Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Power of God Has Been Given to Us

There is a story about a Russian Cathedral. In 1883 the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was consecrated along the banks of the Moskva River in Moscow. At the time it was a tribute not only to Christ Himself but to the power of God that had protected the Russian people against the 600,000 invaders led by Napoleon. In that Cathedral Tsars were crowned and buried. It was the focus of all Russia as the Mother Church until it was destroyed by Stalin in 1931 to make room for a monument to Socialism and the Soviet Empire. During the construction of the Palace of Soviets, as it was to be called, constant obstacles prevented the completion of the new monument. The constant flooding and sinking of the foundations coupled with the constant lack of funding caused the Soviet Government to abandon the project and the site remained empty until it was finally converted into a swimming pool in 1958. For fifty years the Cathedral had stood as one of the largest Orthodox Christian Churches in the world: a testimony to the Power of God and His protection of His people. In 1995, after more than 60 years of Soviet attempts to crush the Faith of Orthodox Christians, following the end of the Soviet Empire, the Cathedral was rebuilt on its original site and stands today as a symbol of the Triumph of Faith in Christ and the Power of God.

There are some great parallels between the history of the Orthodox Church in Russia and this morning’s Gospel. “Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven. Behold I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10.17-19)

Now listen to the words of the Russian Emperor Alexander I in 1812: “To signify Our gratitude to Divine Providence for saving Russia from the doom that overshadowed Her and to preserve the memory of the unheard of efforts, loyalty and love for our Faith and Homeland displayed during these difficult days by the Russian people, We hereby intend to build a Cathedral in honor of Christ the Savior in our capital city of Moscow, wherein the appropriate Decree will be issued in due time. May the Almighty bless Our intentions. May our intentions be fulfilled. May the Cathedral stand for many centuries. Let the incense of thanksgiving, together with love and a desire to imitate the feats of our ancestral feats, burn before the holy altar of God for many generations.” (

The Russian people just like the seventy apostles understood that their protection and power to defeat evil came directly from God and not from their own abilities or wisdom. But if this example of God’s power isn’t enough to convince us maybe this story will. A member of our parish family was diagnosed earlier this year with a tumor between his eyes. After months of study, a recent MRI revealed no tumor. Praise God. There has been no surgery and yet today there is no tumor. What do we think? Was this a coincidence or a miracle? The Power of God is working in our community! There are other examples that I have mentioned before but this remains the most amazing. Praise God for his healing.

There are so many reasons for us to rejoice in the Power of God and we should rejoice, but Christ says, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10.20) It is no coincidence that miracles continue to happen in our Community. Whenever we choose to trust in the Word of God and live our lives and direct our parish according to His will for us in our lives, He will protect us. He protects us because our names are written in Heaven. Our names are written in heaven because we have become children of God as He promised. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right be become children of God: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1.12-13)

Jesus Christ says, “He who hears you hears Me… I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.” (Luke 10.21) For those of us who have been blessed to hear the word of God in our hearts God has revealed His wisdom. To those who have not heard Him in their hearts, those of the world, His wisdom is foolishness. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’” (1 Corinthians 18-19)

My brothers and sisters the wisdom of the world is destined to fail because the world has Satan as its father. (John 8.44 “You are of your father, the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.”) Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” (John 12.31)We have a choice to make: do we wish to follow Jesus Christ who has the power to defeat evil, or do we wish to follow the wisdom of the world which is destined to fail? The choice is ours to make, but it comes with consequences.

The Lord has already said that the wisdom of the world will be turned upside-down. The Lord has already said it will be destroyed. If we choose the wisdom of the world, we will sink like the foundations of the Palace of the Soviets. If on the other hand we choose to follow the Gospel of Christ and live like He wants us to live, we will rise like the walls of the New Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow which holds more than 10,000 people and is the largest Orthodox Christian Church in the world.

This morning’s Gospel tells us about the seventy apostles that Christ sent out to preach the good news of salvation. The Good News is this: God became man so that man could, by grace, become what God is by nature.” (See 2 Peter 1.4) God has united humanity to divinity and this is the reason to rejoice. This is salvation. This is the reason miracles continue to happen for us in our lives and our parish. This is the power of God.

Listen again to the words of Jesus Christ: “He who hears you hears Me.” God has chosen to allow us to work with him together to bring the Good News of salvation to the world. Do you believe in the Power of God? Then go out this week and share the Good News with your family and friends, your coworkers, and anyone you meet and invite them to Church. God has come to save the world from destruction and it is up to us to help get the word out. And when we do, “nothing by any means can hurt us.” (Luke 10.19)

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