Thou Art The Christ!

Rev. Deacon Allen J. Batchelder

Trinity Church
Waltham, Massachusetts
August 24, 2014, Pentecost XI

Isaiah 51:1-6, Psalm 138, Romans 12:1-8, Matthew 16:13-20

From the Prophet Isaiah:
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die like gnats; but my salvation will be forever, and my deliverance will never be ended.

From St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans:
I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

And from the Gospel of St. Matthew:
Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Let us pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer, our Strength and our Salvation.

Life is full of questions. We deal with questions throughout our life. Some we ask of other people; some are asked of us; and some we just contemplate in our minds.

What am I going to do with my life?

What will tomorrow bring? Will my children turn out…all right?

Not only do these practical questions beg for an answer, but what about my spiritual life?

Am I saved? When I die will I go to heaven?

Why does God allow such tragedy to exist…on the earth? Why is there so much evil in this world?
How many have heard the Geico Insurance commercial where a person reads a statement: “Fifteen minutes can save you 15% on car insurance.” The response is: “Everybody knows that.” And then the question is asked: “Well, did you know that if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it fall, it still makes a sound?”

All of these questions have one common element…which is illustrated by the following story: A college sophomore tried to prove how smart he was one day by asking his professor the following question: “Is the bird I’m holding in my hand dead or alive?” If the professor said the bird was dead…the boy…was going to free the bird…and let it fly away. If the professor said it was alive…the boy was going to crush the bird. The professor looked at the young man and said, “My boy, the answer is in your hands.”

In our Gospel reading today, Jesus once again took His disciples to Gentile territory. This time it was to the region of Caesarea Philippi. They were about 120 miles from Jerusalem in the northern part of Palestine. The region was strongly identified with various religions: It had been a center for Baal worship; the Greek god Pan had shrines there; and Herod the Great had built a temple there to honor Augustus Caesar. It was in the midst of this pagan superstition that Peter confessed Jesus as the Son of God. And it was probably within sight of Caesar’s temple that Jesus announced a surprise: He would not yet establish His kingdom, but He would build His church.

Jesus looked at His disciples and in a moment of reflection said: “Who do the people say that I am? The disciples began sharing with Jesus what they had heard: “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

In the case of Jesus, a right confession of who He is, is basic to salvation (Rom. 10:9-10). His person and His work go together and must never be separated. It is amazing to see how confused the public was about Jesus, and even some of His disciples.

One thing is clear: We can never make a true decision about Jesus Christ by taking a poll of the people. The important thing is not what others say, but what do you and I personally say? The decisions of the crowd, right or wrong, can never substitute for personal decisions.

Not a lot has changed since Jesus walked amongst us. In our world today, you can speak of Jesus as a Prophet, a holy man, a teacher or spiritual leader, and few will object. But speak of Him as the “Son of God” or “The Messiah” and people will line up to express their disapproval; sometimes even anger.

Muslims will say: “Prophet, Yes…God, No!”

Jews will say: “Teacher, Yes…Messiah, No!”

Even some “Liberal Christians” will say: “Exemplary man, Yes…Divine, No!”

In our secular, pluralistic society, we have been watering down the Gospel and the Name of Jesus, for quite some time. We quite often are afraid to offend people and their beliefs, so we choose to speak of Jesus very little, or not at all.

We accept the idea of God…and we admit to trusting Him…but then we go our separate way. We take the position that “religion” is a private affair…so don’t say anything.

Jesus then asks the disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” Peter had the correct response: “Thou art the Christ [the Messiah], the Son of the living God!” This confession was Peter’s response to the revelation God the Father had given him. This revelation was not the result of Peter’s own investigation. It came as the gracious act of God. God had hidden these things from the proud Pharisees and Sadducees and had revealed them to “babes,” the humble disciples (Matt. 11:25-27). Peter saw past the man and saw the divinity hidden in Jesus, so he could cry out, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

It should be noted that there had been other confessions of faith prior to this one. Nathanael had confessed Christ as the Son of God (John 1:49), and the disciples had declared Him God’s Son after He stilled the storm (Matt. 14:33). Peter had given a confession of faith when the crowds left Jesus after His sermon on the Bread of Life (John 6:68-69). In fact, when Andrew had brought his brother Simon to Jesus, it was on the basis of this belief (John 1:41).

How then, did this confession differ from those that preceded it? To begin with, Jesus explicitly asked for this confession. It was not an emotional response from people who had seen a miracle, but the studied and sincere statement of a man who had been taught by God.

Also, Jesus accepted this confession and built on it to teach them new truth. The Lord knew that Peter could now be led into new steps of deeper truth and service. Our Lord’s ministry to His disciples had prepared the way for this experience. Jesus’ ministry was also turning in a new direction; for He would be headed to the cross.

Once the Holy Spirit reveals Christ in our lives…and we make the confession of faith…this does not end our journey…it is just the beginning of being transformed. We are then called to read and study the scriptures; to develop a daily prayer life with God; to associate with other Christians, by worshiping together. We are called to spread the Good News to those that God puts into our lives. We are to be instruments of the Holy Spirit; to reach others for Christ.

Jesus also proclaimed that He was going to establish His church. Jesus said to Peter: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…” (Matt. 16:18). This church was formed on the Day of Pentecost, and composed of all true believers in Christ, both Jew and Gentile.

