Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity 27 September A.D. 2020

Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity       27 September A.D. 2020      Morning Prayer

Psalm 66    First lesson. 1 Kings 12:1-20               Second lesson.  Acts 19:21-41
                                     O LORD, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity
                                     cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot
                                     continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore
                                     by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

                                                               “Rule of Law”

   Our second lesson today is very interesting in how from a historic manner we can see how God controls everything in His creation.  
We find Paul heading back to Jerusalem after having spent a number of years in what would be known today as northern Turkey and southeastern Greece.  He has been spreading the Gospel, strengthening churches and teaching throughout the whole area.  But as we will read he runs into some trouble because of the Truth he is teaching.  The town of Ephesus was known for its beautiful temple main temple that was dedicated to Diana/Artemis. The cultic following centered around this particular goddess was very strong. A whole industry of shrines and keepsakes made of silver generated great wealth for a good number of silver smiths and shops that sold those idols.  Demetrius, who may have been a spokesman for the silversmith, spoke out about the dangers of this new group, THE WAY.  Early believers were not identified as Christians (followers of Christ ) yet.  
We find that Paul’s preaching and church planting is causing a shift in the economy, especially for the silversmiths.  If people were converting from paganism to a faith that did not include visible gods depicted by handmade idols, a whole industry was now threatened. 
Demetrius began to stir up the people with the purpose of stopping Paul and his message. 
Satan has been doing this very thing since the beginning. Any and all ways to thwart the will of God, but Satan will not prevail.
After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.
 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.
 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.

 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;
 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.
 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:
 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.
 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.
 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.
And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.
Paul wanted to meet with the provocateurs, but wiser folk prevailed. They persuaded Paul to not go to the theater to meet with the protestors. 

 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.
 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
 And when the town clerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?
 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.
 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.
 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.
 But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.
For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.
 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

  Now we can refer to the commentary of Matthew Henry:

. The Jews came forward in this tumult. Those who are thus careful to distinguish themselves from the servants of Christ now, and are afraid of being taken for them, shall have their doom accordingly in the great day.
 One, having authority, at length stilled the noise. 
It is a very good rule at all times, both in private and public affairs, not to be hasty and rash in our motions, but to take time to consider; and always to keep our passions under check. 
We ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly; to do nothing in haste, of which we may repent at leisure. The regular methods of the law ought always to stop popular tumults, and in well-governed nations will do so.
 Most people stand in awe of men's judgments more than of the judgement of God.
 How well it were if we would thus quiet our disorderly appetites and passions, by considering the account we must shortly give to the Judge of heaven and earth! And see how the overruling providence of God keeps the public peace, by an unaccountable power over the spirits of men.

 Thus the world is kept in some order, and men are held back from devouring each other. We can scarcely look around but we see men act like Demetrius and the workmen. 

It is as safe to contend with wild beasts as with men enraged by party zeal and disappointed covetousness, who think that all arguments are answered, when they have shown that they grow rich by the practices which are opposed. 

Whatever side in religious disputes, or whatever name this spirit assumes, it is worldly, and should be discountenanced by all who regard truth and piety. And let us not be dismayed; the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters; he can still the rage of the people.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

  This narrative, taken from the book of Acts, gives us a great lesson in what people of faith should contend for, peace, not chaos.  As we see those who were both of Jewish background and those in authority, whether Roman or Greco-roman, they knew that the only way to deal with a large crowd was by peaceful means. In times like ours, we see so much chaos being fomented by those who hate anything to do with good, whether it be government or society, and yet they must be dealt with using the right application of the law we have in this land. 
We have had several periods of public chaos over the history of our great nation. We must make that an exception not the rule.  As we pray for the healing of our nation let us look to our Sovereign God and Creator, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, to guide and direct us in this very trying time of tumult.

Psalm 66

Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:
 Sing forth the honor of his name: make his praise glorious.
 Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.
 All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah.
 Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.
 He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him.
 He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.
 O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard:
 Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.
 Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.
 Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.
 I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.
 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer
Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.

Let us pray:

 O LORD Jesus Christ, who didst say to thine Apostles, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; Regard not our sins, but the faith of thy Church, and grant it that peace and unity which is agreeable to thy will; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.                         Amen.

LORD Jesus Christ, who as on this day didst rise from the dead; Teach us to reverence this thy holy day, and give us grace so to use it, that we may rise to newness of life, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

O SAVIOUR of the world, who by thy Cross and precious Blood bait redeemed us, Save us, and help us, we humbly beseech thee, O Lord.

THE Almighty Lord, who is a most strong tower to all them that put their trust in him, to whom all things in heaven, in earth, and under the earth, do bow and obey, be now and evermore thy defence; and make thee know and feel, that there is none other name under heaven given to man, in whom and through whom thou mayest receive health and salvation, but only the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

    Unto God's gracious mercy and protection we commit thee. The Lord bless thee, and keep thee the Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace, both now and for evermore. Amen.