Small Voice

The Second Sunday of Advent

One small voice can start a revolution!

Processional Hymn:

The Collect:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Reading from the Prophet Isaiah 40:1-11

Comfort, O comfort my people,

says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

and cry to her

that she has served her term,

that her penalty is paid,

that she has received from the Lord’s hand

double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:

“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,

make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be lifted up,

and every mountain and hill be made low;

the uneven ground shall become level,

and the rough places a plain.

Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,

and all people shall see it together,

for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out!”

And I said, “What shall I cry?”

All people are grass,

their constancy is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,

when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;

surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades;

but the word of our God will stand for ever.

Get you up to a high mountain,

O Zion, herald of good tidings;

lift up your voice with strength,

O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,

lift it up, do not fear;

say to the cities of Judah,

“Here is your God!”

See, the Lord God comes with might,

and his arm rules for him;

his reward is with him,

and his recompense before him.

He will feed his flock like a shepherd;

he will gather the lambs in his arms,

and carry them in his bosom,

and gently lead the mother sheep.

The Word of the Lord.

Response Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

Benedixisti, Domine

1 You have been gracious to your land, O Lord, *

you have restored the good fortune of Jacob.

2 You have forgiven the iniquity of your people *

and blotted out all their sins.

8 I will listen to what the Lord God is saying, *

for he is speaking peace to his faithful people

and to those who turn their hearts to him.

9 Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, *

that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Mercy and truth have met together; *

righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11 Truth shall spring up from the earth, *

and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12 The Lord will indeed grant prosperity, *

and our land will yield its increase.

13 Righteousness shall go before him, *

and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.

A Reading from The Epistle 2 Peter 3:8-15a

Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.

The Word of the Lord.

Gospel Hymn:

A Reading from the Holy Gospel of Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,

who will prepare your way;

the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

‘Prepare the way of the Lord,

make his paths straight,’”

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Sequence Hymn:

John the Baptist was a small but great voice which began a great revolution of faith! He was prophesied by Isaiah to bare witness to the coming of the Christ King.

Story Time

In 2004 Victor Yushchenko stood for the presidency of the Ukraine. Vehemently opposed by the ruling party Yushchenko’s face was disfigured and he almost lost his life when he was mysteriously poisoned. This was not enough to deter him from standing for the presidency.

On the day of the election Yushchenko was comfortably in the lead. The ruling party, not to be denied, tampered with the results. The state-run television station reported “ladies and gentlemen, we announce that the challenger Victor Yushchenko has been decisively defeated.”

In the lower right-hand corner of the screen a woman by the name of Natalia Dmitruk was providing a translation service for the deaf community. As the news presenter regurgitated the lies of the regime, Natalia Dmitruk refused to translate them. “I’m addressing all the deaf citizens of Ukraine” she signed. “They are lying and I’m ashamed to translate those lies. Yushchenko is our president.”

The deaf community sprang into gear. They text messaged their friends about the fraudulent result and as news spread of Dmitruk’s act of defiance increasing numbers of journalists were inspired to likewise tell the truth. Over the coming weeks the “Orange Revolution” occurred as a million people wearing orange made their way to the capital city of Kiev demanding a new election. The government was forced to meet their demands, a new election was held and Victor Yushchenko became president.

Philip Yancey writes

“When I heard the story behind the orange revolution, the image of a small screen of truth in the corner of the big screen became for me an ideal picture of the church. You see we as a church do not control the big screen. (When we do, we usually mess it up.) Go to any magazine rack or turn on the television and you see a consistent message. What matters is how beautiful you are, how much money or power you have. Similarly, though the world includes many poor people, they rarely make the magazine covers or the news shows. Instead we focus on the superrich, names like Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey.… Our society is hardly unique. Throughout history nations have always glorified winners, not losers. Then, like the sign language translator in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, along comes a person named Jesus who says in effect, Don’t believe the big screen – they’re lying. It’s the poor who are blessed, not the rich. Mourners are blessed too, as well as those who hunger and thirst, and the persecuted. Those who go through life thinking they’re on top end up on the bottom. And those who go through life feeling they’re on the bottom end up on the top. After all, what does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”

Source: Philip Yancey, What Good Is God, pages 184-186

It’s time once again for all of our small voices to start a revolution and bring people the Truth of God and I mean the truth…not some sugar coated Social Gospel that seems to be all to prevalent today! Remember as the Lord said in the Book of Malachi 3:6a “For I the LORD do not change.”

Will you step up this Advent season and Prepare the Way of the Lord? I say call people to repentance and to be true of heart and in love of God. Bring them the Message of everlasting life with a journey that starts in Bethlehem and ends in an empty tomb! Prepare ye the way of the Lord!

