The Arena
The Arena

Episode 581 · 4 months ago

Do Not Destroy Your Baptism | 12th Sunday after Pentecost


The Arena Podcast is the flagship of Patristic Nectar Publications and contains the Sunday Sermons and other theological reflections by Father Josiah Trenham delivered from the ambon of St. Andrew Church in Riverside, California and begun in 2010. Currently there are more than 550 sermons and lectures covering ten years worth of preaching through the liturgical calendar.

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Sirach: Fashioning a Life of Wisdom | 5 Lectures 

Patristic Nectar Publications is pleased to present a new five-lecture series by Father Josiah Trenham entitled Sirach: Fashioning a Life of Wisdom. The Wisdom of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus, as the book is known in the Western or Latin tradition, is a choice composition from the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament.  Written in the 2nd century BC in Hebrew and translated into Greek by the author's grandson in Alexandria, Egypt, this majestic portion of Holy Scripture combines the rich aphorisms of traditional Hebrew sapiential literature with the concerns and background of 2nd-century Hellenic culture. Jesus, the Son of Sirach, was highly prized by the Church Fathers from the earliest days of the Church. In these five lectures, Father Josiah hones in on the themes of learning and seeking wisdom, humility, work, wealth, almsgiving, friendship, social life, wives, women, medicine and physicians, youth and aging, and wise speech and the power of words. In these topical lectures, practical substance is given to the practice of the fear of God in a wide array of human activity so that the servant of God pleases the Lord and lives thoroughly and thoughtfully before Him.

Lecture #1 - Learning and Humility.

Lecture #2 - Work and Wealth in Sirach

Lecture #3 - Almsgiving, Friendship, and Social Relations

Lecture #4 - Wives, Women, and the Stages of Life

Lecture #5 - Wise Words

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Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar publications is pleased to present a five part lecture series by Father Josiah Trenam entitled Syrac fashioning a life of wisdom. The wisdom of Syrac, or ECCLESIASTICUS, as the book is known in the Western or Latin tradition, is a choice composition from the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, written in the second century B C in Hebrew and translated into Greek by the author's grandson in Alexandria, Egypt. This majestic portion of holy scripture combines the rich aphorisms of traditional Hebrew sapiential literature with the concerns and background of Second Century Hellenic culture. Jesus, the son of Syrac, was highly prized by the church fathers from the earliest days of the church. In these five lectures, Father Josiah hones in on the themes of learning and seeking wisdom, humility, work, wealth, almsgiving, friendship, social life, wives, women, medicine and physicians, Youth and Aging, and wise speech and the power of words. In these topical lectures, practical substance is given to the practice of the fear of God in a wide array of human activity, so that the Servant of God may please the Lord and live thoroughly and thoughtfully before him. For these and other available lectures, please visit our website at patristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trenham, in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, a blessed Lord's Day to your brothers and sisters. I've entitled my homily this morning. Do not destroy your baptism. Do not destroy your baptism. This has been a reflective week, hasn't it? With the Falling Asleep of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the second and the whole world stopping to observe her life seventy years as queen. Imagine the things that she's seen. Imagine the changes to her country, to her church, to the world that she has observed over the course of her reign. I too often find myself reflecting due to circumstances that arise, circumstances that I never dreamed of seeing or imagine that I would hear. These kinds of developments make one ponderous. Think about the change of our country and isn't it the case? I think so. I think for all God lovers, for all those who are seeking the Kingdom of God in our nation. Isn't it the case that there is so much pain of heart to see a country in which still the vast majority of our people self identify as Christians, the vast majority call on the name of Jesus, if asked, would say that they are his followers, and yet to see the state of our land succeedingly painful, to think of what God thinks, to how God's name is abused, to how the opportunities, the great opportunities, for those who have the heritage that we have, who have the scriptures, who have the freedom to honor God and to worship in our churches,...

