Reflections by Fr. David August 2019
Persons are always looking for words that are clear and precise about "community life" and our individual sense of what is required for us" to be, "and the process "of being," in an Orthodox Christian parish in America.
Much of living the way "of being” is waiting. Waiting for the Holy Spirit to inform us in our actions, our thoughts, our responses to the events and culture around us. Frequently, because of our own hesitancy, or reluctance the moment to receive insight evaporates, passes and we remain confused. We wonder whether we have been heard...as we pray. We wonder whether the answer given to us is something or some action we need to accomplish. If we have been zealous we may have over-reached our capacity. If we remain available and are not given signs of acceptance ,we strain to 'read' the situation and become anxious. But about what? If we are, from our perspective and subjective sense. a 'faithful' member, we wonder why it seems others of our immediate Church family ignore or merely accept whole-heartedly our efforts but let us be without a thankful response for those efforts. What does that foster in us ?
In the above situations or circumstances there are more subtle and nuanced ways that disciples express themselves. In the above we did not remind ourselves of a most important idea..."we are adopted through baptism and chrismation' into a new way of life and freedom based on our being made in 'the image' and 'the likeness' of God. We are sons and daughters.
we do not need to be overly concerned with whether we ‘fit' or are mainstream in our culture, our social status, our economic achievement,..."what we shall eat, what we shall wear"
...for as we pray in the Eucharist celebration...deliver us from all tribulation, wrath, danger, and necessity”
We rely upon grace emanating from the Holy Spirit, the Comforter to intercede so our way of life, though a challenge, is relieved by our knowing as His disciples, His children. whether "..we have labored from the first hour or come to labor at the last hour. Our reward is acceptance into His Kingdom. For eternal life extends from this life and is predicated upon the ungraceful and graceful actions we do from the first instant of conception. We are made in "His image" We are "His Icon”. We are His "new Israel”. A people that are imperfect being given uncounted opportunities to become perfect.
We, to our dismay, find we are wanting, for we do not love adequately. We do not forgive another of our kind unless they ask. we become jaded as though we have heard every homily in its' completeness and the complexities of the exhortation to become fully ourselves. No longer are we to exhibit the unnecessary pain of guilt and shame., or our sloth. Rather, we are being asked to know the depth of freedom gained by the death and resurrection of Christ on the third day not the fourth nor fifth day.
In our life we may come to celebrate that third day in all circumstances of challenge! The inevitable barriers which can cause disappointment must become the opportunity for dignified, humble response. We are not in a "Catch-22" situation where our desire and our need cannot be met. We are charged from our conception to live life to the full glory of the God who blessed our conception and the creation of which we are a part and important !
May we in these fearsome-trying times, in a profound way, without self-pity, compulsive self -protection, judgment of others, deepen our profession of faith! And claim that Holy Spirit that gives us breath to live and comfort in our pain. evermore completely.. So in our striving to be more perfect we learn how to grow and thrive. and surrender to His Will for us. Not our will1 We have now again, as many times in this instance and not so distant past, again the opportunity to live into the life of the saint for whom we are named. St John Prodromos, "the first on the Way' who went to hell itself having been martyred saying ..".the Kingdom God is at hand"
Let us "commend ourselves and one another and our whole Life. to Christ our God". And duly repent of our sins ; malice, enmity, covetousness, self-righteousness, exploitation of others, sarcasm, snide 'snarky' remarks and disgusting habits and live freely as one who is a citizen of paradise and give "Glory to God in all things!"--for we have put on Christ!.