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Stop Selling Sugar Water

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Processional Hymn:

A Reading from the Book of Isaiah 55:10-13
10“The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
11It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
12You will live in joy and peace.
The mountains and hills will burst into song,
and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
13Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.
Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name;
they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God

Responsorial Psalm (Parish to respond with the words in italics)
1What mighty praise, O God,
belongs to you in Zion.
We will fulfill our vows to you,
2for you answer our prayers.
All of us must come to you.
3Though we are overwhelmed by our sins,
you forgive them all.
4What joy for those you choose to bring near,
those who live in your holy courts.
What festivities await us
inside your holy Temple.
5You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds,
O God our savior.
You are the hope of everyone on earth,
even those who sail on distant seas.
6You formed the mountains by your power
and armed yourself with mighty strength.
7You quieted the raging oceans
with their pounding waves
and silenced the shouting of the nations.
8Those who live at the ends of the earth
stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets,
you inspire shouts of joy.
9You take care of the earth and water it,
making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water;
it provides a bountiful harvest of grain,
for you have ordered it so.
10You drench the plowed ground with rain,
melting the clods and leveling the ridges.
You soften the earth with showers
and bless its abundant crops.
11You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
12The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture,
and the hillsides blossom with joy.
13The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep,
and the valleys are carpeted with grain.
They all shout and sing for joy!

Let us profess our faith through song.

A Reading from The Letter to the Romans 8:1-11
1So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 3The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

5Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

9But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 11The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
 

Sequence Hymn:

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew 13:1-9,18-23
1Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. 2A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. 3He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. 4As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. 5Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. 7Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. 8Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! 9Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

18“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 19The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. 20The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 22The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. 23The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you Lord Christ.
 

Homily Hymn

Stop Selling Sugar Water!

Commentary

Christ taught in parables. Thereby the things of God were made more plain and easy to those willing to be taught, and at the same time more difficult and obscure to those who were willingly ignorant. The parable of the sower is plain. The seed sown is the word of God. The sower is our Lord Jesus Christ, by himself, or by his ministers. Preaching to a multitude is sowing the corn; we know not where it will light. Some sort of ground, though we take ever so much pains with it, brings forth no fruit to purpose, while the good soil brings forth plentifully. So it is with the hearts of men, whose different characters are here described by four sorts of ground. Hypocrites, like the stony ground, often get the start of true Christians in the shows of profession. Many are glad to hear a good sermon, who do not profit by it. They are told of free salvation, of the believer’s privileges, and the happiness of heaven; and, without any change of heart, without any abiding conviction of their own depravity, their need of a Saviour, or the excellence of holiness, they soon profess an unwarranted assurance. But when some heavy trial threatens them, or some sinful advantage may be had, they give up or disguise their profession, or turn to some easier system.

Parable Time

Who among us could live without computers? It seems they’re everywhere – in our studies at home, on our desks at work, in the library, the bank and even the cafe. We get pleasure from them, we swear at them, we need them.

But it’s only a recent thing. Just 3 generations ago the Chairman of IBM declared there is a world market for only five computers. As recently as 1977 the President of Digital Equipment claimed there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home!

The revolution was brought to us in large part by Steven Jobs, the founder of Apple Computers. Steve Jobs was just 21 when he and Steve Wozniak invented the Apple Computer. Until then computers were a monstrous mass of vacuum tubes which took whole rooms. Then the two Steve’s managed to take that mass of tubes and incorporate them inside a box small enough to sit on a desk.

Jobs and Wozniak offered their invention to Atari. They weren’t interested in big bucks – all they wanted was a salary and the opportunity to continue their work. Atari knocked them back. They offered it to Hewlett-Packard, but Hewlett Packard knocked them back. It seemed Jobs and Wozniak alone could see the possibilities. So Jobs sold his Volkswagon and Wozniak sold his calculator, and with the $1300 that gave them they formed Apple Computers. The company was named Apple in memory of a happy summer Jobs had spent working in an orchard.

The rest is history. By all accounts Steve Jobs is a visionary, and spurred on by that vision he built a successful computer company. But Jobs soon discovered that if his vision was to reach fruition they needed greater management expertise. So Jobs approached John Sculley, then President of PepsiCo. There was absolutely no reason why Sculley should leave a highly paid position in a world leading company to go work with a bunch of computer nerds in a fledgling industry. Not unsurprisingly he turned Jobs down. But Jobs wouldn’t take no for an answer. He approached Sculley again. Again Sculley turned him down. In a last ditch effort Jobs passionately presented his visionary ideas to Sculley and he asked Sculley a question that forced him to accept.

The question was this: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”

“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?” Indeed Jobs and Sculley did change the world.

Jesus comes to us with the same question: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?” Most of us spend our lives making sugared water, going to work to accumulate more possessions and perhaps finding space for God and the world in our spare time. But Jesus had a vision to change the world. His was the vision of the kingdom of God and he calls us to place it at the center of our lives, to make it our reason for existence.

When we make His vision the center of our lives our mundane troubles melt away.  We need to stop selling the sugar water of human life and start Giving the TRUTH of the Gospel to all. Don’t be like the hypocrites and run to something easy for easy faith is of the Devil.

The Doxology:

Recessional Hymn:

Hypocrisy 

Note Bene: I will give no quarter to those who are Traitors and Hypocrites unless they Repent and Recant!

word-of-the-day

The Oxford-English Dictionary defines Hypocrisy as: “The practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case.”

Merriam-Webster defines the word Hypocrite as:

  • 1:  a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion

  • 2:  a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

1 Peter 2:1 (King James 2000 Bible):  “Therefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking,”

Isaiah 9:17 (NLT):  That is why the Lord takes no pleasure in the young men and shows no mercy even to the widows and orphans. For they are all wicked hypocrites, and they all speak foolishness. But even then the LORD’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.

Proverbs 11:9 (King James): “An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.”

Continue reading “Hypocrisy “