St Hilda's Anglican Catholic Church Service Times

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Every Sunday 2017. Maitland NSW Australia. Venue: St Marys School Chapel in Victoria St. Mass at 11am.
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Fr Matthew Kirby for further details.
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Thursday, 14 November 2013

Sermon Summary Trinity 23 - Study and imitate through inspiration.

Sermon Summary Trinity XXIII 2013

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change this lowly body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Philippians 3:17-21 (KJV)

"[M]ark those who so live as you have an example in us." +

This year this 23rd Sunday after Trinity occurs within the octave of All Saints. And so the verse I just quoted from the beginning of the appointed Epistle is particularly apt. The Church celebrates Saints' lives, and even deaths, and honours them with loving reverence. We are forbidden to worship them, but we are to acknowledge with gratitude the way they reflect the light of Christ.

Note that while St Paul tells the Philippians Christians to imitate him and his companions ("an example in us"), he elsewhere says that he imitates Christ (Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1). So, Christians are to follow Christ, but also, in a secondary sense, to follow those who most clearly conform to him. And the Church has called those who have gone before us and become such glorious examples, capital "S" Saints. Remember, however, that according to the New Testament we already are saints in the original, ordinary sense, simply by being sanctified as Christians.

Indeed the best way to honour the Saints is not to praise them, name church buildings or institutions after them, or ask for their prayers, as legitimate as all these are. No, the best way to honour the Saints is to really study their example, be inspired by it, and imitate it. That is, you might notice, the emphasis in the Canon of the Mass we use, from the 1549 Book Of Common Prayer: "whose examples, O Lord, and steadfastness in thy faith, and keeping thy holy commandments, grant us to follow."

And that means that, while we know that all Saints share certain fundamental characteristics, which we can identify in a general way and benefit from, it also helps to know their individual stories. Each of them reflects the glory of God in a distinct way, just as each of us are meant to. God does not mass produce his children; we do not come from an assembly line. Each of us is precious in his or her own right to Him, each is different. And because there is so much to Jesus, both in his Divinity and Humanity, there is no exhausting the ways he can be imitated, the aspects of his natures that can shine forth in various ways from us.

In other words, where possible, we should get to know the Saints. We should read their stories. They will both encourage and confront us. Getting to know them and what they achieved will strengthen our faith, help us to see Jesus better. Yet, it is difficult to deny that sometimes we will learn of their patience and bravery under suffering and be frightened or think, "I don't think I could ever be like that, and I hope I am never tested so!" In that case, don't allow terror to rob you of your joy, for God has promised not to test any of us beyond the grace he gives us to persevere, as we trust in Him (There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.1 Corinthians 10:13,  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.Philippians 2:13). And, don't forget, they were not superheroes or cartoon characters, they were real, flawed human beings, saved sinners, like us. In most cases our trials will not be their trials, and our cross to carry may even seem absurdly small compared to theirs. But there will still be points of contact, and lessons to be learned.

All of the Saints, as the Canon of the Mass teaches us, were characterised by faith leading to obedience. They trusted confidently in their Redeemer, they extolled the King of Heaven in word and deed, and did not cease to do these things even when the situation was difficult or painful. And they loved their brethen and neighbours, actively, prayerfully. Let us do the same, and let us not omit to learn of the Saints. Start with a namesake or your patron saint, if you have one, or a modern one of whom you've heard. Use the internet and books, and befriend a Saint this week. +


The image used is "Saints" by Giovanni Del Biondo 1367.
Join us at St Hilda's Parish of the Anglican Catholic Church this Sunday for prayer, worship and Holy Communion / Mass. We meet at the school chapel of St Marys campus of the All Saints College in Victoria St Maitland NSW Australia at 11am. ...All welcome...

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