...and to see US shepherding such privileges so poorly is a great grief. Our land has become wildly, wildly rebellious. Our land has become exceedingly proud. Each week I hear something new in our little downtown email neighborhood chain. And this week we witnessed, as we have been witnessing, the increase of violent crime all across our country. We saw it in in a way I just can't imagine a conflict between a young man thirty three years of age and his girlfriend and the mother of his one year old child, seven years old, moved from from their apartment out into the street in the bay area in San Carlos, and the neighbors became came out to the doors and watched the fight as it was escalating. And then the young man took out a Samurai sword and decapitated his girlfriend in the middle of the street in front of everyone. Neighbors ran to get the police. They came, they found the poor woman's head laying under the car. Who could have possibly dreamed that we would hear of such things, that we would see the rise of so much violence? You know, that kind of behavior that we're seeing, this complete disregard for any sense of respect for people's property, for people's lives. This is the greatest arrogance, this is the greatest pride. It's a direct attack upon the image of God and upon God himself, done mostly by people who self identify as Christians. This is why I'm entitling my sermon. Do not destroy your baptism. You know, God's people tried him terribly in the old covenant. They tried him terribly. Many times they would follow God, many times they would follow Moses and the Prophets, but many times they would not, most often when they were in prosperity, most often when things were going very well. Then they forgot God and they turned to just preserving their earthly life. Jeremiah the Prophet stood at a major juncture in the life of God's people. They were about to experience the most horrific, the most catastrophic judgment from the hands of God for their infidelity. At the time of Jeremiah's life, he would preach to the people of God, just as Nebuchadnezzar and the Great Babylonian power would descend upon them and would do what they thought was impossible, and that is bringing judgment not just upon the pagan lands. Nebucannezzar didn't just come and was God's instrument to punish human wickedness outside of his own people, but Jeremiah told the people of Israel that God was going to come and punish their wickedness, not just the Pagans, but there's because though they named the name of God, though they called upon the through God, though they had the...

...marks of covenant membership, circumcision, though they had the temple that they thought was inviolent, the dwelling place of God, where God had promised to put his presence. He promised that his eyes would be fixed upon that temple day and night and his ears open to the supplications of all who came there. And brokenness of art. They thought that those things secured their future. They were Abraham's children, they had Abraham's mark that set them apart from the Pagans, and they had God's presence in the temple, and they thought it was fine. And Jeremiah looked at them and said, don't say the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, don't say it. It's not going to be spared. Jeremiah told them to stop boasting. One of the most commonly quoted passages from the prophecy of Jeremiah by the fathers of the church over the last two thousand years as a passage from chapter nine's delightful, passage, powerful passage where the Prophet Jeremiah is calling on the people to humble themselves. Their arrogance in their prosperity had become great and he issued a prophetic injunction against them. He spoke words that those who had become proud didn't like to hear. They started this way, thus seth the Lord. This is how prophets who were in the Council of God and heard first the word that God gave them and then spoken to the people. This is how the Prophet spoke. They didn't issue their their speech just to be another Buzzword for the people of God to evaluate. They didn't speak so that people could decide if they wanted to or didn't want to follow what the Prophet was saying. They spoke in place of God. Their words were God's words. That means that the response to those words by every person who heard was a response that would determine their destiny. Every time a prophet spoken the name of the Lord, those who were listening held their various souls in their hands. To listen and humble would be salvation. To close their ears against the prophetic word, to oppose the Prophet and in many cases, to persecute them, as Jeremiah was constantly persecuted, was to find judgment. Thus saith the Lord. He says. Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom. Let not the mighty man boast in his might, and let not the rich man boast in his riches. Stop boasting. This is what Jeremiah said to the people of God. You don't we would think that those who had been rescued as they had been by God wouldn't need a counsel to stop boasting. But they were fascinated by their own intelligence, they were fascinated by their own power, by their own wealth. Believers know whose hearts are soft, that there's nothing, that we have, no intelligence, that we have no money, that we have no power, that we have except what God has given us. And if God has given it to you, in what world is it reasonable to boast about it? PAULP puts it this way in his...

