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The Rev. William Klock: “God’s Grace for the Humble” (1 Peter 5:5b-11)

June 26, 2007

From the Rev. William Klock of Christ Church REC (preaching at Living Word Episcopal Church in Kourtenay, BC) we have a sermon titled God’s Grace for the Humble.  And Fr. Bill, in this sermon, echoes some of what we have seen in the lives of the patriarchs in his series on Genesis:

You see, we can never – we will never – turn to the righteousness of Christ if we are not first humble.  The proud man has no need of a saviour, because as he sees it he’s not so bad off and can fix any problems he’s got all on his own.  But the humble man knows his own sinfulness and knows his inability to redeem himself.  He knows that if he is to enter God’s holy presence it can only be to beg for mercy.  And so that person, when he finds God’s grace through the sacrifice that Jesus made for him, can do nothing but continue in his humility – continuing to mourn his unrighteousness, treating others as better than himself (because he knows that anything good he has is Christ’s, not his own), and he hungers and thirsts first for the righteousness covering of the shed blood of Christ which makes him acceptable to God.  But it doesn’t stop there, because he also seeks for the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in his life so that he can gradually grow to be more like his redeemer and put away the unrighteousness that drives away our holy God.

And so here St. Peter gives us a warning that God gives his people throughout Scripture: clothe yourselves with humility.  We are not to seek to exalt ourselves, but to wait for God to lift us up.  Look at the example of Jacob.  He spent his whole life trying to exalt himself – even his name means “supplanter.”  He was born holding onto Esau’s, his twin brother’s, foot as if even at birth he was trying desperately to make his claim on being the firstborn.  He lied, and cheated, and stole to get ahead in life, always wanting to get on top of the situation he was in, to have the better hand.  He was the man God had chosen to be the father of his chosen people, but before he could use him he had to be humbled.  And so we see God meeting Jacob not in the comfort of his parents affluent home in Palestine, but on the wilderness road as he was fleeing from the murderous rage of his brother.  God came to him and made a promise to exalt him, but Jacob wasn’t ready yet.  He took God’s promise and went on with his life in the same old way, looking to exalt himself by his own hand.  Again Jacob got himself into trouble, and again God met him in the wilderness while he was on the run.  This became the pattern of Jacob’s life: every time he tried to exalt himself, God brought him low and then came to him with his promise – and as Jacob failed to grasp the divine message, each time God brought him lower and lower.  Finally, at rock bottom, Jacob finally learned the lesson that God was trying to teach him.  He finally learned that God will exalt those who humbly turn to him for life.  Jacob ended his days in prosperity in Egypt, living there at the invitation and on the royal hospitality of Pharaoh – but not until God had taught him the necessity of humility.

God also brought low the children of Jacob.  In his providence he allowed the Israelites to become slaves to the Egyptians.  In Exodus we read about their plight and the abuse and oppression they suffered at the hands of the Egyptians.  But God allowed them to be brought low so that he could lead them out and show his gracious love to them in the wilderness and make them his bride.  Without being brought low, they would never have appreciated their need for a redeemer.  The story of redemption as we see it played out in the pages of Scripture teaches us that men and women only come to God when they understand that they can’t do it on their own.

It might also be worth noting that when the Apostle Paul speaks of our having the mind of Christ, in Philippians 2, he is speaking in large part about humility.  May God help each of us to truly have the humbleness to acknowledge our dependence on Him.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2007 4:10 pm

    As always with Fr. Klock’s sermons, my print-out is covered with underlinning, margin notes and comments…usually for my own rereading/contemplation but sometimes as the basis of possible comments on Prydain. In this case, I can offer no greater observation, summation or comment other than to repeat Fr.Klock’s prayer at the conclusion of this fine sermon:

    “Please pray with me: Almighty God, we thank you for the amazing gift of grace that you have extended to each one of us through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Remind us, Lord, that our redemption is accomplished in him and not by our own works. Keep us humble, we pray, even if it means bringing us low as you did the Israelites, to recall us to a knowledge of our own lowliness and your greatness. Remind us daily of our confidence in you, knowing that your promises never fail. And Lord, we ask you, turn that security we find in your grace into a boldness to share your message of redemption with the world. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. Amen.”

    Says it all…doesn’t it?

  2. June 26, 2007 4:35 pm

    Living Word Episcopal Church, Courtenay is apparently one of two REC parishes located on Victoria Island. I am unsure if it is a long established congregation or a new plant.

    As I sit in 93 degree temperature and 83 percent humidity in Texas, I can only imagine what Victoria must be like about now. Fr. Klock visits neat places.

  3. June 26, 2007 4:46 pm

    Yeah, in Birmingham we are running the same temperatures as Houston, although the humidity has been lower recently. We are actually in something of a drought–around 15 inches below normal rainfall this year.
    But when we were in Vancouver, on June 11 we were walking down the street and passed a bank thermometer, which showed a temperature of 52 degrees Fahrenheit at 10 am. I’m about ready to move to Vancouver. (just kidding)
    Thanks for the information about that parish, by the way–much appreciated.

  4. June 27, 2007 4:40 pm

    We’re heading home tomorrow, but the weather here has been quite nice — partly to mostly sunny and about 20-23C consistently with a rain shower now and again. Living Word (Reformed) Episcopal Church was started with a group of 12 folks in 2002, came into the REC about 2003 and now has Sunday attendance between 60-80 and is needing to begin a second service on Sunday’s to handle the crowd. A wonderful mix of young and old with a strong focus on missions and evangelism and seeing a lot of rapid growth as a result. It was an honour to preach here this past weekend. More news and perhaps some pictures will follow if I can manage…

  5. June 27, 2007 4:42 pm

    PS: It’s Vancouver Island. Victoria, the provincial capital is on the southern tip of the Island. Courtenay is about 250km north, on the east coast of the Island.

  6. June 28, 2007 12:56 am

    Thanks for the information Fr. Klock. Isn’t the 2008 REC Synod being held in Victoria?

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