St. Michael and all Angels (transferred) 30 September 2018 A.D.

            St. Michael and all Angels   29 September 2018

Psalm 24       First Lesson. I Samuel 8:22, 9:15-19, 10:1   Second Lesson I Timothy 2:1-8

                  O EVERLASTING God, who hast ordained
                                  and constituted the services of Angels and men
                                  in a wonderful order; Mercifully grant that,
                                  as thy holy Angels always do thee service in heaven,
                                  so, by thy appointment, they may succour and defend us
                                  on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

                                                  Why pray for our president ?       
 Many years ago, when I was asked to step in to preach at a small Anglican mission in Joplin Missouri I had the following encounter.  After the service of Morning Prayer, a young father of three or four youngsters approached me and asked why I had prayed for the president of the nation.  At that time, the president was Bill Clinton.  The fellow asked me if I didn’t know how wicked and immoral the president was and wasn’t that wrong to pray for maintaining him in office. 

 Well, far from praying for a continued Clinton administration I explained to the man that we are compelled to pray for those who have authority over us.  He asked why?  I tried to explain that God is Sovereign and it is His world that is under His control.  If I believed that God was sovereign, then I should believe that His Word should be followed. 
The passage from St. Paul’s first letter to Timothy in the second chapter we read:      
1 Timothy 2:1-3 “ I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;”
  Now mind you, in Paul’s day, the position of caesar was undergoing an evolution.  Augustus Caesar elevated his adopted grandfather, Julius Caesar to a form of divinity. A temple was constructed in Rome, offerings were made to Julius Caesar, who had now been named a god.
For a period of years the custom would be that after the current caesar had died, then he was made a god.  It would be either Nero or Caligula who would declare himself a god before he died.  A temple was built, offerings were made to the “living” god and all tradition was broken. 
 So to a Jewish convert, the very idea of praying for a pagan and declared god sounded like total blasphemy.  Now re-read what Paul wrote to Timothy.  He is exhorting Timothy [and others] to pray for and give thanks for kings and all who are in authority.  He is not asking believers to pray to them, he is asking believers to pray for them.  Big difference.  There is no blasphemy being advocated here.
The Book of Common Prayer has always had at least one or two variances of prayers for our leaders. In the Commonwealth nations it is to the reigning sovereign of Great Britain and includes prayer for prime minister and even parliament assembled.  That tradition was continued and updated in the American version of the BCP. This was to include the type of government we have, a president, congress, judicial branches, state and local authorities too.  In other words, taking the writings of St. Paul to include ALL those who have authority over us.  
O LORD our Governor, whose glory is in all the world; We commend this nation to thy merciful care, that being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and to all in Authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness; and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen

    In these times of turbulence and chaos, especially pertaining to the U.S. Supreme court nomination, did you hear or read about what Judge Kavanagh’s daughter did?  When the family was gathered for daily prayer, she made the point of praying for the lady who was accusing her father of all this wrong doing.  Wow.  You talk about out of the mouths of babes.  This young lady is living the believers life, she knows that it is right to pray for all, right, wrong , what ever, she knows that all need prayer.  I think back to that young father who chided me for praying for the president, what a wonderful testimony that would have been, the judges daughters prayers!

 Now let us touch on another sensitive subject: taxation and our current government.  There groups of folks around the nation who feel that it is not moral to pay taxes to the evil government.   After all, it advocates for legal abortion, same-sex marriage, all types of amoral and secular behavior, which is promulgated in our public schools and colleges.  So in moral outrage, some people of faith refuse to pay their taxes. 
   Again, let us go back to the Bible.  We have the incident where the Jewish legal and educational elite were trying to trip up and catch Jesus in a no win response. 

 “...And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?  But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?  Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's.   And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's.”

 It may be true that our current government is not holding to a more sane legal mode, especially when it deals with behavior that is morally wrong, but it is not our job to protest by not doing that which is legal: paying our taxes.  We can try to elect more balanced leaders and legislators, holding them to reforming our tax codes. We can pray for our leaders, as discussed earlier in this message and we should show the world that we are not willing to break the law in an attempt to protest taxation.   There are finer details that should be left up to a good discussion about the responsibilities of believers as they live in this world, but the major tenant is to live a godly life overall. To be “...good and acceptable in the sight of God our savior...”

   Historically, in Great Britain, the feast of St. Michael and all Angels, celebrated on the 29th of September, was the day all taxes were paid to the lord of the manor, landlords, county or civil authorities.  It was also a time that tenant farmers settled up their accounts with the owner of the land.  The harvest was mostly complete by this time of the year, sustenance was stored away for winter and any surplus was used to pay off land rent and other debts. 

Let us pray:

LORD, we beseech thee, grant thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and with pure hearts and minds to follow thee, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, who sittest in the throne judging right; We humbly beseech thee to bless the courts of justice and the magistrates in all this land; and give unto them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, that they. may discern the truth and impartially administer the law in the fear of thee alone; through him who shall come to be our judge, thy Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast created man in thine own image; Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil, and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice among men and nations, to the glory of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.

   May 2019   
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