Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Twentieth Sunday after Trinity - Sunday 14 October 2018

My Friends,

Welcome to my blog this evening , a reflection on tomorrow's Holy Gospel  "The Wedding"

The Gospel 
St. Matthew xxii. 1.

 JESUS said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding-garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding-garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.

 Have a look at the verses 11-13. What a nightmare! In a room full of company we are certainly catching all the attention.
 We realize that we are naked, without the appropriate clothes and we flee or are thrown out of the room. Caught out because of our sins.
 No, we are definately not ready at all.

 The readings and the collect for this Sunday all do cover this " readiness ".In the Epistle from blessed Saint Paul we are being asked to walk circumspectly. That means to walk carefully, being aware of the dangers surrounding us, and the collect "Almighty God. . . keep us. . .from all things that may hurt us; that we, being ready both in body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish those things that thou wouldest have done." Here it is again, protection is sought from danger.

 So.. we need to be ready for an unexpected call. Take our death for instance. In the course of modern day life and its hectic pace, we might not spend too much time thinking about this. I have heard stories where patients are seriously ill and have not got long to live and the doctors in question dont take the time to explain the seriousness of the situation. It is very striking that the Clergy in our Churches dont spend too much of their time preaching on this subject and on the fact that we need to be ready if God was to call us home. There could be our sudden appearance before the judgement seat of Christ. Are we then ready to give our solemn account?
 We do need to be peaceful and penitent to make this our last journey. We should be deeply sensible of the shortness and the uncertainty of human life.

 What is required is a readiness for all the demands of life, a preparation such that we will have the capacity to act rightly and cheerfully no matter what demands are made upon us. One might call this a readiness both for life and death.
 The clothing offered to cover our weakness is our Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostle tells us “to put on our Lord Jesus Christ and the whole armour of God that we may be ready and able to stand.” (Ephesians 6.11)

 But we must build on the foundation of theological virtues if we are to be ready for everything. We must build up the powers, the virtues, the habits which make us able to control and direct our actions.This is something which occupies every moment of our life. It has to do with our education, at home, at school, and at church. In these places, we acquire the mental, emotional and physical powers and habits which must serve us during a whole life time.

 If we put on our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be able to stand against all the fiery darts of the evil one and finally, having done all, we will be found standing erect and ready when the King cries “The Wedding is ready, come.”

Then we shall go in with gladness and join in the great banquet and wedding song, singing to God, Father, Son, and Spirit the praise which is his due and giving to him thanksgiving and glory, even as we do now.

Father Ed Bakker,
Priest & Missioner,
Anglican Catholic Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

My Friends,

A warm welcome to my blog on this Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity!
The Epistle 

Ephesians iv. 17. 

 THIS I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that yet henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

 In Ephesians 4:1–16, Paul focused on Christians living lives worthy of our calling by God. Now Paul transitions to a new section in verses 17–32. He contrasts the new life believers have in Christ, as opposed to the "old life" of the world. Paul's introduction notes how directly and seriously he intends these instructions to be taken. The reference to speaking "in the Lord" makes his words stand out.

 Paul instructs the Ephesians not to share in the kind of immoral lifestyle which non-believers follow. The Ephesian Christians were mostly Gentiles, in the sense of being non-Jewish: they were not descendants of Israel. Symbolically, "the Gentiles" mentioned in this context are those people who are separated from God. They are the unsaved. As saved believers, the Ephesians were once "spiritual" Gentiles, but no longer. Paul's point here is that believers cannot continue to live as unbelievers and expect to please God.

 We have talked this evening about what it means to move from the Old life of the world to the New Life in Christ. 

 The world is such an evil place and even those walking in the New Life still struggle the temptations of the old. Alone we cannot endure in order to be saved. That is why we need the power of the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. The Collect for this Sunday tells us this so well :

 The Collect 

 O GOD, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Where do we go from here to face another week ? Pray for an indwelling of the Holy Spirit in your lives. Keep on reading the teachings of the Apostles as much as you can, so that you are reminded to how to be different, because you confess Christ Crucified.

