Tuesday, May 25, 2010

We are Surrounded by so Great a Cloud of Witnesses - Hebrews 12.1

We began reading from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans today as we look back at Pentecost and look ahead to the Sunday of All Saints. Liturgically we see to completion of the Church established with the descent of the Holy Spirit and NOW our work can begin. Remember that Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem when He said, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24.49) Now that the Church had received the Holy Spirit the work of going to “all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things”(Matthew 28.19-20) can begin. We are IN THIS PHASE of the Church’s mission. We are called to go out and proclaim this saving message, The Gospel of Christ.

Saint Paul reminds us today that we are all “called to be saints.” (Romans 1.7) We are each called to a life of dedication and commitment to Jesus Christ our Savior. Too often we think to ourselves or even say, “I’m not a saint. How can I be expected to behave that way? Nobody is perfect!” While nobody is perfect, we are expected to live a certain lifestyle as Christians even though we will make mistakes and fall. Saint John the Theologian says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1.8-9)

Being a saint is not being perfect. Rather it is being dedicated to God above all other things. When we deny God and embrace worldly praises or rewards or benefits above those of God, then we become sinners worthy of death. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 1.15-17)

Heed the urging of Saint Paul and commit your life to Christ! Confess your sins to the Church and “know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5.20) Find an Orthodox Christian Church near you and embark upon the journey to salvation in the ancient Christian Church, in the Holy Orthodox Church.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfection of our faith.” (Hebrews 12.1-2)

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