Eleventh Sunday after Trinity 01 September 2019 A.D.

    Eleventh Sunday after Trinity H.C.   01 September 2019 A.D.

                        The Epistle. 1 Corinthians 15:1-11        The Gospel.  Luke 18:9-14

                                O God, who declarest thy almighty power chiefly in
                                showing mercy and pity; Mercifully grant unto us
                                such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way of
                                thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises,
                                and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through
                                Jesus Christ our Lord.                                    Amen.

                                                                 “I believe”
           In our epistle reading today we find many truths and long-standing traditions based on the early life of the Church. First of all, Paul is explaining to the church at Corinth, why they should believe.  As his letter unfolds in this chapter, we see the gospel explained and being backed up by the scriptures. Paul is not writing about the New Testament, no he is writing about the Old Testament, all of which was available to any literate person. The scrolls that were accessed every Sabbath at synagogue anywhere it met, all over the known world:
     “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
     By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
     For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;”   Note that; according to the scriptures.  This is the fundamental message of the evangel.
      Now to make it abundantly clear, Paul goes on to great Easter message;
    “And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
     And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:”  
        Notice the echos of the Creed?  So Paul switches from a scriptural based message to a witness based message,(which will later be recorded in the four gospels and other letters to the early church). This is one of the passages that indicates how many people saw Jesus AFTER he was resurrected. Understanding the culture of the time, men were counted in number, so by extrapolation we can assume that there were women and children present at the time Jesus was seen; “...he was seen of above five hundred brethren...”.   The point being, many people who had seen Jesus alive and in his three and a half year ministry, saw him again, after he had been executed.  “After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles”. This great witness to the resurrection is what will fuel the early church.  These folks will go on to share the gospel message, be willing to suffer persecution, financial/physical loss, freedom, and even loss of life.  By this very witness others, who did not physically see Christ Jesus, will come to salvation by that very witness.  

      Now Paul continues his message to the Corinthian church by certifying his position as an apostle, not of the original number, but born again, after Christ had ascended into heaven some 40 days after his resurrection. 
      Remember, Paul was a highly educated individual. He had gone to the Harvard/Yale/Princeton college/seminary of his day. He had been taught by one of the most revered rabbi of the time, so he wasn’t lacking in education, he was lacking in correct faith. He knew the scripture of the time, backward and forward, he knew the laws and tradition of the Pharisee, but he did not know the Redeemer and Messiah of Israel and all the world: Jesus Christ. Paul now lets his readers know his personal faith walk:
     And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
     For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
       Then Paul reveals that even though he was not there at the beginning of Christ ministry (he was away at seminary), he sites his certification by what he has done for the Gospel of Jesus.
    Everything that was done in Paul’s converted life was in the hands of God the Father. He would become the driving force in spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles, it would be Paul’s missionary journeys that would spread the Way (later known as Christianity) to all corners of the Roman world. “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me”.  Other apostles and believers would carry the message to India, Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia, and beyond, so with the combined effort of all of them, God’s saving message would be eventually spread to all parts of the world.
       Paul now ends up this passage with a more humble admission:
     “Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed”.
    In understanding this essential message of the spreading of the Word, we too can participate in the great quest. We can share God’s love for his Creation, the He sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to deliver us from our spiritual death, inflicted upon us by our original earthly father, Adam.  Because Adam fell, we are fallen, because Jesus died for us, we are risen in Him by example of his Resurrection from the grave.  We can believe and be saved.
    Let us pray:
    O GRACIOUS Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy Universal Church; that thou wouldst be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord.          Amen.
    DIRECT us, O Lord, in all our doings, with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.     Amen.

    Almighty and everlasting God,  since it is of thy mercy, that another day is added to our lives; We here dedicate both our souls and our bodies to thee and thy service, in a sober, righteous, and godly life: in which resolution, do thou, O merciful God, confirm and strengthen us; that, as we grow in age, we may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

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