FOLLOW THE LEADER

It wasn’t that long ago that I enjoyed playing a game called “follow the leader.” I was a bit smaller and a lot more flexible back then. My friends and I would take turns setting out on a new adventure adding stunts like hopping on one foot, crawling under obstacles like the dining room table, walking backwards and one time, blind-folding each other and using our ears to try a imitate the leader. I believe I cracked my head on something that time!

 

This game was a good experience for me in life as I quickly learned by example, watching and listening as my sponge-like brain gained knowledge. If you want to learn how to do something, watch how others do it. When I later started my professional life, I was put with a senior technician and was told to try to be like him, or hopefully for the most part, maybe without the grumpiness and the grumbling!

 

And as I later became a senior tech, the boss started to put newbie’s with me. Some of these folks were really sheltered when it came to working with their hands and even working with the simplest of tools. I watched many a new-hire drilling holes with the drill in reverse but over time and with plenty of examples and patience, they started to imitate what a good technician was capable of!

 

Well it mostly comes down to how good a teacher the leader is. And of course in life, we come to realize that not every leader is setting a good example. In our maturing in life, we usually all go through times of rebellion and choosing to follow corrupt leaders in our days of demi-godness. But when our mortality becomes clear and we realize we have been wasting our time away after things of this world, we look for examples that help as we try to become more like God and as we seek eternal life. I have heard it said that there are no such things as atheists, only people not wanting the God they have seen exemplified in us!

 

How can we be a better icon of Christ? We hear in the Gospel reading our Leader inviting us to: “Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” [Mt. 4:19] And then later in His teachings He defines what we need to do: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall find mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are they who have been persecuted on account of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. Blessed are ye whenever they reproach you and persecute you, and say every evil word against you falsely on account of Me. Be rejoicing and be exceedingly glad, for your reward is great in the heavens, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [Mt. 5:1-12]

 

So there you go, follow that leader! Perhaps if your priest was a better example of Christ and followed His teachings faithfully, you too would be a better icon of the One who loves! Please pray for me a sinner!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-10-2018

IT’S A FAMILY TRADITION

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Ex 20:2-5) … for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God.

 

We here that echoed from the Apostle Matthew: “The one who loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and the one who loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” [Mt 10:37] Some of us parents sometime struggle to remember that our kids are His kids first and ours just for a short time and we shouldn’t put them on a king’s throne but instead on a path to righteousness. And by setting God as our true Father, we are to honor our human mother and father with respect but with the realization that we do not belong to this world. And in all of our busyness we and our family need to continue to snuggle closer to God, our refuge and fortress. (Psalm 91:2)

 

We set a tradition for our children by the way we prioritize our faith practice at home and here in the church. They see how we stand fast during the storms of life and how we practice forgiveness and forbearance in all of our relationships with other icons of Christ. They hear how we lift up our brothers and sisters who are struggling and not gossip about them. We take time to sit down and eat as a family and to begin before each meal with a prayer offering of thanksgiving? A family that prays together stays together! We set God as a priority when we study our bible more than our social media devises, and we make time to help our neighbors in need.

 

“Lord, I am not fit that Thou shouldest come under my roof.” [Mt. 8:8] How to we become holy? For me, that is a huge task! A sales person once asked me:”How do you eat an elephant?” And as I contemplated that enormous task, they responded: “One bite at a time!” And so it is with our becoming a saint and a bright reflection of the Christ who showed us how to be saintly. We need to continue moving in the direction of holiness one bite at a time, decreasing in our self-centeredness out of our love for Christ. It is a decision to seek after an eternal life and not the death of sin.

 

 

You and I are sales people for the Kingdom of God! You know I have never purchased anything from a salesperson who did not believe in what they were selling. How convincing are you? It takes practice to close the deal: prayer, fasting, study, attendance, tithing, and loving. It takes us realizing that our time in this body is short lived and we had better get busy!

