The Nativity of John Baptist 24 June 2018 A.D.

 Nativity of Saint John Baptist               24 June 2018 A.D.

Ps 24           First Lesson: Malachi 4      Second Lesson. Matthew 11:2-19

                        ALMIGHTY God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was                                             wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Savior by                                            preaching repentance; Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that                                      we  may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example                                             constantly  speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the                                        truth's sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord.                                        Amen.

    “He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart             of the children to their fathers”. 

Let us ask a question.  What does the prophet mean by the phrase “turn the heart”?
He specifically points to the generational aspect of a people. Father to children; children to father.  Why?  It turns out that Malachi is writing about generational time, not just what is to come some 400 years after the last Old Testament prophet speaks.  He is writing about the First and Second Coming of Christ the King. First as a Light to the world, his influences will change a sinner from that state to a state of a holy, joyful, and fruitful soul.  This was accomplished when Jesus walked upon the earth as God with us, Immanuel. 
In those first three verses of Malachi 4 we read of Christ’s first and second coming. 

“...Behold another day is coming, far more dreadful to all that work wickedness than any which is gone before. How great then the happiness of the believer, when he goes from the darkness and misery of this world, to rejoice in the Lord for evermore!...”*

  Change.  If you turn about and go 180 degrees away from where you were going, you definitely have made a change. We also understand this change as repentance.  How do we affect such a change?  We do it by example, by reaching out to the lost, by doing good for those who are lost. The example of what it means to be a believer.  More Muslims are drawn to Christ by the lives of Christian around the world.  They see true believes living their faith daily.   The Holy Spirit quickens the soul, draws it to Christ, using faithful believers to share the Light to the world.

Interestingly relevant talk follows:
 The following is an excerpt from a talk given in Jerusalem recently during the GAFCON conference.  The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall Harmon, Canon Theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina and The Rev. Rico Tice of All Souls Langham Place in the Diocese of London shared about preaching on the doctrine of Hell during a seminar on June 20th in Jerusalem.

“Tice argued that people without Christ go to Hell, and with this in mind, Christians should re-organize their time in response.

“What’s happened in the Church of England is that we are functional Universalists,” Tice assessed. “We care more about what people think of us now that of what God will think about them on the Day of Judgment.”

Tice, Senior Minister for Evangelism at All Souls Church suggested three points in preaching about Hell: first, celebrate people as made in God’s image. Second, serve: look to do random acts of kindness. Third, cross the pain line: ask a tough question, such as “what do you think about eternity?”

“We’ve got to put people in an environment where choices matter,” Harmon shared. “People understand that their financial planning has consequences, or whom they marry, or what college they go to. They go through the entire week knowing that choices matter, but we’ve determined that on Sunday the choice about God doesn’t matter.”

Harmon and Tice also examined concepts of the afterlife: “If you live without God in a fixed sense here, how do you think that will continue in eternity?” Harmon asked, describing how actions in people’s lives today can result in calcification down a path later. Two kinds of people resulted: those who say to God “thy will be done” and those who are locked into a trajectory away from God in which God says to them “thy will be done.”

“Life is a lot more serious than most of us function as if it is,” Harmon noted. 

                   (From a blog by Jeffrey Walton, in Juicy Ecumenism)

All in all, when we study the times of John Baptist or the Baptizer, we see the overarching theme of repentance.  People of the time were drawn into the wilderness to hear what John had to say. He wasn’t pulling any punches.  He called out the sinner, he called out the unrepentant and told them they must change, they must repent. They must turn from their wickedness and live. And the sign of this repentance was to be baptized.  Even to this day, in cultures around the world, the dividing mark or event between “hearers and doers” is the act of baptism.  Many folk hang out with the Christians and enjoy the peace and fellowship and food, but the enduring mark, the indication that one has repented, turned from their wicked ways and seek to follow Christ is; baptism.  The act is not a saving act.  It is a outward sign of an inward work.  The work of the Holy Spirit upon that person’s soul.  They have been drawn to Christ Jesus by the call of the Holy Spirit, he enlivens their soul, he bring the dead (spiritually) back to life (spiritually) so that they now desire to follow Jesus.  That first step in the process being baptized.  

“John the Baptist preached repentance and reformation, as Elijah had done. The turning of souls to God and their duty, is the best preparation of them for the great and dreadful day of the Lord. John shall preach a doctrine that shall reach men's hearts, and work a change in them. Thus he shall prepare the way for the kingdom of heaven.”*

“None can expect to escape the curse of God's broken law, nor to enjoy the happiness of his chosen and redeemed people, unless their hearts are turned from sin and the world, to Christ and holiness. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all. Amen.”

“The saints' triumphs are all owing to God's victories; it is not they that do this, but God who does it for them”*

    Beloved remember the words of John the baptizer; REPENT and turn from your wicked ways.

Let us reach out to those around us and as we have heard in today’s message, tell them the good news, but do not spare the bad.  If they do not repent they will never see their Creator as their loving Father.  

* from the commentaries of Matthew Henry

  Let us pray:

O GOD, who hast made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the whole earth, and didst send thy blessed Son to preach peace to them that are far off and to them that are nigh; Grant that all men everywhere may seek after thee and find thee. Bring the nations into thy fold, pour out thy Spirit upon all flesh, and hasten thy kingdom; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

O ALMIGHTY God, look mercifully upon the world which thou hast redeemed by the blood of thy dear Son, and incline the hearts of many to dedicate themselves to the sacred ministry of thy Church; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, guide, we beseech thee, the Nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

O LORD Jesus Christ, who saidst unto 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 to it that peace and unity which is according to thy will, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.







   May 2019   
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