From The Blog

Mission Monthly – May 2009

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Christ is Risen! Let us take a moment to breath. A moment to reflect. And a moment to give thanks to our Good and Holy God Who loves His creation. Who loved it in the beginning. Who has loved it through time. And Who will love it forever. And we rejoice in that love, for His unending love is what has saved us, as He bore through the time of man marching generation to generation following the fall, searching, scrounging, if you will, for answers to the ultimate questions: “What is the meaning of our life?” “Where did we come from?” “Where are we going?” “How should we live?” “How should we die?” All these questions are answered in the grace and truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Deliverer, our Savior, our Messiah. He has given us meaning. He has given us direction. He has guided in a framework of life to, who like Adam in paradise, we are given all the enjoyments of life when we follow His commandments. When we follow His commandments we experience all the joy that life has to give. There is no other joy. The joy that we seek for ourselves in this life: the sensual pleasures, the abundance, the comfort, personal time; while certainly these things can be pleasurable they are not the life that God would have for us. The life that we would create for ourselves, if we are to be honest, is a life of slavery, slavery to personal opinion, to material things, to the vanity of life. But in following the commandments of God here is where life is to be found. And all good things are given when we do. All in the right time, all in the right place, all in the right way. Holiness, faithfulness, joy. But man has set his own path ever since Adam and Eve. But God never gave up. He kept calling His people back, through Israel and the Prophets, and Wisdom and the Law, finally through our Lord Jesus, fulfilling all those things that were spoken of Him. Coming to do the final act that couldn't be done any other way; God having to come in the flesh to defeat man's ultimate enemy: death. Jesus came in the flesh to die so that we might live with Him.

Our God is a delivering God. In today's Old Testament readings there was one powerful line that jumped out at me and I suppose it resonated with me from my athletic days (believe it or not I used to be athletic) it said that when Israel, the Hebrews, came out of Egypt, that God “routed” the Egyptians. He routed them. I love that word, routed. I have been on winning teams where there have been routs and I have been on losing teams who have been routed. It's always good when you win and never good when you lose. For the Hebrew people they were winners. God came and delivered them from the slavery of Pharaoh. He routed Pharaoh and his chariots.

This image that we have before us is the same image of our Lord Jesus Christ Who as God, voluntarily submitted Himself to death, so that He might encounter death and the Devil and defeat them. And I might add, on the devil's home court. Our Lord routed the devil and death, and we are recipients of His gift, of His grace, of His power, of His love, of His unending desire for us to be with Him today and always.

For us it's a matter of believing, really believing, not just in word, not just in thought, not just with lip service, wearing the name of Christian. No, we are called to BE Christian and to fight along with our Lord Jesus in this same battle, the battle over sin and death. Sadly, and I hate to even mention it, but we must talk a little bit about the realities again. We are drawn to the things of this world. We like shortcuts. We like having things. We like things our own way. And when we pursue things in this way we never measure up to the possibilities of what our God can do for us. Somehow in our lives we have to come to terms with this very fact. We have to come to terms with how we, as Orthodox Christians, have a good beginning, all of us called to self-examination, reflection on the movements of the heart and soul, and mind and body, and with sincerity coming before our Lord to confess our sins. But we don't do that because we are afraid we are going to be punished. We do so to be set free, so that we might not repeat the same mistakes over and over and over. We do so to be set free, and to begin to pursue the life that our Lord would have for us, in the way that He would have us have it. Not in our own way. This requires our patience, our willingness to admit when we're wrong, having the ability to say, “I'm sorry,” and having hope that when God answers our prayers they will always be a better answer than anything we could every dream up for ourselves. This is “Christ is risen!” This is His life. And we pray God help us to enter more fully into it. More deeply in faith, more present in hope, more conscientious of serving, more ready to love. With God's help and His grace and truth, by the power of His light that shines in us, starting on this day and always, may God guide us in the right way to His glory and to our deliverance.