...epistle to the Corinthians. He says, what do you have that you have not received? Stop boasting, give thanks and praise to God for everything that you have. Jeremiah's telling them. And then he continues. He said, but let the one who boasts, if you really want to boast about something, boast about something that's true. Boast of this that you understand and know me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving kindness and Justice and righteousness on the Earth, for I delight in these things, says the Lord. What's really a value? What we should really be thrilled about? It's not the things that we have been given by God in relationship to the Earth. Real value is knowing the Lord God. The thing that really pleases him is when we know him, when our thirst is to know him better, when we care about becoming his friend, when we want to be his faithful children. This delights God. St Basil the Great and his famous homily on humility. He quotes this text from the Prophet Jeremiah and he says this quote. Knowing God constitutes the highest dignity of mankind. This is his glory and greatness. Seek after glory from the Lord of Glory. Yes, fine, seek to be glorious with God. Jeremiah continues. He says, behold, days are coming, that I will punish. We don't like to hear those words. Behold, days are coming, that I will punish. And dear ones, make no mistake, days are coming. Then he really shocked his listeners. Jeremiah, days are coming, that I will punish. If they had stopped there reading, they would think, Oh yeah, he's finally going to take care of the Babylonians. He's finally going to take care of those nasty Egyptians in Pharaoh, who has tormented us for so long. He's finally going to take care of the AMMONITES and the MOABITES. Listen to Jeremiah. Behold, days are coming that I will punish all those who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised. What in the world does that mean? Days are coming when he's going to punish not the pagan nations alone, but the people of God, who have the mark, that which sets them apart from the world, but they have the mark only on the outside, not on the inside. Days are coming when I will punish those who are circumcised yet uncircumcised. They took the mark as a children to be members of the Covenant of God, to be his. They follow Abraham, they call on Abraham, but, as Jesus said to the Pharisees, you call Abraham Your father, and if that's the case, then do the deeds of Abraham. If all you have is the exterior circumcision and it's not a certain a circumcision, that shows that you've cut off the world from your heart. Days are coming when you'll be punished. This is what he's saying to the people. He goes on about who...

...will be punished, all those who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised, Egypt and Judah, Pharaoh, Neco of Egypt, he's about to get his and he would about who was about to kill righteous King Josiah, my patron, saying when Jeremiah issued this prophecy, they knew Egypt was bad. They weren't surprised to hear that name. But Egypt and Judah. Then he lists dam and am and in Moab, all nasty pagan nations. But then he ends with this and all the house of Israel who are uncircumcised. In Heart, the Prophet Ezekiel, Jeremiah's successor, and his prophecy follows in the Holy Bible, after Jeremiah, our father's placed Ezekiel. Following back, Prophet Ezekiel takes up the same theme. He prophesies just after Jeremiah's prophecies have come to pass and Nebuchadnezzar has come and smashed Judah. He's burned the temple to the ground, he's torn down the wall, he's taken most of the people into exile. He's left only a few poor people to maintain care of the vineyards so he could still get a crop from them. Ezekiel picks up the same thing and he foretells the future entrance of the faithful into the Kingdom of God post exile. And this is what he says. This is in chapter forty, verse nine. No one uncircumcised in heart will ever enter my sanctuary. Dear one, circumcision in the Old Testament is a type of holy baptism. We forbid the continuance of Old Testament circumcision. Christians don't circumcise, religiously speaking, anyone who's circumcised. They may do that or not do that for a hygienic reason or because this doctor or that doctor thinks it's important, but it has nothing to do with religion. Any Christian who religiously circumcises himself is cut off from the church. He's fallen from grace. Saint Paul says, the Jewish types are done. We don't circumcise anymore than we offer animal sacrifices. Circumcision has found its fulfillment and Holy Baptism, and while forbidding the continuance of Old Testament circumcisition which, like all Jewish and Old Testament types, fades away when the fulfillment in Christ comes. St Paul writes to the Colossians these words. In Christ, you were also circumcised, with a circumcision made without hands. He's talking about a spiritual circumcisim. How are we spiritually circumcised in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ? Had they been buried with him? In Baptism, in which you were also raised up with him through faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead when you were dead, in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions. Baptism is the sacred mystery through which were incorporated into the people of God. It's there that our hearts are circumcised. It's there that we're joined literally to the death of Jesus, and we died to the world and we die to selfish ambition and we die to all of the things that the people of God at the time of Jeremiah were entranced by. Paul is not suggesting he's very clear. It's not suggesting that the sacraments are unnecessary or that someone doesn't need baptism, but he's being very clear that the sacraments themselve are insufficient to save anyone if...