These Jewish men, steeped in Old Testament Scripture, recognized the rock as a symbol of God. “He is the Rock, His work is perfect” (Deut. 32:4). “The Lord is my Rock and my Fortress” (Ps. 18.2). “For who is God save the Lord? Or who is a rock save our God?” (Ps. 18:31). Jesus had given Simon the new name of Peter, which means “a stone.” Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ and confesses Him as the Son and God and Saviour, is a “living stone” (1 Peter 2:5).

Jesus Christ is the foundation rock on which the church is built. We are called to be a distinct society known as the body and bride of Christ, with a unique heavenly calling and destiny. The church is not just Congregationalist, Methodist, Baptist or Episcopalians. The church is not just Protestants or Catholics, but true believers in Christ!
This church built by Christ is a universal church. There is a oneness to the people of God (Eph. 4:1-6) that ought to be revealed to the world by love and unity (John 17:20-26).

There was an organist practicing one day in a great church in Europe. A man came up to the organ and asked if he could play. The organist looked at him and thought to himself: I really should not let this man play. Just look at him: he is unshaven, his clothes are soiled, and he looks like a bum. So the organist told the man, “no.” But the unkempt man persisted and finally, the organist gave in and let him play. The man’s fingers danced over the keyboard in a way the organist had never heard before. The stranger played on and on. The organist didn’t want him to stop. Eventually, the stranger stopped playing and got up to leave. The organist could not contain himself and said, “Who are you; what is your name?” The stranger paused and looked over his shoulder and said, “My name is Felix Mendelssohn.” The organist couldn’t believe it. He said to himself, “And to think, I almost did not let the master play.”

Recognizing the Master is the first step; then you proclaim: “Jesus, thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!”

Through His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ would conquer death; death would not hold Him, and death would not be able to hold any of His people. Christ would “storm the gates” and deliver the captives! “The gates of Hades” or hell is the final destiny of all unsaved people after the judgment of the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-15).

I was sent an email the other day and I would like to share this story with you: There was a pastor on an airplane flying from Dallas to Boston. When he sat down, he noticed that he was seated next to a well-known theology professor. He was eager to start a conversation with the professor about some doctrinal subject. But before he had a chance, the professor looked at him and told the pastor that he had just lost his little boy…through death.

The pastor listened as the professor told his story: He said his son had come home from school with a fever and we thought it was just one of those childhood things. He and his wife took the boy to the doctor and found out it was a virile form of meningitis. The doctor told them that we cannot save your little boy. So, they took their son home and put him to bed and made him comfortable.
And so this seminary professor, loving his son as he did, sat by his bedside to share those last moments with his son. It was the middle of the day and the little boy whose strength was leaving him and whose vision and brain were getting clouded said, “Daddy, its getting dark isn’t it?” The father of the boy said, “Yes, son, it is getting dark, very dark.” The boy said, “Daddy, I guess it’s time for me to go to sleep, isn’t it?” He said, “Yes, son, it’s time for you to go to sleep.”

The professor said his little boy had a way of fixing his pillow just so, and putting his head on his hands when he slept. So, the young boy fixed his pillow like that and laid his head on his hands and said, “Good night Daddy, I will see you in the morning.” He then closed his eyes in death…and stepped over into heaven. The professor turned away and looked out the window of the airplane for a long time. In time, he turned back with tears coming down his cheeks and said to the pastor, “I can hardly wait…until the morning comes.”

The morning is coming, my friends, when we will see our loved ones, who are in Christ. That is what Jesus is saying, “The gates of hell, the gates of DEATH, shall not prevail against HIS church!” Against us!

Remember our Lord’s words: “Who do you say that I am?” The important thing is not what others say, but on what…you say?

Are you ready? Are you truly ready? Do you know where you are going? If you were to die today, would you know Jesus Christ? Would He know you? Would you be absent from the body and go immediately into the presence of the Lord? (2 Cor. 5:6-8; Phil. 1:23).

Jesus asked the question of His disciples and now He asks each one of us: “Who do you say that I am?” The answer lies in your hands.

Let us pray:

Grant, O merciful God, that Your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Amen. †

Great Is Thy Faith

Rev. Deacon Allen J. Batchelder

Trinity Church
Waltham, Massachusetts
August 17, 2014, Pentecost X

Genesis 45:1-15, Psalm 133, Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32, Matthew 15:21-28

From the Book of Genesis:
And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.

From St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans:
For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.

And from the Gospel of St. Matthew:
Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Let us pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer, our Strength and our Salvation.

What is faith?
Faith could be described as having confidence or trust in a person, thing, deity, view, or in the doctrines or teachings of a religion. It could be defined as believing something where there is no proof. In the Bible, the word faith always means trust, reliance, and confidence in someone or something, usually God. But that isn’t the only way the word is used.

If I was to take a hymnal and drop it, I have faith that it would fall to the floor. If I was to go outside and see the trees moving, I have faith that the wind is blowing. If I was to ask you if you believed in God – that would be a true test of faith, since none of us have seen Him.

Does it make a difference if we have faith?
How do we know when we’ve got it?
Is it contagious? Can anyone get it?

If we do have faith, is it like the faith of the woman mentioned in our Gospel reading today? Do you have great faith?

In the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew we begin to see signs of the tide turning against Jesus by the religious leaders of the country, and accordingly Jesus turning more to the Gentiles. In chapter fourteen of Matthew, John the Baptist was beheaded, a clear sign of the opposition to the movement. But Jesus fed the five thousand, showing that He could meet the needs of Israel; and as we talked about last Sunday, Jesus walked on water to show that He is Lord of creation. So, in chapter fifteen Jesus challenged the teachings of the elders because those teachings had been elevated to the status of Scripture. Jesus was also trying to control the timing of things. He did not want people to make Him king, and He did not want the growing confrontation with His enemies to come to a head too soon. So frequently He withdrew, or told people not to say anything about the miracles He did, or a number of other unexpected acts.

