Today is the end of our celebration of Epiphany. The Leavetaking, as it is known in the Church, signifies the end of the celebration and the beginning of the next chapter of life. Today, the Church recalls the Baptism of Christ while recalling the beginning of the history of the Church. There is never an end, just another chapter in the life of the Church.
I read something this morning that disturbed me. It happens all the time when I see someone quote “With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19.26) The reason I get upset isn’t because anything is not possible for God, because EVERYTHING is possible for God. I get upset because we rarely keep the context of the original quote.
I was trying to figure out why the reading was what it was today from the Acts of the Apostles. I don’t see any Apostolic name in the Saints of the Day. I don’t see any historical event on the calendar. Then it occurred to me. We are still celebrating Epiphany and the reading references the “Baptism of John.” I thoroughly enjoy how the Church walks us through the Holy Scriptures and Sacred Tradition of the Church during the year.
Have you ever wondered why it is that human beings, even those who believe in God, must suffer temptation? Have you ever asked, “Can’t God just protect me from temptation?” Wouldn’t it be nice if we go through life without worrying about temptation around every corner? The answer sadly, is “no.” Without temptation, then we would lose our ability to show God that we choose Him over temptation. Without temptation, we would not be like God, because even Christ was tempted.
The first sermon Christ spoke after His Baptism began with “Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” We must learn to change the way we think about life and about the Church. The Kingdom of Heaven IS at hand. It is not just some future kingdom. The Church is the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, and we must change the way we think about why we come to Church. We don’t come just to hear a sermon and light a candle. We come to Church to commune with God in Heaven.
When it comes to the gifts we receive from God, why is it, we always want more than we receive? We are never satisfied with what we have received. We look around and take notice of the gifts others have received and wonder why we don’t have what they have. This can be a source of depression and anxiety in our lives, that quite frankly we don’t need. We need to learn to be satisfied with what God has given to us.
In the Orthodox Church we have just completed two long weeks of Church, beginning with the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and culminating with the Feast of Theophany. We knew this would be a long two weeks, but we were prepared by the Church. We began on Christmas Eve with the words, “We venerate your Nativity O Lord, show us also your Theophany.” We knew the Church would ask us to go the distance these past two weeks. So…. we did. Now can we rest?
Over the past few days of the New Year, I have watched on social media as people post inspirational quotes and messages from all sorts of resources. They are normally accompanied by nice pictures to draw attention to the beauty of the quote. Then I read today’s Gospel lesson and find John the Baptist dressed like a wild man….and HE is supposed to inspire us?
Just like any other January 1st, I wake up and think, “Now what?” What will make this year different than last year? It doesn’t start with resolutions to be better. It starts thinking differently. The basic call to repentance is a call to “change how we think” about the world. So, let’s think differently this year.
Here at Be Transfigured Ministries, our motto is, “Live A New Life In Christ” so that we can always be reminded that Christ came to renew life, not end it. If we are going to think differently this year, let’s start with a renewed idea of Church.