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.
  |  Home  |  About  |  Faith  |  Purpose  |  Sexuality  |  Location  |  Worship  |  Contact  |  Resources  |  Staff  |  Ministry  | Organization


Sermon April 14, 15, 2001
The Resurrection Of Jesus Christ, Year C


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.

Isaiah 65:17-25
Resurrection Sunday Year C April 15, 2001

17 For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it
an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain,
or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the LORD
and their descendants as well.
24 Before they call I will answer,
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain,
says the LORD.

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 C April 14/15, 2001
Acts 10:34-43

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.

John 20: 1-18
Resurrection Year C April 14/15, 2001

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.

Brother Benedict,

April 14/15, 2001

Isaiah 65:17-25
Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-21
Acts 10:34-43
John 20:1-18

Today we begin a six week celebration focused on the Resurrection Of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. We are not having a one day "easter" celebration which is named after the goddess of fertility, Ishtar (pronounced "eeeshtar"). I hope you certainly noticed the word "easter" has nothing in common with the word resurrection.... The word "easter" has everything in common with the word Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of fertility, and everything in common with bunnies, chicks, and eggs. Our focus is on God's action in raising Jesus from the dead. God raised Jesus according to Acts 10:39b-41:

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.

Two weeks ago the Hebrew Scripture was Isaiah 43:16-21 and it announced God is doing a New Thing. "Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth...." We discussed at length what the New Thing is, the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31; Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; Romans 11:27), namely God is building a New House (Hebrews 3:6; 1 Peter 2:5), A Spiritual People, A Priestly People, A Chosen People, God's own people called out to declare God's praise. (Exodus 16:6, Deut. 7:6, 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6) This people of the New Covenant in the Blood Of Christ gives formation to God's wish to form that people God calls: "..My chosen. ... This people I have formed for Myself: They shall declare My praise." (Isaiah 43:20b, 21)

We said it is our goal to be part of that very people. Christ has made it possible to be that priestly people in spite of our daily sinning by declaring He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6) In Christ we can have our sins forgiven, and daily reconciliation to God is actually the center of our ongoing relationship with God through Christ. Remember Paul even calls the ministry of Jesus the "ministry of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:18) We rejoiced that in this New Covenant Christ gives the power to any individual to become a child of God if they believe in Him. (John 1:11-12; John 5:24) Paul says we have our citizenship in heaven now. (Philippians 3:20) This has caused some religious leaders to tell people our present life is the kingdom of God. I do not believe this present life is the fulfillment of the Kingdom Of God.

Although we can now individually and collectively enjoy some of the benefits of the Kingdom Of God, there are definately future aspects (called the eschatological aspects) of the promises in the Word Of God to be fulfilled. Certainly there are many promises concerning the Kingdom Of God in all its fullness that are future. It is essential that we very carefully distinguish between those parts of the Word Of God that are historically fulfilled, those that are being fulfilled in the present, and those aspects of the promises that will be fulfilled in the future.

Today our Hebrew Reading, Isaiah 65:17 began with the same promise as two weeks ago: "For behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind."

I can understand why the theologians who put the lectionary together had this reading follow so closely, but I am troubled by the Isaiah 65:17-25 reading appearing on Resurrection Sunday. Certainly with the death of Jesus on the Cross, the sacrifice for sin was made once for all, and certainly when God raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 10:40) the New People Of God was begun.

What troubles me however is not the true subject of the reading. The subject of this section of Isaiah is completely about the future when Christ hands over the earthly 1,000 year Kingdom of Christ to God after He sits as judge of the living and the dead at the Great White Throne judgment. (Acts 10:42; Revelation 20:11-15; 1 Corinthians 15:24-26) The very next verse after the "Great White Throne Judgment" of Revelation 20:11-15, says "NOW I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Then he who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful.." (Revelation 21:1-5) The "NOW" (all in capital letters in my New King James Version) is the start of chapter 21, immediately following the Great White Throne Judgement. It is only after all sin is eternally put away that the fulness of the Kingdom of God comes in.

As I said above, I am troubled that this reading is being read in connection with the Resurrection Of Jesus, or as the majority of people call it, Easter Sunday, not because of the real subject of the reading, but because the majority of contemporary "mainline" denominations do not believe in the future literal fulfillment of any of these promises. In fact in many churches today the people will be told by church leaders that these verses, and in fact the entire "New" creation and "New Thing" is the physical church in the earth today.

It is true that the largest and most expensive seminaries in our country today are teaching the physical church in the world is the New Isreal, the New Kingdom Of God, the fulfillment of all the promises of a New Creation, a new People, etc. However, I believe even a young student in eight grade or above will be troubled by this assessment if they are paying close attention to the actual text of the Isaiah reading, in fact the entire Bible.

