That We May be One

Shortly before His Passion Jesus Christ prayed “That they may be one as We are One.” (John 17.11) As Orthodox Christians we believe we are created in the Image of God, and His prayer for us is that we are united just as the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity is united in oneness of mind, and we too are called into the same unity. During times of conflict and division, we must remain united to defeat the devil and those trying to destroy the Church. Nothing can separate us from the unity we have with God and each other unless we allow it. In oneness of mind we will succeed in our salvation.

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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 St. 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.

My brothers and sisters on this Sunday after the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord, we are waiting for God's promise to be fulfilled. We are waiting as commanded by the Lord for the Holy spirit. As Christ ascended into heaven, he commanded his disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait until the Holy spirit has come upon you. And so here we are, we're waiting. And the gospel of the church gave us this morning, my brothers and sisters, quite important, the prayer of Jesus Christ before his passion, before he ascended the cross. Where among other things, he prays to the Father, that he says, "That they may be one as we are one." He's speaking about us, my brothers and sisters. Of all the things that Christ prayed for before going up on the cross, what he focused on was unity. Because we are created in the image of God and God is unity. The Holy Trinity, Father, Son, Holy spirit is unified as one.

Not one physically necessarily because the Father is the Father. The Son is the Son. The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit. Three individual persons, we call them [Υποστάσεις] in Greek. But the unity of the Holy Trinity is the image that we are created in. And so before Christ ascended to the cross, he prayed that we would be united just as the Holy Trinity. But the Holy Trinity, my brothers and sisters is united in mind as well. The will of the Father is always the will of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The three are in always total harmony with each other and that is what God has called us to. And in our challenge, living in a world that is quite counter to God, living as many say, a post-Christian world. I don't know if I believe that or not yet, but that's what they say.

But we know it. Just turn the TV on, turn the internet on and everyday will you see more and more people turning away from God and more and more people, even in the name of God, sowing seeds of division. We cannot be divided. We must not be divided. If God prayed for our unity, there is only one creature in the universe that benefits from our division, [ο διάβολος]. He's given that name because he is the great divider, the [διαβόλω]. And so if God has prayed for our unity each and every time our division is encouraged, the devil wins. We cannot let him win.

The times of our church, my brothers and sisters, are going to be rough sailing soon. We are having debates in our church of a very profound nature. We have now bishops and scholars arguing over Holy Communion. Don't be afraid. The Holy Spirit is guiding the church. We have had these debates for centuries. But through each and every one of them, the church always focused on the unity of the church because that's what God wants. And so as these debates happen, I don't know how many of you are participating in the conversations on the internet. My personal advice is don't engage those conversations. There is no benefit to getting into an argument on the internet, especially Facebook, with people who think they know better than somebody else. There is no benefit to that.

Trust me, when I tell you the church is going to have a conversation, it will be very public as the 21st century, but we are not afraid of any conversation because the truth will always win in God's church, because that's the promise that God gave us. Because Christ said the Holy Spirit will come upon you and guide you into all truth. The church at Pentecost received the promise that God gave fulfilled. That's what we're waiting symbolically for today. We have had the Holy Spirit, of course, for 2,000 years, do not be afraid. God is with us.

But for every conversation, focus on the unity of our family, not just our St. Nicholas family, but our Metropolis, our archdiocese, the Patriarchate. Global Orthodoxy must remain united because the world is out against us. The world is fighting against us. And if we allow our own conversations to divide us, the devil wins. And I don't know about you, but I don't want the devil winning. So we remain together as a family, in love, in respect, in dignity. And as we're going to pray in a few moments in the divine liturgy, oneness of mind, we as Orthodox Christians, believe that our minds believe all the truth about God and God will, has, and always will guide us through any rough waters that are coming ahead because we are united to him in our baptism.

And as St. Paul tells us, "Once we have been united to God, nothing, even the powers of the world cannot separate us from God." That's how powerful God's union is. And that's why the church has always fought and fought hard to maintain our unity. [να μείνουν ενομένην ωπος εμεις]. The prayer of God, in oneness of mind, in oneness of love. That's a great challenge, but it means our eternal salvation if we succeed. Welcome home to church and now on to bigger and better things for the glory of God and his church. Glory to God for all things.

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