The latest confrontation was about washing of one’s hands before eating. Jesus says, “Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and so passes on? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man” (Matt. 15:17-20). The Pharisees were offended by this. So, following that confrontation, Jesus went out of the country to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

Tyre and Sidon were the two main Phoenician cities just north of Mount Carmel on the coast. In the Old Testament times this was the region of the Canaanites. Because of its seaports and corresponding trade, the Canaanite empire became a dominant power in the third millennium B.C. The Canaanites were thoroughly pagan and corrupt. Their presence in the land was a strong threat to the purity of Israel’s religion and morality. So there is a long history of spiritual and military conflict between the Israelites and the Canaanites.

This little story in our Gospel reading is essentially built around the conversation between the woman and Jesus. What do we know about this Canaanite woman that Jesus met? Mark’s Gospel gives us some information. Jesus came to the region and entered into a house and did not want anyone to know it. The woman heard that Jesus was in her village and came looking for Him. Mark explains that she was Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. This would be typical of the northern country, for it was ruled by Greeks for the period immediately before the time of Jesus. People in the region would be of mixed nationalities.

But the conversation gives the impression that Jesus was not willing to answer her request because she was a Canaanite. What is clear is that the woman was not going to give up, but kept pleading, even from her Canaanite background, so that Christ recognized her great faith.

The contrast is truly striking: in Israel Jesus was trying to convince people He was the Messiah, and was being challenged to prove it with signs. But here in Gentile territory He met a woman who was convinced He was the Messiah and He could not discourage her efforts. Jesus was not trying to destroy her faith, but to develop it.
Her own replies showed that she was growing in faith and unwilling to let Him go without getting an answer. His apparent attempt to put her off was therefore a test, and her great faith must have been gratifying to the Savior.

When this woman approached Jesus as “Son of David,” she was definitely putting herself on Jewish ground; and this she could not do, because she was a Gentile. She is well aware of the ancient rivalry between the Jews and the Canaanites. Of course, this title did reveal her faith in Him as the Messiah of God, for “Son of David” was a name for the Messiah (Matt. 22:42). As such, He is sovereign over her and her land, and all she can do is cry for mercy. Her words opened the old wounds.

The woman came crying out to Jesus, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Since she came to Him on Jewish terms, He was silent. Of course, He knew her heart, and even His silence encouraged her to continue asking.

Inpatient with her persistent following and crying out, the disciples said, “Send her away!” We are not sure whether they meant “Give her what she wants and get rid of her” or just “Get rid of her!” In either case, they were not showing much compassion for either her or her demonized daughter.

We cannot but admire the patience and persistence of this Gentile mother. This woman would not be put off, and so she knelt before His feet and begged, “Lord, help me!” was her next plea; and this time she avoided any messianic titles. She came as a sinner needing help, and she offered no argument. In His reply, Jesus did not call her a “dog” the way the Pharisees would have addressed a Gentile. The Greek word means “a little pet dog” and not the filthy animals that ran the streets and ate the garbage.

Jesus was not playing games with the woman, nor was He trying to make the situation more difficult. He was drawing out of her a growing response of faith, by reminding her of the historic distinction between the cursed Canaanites and the blessed Israelites. Basically, the Jews are the “children” and the Gentiles are the “dogs.” The children get fed first. She immediately seized on His illustration about the children’s bread, which was exactly what He wanted her to do. We may paraphrase her reply: “It is true that we Gentiles do not sit at the table as children and eat the bread. But even the pet dogs under the table can eat some of the crumbs!” She may not be able to sit down at the Messiah’s table and eat with the “children of Israel,” but she should be allowed to pick up some of the crumbs they drop. She wants some of the covenanted mercy of God, His general saving grace to all people. What a tremendous testimony of faith!

It was this faith that Jesus acknowledged, and immediately He rewards her faith by healing her daughter. Jesus honors the faith that seeks mercy. She had no resentment, no anger about her situation; she only knew that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah who came to heal people, and for some reason He was in her town. She sought mercy from Him. And this time Jesus responded with emotion. Her faith was rewarded. And she became one of the early Gentiles to enter the kingdom.
It is worth noting that both of the persons in the Gospel of Matthew who had “great faith” were Gentiles: this Canaanite woman and the Roman centurion (Matt. 8:5-13). In both cases, Jesus healed the one in need from a distance. Spiritually speaking, the Gentiles were “afar off” until Calvary, when Jesus Christ died for both Jews and Gentiles and made reconciliation possible (Eph. 2:11ff).

“Because of the unbelief of the Jews, you Gentiles were saved,” said Paul. “Now, may it be that through your salvation Israel will come to know Christ.” The Apostle Paul repeatedly reminded the saved Gentiles that they had a spiritual obligation to Israel to “provoke them to jealousy” (Rom. 10:19; 11:11, 14).
God has included “all in unbelief” – Jews and Gentiles – so that all might have the opportunity to be saved by grace. “There is no difference.”

We must remember that God chose the Jews so that the Gentiles might be saved. “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed,” was God’s promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). The tragedy was that Israel became exclusive and failed to share the truth with the Gentiles. They thought that the Gentiles had to become Jews in order to be saved. But God declared both Jews and Gentiles to be lost and condemned. This meant He could have mercy on all because of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

We see this in our Old Testament reading today with Joseph and his brothers. This story encourages us to recognize the sovereignty of God in the affairs of life and to have faith and trust in His promises no matter how dark the day may be. “There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel – that will stand” (Prov. 19:21). God sent Joseph to Egypt so that Jacob’s family could be preserved and the nation of Israel be born and ultimately give the Word of God and the Savior to the world. Without realizing it, Joseph’s brothers were helping the Lord fulfill His covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3).

