I Believe in Church

When Jesus sees the faith of four friends, who bring to Him their paralyzed friend, the Scriptures tell us “Seeing their faith,” that Jesus forgave sins and healed the man. Friends matter, and as The Church, we have the power to help each other, and to bring others to Christ for healing. We are all bound to each other. It is because of Church that we are able to help each other.

 


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Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Be Transfigured, where we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We pray that this episode is a blessing to you and will inspire you to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ. We invite you to join us for worship or study at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where visitors are always welcome. We'll be back in a few moments to share some more information about our ministry.

And I believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Sound familiar? I hope it does. It is from the Creed and we recite those words at every liturgy. Did you ever wonder why? Why do we make it a point to say, and I believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church? Not doctrine, not Dogma, but Church. We, as Greek Orthodox Christians, believe in the Church.

There has to be some essence, there has to be something important about the Church, that it has been written into the creed that it's something that we believe in. There has to be some kind of spiritual benefit. The creed is not just a bunch of random words. The liturgy is not just some words that we traveled together one after the other.

Well, this morning's gospel is one of the many answers. We believe in the Church, because we believe in the ability and needs of each other. In this morning's gospel, we see that Christ is there, teaching in the house, so filled with people that you can't get one more person inside that door.

In a few weeks, we're going to know what that feeling is like. There are going to be so many people in this Church, in a few weeks, we won't be able to fit just one more person in the front door. And yet, they'll come. Why? Because the Church is the place where we encounter God.

In that house, that day, there were so many people having an interaction with God. Then, these four friends, bringing their sick, paralyzed friend with them. They knew where Jesus was. As if to say, "Ella Yanni, come on Yanni. We know where God is. We're going to bring you, so you can be healed. We're going to bring you to him, so you can be made better."

They get to the house, and it's full. Not one more person, but they didn't give up. When Jesus Christ saw their faith, their faith, not the paralytic's faith, not the crowd, but those four friends, the gospel says, "Seeing their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'son, your sins are forgiven." They believed in God's power enough that they never stopped doing what was necessary for their friend to meet God. That's why we believe in Church.

Because this Church stands here, on this corner, as a reminder of God's saving power. For over 100 years, a Church has stood on this corner, this cathedral for 75 years. Calling people with the bells, to worship. Calling people, inviting people, "Come and see that God can make you well."

Now, we know that doesn't always mean that the paralyzed are going to start to walk. But Christ didn't begin with healing his paralysis in the gospel, did he? He says, "Son, your sins are forgiven." Christ has given the Church the authority to forgive sins. So we come to the Church, and by the grace of God, through ordination, and the office, from our bishops, the clergy are offering the forgiveness of sins to whomever comes forward.

That's a great opportunity. Not just for those who need healing, but for the friends as well. You see, my brothers and sisters, our job is not always to worry about our own healing, in our own selves, but to worry about other people. These four friends didn't stop. They didn't give up. They climbed up on top of the house and ripped a hole in the roof.

I'm not suggesting we tear a hole in the dome, we just fixed it a few years ago. There's no reason to put a hole in the roof. However, when, in a few weeks, our Church is filled to capacity, I would love for us to remember this beautiful opportunity in this gospel. And to know that there will be people outside, wanting to come in, to encounter God. What is our reaction going to be to them?

The crowd, initially, did not respond very well to Christ, did they? He says, "Son, your sins are forgiven." And immediately, they get on the defensive. "That's blasphemy. Nobody can forgive sins, but God alone." Christ, wanting to teach them the truth of who He was, enters into a conversation with the crowd, "Which is harder, to forgive sins, or to say to this paralyzed man, get up, walk, take up your bed, and go home?"

And then Christ says, "So that you know the power, that the Son of man has the power, I will even say to this man, 'get up, take up your bed and walk.'" Then, their response, "Wow." Yeah, it didn't really say it like that in there, but that was their reaction. They were consumed with awe in the power of God that they witnessed. That's why this Church is here today.

Not only for those of us who are on the inside, but for each and every single person on the outside of these walls. We are their friends. It's up to us to bring our friends and our family, so they can have an encounter with God, and so they can have their sins forgiven, and they can have a new life, and they can be restored, and they can join us inside, so we can give glory to Almighty God.

There's another benefit to Church, that I just want to finish this morning with, as we are now two full weeks into Great Lent. The Church is also here to help us, because it's not always easy to live the life of the Church. These days of the great fast, it's not always easy to eat beans, and beans, and more beans, and a different kind of beans, and a separate kind of beans. It gets tiring. It gets monotonous.

So the Church has been given to us, so that we can assist each other. How many of you have asked each other for a variety of Lenten recipes, so you can get off of the beans? There's more to life than just beans, there's also beans, by the way. But the Church has been given to us, not just to bring the sick, but to help. For we can help each other live a life in Christ.

We can share recipes, during fasting periods. We can watch each other's children in the Church. I know this happens, especially with young infants, a baby might get a little rough around the edges one-day. Offer to hold the baby, so that mother can have a few minutes of peace and quiet. This is what it means to be Church. It isn't just to bring the paralyzed in, but it's for us to help each other, to lift each other up, to be a sounding board.

Even, at times, to hold each other accountable. We believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, an actual body of believers. You, me, we are united to each other. We are in this thing together. Like it or not, you can't escape me and I can't escape you. For all eternity, we are bound to each other. Let's help each other, let's pray for each other, let's carry each other when we need it.

Then, God will say, "Seeing your faith, your sins are forgiven." That's that great invitation to this morning's gospel. I pray that you will continue to have a fruitful and blessed Lenten season. As the greeting is, καλή δύναμη good strength. When you need that little extra support, call somebody, text somebody, Facebook somebody in the Church. I need an idea. I'm losing my consciousness, and be there for each other. That's what it means to be Church. Glory to God for all things.

Be Transfigured is a production of Be Transfigured Ministries, in cooperation with the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, in Tarpon Springs, Florida. We depend upon your generosity to maintain our ministry. You can make a safe, online donation, when you visit our website, liveanewlifeinchrist.org.