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Category Archives: Christ

You know, it’s funny how you can hear something several times and be moved by it. Then, there is that one time you hear it, and it just knocks you down.

Very early this morning, this officially became the most moving sermon I’ve ever heard.

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If any man be devout and loveth God,
Let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast!
If any man be a wise servant,
Let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.

If any have laboured long in fasting,
Let him how receive his recompense.
If any have wrought from the first hour,
Let him today receive his just reward.
If any have come at the third hour,
Let him with thankfulness keep the feast.
If any have arrived at the sixth hour,
Let him have no misgivings;
Because he shall in nowise be deprived therefore.
If any have delayed until the ninth hour,
Let him draw near, fearing nothing.
And if any have tarried even until the eleventh hour,
Let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness.

For the Lord, who is jealous of his honour,
Will accept the last even as the first.
He giveth rest unto him who cometh at the eleventh hour,
Even as unto him who hath wrought from the first hour.
And He showeth mercy upon the last,
And careth for the first;
And to the one He giveth,
And upon the other He bestoweth gifts.
And He both accepteth the deeds,
And welcometh the intention,
And honoureth the acts and praises the offering.

Wherefore, enter ye all into the joy of your Lord;
Receive your reward,
Both the first, and likewise the second.
You rich and poor together, hold high festival!
You sober and you heedless, honour the day!
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted
And you who have disregarded the fast.
The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously.
The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy ye all the feast of faith:
Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness.

Let no one bewail his poverty,
For the universal Kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities,
For pardon has shown forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death,
For the Saviour’s death has set us free.
He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.

By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry:
Hell, said he, was embittered
When it encountered Thee in the lower regions.

It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain.
It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.
It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead,
Is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be glory and dominion
Unto ages of ages.

Amen.
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CHRIST IS RISEN!

We Are a Revolution

I was there.  I was in on the revolution from the start.  Take a minute to see through the eyes of my good friend (and fellow Student Advisory Board member) Christina as she explains…

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We are a revolution. Five months ago, these were the words spoken by Christine to inspire us to allow the ministry of OCF to change our lives—to raise our expectations for ourselves and our future. Her words fired up joy and excitement in our hearts that we carried home with us for months. Later, though, we found that some felt as if the idea of a “revolution” was contradictory to our Orthodox way of thinking, but I believe we all knew that these words were not spoken with malice or negative intent, and I hope that I have captured in what follows at least a portion of the truth we felt about our revolution.

The word revolution conveys multiple connotations:  in the context of revolt, we think of it as a change in structures—a move toward positive ideals to better a community. In this way, we—OCF—are a revolution of campus ministries. Across the continent, we are in the process of changing the way Christian ministry exists in the forum of pluralistic, secular education. We are there to make known the Church of our Fathers, the Church our Lord established over 2,000 years ago. We are there to promote not only good moral values and knowledge of the Faith, but more importantly the Love of Jesus Christ in all men’s lives. We can choose to be like other college ministry groups that approach Christianity too often with missing pieces, or we can bring fullness to the hearts of young people who are desperately seeking for a single, unmoving Truth.

And within our own ranks, OCF can strive to be the beginnings of a stronger, better structure of Orthodoxy in America. By the Grace of God, we can bring together people from all backgrounds in one Baptism, in one creed, and in one Lord. We can work side-by-side in earnestness and love across jurisdictional lines to achieve an ever-needed peace and understanding within the Church. In this way, we are a revolution against the ways in which we ourselves have broken the communion established for us by the Church.

A revolution can also be a war—a revolt against some ruling power. For us, this is not a new battle we are fighting—we are rebels against the world and its demonic ruler, as were the apostles, the saints, the martyrs. We are called to be warriors in the army of the Lord of Hosts—members of the Church Militant. Our battlefield is abstract and our enemies are not always apparent, but we must put on the armor of God and fight the righteous fight. We must be revolutionaries of the flesh—allowing God to work in us and through us to bring transformation to the fallen Creation.