...they aren't lived. Just like the Jews, if they only had fleshly circumcision and they didn't have a circumcised heart, a heart that was cut off from sin, from the world, punishment was coming. It's the same for us, dear ones. We can be baptized, but if that baptism isn't being lived, if it's not cherished, if we die to the world in baptism and are united to Jesus's cross and are raised to new life, but then we live a life only for this world, our baptism has become unbaptism. We are the unbaptized, baptized just like the Jews were the uncircumcised, circumcised in God's sight. This is why I've entitled my sermon to you today. Don't destroy your baptism, and all of this comes from the epistle lesson that you just heard. With that as a background, listen to what Paul said in the Epistle we just heard, to Galatians. In chapter six, he picks up on this theme. The context is Jewish converts to Christianity who were Judaizing. They wanted to keep the old they wanted to still practice religious Judaism while adding Christ and they were trying to convince members of the church, Jews and pagans that it was a religious requirement for Christians to circumcise themselves. They were tormenting St Paul. And Paul says this, for not even those who are circumcised keep the law. Does that sound familiar? He's speaking like Jeremiah. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they want to boast in your flesh. Hearing familiar words from Jeremiah, I they have circumcision, but they don't keep God's law. They're boasters. They have the sign of the covenant, but they're not keeping the words of the Covenant. Jeremiah's experience was still lived out in Paul's own time. And then Paul Climax is his argument, saying this. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything. It's done. It's a meaningless to us. What matters is a new creation, the regeneration that God affects in Holy Baptism and he expects us to live a regenerate life, a new life with different ambitions, different goals, different standards. God's goal is to regenerate us from the inside, to be making people who of the Cross, who don't flee it, who don't act like suffering is a strange thing, who don't shy away from a little persecution because of their faith. They're ones right now, the access laid at the root of the tree. Believers in our country are really being put to the test. So many people right now have their faith hanging in the balance and they're either going to hold on to their faith, be true to God or keep their job. Yes, teachers, doctors. On and on we go, the persecution again, those who won't participate in the fallen insanity of our culture, who...

...won't use the right pronouns, who refused to call a person in their class who is a boy a girl, or a person in their class who is a single person? Are they? I read this week from the independent, the Irish independent, one of our former catechumans moved to Ireland. Some of you may remember Paula. She moved to Ireland and it was just baptized there in our church this last week, glory to God, and I was reminiscing about that incredible Emerald Aisle this week and I came across an article in the independent and the Irish independent about a teacher, a young man, Chris, Evangelical Christian I think, who was fired from his teaching position because he wouldn't call a young boy in his class they and because he wouldn't accommodate the Dysphoria, the insanity of his own student. He was fired and arrested. He's in Mountjoy prison now and he won't he's being accused of contempt of court and he won't agree. He believes that to say what he needs to say to have the contempt removed so that he can get out of prison would be a betrayal of his faith. We ought not destroy our baptism as the Jews destroyed their own circumcision, put our hope falsely in someone else's strong faith. Good for them, whoever else has strong faith, I'm sure it will serve them well, but it's not going to help me or you. Our strong faith will help us, dear ones. Our confidence in God will help us. Our fidelity to living the Christian life. This is what is necessary in this hour, because the pressure is great. If we allow externalism, boasting or worldlyness to dominate us, we'll have a terrible future. We must insist that we're living as new creatures, that our baptism is cherished every day and it's lived every day, or else our baptism will be like on baptism and we won't be able to enter an of the sanctuary of God because our hearts will be attached here and not there. God help and preserve us to be his faithful people. On that, we hope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in other available titles or if you would like more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org. The People Been Patent.

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