Thursday, March 31, 2016

We Need the Church

As human beings we sometimes feel paralyzed without help. We
sometimes feel we can’t possibly reach Christ. At that moment it helps to
always remember we have the Church to help us. Just as the paralytic whose
friends lifted him over the wall so he could reach Christ (Mark 2.1-12), the
members of the Church have been given to us to help us in those moments we can’t
do it alone. If the paralytic had been alone, he would have remained outside
the house and never reached Christ. We can’t reach Christ without the Church,
as we profess in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. We believe in One Holy
Catholic and Apostolic CHURCH, and just as the paralytic needed his friends, we
need the Church.

Hello. My name is Father Athanasios Haros. I'm the pastor here at the Transfiguration of Our Savior Greek Orthodox Church in Florence, South Carolina and I'm your host for Be Transfigured Ministries. Here at Be Transfigured, as we say, "We invite you to live a new life in Christ." We feature our sermons, and our Bible studies, and other special events in the life of the Church. We do it to inspire you to join us living a new life in Christ. I hope you'll join us. I'll be back in a moment after this video to share some information about our ministry.

When I was in eighth grade my Sunday school teacher asked me a question, asked all of us there in the class. She said, if you were on an airplane and the pilot was on the recording there saying that you were about to crash, what would you be thinking about? We were in eighth grade. We're going to miss our mom, we're going to do this, we're going to do that. She said, I want you to always know, if you're in any situation like that, that somewhere in the world, there is an Orthodox Christian praying for you. I have never forgotten that because as I grew older and understood time zones, and realizing just for very practical things, there is at least one Church or monastery in every time zone of the world.

Which means we're celebrating the Liturgy, we just read the Gospel. Now, in an hour, there's a whole other series of Churches in the entire world that will begin the Divine Liturgy and read the Gospel, the same Gospel that we just read. Will pray for travelers. It was a comfort to me, even though I was only in eighth grade, to know that because I was part of this global Church, untied in some mystical way ... I have to admit as an eighth grader, I had no clue how we were connected. I'm still not quite sure I understand it. I was comforted knowing that I had someone praying for me somewhere in the world at that moment. That is the incredible benefit that God has given us in His Church.

In this morning’s Gospel, we hear a perfect example of it. Here is this paralytic. Christ is teaching in this house, and it is so filled with people listening, you can't even get in the door. This paralytic is being brought by his friends and they can't get in. If it wasn't for his friends, first of all, he wouldn't have been there to begin with. Second of all, if it wasn't for his friends, and he had arrived at the house whether he had dragged himself or however he would have gotten there, he would have been stuck remaining outside the door. His friends didn't give up hope in him. His friends climbed up on to the roof. Tore a hole in the roof, lifted him up over the walls, down through the hole, and placed him right in front of God.

What did the Lord say? It says in the Gospel, "Seeing their faith." Christ knew that he wouldn't have been there if it were not for those four friends. He says, "Your faith has made you well." We need the Church. We can't do it alone, or we're going to be stuck outside the doors. When you need it, when you need that extra boost, you're not going to call the friends you go to the bars with, you're going to call your friends from Church. "Listen, I'm really having a tough time today. I'm really finding it difficult to be motivated, to live like God wants me to live." Or the practical things. "John, it's Lent, but I've got nothing to eat but hamburgers." "Okay, I'll be right over, I got some soup, my mom just made it."

This is true. This is the great benefit that God has given us in His Church. Where we are paralyzed in our weakness like this paralytic. Our friends are strong enough to lift us up, and the serious things too. Sitting in your dorm room, it's finals, it's been a long semester. You're not quite sure if you can really make it to the end. Mentally your spent. Emotionally, you haven't slept in four days. Not only are you panicking about the exam, but Yiayia calls and says, "Don't forget to go to Church on Sunday." How am I going to get to Church? I have all this stuff to do. Thank God for OCF. Thank God that you have a group of people on your campus, at least most of you do, who you can call and say, "I can't do it, I need help." "I'll come pick you up, we'll go to Church."Don't ever sell each other short.

When we say in the Nicene Creed that we believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, we believe very specifically that the Church helps us be saved. Not the brick and mortar Church, although that has blessings too. But the people of God, that my Sunday school teacher way back when tried to help me understand. Some Matushka, somewhere some Staretz, somewhere some Geronda to somewhere praying for me because I have maybe no one to pray for me. I might feel I'm all alone. You may feel sometimes you have no one. I want you to remember in those moments, you have me, and you have the Bishop, and you have each other praying for you so you don't get left outside the door in your paralysis, in your sins, in your struggles. Then Christ will say, "Get up. Rise and take up your bed and walk." We'll know that it was because of our friends at Church, not on the football team that helped get us there.

We have been mystically in our baptism united to each other. One to each other, and to Christ. Christ lifts us up, He gives us the Church, and sometimes our friends have to put us up over the wall inside the house. Don't ever forget that in your lives. I have never forgotten and I promise you, that in those moments when I didn't think it was going to make any sense, I remembered the words of my Sunday school teacher. I have thanked her multiple times since then. She said to me, "I said that, really?" A very holy woman. She's still alive. A very holy woman. You're not alone. We have Christ in each other and the Church. Glory to God for all things.

Well I'm back and I hope this video was an inspiration to you. I hope it helps you live a new life in Christ. Please share our message of hope with your friends and family, and invite others to live a new life in Christ. Find more information about Be Transfigured Ministries by joining us on our website at You can also find many of our videos on the Orthodox Christian Network, our partners at As we say at Be Transfigured, until next week, God bless you, and don't forget to live a new life in Christ.

Be Transfigured is a production of the Transfiguration of Our Savior, Greek Orthodox Church in Florence, South Carolina and presented by the Orthodox Christian Network. Contributions and support of this ministry may be sent to, Be Transfigured, 2990 South Cashua Drive, Florence, South Carolina, 29501, or online at our website at

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