October 8, 2014 Length: 9:04
Let us make the sign of the cross, and invite the Presence of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit into our lives—into our hopes and our fears. God already knows those hopes and fears, but sometimes He waits for us to share our lives with Him privately, to be honest with Him, so that He can then be honest with us, through revealing some of the fullness of Himself to each of us.
The opening verse from the Gospel reading for today from the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 6, verse 31, is easy to understand, but difficult to live: “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” Children, how do you want people to treat you? How do you want other people to behave with you? . . . Each of us only knows our own feelings, our own hopes. We don’t know exactly what someone else is thinking. For example, one Christian counsellor said to Sylvia and me: “You wouldn’t worry so much about what other people thought of you, if you realized how little they did!” In other words, we are all living our own lives—whatever our ages. It takes a lot of energy to live your own life. You need enough sleep, time to go to school or work at home or go out to a job or find a job, enough money to buy food, a place to live. Often, as you grow older, you have a lot of responsibilities—perhaps for your spouse, for your own children, for your parents, to help friends. It just doesn’t make sense to worry about what other people are thinking about you. For a start, they’re probably not thinking about you at all; they’re probably thinking about their own problems. Furthermore, if they are upset with something that you are saying or doing, then they need to tell you.
None of us are mind readers. We don’t know what other people are thinking unless they tell us. For example, you don’t know that one of the important things I have been thinking about for the past few weeks is that Sylvia and I have now been married for 52 years! That’s a long time, older than most people in this church. What’s more, we’re becoming happier and happier. How is that possible? Because we’re treating each other the way we want to be treated ourselves! We’re not yelling at each other; we’re not complaining about our faults—which we both certainly have. I sometimes talk too much; Sylvia sometimes talks too little. Sylvia, like a few other people in this church, often prefers to serve other people rather than to be served herself. Sometimes I have to convince her (gently, of course) that it’s OK to be served by other people—that I have just as much right to be a Servant Husband as she has to be a Servant Wife.
Now, as we live our lives, there is a big challenge we each face: Are we going to pray and read the Bible? Are we going to ask God to help us with whatever problems we have? God can come into our lives whether we are young or old or somewhere in between.
One way that we can let God into our lives is by understanding the Holy Trinity—by understanding how the Holy Trinity can transform our own lives. Who is God, the Father? Who is God, the Son? Who is God, the Holy Spirit? Can we live our lives in such a way that we can actually enter into the relationship of love among the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Trinity is three persons in one essence—that is, three distinct persons in one God. As the Orthodox theologian, John Zizioulas, Metropolitan of Pergamon, has pointed out in his book, Communion and Otherness, the Father is “a relational being”—a person who relates to others, whose love has generated the Son and the Holy Spirit—whose love reaches out freely to each of us. The Father loves each of us so much that He has sent His Son to guide us in how to live our lives in His own death-destroying life.
Metropolitan Kallistos, in his study, The Orthodox Church, reminds us that “God has come down to humankind, not only through His energies, but in His own person. The Second Person of the Trinity, ‘true God from true God’ [as stated in the Nicene Creed], was made human: ‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ [according to the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 1, Verse 14]. A closer union than this between God and His creation there could not be. God Himself became one of His creatures” (p. 210).
Now even with all the love that surrounds us from the Father and the Son, like the apostles, we sometimes must wait for the Holy Spirit to be present in our lives. The opening chapter of the Book of Acts explains how the apostles were “to wait for what the Father had promised,” because it is only when “the Holy Spirit has come upon you” [that is, the apostles] that “you will receive power . . . [to] be My witnesses. . .” At different times in our lives we, too, like the apostles, must learn to wait for the Holy Spirit to guide us into right action. That doesn’t mean we hear a voice from heaven telling us “Do this; do that.” We receive the Holy Spirit when we have the calmness and the confidence to bring Christ to others at the right time and the right place for them.
In the fourteenth and fifteenth chapters of his Gospel, St. John calls the Holy Spirit, “the helper” who comes to us from the Father and tells us about Christ. That’s a wonderful definition of the Holy Spirit that the evangelist John has given us—the Helper. Furthermore, the loving Father who has sent us this Helper has also shared with us His Son.
To conclude, let’s make the sign of the cross, and invite the Presence of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit into our lives—into our hopes and our fears. God already knows those hopes and fears, but sometimes He waits for us to share our lives with Him privately, to be honest with Him, so that He can then be honest with us, through revealing some of the fullness of Himself to each of us.
And so we ascribe as is justly due all might, majesty, dominion, power and praise to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, always now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen
Deacon Emmanuel Kahn