Our school students are in a learning environment five days a week where everything is considered true, sound, real, authentic if it can be proved, if it is rational, if it can be checked, dissected, and analyzed. Now, a person with an eight grade reading skill will hear this first reading today and after being told the church is the Kingdom Of God, will likely realize none of these promises are actually being fulfilled.

What I want to do now is look at a list of each of these promises about the future kingdom and ask ourselves if these promises are being fulfilled in our modern world condition.

I will now take apart Isaiah 65:17-25 verse by verse. The follow promises are made and are supposed by the modern church to be fulfilled in our day....

1) new heavens and new earth with the former things not being remembered. A student says, indeed the former things are remembered. I study history in all my subjects. The former things are indeed one of the primary aspects of my education. How can the church say the former things are not being remembered?? There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

2) God creates Jerusalem as a rejoicing and her people in joy... A student will respond.. Jerusalem a joy??? Everyone knows Jerusalem is anything but a joy, in fact, Jerusalem continues to come close to causing world war three, and will likely be the reason for that war.. Every student who studies current events knows for sure Jerusalem is anything but "a rejoicing" and her people live in turmoil and not "in joy." There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

3) The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in Jerusalem, Nor the voice of crying.. The student of current events knows everyday even children are at war of religion and race... There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

4) No more shall an infant from there live but a few days.. In our day we have more children being born underweight and dying of SIDS and other difficulties than any other period in recent record. Any student of current events knows this is the case. There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

5) Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days... Every week most of us hear of someone we know who dies of heart attack, cancer, or accident who barely reaches the age of 50. There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

6) For the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed... First, as we said above very few people live to one hundred years old, and we do not experience sinners dying any differently from anyone else because in this age of Grace everyone is a sinner. There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

7) They shall build houses and inhabit them.. There are many students who will immediately respond saying they have never lived in a house, but always an apartment or a trailer or an institution. There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

8) They shall plant vineyard and eat their fruit... No, in fact the average child never plants the food they shall eat and always goes directly to the local store to buy their food. There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

9) They shall not build and another inhabit.. Imagine the concept of asking the modern student to build their own shelter, their own houses. There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

10) They shall not plant and another eat.. That is what we do when we expect the grocery stores to have everything we need all planted, harvested, packaged, and ready to eat. There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

11) For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people.. As stated above, in our contemporary world we are lucky to make it much past seventy years old with the usual condition most people's health is in today. There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

12) And my elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.. It sounds like there will be no poverty in the world, that all the resources of the earth shall be distributed with liberty, justice and equality for all. Is this the world we live in today? There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

13) They shall not labor in vain.. How many buildings do we build that are destroyed by nature out of control, floods, fires, wind storms, or just deterioration with time and usage... How many scientific theories, discoveries, experiments, projects, etc., do we try and have to start over or do we find after years of usage we were wrong? There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

14) Nor bring forth children for trouble... Do we really need to go here? How many children are born into awful conditions today? Poor children, born to unworthy, unprepared, immature parents... Children born without trouble??? There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

15) The next part of this prophecy is true for today and will always be true for God's People: ... before they call, I will answer: and while they are still speaking, I will hear. This is absolutely true today and will always be true, so here is the only part of this prophecy that is actually in force today so far.

16) THE PEACEABLE KINGDOM: The wolf and the lamb shall feed together... Let's ask any farmer who has sheep if this is true, or don't we still have wolves who eat the farmer's sheep when the farmer and the guard dogs are not looking? There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

17) The lion shall eat straw like the ox.... No, in fact any student even from the fourth grade on can tell us the Lion eats meat... just watch any lion on National Geographic programs... There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

18) And the dust shall be the serpent's food... True enough, but snakes also feed on eggs, baby animals and/or birds, insects, etc. There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

19) They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, says the Lord... Nowhere is this the case on contemporary earth as we experience it. There is no way this prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.

If the modern Church does not tell the people that this entire reading, save but the verse on prayer and God hearing us, is about the future Kingdom Of God in Christ, but tries to convince the hearer that when Jesus died and was raised from the dead the modern Church in the world became this kingdom, even the children will know the church is lying for all the reasons stated above. Young people do not take well to the church lying to them.. Their conclusion is usually that if the church lies there must not be a God afterall, and Satan wins again.