Keep in mind that this reconciliation was possible only because Joseph had suffered and triumphed, and it’s a beautiful picture of what the Lord Jesus Christ did for sinners in His death on the cross and his resurrection. Like Jesus, Joseph went from suffering to glory, from prison to the throne, and was able to share his wealth and glory with others.

This Gentile woman’s faith was great because she persisted in asking and trusting when everything seemed against her. Certainly her race was against her: She was a Gentile. Her sex was against her, for most Jewish rabbis paid little attention to women. It seemed that the disciples were against her, and Christ’s words might have led her to believe that even He was against her. But all of these obstacles only made her persist in asking for help even more.

But there is an even deeper faith in her. She has a saving faith. She is willing to say to Jesus, “I can’t save my daughter. Only you can. You and you alone can heal her. And I am casting aside all my pride in the confidant hope that not only can you heal her, but that you WILL heal her. Just a crumb of your power, Master, is all that I ask. Just a crumb is all it will take.”
This story teaches us that God’s mercy and grace is available to everyone: Jew or Gentile. Jesus went into Gentile territory and healed the daughter of a Gentile woman. This miracle showed that this Gentile woman had greater faith than the Jews who were rejecting and challenging Jesus’ claims. It teaches us about the grace of our Lord, about the faith of people who are in need, and about the coming advance of the kingdom to the Gentiles whose mission it is to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world; that all may be saved and receive the salvation of His Son, Jesus Christ.

When you can say to Jesus: “Lord, I totally trust you with my life. I will do whatever you say. I surrender all.” Then Jesus will answer: “Great is thy faith!”

Let us pray:

Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Amen. †

Storms of Life

Rev. Deacon Allen J. Batchelder

Trinity Church
Waltham, Massachusetts
August 10, 2014, Pentecost IX

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28; Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22; Romans 10:5-15, Matthew 14:22-33

From the Book of Genesis:
Then Midianite traders passed by; and they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver; and they took Joseph to Egypt.

From St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans:
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. For, “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

And from the Gospel of St. Matthew:
Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt? And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Let us pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer, our Strength and our Salvation.

Those of you who are Charlie Brown fans, I have a story for you. Charlie Brown is at the beach and he builds a beautiful sandcastle. He works on it for hours. Finally he stands back, looks at it. It’s wonderful! Just as he is admiring it, a storm comes up and blows over his beautiful sandcastle. Now, he’s standing where his beautiful masterpiece was, on level sand, saying to himself: “I know there’s a lesson in this, but I’m not sure what it is.”

Every one of us has our sandcastles blown away. Every once in awhile we take a step back and say: “Why am I being hit with this storm of life?” Now, sometimes these storms are caused by Satan, sometimes by other people, and sometimes by us. Sometimes they’re allowed by the Lord. They all come from different sources, but they do have a purpose in our life.

In our Gospel reading this morning, the Apostle John recorded the reason why Jesus was in such a hurry to dismiss the crowd and send the disciples back in the boat: The crowd wanted to make Jesus King (John 6:14-15). The Lord knew that their motives were not spiritual and that their purposes were out of God’s Will. If the disciples had stayed, they would certainly have fallen in with the plans of the crowd; for as yet, the disciples did not fully understand Christ’s plans. They were guilty of arguing over “who was the greatest,” and a popular uprising would have suited them perfectly.

This experience of the disciples in the storm can be an encouragement to us when we go through the storms of life. When we find ourselves in the storm, we can rest on several assurances.

There’s one thing that all of us need to realize, and that’s everyone has storms. One or more of you this morning, the clouds may have already gathered. Perhaps it might be the worst storm of your life, but what I want you to realize is everyone has them. In fact, Jesus said in Matthew 5, “He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And He sends rain for the ones who do right and the ones who do wrong.” So you can see storms, problems, difficulties, trials come to all of us. There’s no exclusion. Just because you’re a believer, doesn’t mean you’re going to be excluded from the storms of life.

This storm that came upon the disciples, came because they were in the will of God and not (like Jonah) out of the will of God. Did Jesus know that the storm was coming? Of course He did! Did He deliberately direct them into the storm? Yes! They were safer in the storm in God’s will than on land with the crowds out of God’s will. We must never judge our security on the basis of circumstances alone.

As we read our Bibles, we discover that there are two kinds of storms: storms of correction, when God disciplines us; and storms of perfection, when God helps us to grow. Jonah was in a storm because he disobeyed God and had to be corrected. The disciples were in a storm because they obeyed Christ and had to be perfected. Jesus had tested them in a storm before, when He was in the boat with them (Matt. 8:23-27). But now He tested them by being out of the boat.

Many Christians have the mistaken idea that obedience of God’s will produces “smooth sailing.” But this is not true. Jesus promised: “In the world you shall have tribulation” (John 16:33). When we find ourselves in the storm because we have obeyed the Lord, we must remember that He brought us here and he will care for us.

This entire scene is a dramatic picture of the church and the Lord today. God’s people are on the sea, in the midst of a storm. Yet Jesus Christ is in heaven “making intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34). He saw the disciples and knew their plight (Mark 6:48), just as He sees us and knows our needs. He feels the burdens that we feel and knows what we are going through (Heb. 4:14-16). Jesus went up the mountain by himself to pray. Jesus was praying for His disciples, that their faith would not fail.