But most importantly, a revolution expresses a turning around. For us, it is the path to salvation—the road of repentance. It is our dire need to fall down before Christ with tears of repentance, knowing who we are, and begging for forgiveness. And in this moment we realize, we are not a revolution. We are not the changing force; we are not the real Soldier. In fact, we find that we are the battlefield and even sometimes the enemy. And while all that we do through OCF and through our own lives may someday produce beautiful fruit, we will have done nothing of significance—it is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who truly transforms and glorifies. In our most honest moments, we realize that He is the revolution. He is our revolution.

Thanks to my friend Ksenia for this…

“To You, Whoever You May Be”

by Archimandrite Lev Gillet

Whoever you are, whatever you may be, says the Lord of Love, my hand is resting upon you at this very moment. By this gesture, I am letting you know that I love you and that I call you for my own.

I have never ceased loving you, speaking to you, or calling you. Sometimes it was in silence and solitude. Sometimes it was there, where others were gathered in my name.

Often you did not hear this call, because you were not listening. At other times you perceived it, but in a way that was vague and confused. Occasionally you were at the point of responding with acceptance. And sometimes you gave me that response without any lasting commitment. You were deeply moved to hear me. You recoiled from the decision to follow me.

Never thereafter did you finally submit, totally and exclusively, to the calling of Love.

Yet now, once again, I come to you. I want to speak to you once more. I want you wholly for myself. Let me repeat: Love desires you, totally and exclusively.

I will speak to you in secret, confidentially, intimately. I will place my mouth close to your ear. Hear, then, what my lips want to speak to you in hushed tones – what they want to murmur to you.

I am your Lord, the Lord of Love. Do you want to enter into the life of Love?

This is not an invitation to some realm of tepid tenderness. It is a calling to enter into the burning flame of Love. There alone is true conversion: conversion to incandescent Love.

Do you wish to become someone other than you have been, someone other than you are? Do you wish to be someone who lives for others, and first of all for that Other and with that Other who calls all things into being? Do you wish to be a brother to all, a brother to the entire world?

Then hear what my Love speaks to you.

My child, you have never known who you really are. You do not yet know yourself. I mean, you have never really known yourself to be the object of my Love. As a result, you have never known who you are in me, or all the potential within yourself.

Awake from this sleep and its bad dreams! In certain moments of truth, you see nothing in yourself but failures and defeats, set-backs, corruption, and perhaps even crimes. But none of that is really of you. It is not your true “me,” the most profound expression of your true self.

Beneath and behind all that, deeper than all your sin, transgressions and lacks, my eyes are upon you. I see you, and I love you. It is you that I love. It’s not the evil you do – the evil that we can neither ignore nor deny nor lessen (is black actually white?). But underneath it all, at a greater depth, I see something else that is still very much alive.

The masks you wear, the disguises you adopt might well hide you from the eyes of others – and even from your own eyes. But they cannot hide you from me. I pursue you even there where no one has ever pursued you before.

Your deceptive expression, your feverish quest for excitement, your hard and avaricious heart – all of that I separate from you. I cut it away and cast it far off from you.

Hear me. No one truly understands you. But I understand you. I can speak about you such wonderful, marvelous things! I can say these things about you. Not about the “you” that the powers of darkness have so often led astray, but about the “you” who is as I desire you to be, the “you” who dwells in my thoughts as the object of my love. I can say these things about the “you” who can still be what I want you to be, and to be so visibly.

Become visibly, then, what you already are in my mind. Be the ultimate reality of yourself. Realize all the potential I have placed within you.

No man or woman is capable of realizing any inner beauty that is not equally present within you. There is no divine gift toward which you cannot aspire. Indeed, you will receive all those gifts together, if you truly love, with me and in me.

Whatever you may have done in the past, I will set you free, I will loose your bonds. And if I loose your bonds, who can prevent you from rising up and walking?

This was posted by my very good friend Dusty, to whom I’ve previously linked and replied here at twelve:one. He writes about two talks he gave to the youth at his church (my former church). The main focus is his talk from this past Wednesday. The main point of the response I posed follows. The full texts for both can be read here.

