Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What are You Willing to Do to Make Your Dreams Come True?

All of us have dreams; dream vacations, dream jobs, dream homes, even dream families. We invest our resources of money and time preparing ourselves to accomplish our dreams. When we are faced with choices, any choices, we painfully weigh our options against their potential to help us accomplish our dreams. If any choice either works against our dreams or doesn’t at least lead toward our dreams, we quickly opt out for fear that our dreams won’t become a reality. We will do ANYTHING to make our dreams come true.

As we begin another Church year in September, I would like you to consider this question, “Do you dream about being in Heaven when you die?” If you do, and I presume you do, what are you willing to do make that dream come true? The Orthodox Christian Way of Life is designed to help you make this dream a reality. Here are some examples:

Attending Church Services as often as you can – We read of two glimpses into Heaven in the Holy Scriptures in both Isaiah (chapter 6) and Revelation (chapter 1). Moses was commanded by God (told to us in Exodus) to shape Old Testament Worship (the model for New Testament Orthodox Christian worship) with the understanding that when we are worshiping God in Church, we are preparing to experience Heaven. SO....the more time we spend in Church for worship, the more we will appreciate the reality of Heaven. Heaven isn’t a good day fishing, it isn’t a good day at the golf course, it isn’t a peaceful field of bright colored flowers. Heaven IS the angels and saints (that includes us) worshipping God ALL THE TIME. If you dream about being in Heaven, but you don’t enjoy being in Church, spending more time IN Church will help make your dream come true.

Living the Fasts and Feasts of the Church – Jesus Christ commanded, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8.34) The only way you will be able to enjoy Heaven is to learn NOW how to deny yourself and take up your cross. When you live the fasts and feasts of the Church, you are learning how to focus your entire existence around having a relationship with Christ. The Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, has established a CALENDAR which focuses your time, daily-weekly-seasonally, on growing closer to Jesus Christ. If you dream about being in Heaven, allowing your life to be shaped NOW by the Church to focus upon God all the time will help your dream come true.

Caring for the Poor – Christ directly connects our entrance into Heaven to serving the poor in the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 25.31-46). Caring for the poor is an act of love. God IS love, and He commanded “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19.18, Luke 10.27) If you cannot love your neighbor, and your enemies (Matthew 5.44), it will be impossible to enjoy Heaven. If you dream about being in Heaven, learning NOW to love your neighbors and enemies by caring for them, will help your dream come true.

Participating in the Whole Life of the Church – The life of the Orthodox Christian Parish is dedicated at all times to helping you make your dream of being in Heaven come true. The Divine Services, Bible studies, opportunities to serve the poor, fellowship through social events, house blessings, the Mysteries (Confession, Holy Communion, Unction, etc) special blessings (hospitals, newborns, adoption etc), special classes (Orthodoxy 101), and Parishes are always considering new ways to help you make your dream come true. The only part missing is YOU. What are YOU willing to do make your dream come true? It’s YOUR choice.

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