If you knew that Jesus Christ was in the next room, praying for you, would it not give you new courage to endure the storm and do His will? Of course it would. However, He is not in the next room, but He is in heaven interceding for you. He sees your need, He knows your fears, and He is in control of the situation.

Often we feel like Jesus has deserted us when we are going through the hard times of life. In the Psalms, David complained that God seemed far away and unconcerned. Yet he knew that God would ultimately rescue him. Even the great Apostle Paul had gone through a shipwreck and was beaten. We see Paul who even dies a martyr’s death. But he’s a man of God, one of the great men in the history of the Christian church. He’s in the center of God’s will. He showed that it is possible to be obeying God, walking in all the light that you possibly could, be right in the center of God’s will and yet at the same time encounter a terrific storm. You can never look at a person and see what they’re going through. Just because one person seems to be enjoying a good life and another person is suffering hard times, does not mean one person is blessed and another person is cursed. It doesn’t work that way.

Jesus always comes to us in the storms of life. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isa. 43:2). He may not come at the time we think He should come (according our timetable), because He knows when we need Him the most. He waited until the boat carrying His disciples was as far away from land as possible, so that all human hope was gone. He was testing the disciples’ faith, and this meant removing every human lifeline.

When we go through a storm, we may ask, “Why me Lord?” We may say, “Okay, God, bail me out. Here I am. Find me. Rescue me.” But sometimes He doesn’t rescue me. Sometimes He doesn’t come. I have to have the assurance that He is the great silversmith and while I’m in the furnace, He focuses and watches. His job isn’t a quick rescue mission. His job is to purify me. So He waits until just the right moment and then He comes. He is never too early; never too late. Just on time.

Why did Jesus walk on the water? To show His disciples that the very thing they feared (the sea) was only a staircase for Him to come to them. Often we fear the difficult experiences of life (such as surgery, disease or bereavement), only to discover that these experiences bring Jesus Christ closer to us.

There’s a great passage of Scripture, Isaiah 43: “But now thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you go through the waters I will be with you; and through rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. [Why?] For I am the Lord, your God.’”

Why did the disciples not recognize Jesus? Perhaps it was because no human had ever walked on water before. Perhaps they were not looking for Him to come to them in this way. Had they been waiting for Him by faith, they would have known Him immediately.
Instead, they jumped to the false conclusion that the appearance was that of a ghost. Fear and faith cannot live in the same heart, for fear always blinds the eyes to the presence of the Lord.

The whole purpose of this storm was to help the disciples grow in their faith. After all, Jesus would one day leave them, and they would face many storms in their ministries. They had to learn to trust Him even though He was not present with them, and even though it looked as though He did not care.

Now our center of interest shifts to Peter. Before we criticize Peter for sinking because of fear, let’s honor him for his magnificent demonstration of faith. He dared to be different. Anybody can sit in a boat and watch. But it takes a courageous person of real faith to leave the boat and walk on water.

What caused Peter to sink? His faith began to waver because he took his eyes off the Lord and began to look at the circumstances around him. Jesus asked him, “Why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31) Peter started out with great faith but ended up with less faith.

We must give Peter credit for knowing that he was sinking and for crying out to the Lord for help. He cried out when he was “beginning to sink” and not when he was drowning. Perhaps this incident came to Peter’s mind years later when he wrote in his first epistle: “For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer” (1 Peter 3:12). The Apostle Paul also reminds us of what the prophet Joel said, “for everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13).

This experience was difficult for Peter, but it helped him to grow in his knowledge of himself and of the Lord. Perhaps the other disciples learned something too. The storms of life are not easy, but they are necessary. They teach us to trust Jesus Christ alone and to obey His Word no matter what the circumstances may be. It has well been said, “Faith is not believing in spite of evidence, but obeying in spite of consequence.”

If Jesus says, “Come,” then that word is going to accomplish its intended purpose. Since He is the “author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2), whatever He starts, He completes. We may fail along the way, but in the end, God will succeed. Jesus and Peter walked on the water together and went to the ship.

Peter’s experience turned out to be a blessing to the other disciples as well as to himself. When they saw the power of Jesus Christ, in conquering and calming the storm, they could only fall down and worship Him. When Jesus calmed the first storm (Matt. 8:23-27), the disciples said, “What sort of Man is this?” But now their clear testimony was, “Thou art the Son of God!”

The disciples had helped to feed 5,000 people, and then God permitted them to go through a storm. In the Book of Acts, they won 5,000 to Christ (Acts 4:4), and then the storm of persecution began. No doubt Peter and the disciples recalled their storm experience with the Lord and took courage.

This miracle magnifies the kingship of Jesus Christ. Peter knew that Jesus Christ was King over all nature, including the wind and the waves. His word is law and the elements must obey.

Their ship landed at Gennesaret, near Capernaum and Bethsaida; and there Jesus healed many people. Did these people know that He had come through a storm to meet their needs? Do we remember that He endured the storm of judgment to save our souls? (Ps. 42:7) He endured the storm on the cross for us that we might never face the judgment of God. We ought to imitate the disciples, bow at His feet, and acknowledge that He is King of kings and Lord of lords! Take His hand, and follow Him.

Let us pray:

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Amen. †

Food of Faith

Rev. Deacon Allen J. Batchelder

Trinity Church
Waltham, Massachusetts
August 3, 2014, Pentecost VIII

Genesis 32:22-31, Psalm 17:1-7, 15; Romans 9:1-5, Matthew 14:13-21

From the Book of Genesis:
Then he said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

From St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans:
They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed forever. Amen.”

