Sermon for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity

“No-one can say JESUS IS LORD but by the Holy Spirit”

There is something quite wonderful and compelling about this morning’s readings as difficult and challenging as they may be. They remind us in no uncertain terms of the creedal form of reading the Scriptures, reading the Scriptures through the Creeds. Here we are in the midst of our summer sojournings in the land of the Trinity, as it were, and yet here is something which recalls us at once to the Advent of Christ and to the Passion of Christ; in short, to the creedal principles of our Christian lives. Paul is emphatic. “No one can say JESUS IS LORD, but by the Holy Spirit.” The capitalisation is a form of emphasis.

It is one of the earliest creedal statements from within the Scriptures themselves and which goes to the question of being able to say what is the Faith. It is a Trinitarian statement really, the nucleus of what we proclaim more fully in the great Catholic Creeds of the Church which come out of the Scriptures, out of such words as these, and which return us to the Scriptures within a pattern of understanding.

“Concerning spiritual gifts … I would not have you ignorant,” says St. Paul. “Now there are diversities of gifts…” and he goes on to list them. They are gifts which arise out of this fundamental proclamation, out of what we have been given to say about God by God himself. “No one can say JESUS IS LORD but by the Holy Spirit.”

The diversity of gifts belongs to our life with God in the communion of God, the Trinity. The different gifts are about his grace in our lives. To esteem them is to honour him. This is something communicated to us by the grace of God with us, Jesus Christ, God’s Word and Son. To confess Jesus as Lord acknowledges him as “I am who I am,” as God with us, God in the very flesh of our humanity, God made man. Only so can he be Lord. In Jesus the Old Testament mystery of God’s name, “I am who I am,” is opened to view, explored and explicated in terms of the spiritual relation of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. God’s relation to us radically depends upon his self-relation, upon the communion of God with God in God, the communion of the Trinity. Such is the heart of the Christian religion and the burden of our proclamation in which we are privileged to participate. For if we cannot proclaim with clarity the God of our salvation, then we cannot participate with charity in the divine life opened to us through Christ’s sacrifice.

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The Tenth Sunday After Trinity

The collect for today, the Tenth Sunday after Trinity, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):

LET thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants; and that they may obtain their petitions make them to ask such things as shall please thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
The Gospel: St. Luke 19:41-47a

Giotto, Expulsion of Moneychangers from the TempleArtwork: Giotto di Bondone, Expulsion of the Moneychangers from the Temple, 1304-06. Fresco, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua.

William Wilberforce

The collect for today, the commemoration of William Wilberforce (1759-1833), English MP, Social Reformer, Abolitionist (source):

Westminster Abbey, William WilberforceLet thy continual mercy, O Lord, enkindle in thy Church the never-failing gift of charity, that, following the example of thy servant William Wilberforce, we may have grace to defend the children of the poor, and maintain the cause of those who have no helper; for the sake of him who gave his life for us, thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever.

The Epistle: Galatians 3:23-29
The Gospel: St. Matthew 25:31-40

Artwork: Samuel Joseph, William Wilberforce, 1840. Westminster Abbey, London.

Olaf, King and Martyr

The collect for a Martyr, in commemoration of Saint Olaf (995-1030), King and Patron Saint of Norway, Martyr, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):

Saint OlafO GOD, who didst bestow upon thy Saints such marvellous virtue, that they were able to stand fast, and have the victory against the world, the flesh, and the devil: Grant that we, who now commemorate thy Martyr Olaf, may ever rejoice in their fellowship, and also be enabled by thy grace to fight the good fight of faith and lay hold upon eternal life; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Epistle: 1 St Peter 4:12-19
The Gospel: St Matthew 16:24-27

Artwork: Saint Olaf, stained glass, St Olave’s Church, Hart Street, London. Photo taken by admin, 24 August 2004.

St. Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The collect for today, the Feast of Saint Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary (source):

All Saints York, St. Anne and BVM Read Psalm 142O GOD, who didst vouchsafe to bestow grace upon blessed Anne, that she might become the mother of the parent of thy Only-begotten Son: Mercifully grant that we who celebrate her festival may be partakers with her of thy heavenly grace; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Lesson: 1 Samuel 2:1-8
The Gospel: St. Luke 1:26-33

Artwork: St. Anne and the Blessed Virgin Mary read from Psalm 142, c. 1420. Stained glass, Great East Window, All Saints, North Street, York. Photograph taken by admin, 1 October 2014.