Holy Trinity Anglican Church

Sermons and Reflections

Now It’s Clear – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church Pentecost 2018

Today’s Sermon – Now It’s Clear

LESSONS:

First Lesson             Acts 2:1-11

Psalm                        Psalm 104:25-37

Second Lesson        1 Corinthians 12:4-13

Gospel                      John 20:19-23

COLLECT: Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

God’s Big Plan – Reflection for Pentecost 2018

Pentecost is a great example of the way in which we experience God’s faithfulness across the generations. The shavuot or Feast of Weeks is commanded as a feast of Israel in the Torah. Counted as a “week of weeks” after the Passover, the feast falls on the fiftieth day after the Passover hence the Greek name of Pentecost (fiftieth). The feast in the agrarian society of early Israel represented an offering of the first fruits of the harvest, a festival of the Lord’s provision in the Land. 

By the Second Temple period in which Jesus lived, the festival had also been associated with the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai fifty days after the first Passover in Egypt and in some communities also with the sign of the rainbow given to Noah after the flood. The feast was a celebration not only of God’s provision in the Land but also a celebration of Gods covenant promises.

At some point, it also became customary within the Jewish community to read the book of Ruth at the festival of shavuot. This story of the entry of a gentile into the covenant people, as well as into the lineage of David and Jesus, represents  the loving kindness of God and a kind of first fruit promise of the time when God will gather all people into his covenant promise. In the book of Ruth, we find instruction on the practices of merciful generosity to the poor commanded in the Torah as well as the role of the kinsman redeemer to preserve the inheritance within a family. 

Against the rich and festive backdrop, we come to the celebration of Pentecost in the early first century as the Disciples were gathered in one place. On the day in which they celebrated the firstfruits of Creation, they are formed into the Church as firstfruits of the Spirit just as Jesus is the firstfruit of the Resurrection (Romans 8:23, 1 Corinthians 15:20-23; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; James 1:18; Revelation 14:4). As the Disciples celebrated God’s covenant with Noah and His covenant with Israel given to Moses on Mount Sinai, they experience the giving of the New Covenant promised through the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34). By the power of the Holy Spirit, God placed His law in our hearts. On the day in which they celebrated the loving kindness, mercy and redemption of God for Israel and the promise to the Nations, they experience the outpouring of the Spirit foretold by the prophet Joel, redemption for Israel and the promise to the nations.

As we gather today to celebrate Pentecost, let us take time to offer thanks for the provision of God given us in Creation and by His Spirit in His Church. Let us rejoice in the faithful covenant of the Lord written in our hearts. Let us consider the hope of redemption and promise to the Nations.

Waiting…Again… Reflection for the Sunday after Ascension 2018

This week, we experience another Sunday of waiting. On Thursday, we celebrated the Ascension of Christ. He lead them out of Jerusalem and gave them a vision of the Kingdom spreading through them to all nations, but He told them to return to Jerusalem and wait. Then He blessed them and ascended into heaven. 

While this is a different kind of waiting than the waiting after Easter, it is still waiting. Luke tells us that the disciples returned to Jerusalem with great joy. They were continually in the temple and devoted in prayer.  Our lesson in Acts finds the small band of 120 or so still in Jerusalem waiting, but they are preparing by selecting a replacement for Judas.

We have the benefit of knowing that the waiting for this group is rather short, the ten days between Ascension and Pentecost. We don’t often know how long our wait will be, nor do we often experience the dramatic, clear, and communal presentation of vision that the disciples experienced. However, we can still use these ten days to practice expectant waiting on God.

While we may lack the same specificity of mission that the disciples received, the mission has not changed greatly. The same Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus needs to be proclaimed to all the nations beginning right here. As we wait, consider who in your life needs to hear this message of hope.

While we may not know how long we must wait for the power and opportunity to share the Gospel with this person, we can spend the waiting time as the disciples did. As we come together in the presence of Christ, receive His blessing and worship Him. As we depart, let us depart in joy and devote ourselves to the teaching, to worship, to prayer, and to fellowship knowing that we do not wait without hope or promise. As we wait, let us also consider how we might prepare ourselves to embark on the mission to which Jesus calls us. 

As we prepare to celebrate the first fruits, the giving of the law, and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit next week at Pentecost, I invite you once again to practice waiting.

A Prayer for Us – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 13 MAY 2018

Today’s Sermon – A Prayer for Us

LESSONS:

First Lesson          Acts 1:15-26

Psalm                     Psalm 47

Second Lesson     1 John 5:6-15

Gospel                   John 17:11-19

COLLECT: O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Name not Title, Our Title is Loved – Reflection for 6 May 2018

Christian is our name, not a title, but a name that goes on the back of our legal name.

I am Ed Morgan, Christian, who happens to be a somewhat retired Anglican priest. I follow my Lord Jesus Christ. I am His! He is in me and I am in him. He has given to me the Holy Spirit to comfort, help, guide and sustain with intercessions for me to the Holy Father. I am loved because God first loved me before I had a chance to love him.

Think about that for a moment, God loved you before you were able or willing to love him. That meant during all those times in which you and I were in our errant ways, God loved us. 

When we were in Arizona for our conference we went to Sedona, two hours north of Scottsdale It is really beautiful for being in the high desert and very striking with surrounding hills, filled with various shades of red and brown. It is no wonder why so many westerns were filmed in Sedona, it grabs the imagination. I digress, we found this little art shop named Adonai, of course you know we had to stop in and look around at the art. I am glad we did, for I discovered a beautiful piece of artwork that illustrates the scriptures for this week. It is a cross, which we are all familiar, but instead of the cross containing the corpus of Christ, it displayed a hand reaching down for the top of the cross grasping a hand reaching up from the bottom of the cross, graphically depicting God’s love reaching down to save His Creation. 