And from the Gospel of St. Matthew:
Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they were all satisfied.

Let us pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer, our Strength and our Salvation.

Chapters 14-20 of Matthew have sometimes been called “The Retirement of the King.” During the period of time recorded by Matthew in these chapters, Jesus often withdrew from the crowds and spent time alone with His disciples. There were several reasons for these withdrawals: the growing hostility of His enemies, the need for physical rest, and the need to prepare His disciples for His death on the cross. Unfortunately, the disciples were often caught up in the excitement generated by the crowds that wanted to make Jesus their King.

However, we must not think that these withdrawals, or periods of retirement from the crowds, were periods of inactivity. Often the crowds followed Jesus and He was unable to remain alone. He would unselfishly minister to their needs in spite of His own need for rest and solitude.
In our Gospel reading today, Jesus and His disciples desperately needed rest (Mark 6:31); yet the needs of the multitudes touched His heart. Jesus was “moved with compassion” when He saw the needy multitudes. They were like sheep that had been lacerated from brutal fleecing – torn, exhausted, and wandering. Twice He was “moved with compassion” when he beheld the hungry multitudes without food (Matt. 14:14; 15:32).

The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 is recorded in all four Gospels (Matt. 14:31-21; Mark 6:35-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:4-13). It was definitely a miracle. Those who teach that Jesus only encouraged the people to bring out their own hidden lunches have ignored the clear statements of God’s Word. Think about it. Would the crowd have wanted to crown Jesus King simply because He tricked them into sharing their lunches? Not likely.

It takes little imagination to picture the embarrassing plight of the disciples. Here were more than 5,000 hungry people and they had nothing to feed them! Certainly the disciples knew that Jesus was powerful enough to meet the need, yet they did not turn to Him for help. Instead, they took inventory of their own food supply, which consisted of five barley loaves and two fish that a boy had and a limited treasury. When they considered that evening was upon them and that their location was isolated, they came to the conclusion that nothing could be done to solve the problem. Their recommendation to Jesus was to “Send them away!”

During their time with Jesus, His disciples had watched Him as He had, healed a Leper (Matt. 8:1), healed the servant of a Roman centurion (Matt. 8:5), healed Peter’s mother in law (Matt. 8:14), healed numerous people who had evil spirits and various diseases (Matt. 8:16) and raised a girl from the dead (Matt. 9:25). The disciples had seen all of this and they still didn’t come to Jesus for help.

Jesus watched His frustrated disciples as they tried to solve the problem, but “He knew what He was intending to do” (John 6:6). He wanted to teach them a lesson in faith and surrender. Jesus says: “They do not need to go away; YOU give them something to eat” (Matt. 14:16). And how did the disciples answer Jesus? We don’t have enough money; we only have five loaves of bread and two fishes donated by a boy. Wrong answers!

Jesus has given us some steps that we should take in solving life’s problems.

First, start with what you have. Andrew found a boy who had a small lunch, and he brought the lad to Jesus. Was the boy willing to give up his lunch? Yes, he was! God begins at where we are and uses what we have.

The second step is to give what you have to Jesus. Jesus took the simple lunch, blessed it, and shared it. The miracle of multiplication was in His hands! We’ve all heard the expression: “Little is much if God is in it.” Jesus broke the bread and gave the pieces to the disciples, and they, in turn, fed the multitudes.

The third step is to obey what He commands. The disciples had the people sit down as Jesus ordered. They took the broken pieces and distributed them, and discovered that there was plenty for everybody. As His servants, we are “distributors,” not “manufacturers.” If we give what we have to Him, He will bless it and give it back to us for use in feeding others.

The last step is to conserve the results. There were twelve baskets filled with pieces of bread and fish after the people had eaten all they wanted. But these pieces were carefully collected so that nothing was wasted (Mark 6:43; John 6:12). I wonder how many of the pieces the boy took back home with him. Imagine his mother’s amazement when the boy told her the story!

If we earnestly seek His involvement in our plans, and we have nothing much to bring to the table, He provides what we need. His strength makes up for our weaknesses. That is the essence of faith.

There are at least 3 lessons regarding faith in this passage:

The first is that God desires to stretch our faith. God wants us to mature in our faith and in order to get us to do that He often puts us in situations where there is NO way we could EVER possibly do what He’s asked on our own. That’s what Jesus is doing with the Disciples in this feeding of the 5,000. He had put them into a situation they could only accomplish if God did a miracle.

The second lesson in this story was that Jesus’ objective was not to feed the 5,000! The church does not exist to feed the poor, or to take care of the needy. The church exists to serve Jesus Christ and bring people to salvation. However, if the church serves Jesus Christ, IT WILL feed the poor and take care of the needy. If our center of attention ever gets off of Jesus and becomes focused on good works without Him being the center, we’ll have lost our very reason to exist. We exist as a church to serve Jesus Christ and to give Him glory. That was the purpose of the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000: to glorify Jesus and build faith in God.

The third lesson in this story is that Jesus asked His disciples to be His PARTNERS in this miracle. Remember, up until this time, Jesus had been doing all the work and His disciples only observed. But now He tells His disciples: YOU give them something to eat!

A Godly faith should challenge us to do as much as we can for Jesus. You look around this church, although we are small, you’ll see men and women of faith investing themselves in ministry for Jesus; Everything from the prayer ministry, to visiting the shut-ins and nursing homes, to sending children to summer camp.