(Post)
I was finishing up about dating when I tied the whole two weeks together again by drawing focus to the main point again, which is that we should be DEVOTING A LIFE TO CHRIST, and not just sundays and wednesdays.

I explained it further by using an example using math; I love numbers and facts. LOL 🙂 But anyways, here is what I found.

The average person right now lives to be 75 years old, and 79 for women. So then, I let my mathematics do the rest….. and if a person just worships GOD on sundays alone which is a lot of christians, that makes it 3,900 days / 557 weeks / or 11 years. WOW, that information is disheartening. I mean, here we are…. we should be devoting a LIFE to Christ and all we’re giving HIM is one-seventh or 11 years out of 75.

But, here is what GOD showed me even further [in the middle of the talk]: Most people who are christians only go to church for no more than two hours in a day, and that’s all the worshiping they do… with that said, here is what GOD showed me: If you take those same statistics and replace the 24 hour day for 2 hours, you get 325 days / 46 weeks / or less than 1 year!!!! THAT IS VERY MUCH DISTURBING! Here we are, suppose to be devoting a life to Christ because HE wants us to, and because HE saved us, so we should thank HIM with our life, and we don’t even give HIM one full year out of 75 years. I’ll say that again, if all you do is go to church on Sundays and never worship or pray or read the Bible for the rest of the week, then all that amounts up to, is One year of your life out of 75 years! That does not sound anything like an entire life to me! Well, then you might say, “I go on wednesdays too.” Ok, then just double the numbers: 650 days / 92 weeks / or around 1.5 years! Wow, that’s a lot better…. I can definitely see how 1.5 years seems like an entire lifetime.

It’s no wonder that most christians stay “baby christians” in their walk, it’s because in the big picture of it all, we’re just giving him 1/75th of our life! Maybe, if we christians would start to reflect a LIFE of Christ and not just on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, then maybe, just maybe we could change the world, or even just ourselves. And, what hurts even more, is that a lot of christians don’t even go on Sundays and Wednesdays at all, and then they wonder why GOD hasn’t talked to them in awhile, or why does all this bad stuff keep happening? It’s because we’re not getting close to the Savior like we should be doing!

Then, the question might arise of, “ok, how do I best live a life devoted to Christ?.” Well, of course go to church on a regular basis so you can at least get that one year out of 75, then I would say, watch how you react to the rest of life…. What are you watching? What are you listening to? How are you treating people? Understand that you might be the only Bible that someone ever sees in their life. In fact, I tell people all the time, the best way to show someone Christ is live A LIFE for Christ and constantly try to better yourself. Besides, most people that don’t know Christ won’t care about what the Bible says, because if they don’t know Christ, why are they going to believe in the Bible? So, be an example and stand up for THE WAY, stand up for THE TRUTH, stand up for THE LIFE! […] I pray that all of us, those who call ourselves christians, will stand up for Christ and reflect Him all of our life, and not just one or two days a week.

(Response)
–Really….you’re dead on. I would even take it a step further and say that we don’t need to be Bible-believing as you say. Christ-following is better. That is Life. Not believing a book. Yes, believe the scriptures. But, if I simply believe the plank of wood standing in front of me with the shiny round thing in the middle of it is a door, what good does that do me? It is only when I turn the knob and open the door that it allows change (e.g. moving from one room to another.

Christ said “I am the door.” Therefore, don’t simply believe Him, or believe in Him, or the Bible, or whatever. Every day is a choice of action, not just a retention of belief. Daily, we should choose to follow Him to the Cross, to love our neighbor (friend and enemy) along the way, and to enter through Him and we will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

May I and may you choose the narrow path this day and tomorrow. Amen.

In my Medieval Philosophy class today, we discussed Plotinus’s writings on the descent of the soul. As Dr. Kress was breaking down Plotinus’s view of the cosmos, soul, body, etc., he placed on the board the Greek phrase which he told us was the best description of humans coming from the standard Greek point-of-view.

