SERMON OF MARCH 2006
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.
Dear brothers and sisters,
I would like to start the Sermon today with the subject of What the Holy Bible proclaims:
I like to share it with you,
It proclaims the mind of God, the condition of man, the way of salvation, the judgment of
sinners and the joy of believers. Its teachings are sacred, its statutes binding, its history
correct and its resolutions firm and unchanging. Read it and you will become wise; obey
its orders, and you will be safe; live by it and you will be holy. It is light to guide you,
food to nourish you, and comfort to give you joy.
It is the constitution of the Christian, Paradise is restored through it, the heaven is opened and gates of hell are closed. The Lord Jesus Christ is its central subject, its plan is for our good and its goal is the glory of God.
Implore the intercession of St. Mary the Virgin who was given to us a Mother by Jesus Christ while He was on the cross. He will not refuse her request as she is the help for
Christians. The Holy Church called the Virgin Mary a spiritual ladder, born on earth and
connected to the heaven because God has descended with her to earth as if she was on a ladder and He opened the entrance of the Heavenly Kingdom for all his faithful followers.
God is righteous and every perfect gift comes from Him. Worries, problems and diseases
come from Satan, thus we should strengthen ourselves with the Word of God and with much prayer and place all our confidence in Almighty God.
Can the doctor see a sick person without treating him? Imagine how much more our Heavenly Father the merciful, compassionate, long-suffering and plenteous in mercy, will take care of us? We should not forget the intercession of the Saints who also support our prayers. God only solves all problems, removes worries and clears the clouds. Taste and see how Good the Lord is: “Rejoice in God always and I also say rejoice”.
Next, as followers of Christ, what are our true assets?
Our true assets are not the estates or the companies we own, what we preserve in the bank safe or at home, our renowned status in this world, the degrees or the position we hold. all these things are transient and will end one day, but what we keep in the heavenly safes are our true assets.
If we cannot give riches, there are far greater things than wealth, possessions, delicacies, or pleasures, we give a word of love; the human beings miss love! We give a smile to those who have no joy! A word of encouragement to those who languish, or who are dissolute. A word of hope to those who despair, for the riches we give without love have no value.
Any work or service we perform will have no heavenly reward, and will not be added to
our true assets, unless it is done for love.
We may be working much in the field of service, but there will be no true fruit if the motive is not love; meaning the love of God in whose name we offer our service, and the love of those we serve, for they are the beloved of the Lord and His young brothers and sisters. Love alone is what remains and its effect will last, so whoever does not know love, does not know God, for God is love. The one who does not practice love, loses the greatest privilege that God has given to the true and faithful believers, through the Cross and the blood; it is the privilege of son ship.
Let’s remember that our Lord Jesus Christ is our Good Teacher and the essence of our teaching.
The Orthodox teaching is to keep Christ’s teaching as it is delivered to us by the Holy apostles and defined and interpreted by the church fathers. The Orthodoxy and authenticity of our teaching are based on our loyalty to the apostolic tradition and the thought of the church fathers (Biblical Patristic basis).
Next, there are no difficulties that can overcome us, because our dependence is upon the infinite power of the Lord.
Sometimes we may feel that it is impossible to change some conditions that have become our “Stone” which keep us imprisoned, as it were. Physical effort does not move it. The stone is rolled away by spiritual power, the power that overcomes every obstacle, every limitation. As we let God work through us, as we trust Him utterly to show us the way of freedom and light, we are imbued with this power.
Jesus’ message is a message of life, of overcoming power, of faith and answered prayer. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”. So with God all things are possible.
Is the appearance of disease or ill health our stone? The stone can be rolled away! Life and healing are God’s will for us, and there is nothing that can obstruct the free flow of God-life within us, Easter is a good time to affirm life and healing, to know as Jesus Knew that we are meant to have life and to have it abundantly.
The resurrecting Spirit in us sets us free from limitations, free from negation, and we enter into a whole new way of life. “If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come”.
Is the stone that blocks our way the inability to assume authority over our own thoughts and feelings, and subsequently over our lives? The more we pray and affirm our oneness with God, the easier it is to take control of our thoughts, to take control of our feelings, our actions and our lives.
We are God’s children, means we are important to God, and we are needed and important to the world. All kinds of days are set-aside as special days, for every day is God’s day. To feel special is to feel the presence of God within us, it is to feel our oneness in spirit with others, it is to feel and know that we are part of the whole beautiful creation of God.
Through the love of God, We are living in the eternal grace of God.
We never have to wonder how life would be without the grace of God, because God’s will for us, is to experience good. Knowing the truth, we open our lives to embrace the blessings of God in whatever form they appear.
The grace of God gives to us beyond any way we have of measuring, even in those times when we are being less than what we are capable of being as God’s beloved creations.
Grace does bring about miraculous things through us, as we allow ourselves to accept and express spiritual principles in our own lives. One principle is that God is love, and through divine love, we are for all eternity the recipients of blessings.
In conclusion: As we stand on the sure promises proclaimed in the Bible, living our lives with love and knowing that our treasure is in heaven. We can live the victorious Christian life, which the lord calls us to live.
I would like to add one important matter at the end, and it pertains to the images of the martyred saints, which we commemorated on March 12 at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles.
Icons in all churches attempt to give us an idea about the holy subjects they portrate.
A typical object to icons is that: they are not realistic. Off course, this is the case, because cameras and photography were not available, at the time of the early Fathers. Furthermore, there were no photographs of any of the great men of history except for those who lived during the most recent centuries. It is said that there is an image of the Lord Jesus, which was imprinted on the holy shrine of Turin of Northern Italy.
Images themselves are symbols, so the image of Christ, symbolizes and refers to the person of Jesus. Likewise, the images of the Virgin Mary and of the saints depict the persons represented there in.
When the Lord Jesus took-on flesh, He was incarnated for all nations who speak all sorts of languages. The Word was incarnate in all languages as written in St’s Paul’s epistle to the Philippians 2:7 “But made Himself of no reputation, taking the Form of a servant and coming in the likeness of a man.”
When believer looks at a holy image, his eyes are blessed and his heart is lifted up to his Lord, just as if he was looking through a window in to heaven.
Therefore holy images are commiserative apostles reflecting Christ the Lord and paints which allow us to see them according to what was said of them in the holy scriptures.
We ought to remember that man is composed of body & soul. Philosophers say that nothing enters the mind except through the senses, for example the ears or eyes. This is how we are made. A thought is a picture, so when someone is speaking about any subject, we tend to have pictures in our mind and imagination. And since most people were illiterate in the old days, images and icons played a vital role as living Christian teaching especially to children.
Icons were very important in church every were. Cathedrals and large churches would display on the walls images about the life of the Lord Jesus including all the details known about the Virgin Mary and the saints.
In days of old, a Christian who would not read would enter the church, in the eyes of learned. He was illiterate, but in the eyes of the God, he had worth and dignity. As he looked at the holy images, he learned about the Christians faith.
May God and His Saints bless you,