Quinquagesima Sunday   03 March 2019 A.D.

Psalm. 19    First Lesson. Deuteronomy 10:12-15, 17-11:1   Second Lesson. 1 John 2:1-17

                       O Lord, who hast taught us that all our doings without
                       charity are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost,
                       an pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity,
                       the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which
                       whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this 
                       for thine only Son Jesus Christ’s sake.           Amen  

                                               “A Message for All Ages”. 

    In the epistle of 1st John we find a message that covers so many details and which challenges us as believers to come to the battle well prepared; this in other words a message for all time.
   One of the clearest messages that he writes is the wonderful promise of the work and efficacy of Christ’s work for us in heaven.
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
   Here John first asks his readers to not sin.  Then he immediately writes in the very next sentence ‘and if any man sin..’   John knows that we can and will fall.  But look at the next part of that sentence, ‘we have and advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous’.  In other words even when we sin, Christ steps in and advocates on our behalf to God the Father, who cannot tolerate sin.   And even more amazing, Christ is not only our advocate, he is also our payment {propitiation} for our sins.   He becomes the Pascal Lamb, he the sinless, will die on the Cross for our sins, a once and for all death to cover the sins of the world.     All this messaging is coming as we approach Lent and should take the time to meditate upon the great work Christ did for us, the great Gift God the Father gave to us, our salvation from death dealing sin, at first spiritual and later physical death.  Christ steps in for us, he does it for us, he becomes that sacrifice, that payment, the propitiation for our sins.     Amen

  Let us shift our thoughts towards instruction.   Notice what St. John begins to teach us in the following verses (12,13,14).   These could be understood as a road map or ‘life’ directions.

 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.  I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.   I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.
As St. John writes this list out you notice that he reemphasizes each point in the “good” column. He praises both young and old alike, giving a boost to the good behavior of each group.  As we see the progress of the group he is writing about, it is all in a positive mode.

Then St. John returns to the ideas and concepts that will get you into trouble.  These he gives as an admonition and warning to the people (us) reading the epistle.  
“ Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”   When do we hear that at least once a month, yes in the Decalogue we recite before Holy Communion in the second commandment.  Then notice how he writes in an almost background sense.  “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them. “Thou shall have no other gods before me....”  The first commandment.

Verse sixteen covers most of the rest of the tenth commandment, lust, coveting, and some general pride and greed.   As St. John finishes out that thought, all of these things, ideas, feelings, and desires come not from the Father in heaven, but from the world.  He is making sure we know that these thoughts are not God’s.   The world and its temporary ruler, Satan, will bring nothing but sadness, sorrow, loss, and eventually  death.   Satan makes everything look good, the “eye candy” of the world sure tastes good, we get lured into thinking like the world.  
 “I need that, I need this, I need the other one, it is a different color, model , year, style, you get the idea.”     But is it really a need or just a want.  The use of the terms has changed over the years, we say need when we really mean want.  And as you analyze an item or what seems to us as a need, we realize that we don’t need much to get along in this world.   We can be really happy and fulfilled following God’s way without adding all the extra baggage the world likes to give us.

Where is all of this going?   The Church season of Lent starts next Wednesday.  It was and is a period of reflection and remembrance of what Christ did for us.   The forty days signifies His forty days in the wilderness and his temptation by Satan.   After each temptation, Christ answer Satan with scripture.  That model that Christ gave us helps us to battle not Satan, but the fiery darts of temptation he sends our way.  We have Christ who will beat Satan and Death, we have Christ we can call upon to stand in our defense, but He gave us the template to follow. 
    When tempted, use the Bible to answer the temptations, use the Word of God to fight back. Remember when Christ was in the wilderness for 40 days, when Satan approached him to tempt him, Christ only answered with the Holy Word.  We are not to personally fight Satan, that is God the Holy Spirit’s job; but we are to flee or run away from temptation.  One way to do this is reflect on the Word and remind yourself of the great promise of Salvation through Jesus Christ the Only Begotten Son of God.  We can strengthen ourselves during temptation to walk away from said temptation.  Seek the Lord where he may be found.  Go to his Word and reflect upon it and use it to ward off temptation.    “His word will not return void”    Over the next forty days, minus Sundays, we will be reflecting upon what Jesus Christ would do for us, he’s creation, with the ultimate sacrifice, his life for our salvation.

Let us pray:
 Almighty God and heavenly Father; Open thou our eyes that we may see ourselves to be sinners in thy sight, partakers of a fallen nature, and actual transgressors against thee.  Enable us to realize our continual need, both of thy pardoning mercy and of thy quickening grace; and to receive Jesus Christ as the only Savior of our souls.  May we trust in his atonement, and rely on his intercession, as our only hope.  Rejoicing in thy free salvation, and renouncing our own righteousness, may we walk in the way of thy commandments, serving thee faithfully, and striving against every sin; through the grace that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.     Amen

  O Lord, accept our intercessions for all mankind. Let the light of thy Gospel shine upon all nations; and may as many as have received it, live as becomes it. Be gracious unto thy Church; and grant that every member of the same, in his vocation and ministry, may serve thee faithfully. Bless all in authority over us; and so rule their hearts and strengthen their hands, that they may punish wickedness and vice, and maintain thy true religion and virtue. Send down thy blessings, temporal and spiritual, upon all our relations, friends, and neighbours. Re- ward all who have done us good, and pardon all those who have done or wish us evil, and give them repentance and better minds. Be merciful to all who are in any trouble; and do thou, the God of pity, administer to them according to their several necessities; for his sake who went about doing good, thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

O Lord, we join our unfeigned thanks for all thy mercies; for our being, our reason, and all other endowments and faculties of soul and body; for our health, friends, food, and raiment, and all the other comforts and conveniences of life. Above all, we adore thy mercy in sending thy only Son into the world, to redeem us from sin and eternal death, and in giving us the knowledge and sense of our duty towards thee. We bless thee for thy patience with us, notwithstanding our many and great provocations; for all the directions, assistances, and comforts of thy Holy Spirit; for thy continual care watchful providence over us through the whole course of our lives, and particularly for the mercies and benefits of the past day: beseeching thee to continue these thy blessings to us; and to give us grace to show our thankfulness in a sincere obedience to his laws, through whose merits and intercession we received them all, thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

 May God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit be with you and abide with you now and forever, world without end.  Beloved now go in peace.    Amen