my voice, let me guide you and it won’t look like the way everyone else handles things but it will be with My Father’s wisdom." Christ teaches this eternal wisdom to us by His own example. Through His example and proof that it works, He gives us the power to stay all the way through, even when the challenges are mounting on every side. He gives us the power to remain faithful Him, faithful to the Scriptures, faithful to the Eucharist right on through the agony in the many gardens of life, the scourgings at the pillars of life, the roads to the Cavalry of life. He calls us to follow His example and to show obedience even to the hour of our death.

Philipians chapter two celebrates the doctrine of that kind of faithful Christ-centered obedience in verses 8-11. The Scripture says Jesus "... became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. Therefore God highly exalted Him and given Him the name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee must bow in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth and every tongue proclaim the glory of God the Father, Jesus Christ is Lord." The key word there was "THEREFORE." It was because of this obedience God raised Jesus and that is why Jesus is calling us to the same level of faithful obedience to Him.

Today’s readings teach us more about how to hear and obey. I love this set of readings and years ago I nick-named them as the "IN YOU" lections. Why? If you go home and count how many times these readings proclaim that Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Father promise to actually live inside of our human bodies, you will see it happens nine times in the first reading, and eight times in the Gospel reading. Seventeen times these two readings declare the doctrine that If we abide, or if we stay, or if we surrender, or if we remain faithful, or if we remain obedient to Christ we actually live in Christ, and Christ lives in us, we actually have the Holy Spirit in us, and God even is in us.

1 John 4:12-16 "if we love one another, God lives in us, and God’s love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in God and God in us, because God has given us God’s own Holy Spirit. ... God abides in those who confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and they abide in God...... God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them."

These are some of the most powerful words in the Christian Testament for understanding what the powerful results of Good Friday and the Resurrection of Christ are. Now, after that great act of love, that great act of obedience, that great act of giving of self for you and me, God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can have full, 100% living, abiding, true, REAL PRESENCE with us all the days of our lives and now goodness and mercy shall follow us and now after that Holy Thursday, Great Friday and Glorious Resurrection Day, we shall dwell in the House of the Lord forever. Now it can happen.

Christ also taught this before His self-giving as He is quoted in today’s Gospel saying: "Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. .... Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing..... If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (John 15:4-7) Notice every time Jesus does not say you abide with me, or I abide next to you, or we are companions on the journey.. No, He unmistakably says He and the Father and the Spirit abide in us and we in them if we abide in His words and in His commandments.

Again, I wonder if we realize the potential here, I really do not believe the Church has ever understood this potential.

It should have been obvious on Great Friday when Jesus died. The Tabernacle of Jerusalem with its Holy of Holies was useless beginning on Great Friday when Jesus said, "it is finished." Just as He said that the curtain to the Holy of Holies in the Temple tore from top to bottom because God tore it saying now there was no more separation between God and the reconciled believer. Once we are reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus, the Holy Trinity makes us the Temple of God.

For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." (1 Cor 3:17) "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own." (1 Cor. 6:19)

These are all statements supporting the doctrine of Real Presence of Christ which He promised to us over and over again, not the least of which is when He is on the Mount of Olives moments before He ascends to Heaven He says: "Go forth and baptize all nations in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and know that I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt. 28:19)

So, my question for all of us is do we KNOW that Jesus is with us always, even to the end of the age? Do we KNOW that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit of God desire to live within our human bodies? Do we recognize the Trinity in the human bodies of others? What does that say about human rights, prejudice, war, murder, etc.? Do we live in the Real Presence of Christ every minute of our lives, or do we pretend we only have to deal with this stuff when we are "in church?" The truth is we are always in Church, always the Body of Christ, even to the end of the age.

This should be cause for fantastic joy for all of us. This truth should give each of our lives still a new meaning, a better concept of what it means to be in Christ. Let us go on from this place today carrying the full presence of God in our bodies, in our minds, in our hearts for He is truly in us and we are truly in Him. In the Garden of Gethsemani Jesus prayed that we would be one as He is one in the Father and in the Spirit, and He prayed that the Trinity would share the same on-ness and unity within each of us. In plain and simple language, Divinity is chasing after us, folks. Divinity wants to rule our lives. What kind of fool runs the other way? What kind of fool says no to this kind of love? Let us pray then: Come Lord Jesus and fill our hearts, our minds, our souls, our forever, we pray that you be in us and we be in you. Amen.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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


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