Homily September 25

Homily September 25, 2022

How small we are, we humans.

Our pretensions are larger than the universe, but despite them small we remain.

A passing look into the heavens on a cloudless country night reveals a world so far beyond us we can hardly imagine it. Countless stars in countless galaxies in a void that even light must take decades to travel. And here we are on this blue dot in the darkness of space, scurrying about for what is really a small thread in the fabric of time.

How fragile we are as humans.

We fancy being rulers over the natural world and yet we can be dethroned by a virus smaller than our vision. We presume to master time and yet a single unplanned event can remove us permanently from the life we imagined.

The truth is that despite our braggadocio we often live at the whims of our environment, others, things we never could control, far away decisions, and twists of fate. Life humbles us, repeatedly.

Still, there is a great light shining in all of this.

The God who brought the farthest galaxies into being somehow, for reasons we cannot often fathom, loves us. Not afraid of our fragility, the shortness of our earthly lives, or the weakness of body and soul He chooses to place eternity within, to join us to Himself, and give us the grace to even contemplate approaching the holy, and holy things.

We are earthen vessels, literally made up of the same elements of this planet. Our immediate destiny is to one day decay and become part of the very soil from which we were taken in the time of Eden. Yet in the brief flash of life between then and now the One who brought everything into existence, Who is beyond existence itself, has come to us to live with and in us, and even to reveal His glory to the world in our mortality.

Perplexed, set upon, harried, limited, and challenged we walk this world and yet in the midst of it the Light unconquered shines from around us and within and grace beyond our imagination is revealed in bodies of flesh. We carry our crosses, bear the marks of suffering, and yet it is at that very place where God is revealed to, in, and through us and those who understand it begin to realize how the God who places eternity into our finiteness can also grant us a kind of invincibility.

We are not immune from the realities of the world, but we’ve been given the potential to transcend. We are not released from the obligation of the cross but by it we discover life eternal. In our humility we overcome the world. In our meekness we inherit all that is good. In our suffering we join ourselves to Christ and His resurrection is ours as well. And the sign of all of this is to reveal this not in great flashes of lightning, or angelic choirs, but rather by the life and light and grace of God being shown to the world at the very places where are most vulnerable, weak and challenged.

For the one who follows Christ this is an assurance and a foretaste of what is, and what is to come. We know the peace and grace that allows us to endure and even thrive in the world is from God because our own weakness reminds us that we could never generate this of our own accord. Each bit of brokenness transformed by God is His still, small, voice telling us “Yes, you are loved, I am with you, and even your darkness is not beyond my reach.” We are surrounded by the grace and glory of God but sometimes we only become aware of it in the fury of struggle.

God shining in our feebleness is a sign, as well, of what will one day be. We are being transformed. The world is being transformed. History is moving towards its Creator like an arrow flies to its point of impact. The grace and glory of God that shines through our limitedness reminds that one day it will be reality itself, eternal, glorious, and holy.

What a great mystery this is! What a profound contemplation of that which is real and true but beyond our ability to completely understand. God loves us. God chose to come to be with us. God desires to inhabit all of who we are with the glory of His presence, even in the places where we’ve been broken, where we’re most fragile, where the things that life has thrown at us join us to the sufferings of our Lord. The reality that we are earthen vessels and fragile in our humanity becomes, because of it, the very place where His grace and glory touch us and where we see the promise of what will one day be.

If for this alone, how could we refuse to worship such a God?

Every Day

Sin, in ways small and large, continually knocks us down and by the grace of God we, with the struggle and blessing of repentance,  get back up every day and sometimes minute by minute. For the Christian there will be one last day when this happens, the day when we die and sin has it’s last hurrah with us, flattening us with one final blow. Then, for a while, we stay down but when we, by the grace of God, get back up again it will be forever and there will be no more stumbling, falling, or collapse.  In a weary and tiring world the knowledge of this is an enduring hope.

You're not invited to the party…

not the Republican, the Democrat, Libertarian, Communist, or any of them. None of them will completely capture the fullness of Christianity.