I am troubled that 98% of the pastors do in fact try to convince the public that with the resurrection of Jesus these prophecies are "spiritually fulfilled" in the modern world through the church. Even the children who have at least an eighth grade reading comprehension skill will know this first reading is in no way reflected in the church or the modern world. In fact, the intuitive child, young adult, and college age person may easily draw the conclusion that if the pastors really think the church and world, with all this sin around us, is the fulfillment of the New Thing, the New Covenant, the New Kingdom, the whole thing and all of religion is a fraud.

Yes, the resurrection of Jesus is at once about a historical happening, for Jesus truly physically rose from the dead and physically ascended to Heaven and the resurrection is about a future time when Jesus will physically come again and call all the living and the dead into their resurrection bodies. At that time we will experience the beginning of the fulfillment of prophecies such as are in today's first reading for those prophecies are about the future kingdom of God. Remember Jesus clearly said His kingdom is NOT of this world when asked by Pilate. (John 18:36-37) Certainly though, a New Covenant is established with Holy Week. What we must do, however is give people the realistic expectations of what this new life in Christ's Body, the Church can bring us and what it will still allow to happen as long as we are in the world.

Many aspects of the New Life in Christ, and in Christ's Body, the Church were celebrated in the second reading today, Acts 10:34-43. In 10:34 Peter says: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him." We need to emphasize the word "whoever" in this reading. This is a celebrated aspect of the Church, the Body Of Christ in the world during this Age Of Grace, that everyone who believes is saved. (John 3:16-18; 5:24; Acts 16:31, 2:38, etc.) The fact that God shows no partiality isn't new actually. Scripture is quite clear this is a key teaching from cover to cover of the Bible: Duteronomy 10:17; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Job 34:19; Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:35; 1 Peter 1:17 to show some of the verses on this subject and I highly recommend you take the time to read them.

Remember John 1:11-13 reads: "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Until we become a child of God by belief in God and personal assent to God's Will, we are a child of sin, a child of Satan, and heirs of Satan's inheritance. This is the good news, in fact it is great news that we absolutely can be freed of an eternity of sin and evil through the redemptive power of the Blood Of Jesus Christ.

Christ gives us the Church, His own Body in the world today to minister to us, to help us, to serve us as we journey to the Father's House. In the Church, this week was Holy Week. Holy Week meant a lot of different things to a lot of people. My Holy Week experience was quite different from most priests, bishops and ministers in that I celebrated "the Last Supper/Passover/Holy Eucharist" on three occasions in three locations: Tuesday in Elmira, Wednesday in Cortland, and Thursday in Syracuse. I am seven pounds heavier after eating three Love Feasts, and I have seen a lot of feet this week. I have washed a lot of feet, some feet I haven't seen before, some I haven't seen around here in a long time, many I see on a weekly basis, and there were some feet I waited for that never showed up at the washbowl. Then Friday night I celebrated the Stations Of The Cross and held worship in Elmira and Saturday morning went back to Elmira to celebrate the Liturgy of the Resurrection, and Sunday night to Syracuse to celebrate the Liturgy of the Resurrection here.

I bring all this up because while I was racing to get everything done on time and be in the right places with the right clothes, music tapes, books, sermons, and yummy dishes to pass...etc. the world was going on in its slavery to sin. I think I saw headlines concerning military personnel who had crashed in Chinese territory, there was news of murders, robberies, prison uprisings, plane crashes, etc. This past week I didn't even get to listen to NPR All Things Considered and Morning Edition, something I really enjoy doing. The sharp contrast between the way of Satan's world, and Christ's Church became very clear as Holy Week progressed but even moreso when Saturday morning I received seven phone messages concerning attempted suicide, despair, family confusion, persons so intoxicated the police couldn't awaken them easily, etc. I started out very late after listening to messages and making couple of calls, I sped to Elmira to start worship. I felt so torn because after making a few calls it was quite clear I was really needed at an emergency room in a hospital in another region where our Church covers to be with those in despair. However, in Elmira there would be a room full of Saints ready to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus and I certainly could not fail to show up to faciliate the worship.

As I drove to Elmira I was thinking how different people's lives would be if we would avail ourselves to all that Christ offers us through His Body, the Church. As members of the Church, we should never exaggerate what the Church has to offer, or tell the people the Church is the Kingdom of God on Earth, but we should do everything to bring the public into the richness of the Church's' liturgy, the Word Of God, the Sacraments and the Community on Earth and the Church Triumphant in Heaven. I wondered if the persons I had just found out were in distress and feeling suicidal might not have ended up in thier situations if they had come with me all week long to celebrate the liturgies of Holy Week. I wondered how people's lives would truly be different if they were attending the worship every day, the adult study groups, and other things Christ offers through the Church in our world today.

  * Scroll Window