 

The Maker of heaven and earth puts people on our path every day; close the deal! I am not asking you to drag them to church but I am asking you to love them in a Godly way. That effort will build His church! You don’t need to be a scholar or a people-person but all you need is to take time in your busyness to share a little of your light with another person. You have to care! Love thy neighbor as thyself! It’s our path to becoming a Saint! It’s another one of our Family’s Tradition!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-20-18

DOWNCAST

And at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God; and the prisoners were listening to them. And suddenly there occurred a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and the bonds of all were loosed. [Acts 16:25-26]

 

The world didn’t want to tolerate followers of Jesus Christ. Paul and Silas were publicly beaten with rods then locked up in chains and cast into prison for doing the work of the Lord. They were unsure of their outcome but even in their dejected predicament, they continued to praise the Lord, praying and chanting hymns. And in their faithfulness, the Earth quaked and released their imprisonment without collapsing the prison walls in on them. And if that was not enough, the jailer after seeing all these miracles asked to be saved. And so he and his whole family were baptized, men, women, children and servants!

 

What seemed to be an impossible circumstance became an opportunity to share the love of God, bringing the lost into the Light. Isn’t it better to fail at succeeding than to succeed in failing? Why not expect good things to happen even when things seem impossible? Doesn’t St. James say that everything good comes from above? (Jas 1:17) Paul knew his time on Earth was short but he chose to press on, no matter the cost! Paul and Silas clinged to the truth, the life and the way. (John 14:6) When you have something that great, you want to share it! You have to let the love of Christ ooze out from you like fog rolling through the valley!

 

Most of us seem to get weighted down when our burdens seem heavy. Prayers become an unwanted task as we feel abandoned and self pity becomes a heavy familiar friend as we imprison ourselves by our own lack of faith. Our eyes turn from the Light and look for isolation in our darkness. “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (Matt 8:26)

 

A great friend and protestant pastor who inspired me to change would quote from John Wesley and say to me: “Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.” Orthodox folks call that radiant consuming passion incorruptible joy! A burning fire rooted deep in the crevices of everything that we are! In his letter to the church in Philippians, Saint Paul writes: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”(Phil 4:4-7)

 

Be about your Father’s Business! (Luke 2:49) Everything That Is, Is His! Are You? What in the WORLD is more important?

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 5/13/18

HOG SLOP

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the greatest sinner of them all? We often check our outward appearance in the mirror before we go out into public. We want people to see us at our best and really not know our inner secrets and struggles! After all, mirrors don’t lie, or do they?

 

But who needs mirrors? Our outward and inward appearance can now be sampled on the new social media channels. Back before this reality social media, it was much easier to be two-faced, giving folks only what we wanted them to see. Now, there are hard-drives recording our thoughts, choices and actions just about all the time. Who are we working for, Christ our God or the great deceiver? St. Paul instructs us: “And everything, whatsoever ye may do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the God and Father through Him.” [Col. 3:17]

 

We’ve all heard the expression “You are what you eat!” In Luke 15 we read: “And he was longing to fill his belly from the husks, which the swine were eating. [Lk. 15:16] Back on the farm we called that hog slop and my impression at a young age was that only the hogs would eat it. And yet we all prodigally seek worldly death filling the last minutes of our lives with slop? After all, every minute could be our last minute! We continue rooting around in the bottom of the trough for substance when the end of our Earthly life in nearing.

 

Why do we look in the trough when our Creator has given each and every one of us great wealth? We are to inherit a great Kingdom with life never-ending! We just have to turn from our streak of independence just like the prodigal son and be about our Father’s business. Blessed Theophylact writes: [Lk. 15:17] “Then he came to himself, he became rational, and came to repent from his wanderings about outside.” [P.G. 123:407C (col. 953).]

 

A banquet has been prepared and the nutritional value is not of this world. Won’t you come? We read in the 23rd Psalm: “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” Won’t you come to the table that has been prepared? Turn away from the troughs of hog-slop, repent and come home. Your Father is waiting, He is longing for your embrace!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 2-4-18

“I’M A GONNA”

“Every tree which produceth not good fruit is cut off and cast into the fire.” [Mt. 7:19] The story of the stingy tax collector Zacchaeus begins our journey towards lent. There in the ancient Canaanite city of Jericho, a man that was dead in sin crawled up out of his rut into a tree and embraced the Lord, no more hiding, no more excuses!