You see, if you choose to be an observant Christian, you are, in fact, a kind of monarchist. Now it’s not the monarchy of say the British royals with all the uniforms, fancy cars, and shopping mall openings. That, like all the other pomp and circumstances that come with the kingdoms of this world, is just that, a spectacle for the sake of power, a pseudo liturgy for the kingdoms of this world.

No, you’ve chosen to ally yourself with Jesus, to make him a king not like the world makes kings but rather for the sake of love. He invites you to belong to a Kingdom, to be citizens, not simply of a nation that may or may not be here with the tides of history, but of eternity where the things we humans seek are found not with endless bureaucracies but simply in His presence.

This Kingdom, for the observant Christian, becomes, out of love, the first loyalty, the true nation, and the ultimate destination of the world. It’s precepts live within us in this world but come from beyond it and stand in critique of every other human attempt to organize ourselves, even those which are seen as just.

That doesn’t mean we don’t “taint” ourselves with the affairs of this world or absent ourselves from its workings. What we have to offer as followers of Christ is valuable for the common good and often is the only sanity in the crazy swirl of things. We give allegiances, honor human authority, and seek the best for the places in which we find ourselves along our journey.

Yet it’s not ultimate loyalty, not ultimate involvement. No country, no politician, no political party, owns our soul. None deserves our ultimate allegiance. We can and should be good citizens but we know that we belong to something more, a Kingdom where the humble and often maligned Christ already rules, a Kingdom that is destined to be the ultimate reality of the universe as we know it.

It’s that Kingdom which comes first, last and always, and everything less, no matter how good it can be, is still just that, less.

It's Been Grey and Raining…

here in Minnesota the past week. The clouds have prevailed this week and there’s even a bit of fog floating down the street in front of my house.

Around here whenever it rains or snows, even when its a deluge, we always seem to say “We could use the moisture.”  Part of it, I think,  is that Scandinavian stoicism that has bled into the larger culture. Part of it, too, is that many of us are one, maybe two, generations off the farm. We still thinking like farmers even when we live in the suburbs. We must have space. We must have green living things around us. We still look to the sky with knowing eyes to determine the weather.

It’s the price we pay, I suppose, for living on this land. There is a harshness to it, extremes of one sort or another. Yet there is a life to be made if you know how to do it and have the will to flow with the changes. The whole world around you is always vivid with color. White as white can be in winter. Green that Saint Patrick would envy in spring and summer. Fall is when everything explodes in colors from yellow to brown. If you learn how to live in this place you can be alive in ways that are never possible stacked on top of each other in a far away eastern big city.

So for now we wait. We could use some sun. We would prefer it if you actually got our honest response. Until it comes, though, we can still use the moisture.

Default Mode…

People, myself included, often wonder what God would be having them to in this life. There’s at least one answer, Matthew 25. It seems that all the things listed there are what Christians should be about, the default mode if you will for how we should be using our time. Do those things and your life will stand the test, it will be a life well lived according to the only One whose opinion really matters.

Something I Need Work On…

“Try to fill your soul with Christ so as not to have it empty. Your soul is like a cistern full of water. If you channel the water to the flowers, that is, to the virtues, you will experience true joy and all the thorns of evil will wither away. But if you channel the water to the weeds, these will grow and choke you and all the flowers will wither.”

Elder Porphyrios

Wisdom…

“Each of us individually is searching for a meaningful fullness of life which is not to be found in subjective personal pleasure, inanities, and the mirages which so easily surface in our lives. The goal is not to have a short and illusory pleasurable life with it’s resultant melancholy and despair. A life is meaningful only when it is moving or striving toward Absolute Good.”

Bishop Mitrophan ( Znosko)

Its a Little after 10…

the house is quiet and the music of rehearsals has faded away. Just not a good day. Too Tired. Too worn out. Too uninspired. I hope the guy we auditioned today will say yes to the band. I hope he didn’t hear my mistakes. There are lots of hopes.

Life can be exhausting sometimes. I’m not sure, though, that I’d have it any other way because if I wasn’t tired I fear I would not be living it as much as possible.  Fatigue is the cost of pushing out beyond our boundaries but no horizon seems to be reached without it. In the end that’s where I’d like to be when my time comes, pushing on to the horizon.

%d bloggers like this: