The Power of God’s Peace

When we are faced with the storms of life, it can be very tempting to focus on the storm rather than Christ. It is very easy to become crippled with fear when we take our eyes off Christ. God is present in the Church and He promises that when we need Him, we will find Him in the Church. When we turn our attention to God, and when we leave the cares of life outside the doors of the Church, we will be comforted and protected by God.

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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.

Most of you, if not all of you can see the altar table from where you're sitting, yes? Don't look at me, I want you to put your eyes on the Άγια Τράπεζα Look at the Holy Altar Table, stare at it for a moment and take a big giant breath. Do you feel better? Do you feel more relaxed? Do you feel more at peace? That's the power of God's peace, and it happens even when we're in the midst of the worldly struggles like this pandemic. It happens when we focus on God, and we intentionally let the world go away from us for a moment. The power of God's peace, my brothers and sisters, is sufficient no matter what the struggles of life are. That if we remain laser focused on Christ, we will have peace in our hearts, even in the midst of the storms. There's no doubt about it, 2020 has been a year like no other, at least for my generation. For those of you who are older, and you can remember the war, things used to be a lot worse.

At least we have food. At least we still have shelter. However, for our modern times, this is as bad as it has been for a really long time. And it is very tempting, my brothers and sisters, to focus on the storm and to let the storm consume us, and to let fear and anxiety run over our lives so that we are paralyzed with fear. In this morning's gospel, in the midst of the storm, the apostles were so consumed with fear by the storm, they didn't even recognize Christ in front of them. They thought he was a ghost, because they were focusing on the storm. And Christ says, "Peace. It's me."

And Peter says, "If it's you, Lord, let me come out to you." And he said, "Come on out." And we know the rest of the story, he's able to walk on the water so long as he is focusing on Christ. It's one of the reasons, my brothers and sisters, that in Holy Orthodoxy we have the blessings of holy icons. Because we can surround ourselves with the reminders of God's presence and of his grace and of his peace. And so this morning's gospel, if it does nothing else for you, my brothers and sisters, I pray that it will remind you that when we come into the church, whether we are social distancing or not, when we come into the church and we focus on Christ at the Holy Altar Table, we can, as we're about to sing the hymn of the Great Entrance, we can leave all the cares of this life aside, leave them outside the doors, leave your anxieties, leave your troubles, leave your pressures outside the doors. They'll be there when you go back. Trust me.

When Peter walked with Christ, the waves continued. The struggles of life are going to continue. Those things are not... It's not possible to get rid of the waves of the storm. It's not possible to live a life with no struggle. But this morning's gospel gives us that hope, that true υσυχία that stillness, that quietness, that peace in our heart, cannot come from the news, it cannot come from the government, it clearly cannot come from Facebook or social media, it comes from Christ. And this morning's great blessing for us to be here in his physical presence. He is not a ghost. He is not a figment of our imagination. He is real, and he's come to wrap his arms around us and to give us peace in this very anxious time in which we live.

But we have to get into his boat. We have to be willing to follow him and to go where he wants us to go, always focusing on him at the holy altar. That's why if we remember in the Old Testament, when God commanded Moses to build the temple, he told his people, "When you need me, I am there waiting for you." My brothers and sisters, God is here with us. And when God is with us, why dwell on all the anxiety in the world? So in a few moments, when we sing the great Cherubic Hymn, when Antoni sings it for us, remember the words let us lay aside all the cares of life, so that we may receive the king of all. God's peace is waiting for us. All we have to do is focus on him. Glory to God for all things.

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