From the Pulpit (or centre aisle!) 03-01-16

Yesterday at St. Stephen’s the sermon delivered by Mr. Lloyd Begley (lay reader) was taken from the second Book of Homilies to be Read in Churches, and included two short excerpts from the Homily on Christ’s Nativity, found therein.  The two books of homilies, along with the 39 articles, set the tone for the theology of our Christian tradition – alongside Scripture itself, which sets the tone for our faith.  The language was slightly updated for understanding’s sake.  I have included footnotes so that you can look up in Scripture all of the references made in the body of the homily.  For your reading enjoyment and reflection!

“The purpose of Christ’s coming was to save and deliver his people,* to fulfil the law for us, to bear witness to the truth, to teach and preach the words of his Father, to give light to the world, to call sinners to repentance, to refresh them that labour and are heavy laden, to cast out the prince of this world, to reconcile us in the body of his flesh, to dissolve the works of the devil4, last of all, to become a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. These were the primary purposes for which Christ became human, not for his own profit, but only for our sakes; that we might understand the will of God, be partakers of his heavenly light, be delivered out of the devil’s claws, released from the burden of sin, justified through faith in his blood, and finally received up into everlasting glory, to reign with him forever. What a great and potent love of Christ towards mankind! Jesus,* being the full and lively image of God, has humbled himself, and taken upon him the form of a servant, and that only to save and redeem us! O how much are we indebted to the goodness of God! How many thanks and praises do we owe him for our salvation, wrought for us by his dear and only Son Christ: who became a pilgrim in earth, to make us citizens in heaven; who became the Son of man, to make us the sons of God; who became obedient to the law,* to deliver us from the curse of the law; who became poor, to make us rich; vile, to make us precious; subject to death, to make us live forever. What greater love could we desire or wish for?

Therefore, may we not forget this great love of our Lord and Saviour; let us not show ourselves unmindful or unthankful towardsl him: but let us love him, fear him, obey him, and serve him. Let us confess him with our mouths, praise him with our tongues, believe on him with our hearts, and glorify him with our good works. Christ is the light:υ let us receive the light. Christ is the truth: let us believe the truth. Christ is the way: let us follow the way. And, because he is our only Masterφ, our only Teacher, our only Shepherd, and Chief Captain, therefore let us become his servants, his scholars, his sheep, and his soldiers. As for sin, the flesh, the world, and the devil, whose servants we were before Christ’s coming, let us utterly cast them off, and defy them, as the primary and only enemies of our soul. And, considering that we are once-for-all delivered from their rule by Christ, let us never fall into their hands again, so that we do not find ourselves in a worsem case than before. Happyχ are they, Scripture saysn, that continue to the end. Be faithfulψ, says God, until death, and I will give you a crown of life. Again he says in another placeω: He that puts his hand to the plough, and looks back, is not fit for the kingdom of God. Therefore let us be strong, steadfastα, and unmoveable, abounding always in the works of the Lord. Let us receive Christ, not for a time, but for ever; let us believe his word, not for a time, but for ever; let us become his servants, not for a time, but for ever; in consideration that he has redeemed and saved us, not for a time, but for ever; and will receive us into his heavenly kingdom, there to reign with him, not for a time, but forever. To him therefore with the Father and the Holy Ghost be all honour, praise, and glory for ever and ever. Amen.[1]

* Matt. [1:21]; 5:[17:]; John 18:[37:]; Luke 4, [17–21, 43:] John 8:[12:]; Matt. 9:[13]; 11:[28:]; John 12:[31:]; Col. 1, [21, 22:] Heb. 10, [10: 1 John 3:8:] Rom. 3, [25: 1 John 2:2.]

4 Ut dissolvat opera diaboli. 1 Joh. 3:8, Vulg.

* [Heb. 1:3: Phil. 2:7, 8.]

* [Gal. 3:13; 4:4, 5: 2 Cor. 8:9.]

l toward from 1582.

υ [John 12:46; 14:6.]

φ [Matt. 23:8, 10: John 6:68; 10:16.]

m in a worse from 1571.

χ [Dan. 12:12: Matt. 10:22.]

n saith the Scripture from 1563 G.

ψ [Rev. 2:10.]

ω [Luke 9:62.]

α [1 Cor. 15:58.]

[1] Griffiths, J. (Ed.). (1859). The Two Books of Homilies Appointed to be Read in Churches (pp. 400–410). Oxford: Oxford at the University Press.

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