I can not tell you the intensity of emotions that overwhelmed me when I saw that, I was actually weak in the knees for the overwhelming act of God portrayed in that piece of art.

I later found out that the people who run the shop run it as a 501c3 mission of outreach. The proprietor of the shop is retired Army and recently completed seminary and was ordained 2 years ago and is 72 years of age. I didn’t get to meet him, but his wife is a walking testimony for all who would listen about Christ and what God has done and is doing. So, was the 2 hour drive worth the effort? Praise God, it was magnificent. 

If you are on the cross of life, are you reaching up to grasp the hand that has always reached down to you? If not, look in the mirror and find out why! Amen. 

Following Love – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church for 6 May 2018

Today’s Sermon – Following Love

LESSONS:

First Lesson              Acts 11:19-30

Psalm                         Psalm 33:1-8,18-22

Second Lesson         1 John 4:7-21

Gospel                       John 15:9-17

COLLECT: O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Power to Love – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 29 APR 2018

Listen to today’s sermon – The Power to Love

LESSONS:

First Lesson            Acts 8:26-40

Psalm                       Psalm 66

Second Lesson       1 John 3:18-24

Gospel                     John 14:15-21

COLLECT: Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lead On Holy Spirit, Lead On! – Reflection for 29 APR 2018

Philip and the Eunuch is always an interesting part of the Book of Acts. Jesus has made his presence known to the disciples and told them what they are to do.

The Eunuch is traveling on the road, not by himself, as he was an important personage, he would have guards and servants along with him. The Holy Spirit puts Philip in front of the Eunuch who is puzzling over written accounts of what has transpired recently. This is an educated man, a man of means, a man of influence and reason and he is struggling over the text. Philip asks, very politely, if he understands what the text means. Being a smart man he says that it would make sense if someone could help him understand what it all means. Philip now has his chance and begins to explain everything about the text, so much so, that the Eunuch asks to be baptized. 

Philip asks one question, what do you believe? Here the Eunuch replies, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, he is the Son of God’, what a faith statement! 

IF, IF, if the Holy Spirit put you in front of someone of influence and power and they asked you what you believe, what would be your statement ?

Has the Holy Spirit put you in front of anyone where you can make your Faith Statement? Can you make that statement, you know, that Jesus Christ is Lord, he is the Son of God! 

I think it is amazing that the Holy Spirit operates in our lives and so many times we don’t follow through or allow him to take us out of our comfort zone and be place in front of a Eunuch, figurative speaking. 

Have you admitted, in all the years at church, that Jesus Christ is Lord, Lord of your life, Lord of your family, Lord of your work, Lord of your will?

Jesus Christ is Lord, and he is risen and lives! Amen. 

Following the Shepherd – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 22 APR 2018

Listen to today’s sermon – Following the Shepherd

LESSONS:

First Lesson          Ezekiel 34:1-10

Psalm                     Psalm 23

Second Lesson     1 John 3:1-10

Gospel                   John 10:11-16

COLLECT: O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

What About Sin? – Reflection for 22 April 2018

John spends much time in today’s epistle reading discussing sin and righteousness. I would guess if we are truly honest with ourselves that our definition of sin looks something like a list of behaviors that other people do and if we are feeling particularly pious we might include some small things that we should work on. We might also define righteousness by self-reference and include behaviors like going to church, not cussing (at least not too much), and generally being “good” (or at least more good than bad).

John takes this even farther. John paints sin as open rebellion against God when he states that “sin is lawlessness.” Sin is a refusal to yield to God. He continues that as we choose to be in rebellion, we are choosing not to live in the household of God as children. He even goes so far as to say that when we choose rebellion over obedience, we are choosing to call ourselves children of the devil instead of children of God.

Hold this image for a moment and consider what this means when we look at our own rebellions whether they are large or small and begin to deceive ourselves that they are not that bad, or even worse when we begin to even twist the will of God and the Word of God to call them good. We refuse to listen to the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth and we place a sign in front of the devil’s house saying “God lives here.” 

John does not leave us hopeless. Even though in our rebellion we have called the devil our father and chosen to dwell in his wicked house, our true Father has shown such great love that He has called us His children and invites us to dwell in His house. Jesus takes away our sin and invites us to move back into the house of God and to be a part of the household as children of the Master. However, if we choose to cling to our sin and rebellion, we can not truly know Jesus. 

There is a danger to knowing Jesus. John warns us that the world will no longer understand us because the world does not know the Father or the Son. John warns us that we will be so radically changed that we will be born of God. Not only will we live in God but God will also live in us. We will no longer rebel against God and be set against our brothers and sisters. Instead, we will come to know the righteousness of Christ as our own and love our brothers and sisters.

John lays out this distinction between sin and righteousness, rebellion and obedience so clearly that I almost think it is an instantaneous change and an either/or state. Indeed, Christ’s once and for all work on the cross declared us righteous and children of God. However, our journey to accept that takes a lifetime. We live in a paradoxical state that Luther described as “simultaneously righteous and sinful.” We are continually in a state of needing to come home to where we live. In the Daily Office, we confess that “we have followed too much the devices and desires of out own hearts” and that “apart from your grace there is no health in us.” 

Again, we are not left hopeless. By the life of Christ, we are invited to turn away from rebellion and come home. By the Blood of Christ, we can approach the throne of grace with confidence in the love and mercy of God. By the resurrection of Christ, we live no longer as rebellious servants but as beloved children.