These folks realize that you don’t have to be a preacher to be a servant of God. They realize that they are a priesthood of believers. They don’t have to ask my permission (or anyone else’s) to be involved in any of these ministries. They have realized the privilege God has given them to allow them to be His partners.

God’s tests lead to realization that God really wants to use me, and that I have value and purpose in His service. And that’s the effect the miracle of the 5,000 had on Jesus’ disciples. Did you realize that this is the ONLY MIRACLE recorded in all 4 gospels. No other miracle has that honor. But this one did. This event was such a turning point in their lives that it became one of their greatest testimonies.

The Apostle John recorded a sermon on “the Bread of Life” that Jesus gave the next day in the synagogue in Capernaum (John 6:22ff). The people were willing to receive the physical bread, but they would not receive the living Bread – the Son of God come down from heaven. The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 was actually a sermon in action. Jesus is the Bread of Life, and only He can satisfy the spiritual hunger in man’s heart. The tragedy is, men waste their time and money on “that which is not bread” (Isa. 55:1-7). People today are making the same mistake.

Last week, Pope Francis issued 10 tips for a happy life (Jesus Christ was missing):
1) Live and let live
2) Be giving of yourself to others
3) “Proceed calmly” in life
4) A healthy sense of leisure
5) Sundays should be holidays; Sunday is for family
6) Create dignified jobs for young people
7) Respect and take care of nature
8) Stop being negative
9) Don’t proselytize; respect others’ beliefs
10) Work for peace

God did not promise us a life of happiness on earth, only unending joy in heaven. Even our founding fathers did not guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of happiness. Perhaps the Pope was trying to reach out to the secular world and missed an opportunity. In Exodus 20:8 we read, “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.” Sundays are not holidays, but should be set aside for worshiping God. Jesus says, “Go into all the world and proclaim the Good News to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). This is a command, yet the Pope says not to. Is Pope Francis sharing the food of faith; the Bread of Life – Jesus Christ or is he leading his sheep to the slaughter? You decide.

Jesus still has compassion on the hungry multitudes, and He still says to His church: “Give them something to eat.” How easy it is for us to send people away, to make excuses, to plead a lack of resources. Jesus asks that we give Him all that we have and let Him use it as He sees fit.
A hungry world is feeding on empty substitutes while we deprive them of the Bread of Life. When we give Christ what we have, we never lose. We always end up with more blessing than when we started.

Let us pray:

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Amen. †

The Kingdom of Heaven

Rev. Deacon Allen J. Batchelder

Trinity Church
Waltham, Massachusetts
July 27, 2014, Pentecost VII

Genesis 29:15-28, Psalm 105:1-11, Romans 8:26-39, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

From the Book of Genesis:
Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing?

From St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

And from the Gospel of St. Matthew:
Jesus said to His disciples: “Have you understood all this?” They said to him, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
Let us pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer, our Strength and our Salvation.

The thirteenth chapter of Matthew records the events of a crisis day in the ministry of Jesus Christ. He knew that the growing opposition of the religious leaders would lead to His crucifixion. This fact He had to explain to His disciples. But their logical question would be, “What will happen to the kingdom about which we have been preaching?” That question is answered in this series of parables. So, He first explained the truth concerning the kingdom, and then later explained to them the facts about the Cross.

In this series of parables, Jesus explained the course of the Gospel in the world. If Israel had received Him as King, the blessings would have flowed out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. But the nation rejected Him, and God had to institute a new program on earth. During this present age, “the kingdom of heaven” is a mixture of true and false, good and bad, as pictured in these parables. It is “Christendom,” professing allegiance to the King, and yet containing much that is contrary to the principles of the King.

The seven parables describe for us the spiritual course of “the kingdom of heaven” in this present age. The first two were covered in the last two Sunday sermons: The Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Wheat and Tares.
The first parable in our Gospel reading today states: “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in this field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

The mustard plant of Palestine was very different from the mustard plant which we know in this country. In the East, the mustard seed symbolizes something small and insignificant. It produces a large plant, but not a “tree” in the strictest sense. However, the plant is large enough for birds to sit in the branches.

Since Jesus did not explain this parable, we must use what He did explain in the other parables to find its meaning. The birds in the Parable of the Sower represented Satan (Matt. 13:19). Passages like Daniel 4:11-12 and Ezekiel 17:23 indicate that a tree is a symbol of a world power. These facts suggest that the parable teaches an abnormal growth of the kingdom of heaven, one that makes it possible for Satan to work in it. Certainly “Christendom” has become a worldwide power with a complex organization of many branches. What started in a humble manner today boasts of material possessions and political influences. The New Testament warns us of a growing decline in the ministry of the Gospel as the end of the age draws near.

The second parable states: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

The mustard seed illustrates the false outward expansion of the kingdom, while the leaven illustrates the inward development of false doctrine and false living. Throughout the Bible, leaven is a symbol of evil. It had to be removed from the Jewish homes during Passover (Ex. 12:15-19; 13:7). It was excluded from sacrifices (Ex. 34:35), with the exception of the loaves used at the Feast of Pentecost (Lev. 23:15-21). But there the loaves symbolized Jews and Gentiles in the church, and there is sin in the church.

The kingdom of heaven began with the sowing of the Word of God in the hearts of men. Much of the seed did not bear fruit; but some was fruitful. Satan opposed the work of God by sowing counterfeit Christians, by encouraging a false growth, and by introducing false doctrine. It would seem that Satan is winning, at least in New England. But the test is at the end of the age, not during the age.

