Sunday's Epistle - Last Sunday Of The Church Year2
Beloved in Christ it is impossible to deal with, and do justice to, the rich array of lessons given the church each Sunday. Each Lord's (Christ's) Day we have a rich fare set before us, the equivalent of several Thanksgiving meals at once: more than we could ever eat. But that is how generous our heavenly Father is! And while no one wants to get fat these days, there is nothing better than a soul fat with God’s love and gladness.
Each Sunday 4 Scripture readings are given to us: A Psalm (93 this week); Old Testament reading; Epistle; Holy Gospel. This is addition to the divine words spoken in this holy house in every other segment of liturgy, sermon, hymn etc.
But since it is impossible to deal with it all let us take a brief look at the coming Sunday's epistle lesson from Jude. Jude is rarely heard in the church’s readings and so praise God we are hearing it now! The lesson consists of the last 5 verses of this 1 chapter Book.
20 But you, Beloved, praying in the Holy Spirit build yourselves up in your most holy faith; 21 guard yourselves by the love of God; as you look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And extend mercy to them that doubt! 23 But save others with trepidation and fear snatching them from the fire; while hating their garments defiled by the flesh.
24 Now to him who is able to keep you safe from stumbling, and to present you blameless before his glorious presence with great joy ... 25 to the only wise God, our Savior, be glory majesty dominion and power both now and unto endless ages. Amen.
Commentary: Jude is here addressing God's people gathered for worship. "Beloved" is not a general term of endearment in the New Testament but a Eucharistic title given to those who share in this feast of the ultimate love of God; and of love for one another. It is moreover the title Christ the Perfect Bridegroom gives to his baptismally-cleansed Bride the church as he is about to enter into Holy Communion with her.
Jude exhorts the people of God so gathered to build themselves up, and to build up one another in this Baptismal-Eucharistic faith for which they are now gathered. The mercy he admonishes us to receive is the mercy given from the altar; which is a foretaste of the mercy that will be ours when the Lord returns to judge / save us.
Being recipients of this mercy we are to extend the same mercy to others. To those who doubt, those who are mature in faith must be tender. They must understand that we all exist only by mercy, and never judge or deride others.
But Jude adds another category of people. They seem to be those who are baptized but have taken a great fall! Who have stained themselves with the various sins of the flesh. Who are, as it were, swinging between heaven and hell on a thread. Jude tells us to do what we can because each one of us has been snatched from the fires of hell by God's goodness. Our sins may not be as villainous as those of others, but they are just as damnable, literally. But each of us is a branch snatched from the fire (Zechariah 3:2) and as we can we should snatch other burning branches from the fire of sin -- while not approving of sin, but hating it as we should because it is death pure death.
And let us at all times and in all places ascribe glory majesty dominion and power to our great God and Savior Jesus Christ who presents sinners as blameless before the glorious presence of the Father with great joy. We have washed our robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, and therefore we are spotless as regards sin. We are like God and fit to be with God, and to live the life that God himself lives in Christ.
So as you see many sermons could be preached each Sunday, but time does not allow. But let us feast on this divine Word today.