6 Deceber 2015

posted 2 Dec 2015, 21:42 by C S Paul   [ updated 2 Dec 2015, 21:50 ]

6 Deceber 2015

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Luke 1:57-80New King James Version (NKJV)

Birth of John the Baptist

57 Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son.58 When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

Circumcision of John the Baptist

59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. 60 His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.”

61 But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” 62 So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called.

63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. 65 Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. 66 And all those who heardthem kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.

Zacharias’ Prophecy

67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:

68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David,
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began,
71 That we should be saved from our enemies
And from the hand of all who hate us,
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
74 To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.

76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited[a] us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

80 So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

What will this child be?

by Rev. Fr. V.V. Paulose, Toronto, Canada

Do you long for the welfare and protection of your children, and yourself?

John, the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth had raised the red flag to warn the landmines of dangers and predators waiting to destroy the most beautiful creation of God - human life. He also paved the way for the human beings to escape this.

John, the Baptist, warned the tax collectors the wrongness of corruption. He advised them, "Collect no more taxes than the government requires." They repented and got baptized. John publically criticized Herod the ruler that it was sinful to keep his brother's wife. So, Herod put John in prison (Luke 3:20). As per the command of the king, "The soldier beheaded John in the prison" (Mark 6:27).

This is what Jesus had to comment about John – "For all who have ever lived, none is greater than John" Mathew 11:11). What John, the Baptist did, cost him his life.

Every child's saga of his or her journey and the mission to be accomplished in this world is destined by God. Whether this is achieved or not depends on man. He has the freedom to choose his path. If he choose the right way, he will hear the voice of our loving Jesus, "Faithful servant, the heaven is for you." Every human being is here to represent Jesus by standing for Him. "Light to those who sit in the darkness and the shadow of death and to guide us to the path of peace" (Luke 1:79). John the Baptist did it without any fear and compromise in a world of corruption and murder.

We are living in a very pessimistic and uncertain world. Now, we no longer know whom to trust, love and depend on. There is total darkness everywhere – safety and security has become a major concern in every walk of life - streets are not safe, schools are to be feared from bullies and lock-downs, houses are being burglarized, no job security, and there's abuse in all its forms, even by the people whom we love and trust.

Jessica Lloyd, 28 years old, was relaxing in her home after a hard day's work. The predator, Col. Williams was waiting outside to break into the house. Suspecting a car parked near Jessica's home, a police officer stopped and inspected her house But finding nothing, he had left. As soon as the officer had gone, Col. Williams sneaked into her house and horrendously abused her. He then abducted her in his car and took her to his cottage, where he later murdered her and dumped her body. Had the police officer warned Jessica, she could have been alive today.

But who does warn the danger ahead of us in this blundering world? All genuine warning signals are uprooted only to have the wrong signals planted. Today, we are in need of a John the Baptist. Could any of our sons or daughters be one?

Now, let me tell you the story of a 11 year old boy who was the son of a priest. They used to go out together every Sunday afternoon to distribute Gospel Tracts after the church service. One Sunday afternoon, it was cold and raining very heavily and so the priest decided not to go for the Gospel distribution. The boy got ready to go and was disappointed with his dad's decision. He asked his father, "But dad, aren't people still going to hell even though it is raining. Can I go and distribute them?" Having got permission to go and after two hours of walking in the rain, he was soaking bone-chilled wet and was down to his very last Tract. He looked around for someone to give the last one, but the streets were totally deserted.

Then he turned down towards the first home he saw and rang the bell, but nobody answered. He rang the bell several times and was about to leave, when something stopped him. Again, he turned to the door, rang the bell and knocked loudly on the door with his fist. He waited…something was holding him there on the front porch. Then, the door slowly opened and standing in the doorway, was a very sad-looking elderly lady. She softly asked, "What can I do for you, son?" With radiant eyes and a smile that lit up her world, the little boy said, "Ma'am, I am sorry if I disturbed you, but I just want to tell you that Jesus really does love you and I came to give you my very last Gospel Tract which will tell you about Jesus and His great Love. With that, he handed her his last Tract and turned to leave when she said, "Thank you, son. And God bless you!"

Well, the following Sunday morning in the church, Pastor Dad was in the pulpit and asked if anybody had a testimony or wished to say anything. Slowly, an elderly lady stood up and as she began to speak, a look of glorious radiance came to her face. She said, "No one in this church knows me. You see, before last Sunday, I was not a Christian. My husband passed away sometime ago leaving me all alone in this world. Last Sunday, being a particularly cold and rainy day, it was even more so in my heart that I came to the end of the line where I no longer had any hope or will to live."

"So, I took a rope and a chair and ascended the stairway into the attic of my home, I fastened the rope securely to a rafter in the roof, then stood on the chair and fastened the other end of the rope around my neck. Standing on that chair, so lonely and broken-hearted, I was about to leap off, when suddenly the loud ringing of my doorbell downstairs startled me. I thought I'll wait a minute and whoever it is will go away. I waited and waited but the ringing doorbell seemed to get louder and more insistent, and then the person ringing also started knocking loudly. I thought to myself again, who on earth could this be? Nobody even rings my bell or comes to see me. I loosened the rope from my neck and started for the front door, all the while the bell rang louder and louder."

"When I opened the door and looked, I could hardly believe my eyes, for there on my front porch was the most radiant and angelic little boy I had even seen in my life. His smile, oh, I could never describe it to you! The words that came from his mouth caused my heart that had long been dead, to leap to life as he exclaimed with a cherub-like voice, "Ma'am, I just came to tell you that Jesus really does love you". Then, he gave me this Gospel Tract that I now hold in my hand. As the little angel disappeared back out into the cold and rain, I closed my door and read slowly every word of this Gospel Tract. I realized that I wouldn't need to think of death anymore. You see, I am now a happy child of the King. Since the address of your church was on the back of this Gospel Tract, I have come to personally thank you for the God's little angel who came just in the nick of time and by doing so, spared my soul from an eternity in hell." 
The pastor, filled with love and joy, came down and embraced his son. This is truly a beautiful and touching story.

What will this child turn out to be? Let us be a child of God like John the Baptist, or like the 11 year old angelic boy who saved the elderly from committing suicide. There are many Col. Williams around us. Let us escape from these predators by falling at the feet of Christ and acknowledging Him as our savior, our God and Lord. Today, when you leave from here, make it a point to call your parents, relatives, friends and others in your neighborhood and offer your help in some way or the other. You can boldly say to everyone whom you meet in words and actions that JESUS REALLY DOES LOVE YOU. He will come and protect you from all dangers. And Jesus will commend you as the blessed son or daughter. You can trust Him and he will never leave you.

I love and respect you all. This church takes care of all your needs here on earth and after. This is a spiritual gathering and not a social group. Every member in this church is important. A purpose-driven church worships Jesus with love and is a community with commitments. I am always at your disposal, so please feel free to contact me with your problems. Please pray for this mission and for me. May God bless you all.

Sermon delivered at the inaugural service of the Jerusalem Christian Mission, Scarborough (Toronto), Canada on December 5, 2010


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