“zoon logon echon”

“This translates to ‘living beings with logos.’ Logos,” Dr. Kress told us, “is ‘speech’ or ‘intellect.’ The Latin equivalent would be ‘rational human beings.’

Yet, I know (as does my instructor) that logos is also “word.” And, the Logos is the Word of God, who is Christ. Now, if we’re defined as “living beings with logos,” what does that mean for us if we don’t know Christ?

If you ask me, it’s the clearest demonstration that there is a “God-shaped hole in all of us.” We are made to follow Christ, to desire Him, indeed, to commune with Him. If He is absent from us, then we are missing an integral part of what makes us us. Without Him, we have no completeness of life. Essentially, we have no life at all.

I love it how ancient teachings and ideas, especially in scientific or philosophical matters, line up perfectly with the truth of the Gospel.

This is a tragedy.

The title of the article: “Start Now, Retire Early”

“February 1998–
Bob and Penny took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot troller, play softball, and collect shells.”

That’s a tragedy! That’s a tragedy!

And there are people in this country who are spending billions of dollars to get you to buy it. I plead to you with all my heart, don’t buy that dream. The American Dream: a nice house, a nice car, a nice job, a nice family, a nice retirement collecting shells, as the last chapter before you stand before the Creator of the universe to give an account with what you did.

“Here it is, Lord: my shell collection! Look, Lord! My shell collection! And I’ve got a good [golf] swing! And look at my boat!

God?

Look at my boat, God…”

John Piper, message at Passion: One Day, given on Memorial Day 2000 at Shelby Farms, Memphis, TN

It’s much easier to fight for ourselves and to strive for goals and dreams which are tangible and which benefit us than it is to serve others. I imagine that’s why we all tend toward the former as opposed to the latter. But, at the end of the day, financial success and social success will have come and they will have gone. Right now, opportunities to love others and die to ourselves are all around. One selfless decision, action, conversation, or even one selfless word can make a lasting difference.

Do you have time? Give it away. Do you have excess money? Give it away. Do you have talents or skills? Give them away and use them for the good of the community, whether local or distant. Do you have a wealth of knowledge? Give it away and teach those you come into contact with. Do you have a past (or present) filled with suffering and hardship which you conquered or even merely survived? Give it away and share your story with others in the dark places in life, even if their situation doesn’t match yours.

Do you have love?

Give it away.

The Word was not hedged in by His body, nor did His presence in the body prevent His being present elsewhere as well. When He moved His body He did not cease also to direct the universe by His Mind and might. No. The marvelous truth is, that being the Word, so far from being Himself contained by anything, He actually contained all things Himself. In creation He is present everywhere, yet is distinct in being from it; ordering, directing, giving life to all, containing all, yet is He Himself the Uncontained, existing solely in His Father. As with the whole, so also is it with the part. Existing in a human body, to which He Himself gives life, He is still Source of life to all the universe, present in every part of it, yet outside the whole; and He is revealed both through the works of His body and through His activity in the world. It is, indeed, the function of soul to behold things that are outside the body, but it cannot energize or move them. A man cannot transport things from one place to another, for instance, merely by thinking about them; nor can you or I move the sun and the stars just by sitting at home and looking at them. With the Word of God in His human nature, however, it was otherwise. His body was for Him not a limitation, but an instrument, so that He was both in it and in all things, and outside all things, resting in the Father alone. At one and the same time—this is the wonder—as Man He was living a human life, and as Word He was sustaining the life of the universe, and as Son He was in constant union with the Father. Not even His birth from a virgin, therefore, changed Him in any way, nor was He defiled by being in the body. Rather, He sanctified the body by being in it. For His being in everything does not mean that He shares the nature of everything, only that He gives all things their being and sustains them in it. Just as the sun is not defiled by the contact of its rays with earthly objects, but rather enlightens and purifies them, so He who made the sun is not defiled by being made known in a body, but rather the body is cleansed and quickened by His indwelling, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth” (I Peter 2:22).

St. Athansius, On the Incarnation, Ch. II, §17