 While we still can , lets get back on track.

 Father Ed Bakker,
 Priest & Missioner,
 Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province,
 Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
 Launceston on Tasmania
 In Australia.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

Friends in Christ,
A warm welcome to my blog on this Sunday evening,

The Epistle
1 Corinthians 1 4. 
 I THANK my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Saint Paul expresses a thanksgiving by himself for the various blessings bestowed up the Church
in Corinth. It can be seen as a proof that he has great affection for it and this he is very concerned about its welfare. Thanks is being given to God, because He is the author of all mercies and glory for which He ought to be praised.
The Apostle styles Him as " my God" to distinguish Him from others: to express his faith of interest in Him and to observe to the Church, that all the good things they enjoyed came from Him, who was His God and their God, his Father and their Father. The persons on whose behalf he gave thanks were not at this time himself and Sosthenes, but the members of the Church at Corinth. 
The continuance of his thankfulness for them, is "always", as often as he went to the throne of grace, or at any other time thought of them: what he particularly gives thanks to God for in this verse is,for the grace which is given you by Jesus Christ: and includes all sorts of grace, adopting, justifying, pardoning, regenerating, and sanctifying grace; every particular grace of the Spirit, as faith, repentance, hope, love, fear, humility, self-denial, &c. all are gifts of God, and entirely owing to his free grace, and not to man's free will and power, or to any merits of his; and all come through the hands of Christ, and are given forth by him, as the Mediator of the covenant, and in consequence of his blood, righteousness, sacrifice, and merit.
Father Ed Bakker,
Priest & Missioner,
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province,
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne,
Launceston,Tasmania, Australia.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Dear Fathers, Friends in Christ,
 Luke 14:1-11
Jesus said, "Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted." 

