Remember Your Leaders

“Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” From the letter to the Hebrews.

We have been reading a section of the Letter to the Hebrews, and for the last two weeks we have heard about fire as a purifying, refining force. “Our God is a consuming fire.”

Chapter 13 of this letter begins with some guidelines, or rules, for Christian living. “Let mutual love continue,” he writes, which reminds us of the second of the Great Commandments, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In other words, love each other. Care about each other. Do not attend only to your own needs. In other words, it’s not all about me. I don’t like hearing that. Do you?

What is the greatest enemy of mutual love? Pride.

Our first lesson today comes from the book of Ecclesiasticus, an obscure document thought to be from the third century BC. It is a collection of sayings regarding wisdom. The section we heard today starts off with a wonderfully uplifting message about the vanity of life.

Then he has this to say about pride:

“The beginning of human pride is to forsake the Lord; the heart has withdrawn from its Maker.

For the beginning of pride is sin, and the one who clings to it pours out abominations.”

I don’t know about you, but pride is something I struggle with constantly. As everyone knows, I am the best driver on the road, and anyone driving slower than me is a slow poke, and anyone driving faster than me is a speed demon. Right?

The beginning of pride is sin. What is the middle letter of that word, sin? I. When you visualize the word on a page, capitalize the letter I. So it is sIn.

Sin is the aiming at the righteous path, but missing it. Sin is being concerned more with myself, than with others, or with God.

If someone comes to me and says, “I have a problem,” what could I say? I could say, “Problem? You think you have a problem? I have real problems!” Or I could say, “I understand. Do you want to talk about it? How can I help?”

Which one would you rather hear from me? It’s ok. I can guess.

In the Gospel reading, we hear Jesus tell a parable, using the very familiar situation of a wedding banquet. He teaches us that we are not to think too much of ourselves. We are to humble ourselves, and take the lowest seat at the table. This is probably why people tend to sit on the back row. They are leaving the close up places for more important people to occupy!

The letter to the Hebrews has this message today; “Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

The the Greek word used here, which is translated to “Remember,” is Mnemonic.

Mnemonic has been taken into the English language, to mean something that helps one remember.

“Remember your leaders,” because your leaders are supposed to be good examples of a faithful life. As the leader of this congregation, it is my responsibility to speak the word of God to you, and to show you a life lived with faith.

I can tell you from experience, my own faith is weak, but the faith that God gives me is strong. That is the faith that I try to emulate in my life, that I might be worthy of imitation.

And since the Lord put me in this situation of being your pastor, it is that much more important for me to model good behavior.

One way I can model a life of faith is to humble myself.

I make sure my interactions with others are respectful, and I refrain from telling jokes that are crude or offensive.

I try to be empathetic toward others who are in troubling situations.

I try to be peaceful mediator between those in conflict.

I try to put the needs of others before my own.

I refrain from putting down other people because of their differences.

I refrain from taking the Lord’s Name in vain.

I try to forgive when others have hurt me.

Do I always succeed at these goals? No, because I am a sinner in need of the Savior, and because the Lord put me in this position, I am more aware of my sins than ever before.

Many pastors have failed to live up to the demands of being role models. Some, I think, just crumble under the pressure of responsibility. The weight of this stole can be enormous, and it is only by your support and prayers that I can bear it.

I am very blessed to have a bishop that I can follow with confidence, considering the faithful ministry he has had among us. I would do well to imitate his life of faith.

I would ask, as you remember your leaders, your bishops and archbishops, and me, your pastor, that you pray that the Lord continue to strengthen us the service to which we are called. Pray that our sins may be forgiven, and pray that our lives might be worthy of imitation, so that in imitating us, you may be brought to holiness and righteousness before the Lord.   Amen.

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  • November 28, 2021
    • Christian EducationChristian EducationTime: 9:30 am - 10:15 am
      Join us as we delve into C. S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. Nowhere is Lewis’ wisdom regarding our ongoing struggle with sin, the world and the devil more clearly on display, than in The Screwtape Letters.
    • Holy MassHoly MassTime: 10:30 am
      St. John is located in the small town of Burkburnett, just north of Wichita Falls. We worship in the Anglican tradition and use the 2019 Book of Common Prayer. We would love for you to visit us on a Sunday morning. Come as you are, worship with us, and grow with us in the knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • November 30, 2021
    • Divine Stitches MinistryDivine Stitches MinistryTime: 6:00 pm
      Divine Stitches is a sewing ministry. We provide simple blankets for the First Responders in the Burkburnett area, Patsy's House and prayer quilts for those who are in need of special prayer.
  • December 1, 2021
    • Life GroupLife GroupTime: 6:00 pm
      Our Life Group provides one of the best opportunities for people to get to know each other on a deeper level, grow spiritually, and form life-giving friendships.
  • December 5, 2021
    • Christian EducationChristian EducationTime: 9:30 am - 10:15 am
      Join us as we delve into C. S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. Nowhere is Lewis’ wisdom regarding our ongoing struggle with sin, the world and the devil more clearly on display, than in The Screwtape Letters.

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