The next parable in our Gospel reading states: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

At the close of this age, God will have three groups of people: the Jews (the hidden treasure), the church (the pearl of great price), and the saved Gentile nations who will enter into the kingdom (the dragnet).

Once again, we need to look to the Old Testament to help us understand the symbolism in this parable. The treasure is the nation of Israel (Ex. 19:5; Ps. 135:4). That nation was placed in the world to bring glory to God, but it failed. It became a nation hidden, a treasure not being invested to produce dividends for God. Jesus Christ gave His all to purchase the whole world in order to save the nation (John 11:51). On the cross, Jesus died for the whole world; but in a special way. He died for Israel (Isa. 53:8). The nation suffered judgment and seeming destruction, but in God’s sight it is “hidden” and will be revealed again in glory.

There is, then, a future for Israel. Politically, the nation was reborn on May 14, 1948. But the nation is far from what it ought to be spiritually. God sees Israel as His treasure, and one day He will establish her in His glorious kingdom.

The next parable is known as the pearl of great price. It reads, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

The pearl represents the church. The Bible makes a distinction between Jews, Gentiles, and the church (1 Cor. 10:32). Today, the church, the body of Christ, is composed of believing Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:11ff). Unlike most other gems, the pearl is a unity – it cannot be carved like a diamond or emerald. The church is a unity (Eph. 4:4-6), even though the professing church on earth is divided. Like a pearl, the church is the product of suffering. Christ died for the church (Eph. 5:25) and His suffering on the cross made possible her birth.

A pearl grows gradually, and the church grows gradually as the Spirit convicts and converts sinners. No one can see the making of the pearl, for it is hidden in the shell of the oyster under the waters. No one can see the growth of His church in the world. The church is among the nations today, and one day will be revealed in its beauty.

So, in spite of Satan’s subtle working in this world, Christ is forming His church. He sold all that He had to purchase His church, and nothing Satan can do will cause Him to fail. There is but one true church, a pearl of great price, though there are many local churches. Not everyone who is a member of a local church belongs to the one church, the body of Christ. It is only through repentance and faith in Christ that we become a part of His church.

The next parable in this series states: “the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.”

The preaching of the Gospel in the world does not convert the world. It is like a huge dragnet that gathers all kinds of fish, some good and some bad. The professing church today has in it both true and false believers; good and bad.
Remember last week’s parable about the wheat and tares. At the end of the age, God will separate the true believers from the false and the good from the bad. When Jesus Christ returns to earth, to fight the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:11ff), He will separate believers and unbelievers already on the earth. These are living people who are not a part of the church (which was already in heaven) or Israel. These Gentiles will be dealt with in righteousness: the saved will enter into the kingdom, but the unsaved will be cast into the furnace of fire.

When Jesus had completed this series of parables, He asked His disciples if they understood them, and they confidently replied, “Yes, Lord.” Understanding involves responsibility. To explain this, the Lord added a final parable (Matt. 13:51-52) to remind them of their responsibilities.

Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

The scribes began as a noble group under the leadership of Ezra. Their purpose was to preserve the Law, study it, and apply its truths to daily life. Over the years, their noble cause degenerated into a routine task of preserving traditions and man-made interpretations, and adding burdens to the lives of the people (Luke 11:46-52). They were so wrapped up in the past that they ignored the present! Instead of sharing living truth from God’s Word, they merchandised dead doctrines and “embalmed” traditions that could not help the people.

As believers, we do not search after truth, because we have truth in God’s Son (John 14:6) and God’s Word (John 17:17). We are taught by the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13) who is truth (1 John 5:6). We search into truth that we might discover more truth. We are scribes – students – who sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His words (like Mary, sister of Martha). One joy of the Christian life is the privilege of learning God’s truth from God’s Word. But we must not stop there.

The scribe emphasizes learning, but the disciple emphasizes living. Disciples are doers of the Word (James 1:22ff), and they learn by doing.

It is difficult to keep our lives balanced. We often emphasize learning at the expense of living. Or, we may get so busy serving God that we do not take time to listen to His Word. Every scribe must be a disciple, and every disciple must be a scribe.

The scribes preserved the Law but did not invest it in the lives of the people. The treasure of the Law was encrusted by man’s traditions. The seed was not planted so it could bear fruit. The “spiritual gold and silver” was not put to work so it could produce dividends. As Christians we should be conservative but not preservative.

The steward guards the treasure, but he also dispenses it as it is needed. He dispenses both the old and the new. New principles and insights are based on old truths. The new cannot contradict the old because the old comes out of the new (Lev. 26:10).
The new without the old is mere novelty and will not last. But the old does no good unless it is given new applications in life today. We need both.

The Lord over and over again is showing us what the kingdom of heaven is like and those who will attain it. Imagine what could happen in people’s lives if they first sought the kingdom of God. Imagine what would happen in marriages, workplaces, and people’s lives, if they first sought the kingdom of God. Oh yes, it’ll start small (like the mustard seed) as we’ve learned, but grow into something magnificent and it’ll impact others.

He gives us victory and more victory! We need not fear life or death, things present or things to come, because Jesus Christ loves us and gives us the victory. This is not a promise with conditions attached. This security in Christ is an established fact, and we claim it for ourselves because we are in love! Believe it – and rejoice in it!

We are free from judgment because Christ died for us and we have His righteousness. We are free from defeat because Christ lives in us by His Spirit and we shall share His life. We are free from discouragement because Christ is coming for us and we shall share His glory. We are free from fear because Christ intercedes for us and we cannot be separated from His love.

No condemnation! No obligation! No frustration! No separation!
Only eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven!

Let us pray:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Amen. †