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The Third Sunday after Easter

ALMIGHTY God, who showest to them that are in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness; Grant unto all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ's Religion, that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

READINGS: see below: 1 St. Peter ii. 11. St. John xvi. 16.

Your heart shall rejoice

Today's collect asks God to show those who are in error the right way, and to grant to all Christians avoidance of evil and following of goodness. It seems to me this is a very appropriate collect for the Church today, with so many evil incidents and departures from Scriptural values.

In the 1st Letter of St John. He exhorts his readers to resist all the temptations of the flesh that would lead them into sin. He goes on to tell them the right things to do, specifically to Honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, and honor the king. Let us take a look at each of these briefly:

Honor all men. All men are created in the image of God. When he had created man in the beginning, He said it was "very good". In the Army there is a key value of Respect, and soldiers are trained to respect every human, not just their comrades. The codification of this, in respect in the enemy, is the Geneva Convention. It specifies how forces are to treat enemy prisoners of war and civilians. It is a result of the work of Christian men who understood this basic principal of the Bible. Christians should respect the dignity of every human being. In the 10th Chapter of Acts, Peter, after observing Cornelius and his family said, "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. " The law of our land proscribes discrimination based on race, creed, nationality, color, and to a large extent, gender. However, we should not honor men's dishonorable behavior, words, and acts. We are also called upon to discriminate against evil.

Love the Brotherhood. Jesus told his disciples, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." Your fellows in Christ are your brothers and sisters, your family. Jesus said, For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother."

Fear God. The Greek word used here for Fear is Phobeo. In Strong's it is defined as "to put to flight by terrifying. To be struck with fear, to be seized with alarm... those startled by a strange sight or circumstance ... struck with amazement... to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience." In the order of centurions, the motto is "Fear God and do what is right." In a world where semantics, the study of the meaning of words and their affect has become some important there are those who are offended by this "Fear the Lord." The connotation to them is negative, and it is difficult approach this concept. It is not a very popular theme for sermons because of this. Nevertheless, any student of the Bible knows it to be a recurring theme from Genisis to Revelation. From the time that Adam and Eve stood naked in the Garden of Eden and hid from the Lord, until St. John was amazed and awe struck in his vision of the Last Days, the Bible emphasizes this one aspect of our relationship with the Almighty God. Everyone fears something. If you fear man or things, and not God, then you need to reevaluate what and who are important. Now a Fear of the Lord does not mean that you are afraid he is going to harm you, any more than you might have thought your mother or father were going to kill you. Indeed, perhaps the best way to look at a fear of the Lord is the way you look at a loving parent who expected you to be good. Your love, respect, and fear of the authority of that parent positively affected your behavior. The Fifth Commandment is to honor Your Father and Mother, to defer to their authority, to obey them. Likewise, if you have children and are striving to bring them up as good Christians, they have a fear and respect for you. Fear is a basic human emotion. God gave us fear to protect and preserve us. There is nothing negative about it; it will save your life. The car decals that say "No Fear" humor me, except for one variation, it said "One Fear".

Honor the king. Peter tells us here that we are to respect civil authority. We are to obey moral laws and fulfil our civic obligations.

In our Gospel, Jesus promises to return to the disciples. He tells them that when He does, they shall rejoice and it will be a joy that no man may take from him. This promise is fulfilled when He sends the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. He emboldens them and they no longer cower hidden from their persecutors. They boldly step forward to proclaim the Good News, fearing no one but their God, and doing good works as led by the Spirit.

The Epistle. 1 St. Peter ii. 11.

DEARLY beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit your-selves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

The Gospel. St. John xvi. 16.

JESUS said to his disciples, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

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