My friends, a few minutes ago, as you listened to the Gospel reading, you heard about the man with dropsy. I really didn't know very much about dropsy. I know that we would say, when we can't hold onto something and we keep dropping it, "I must have dropsy." I guess that's a common use of the word. 
Actually, it is a rather antiquated word to describe something that medical people nowadays call edema, which means excessive fluid in the system. I don't pretend to be a doctor but what I did learn about edema is that it isn't a disease in itself, but rather a symptom of something else that is really wrong with a person. Frequently it involves the kidneys or congestive heart failure or some other radical disease that is within the system, such as cancer A person balloons up with all the fluid in his system. 
This is the afflicted individual who was standing in front of Jesus at a dinner to which He had been invited. It was obvious the man was very ill. Jesus would have to ask some questions of the people who were assembled there because they were watching Him closely, as Luke tells us. 
He asks them a very simple question, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?" Immediately, He put them on the horns of dilemma. If they said what they should have said, "No, it is not right to heal on the Sabbath," for the practice of medicine was specifically forbidden by Jewish law, that would have been absurd. Cleverly, He poses the dilemma. They couldn't answer Jesus' question one way or the other; they very prudently kept their mouths shut. 
So Jesus simply healed the man. What a radical transformation must have come over this individual. He was completely changed, completely transformed. He no longer was so bloated. He looked normal. Whatever had caused these symptoms was gone as well. What a miraculous thing Jesus has done! 
Now He decides to give the people a little instruction. "Which of you have some beast of burden? If it were to fall into a cistern, wouldn't you pull it out on the Sabbath?" Oddly enough, to do so was allowed in Jewish law. But you couldn't heal or practice medicine on the Sabbath. How absurd! How absolutely crazy! 
Jesus continues this instruction for those people who were watching Him. Rather than embarrass His host, who had invited Him to this luncheon (probably after the Sabbath service at the synagogue), He proposes a little parable to them. "When you show up for a wedding, don’t go and grab the best seats at table. Somebody more important than you might have been invited and you would have to give up that place." In Jewish society the seating of guests at a banquet was incredibly complex. It had to do with age and rank and wealth and whatever else was part of the mix. The idea was that the person who ranked highest would sit closest to the host; the lowest, farthest away. 
Jesus had just watched them scramble for the best seats at this meal but he doesn't directly criticize them. Instead He says, When you go to a wedding, don't do that. Seek the lowest place and then the host can say, 'Friend, come up higher'." Now He wasn't instructing them on the niceties of etiquette in the Jewish community. Rather He was trying to teach them something else, about their relationship with God; that they should live their lives with honesty, simplicity, and humility. 
In order for us to understand, we read that final line in today's Gospel: "Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted." What does that mean? Very simply, you and I must understand the virtue of humility in such a way that we come to realize that before God we are what we are. What a beautiful teaching that comes fast upon the healing of the man with dropsy. He was all bloated. Now Jesus is dealing with people who were bloated with pride. He wants to heal them as well. 
He doesn't want us to fall prey to the illness of pride. He who humbled Himself in obedience to His Father, even to the point of death on the cross could give this lesson in humility. "Be honest," He is saying, "about who you are and what you are before God, first and foremost. It is your relationship with your God that is so important. If you exalt yourself, God will put you down. If you humble yourself, God will raise you up. 
That is the moral of the parable, if you will. It is a lesson that you and I must understand. Humility is honesty with oneself before God: to be honest about who and what we are; to acknowledge the fact that God has perhaps given us great talents. That is not pride to acknowledge those talents. That is honesty. And it is humility. False humility is to have the gifts and hide them under a bushel basket. False humility is to say, when you know you are able, "Oh, I'm not really good at this at all." You really think in your heart of hearts that you are able. That puffs you up. That gives you "spiritual dropsy". That we don't want . 
What we want to have is a simplicity before God that says, "I am what I am. I have these gifts. I have these failings. I acknowledge the fact that I am a sinner before God; that I fail many times a day; that I must seek the forgiveness of my God." If we do that, we are building the kind of humility that Christ our Lord wants us to have. 
In the first reading this morning from the fourth chapter of Saint Paul's letter to the Ephesians (That whole fourth chapter is such a beautiful teaching on the unity of the Mystical Body as well as the diversity of gifts within the Body) Paul says, 
"I plead with you then, as a prisoner for the Lord, to live a life worthy of the calling you have received with perfect humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another lovingly, making every effort to preserve the unity which has the Spirit as its origin and peace as its binding force." 
"This is the way you and I are to be," says Paul. Later on in that chapter, he says very simply, "You must lay aside your former way of life and the old self which deteriorates through illusion and desire." (Illusion is pride.) "Acquire a fresh spiritual way of thinking. You must put on that new man created in God's image whose justice and holiness are born of truth" (Ephesians 4:22-24). 
That was quite a luncheon Jesus attended. It started out with the healing of the poor bloated man standing before Him. It ended by pricking the bloat of the people that were assembled, teaching them about true humility. Let this be the word for the week that we carry with us from church this morning. "Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted."

Father Ed Bakker,
Priest & Missioner,
Anglican Catholic Church/Original Province,
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne,
Launceston on Tasmania,

Friday, September 21, 2018

Saint Matthew, Apostle & Martyr

Dear Fathers, Friends in Christ,

On this day, Saint Matthew the Apostle

Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. The Romans were not scrupulous about what the “tax farmers” got for themselves. Hence the latter, known as “publicans,” were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with “sinners” (see Matthew 9:11-13). So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers.

Matthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house. The Gospel tells us that many tax collectors and “those known as sinners” came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. What business did the supposedly great teacher have associating with such immoral people? Jesus’ answer was, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:12b-13). Jesus is not setting aside ritual and worship; he is saying that loving others is even more important.

No other particular incidents about Matthew are found in the New Testament.

From such an unlikely situation, Jesus chose one of the foundations of the Church, a man others, judging from his job, thought was not holy enough for the position. But he was honest enough to admit that he was one of the sinners Jesus came to call. He was open enough to recognize truth when he saw him. “And he got up and followed him” (Matthew 9:9b).

Father Ed Bakker
Priest & Missioner,
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Launceston on Tasmania