 
We visited this tree in 2010 in Jericho and discovered that a Sycamore tree in the Middle Eastern region is a type of fig tree, ficus sycomorus. This species is well known to have a massive root system to sustain it. And then I am reminded that when Christ begins His journey to Jerusalem to His crucifixion, he curses a similar fig tree for not bearing good fruit. In the Gospel of St. Matthew: “Let there be no more fruit from thee forever.” And forthwith the tree was withered.” [Mt. 21:19] That was a different tree at a different time but this fig tree in Jericho in our Gospel reading today bore good fruit! Repentance had come to Zacchaeus. Saint Ephraim the Syrian says: “The fig that cast its fruit, that refused fruit, offered Zacchaeos as fruit; the fruit of its own nature it gave not, but it yielded one reasonable fruit!” [Hymn III on the Nativity, in Nicene, 2nd Ser., XIII:230.]

 
Zacchaeus tells Jesus that he is GONNA CHANGE! Zacchæus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, the half of my possessions, Lord, I give to the poor; and if I extorted anything of anyone by false charges, I give back fourfold.” [Lk. 19:8]

 
We have read the scripture: “But let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and ‘no,’ ‘no’.[Mt. 5:37] And we know that Zaachaeus did what he said he was going to do and found repentance. He was even later made one of the Seventy Apostles. And after the Lord Ascended; he traveled with Peter and later became Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine.

 
Saint Gregory the Great writes: “Each of you, in his own way, inasmuch as he has a place in this present life, takes up the ground like a barren tree, if he does not produce the fruit of good works….A person who troubles the hearts of others is taking up the ground; a person who does not use the place he holds for good works is taking up the ground. But it is our duty to make intercession for people like this.” [Hom. 31, Forty Gospel Homilies, 251; Hom. 31, P.L. 76 (col. 1228).] We are to pray for each other to be fruity! We are to serve each other in love and action. Don’t be stingy, seek life in Christ!

 
Taste and see that the Lord is good! Climb that fig tree; pull yourselves up out of the sinful ruts that seem all too familiar and say to the Lord: “I’M A GONNA CHANGE”! And let your very existence thirst for the Lord like that invasive rooted sycamore tree seeking life-sustaining water, bearing good fruit in the middle of your desert!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 1-21-18

SELFISH LOVE

As my time left on this earth becomes shorter I often reflect upon what really brings me joy and happiness. Around this time year in the past, I usually had a short and long list of things I coveted and desired. But I now struggle to even give basic gift ideas when asked. After all, I already have a large collection of stuff!

 
Well, I am not ready to kick the bucket yet but material items are not as precious to me now as is inner peace and love of creation. Living in a community of blood-kin, I will always have a feeling of belonging and acceptance. Being part of a church family I will always know I am deeply cared and prayed for. But the most satisfying belief I treasure is knowing that the One who created me loves me and wants what is selfishly going to draw me closer to Him!

 
We find a similar love in “Good Parenting.” Put a coat on, look both ways before you cross the street, share your toys with your sister, do your homework, don’t pick your nose (or at least not in public), clean up your mess, eat your dinner – there are starving folks in the world, are all examples of things we heard in our developmental years and they are also things we share now with our younger generation. It is not nagging but it is a selfish genuine parental love coming from someone who deeply cares. It comes from someone who wants us to learn to love each other as Jesus has taught us!

 
We heard in Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae that we must put to death everything in ourselves that prevents us from doing God’s will. “But now ye also put off from yourselves all these things: wrath, anger, malice, blasphemy, foul language out of your mouth. Cease lying to one another, since ye have put off the old man with his practice”. [Col. 3:8-9] It is so easy to misplace our sense of direction and especially when we add stress to the Nativity Season. After all, stress is deeply rooted in love of self!

 

 

 

It seems that in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, as we mature we find that time is the most coveted gift we have. Visit the shut-ins, offer gifts or deeds of love, pray for everyone you encounter, especially those that irritate you and spend every last minute of your life preparing for the judgment that will soon follow. “Whenever the Christ, Who is your life, should be made manifest, then also ye shall be made manifest with Him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry, On account of which things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” [Col. 3:4-6]

 

 

 

I pray that this Nativity season will bring you heavenly peace and joy as we let loose our worldly crutches and selfishly strive to be more Christ-like in our remaining time here and now. And that in every moment someone makes us angry we cease the opportunity to recognize that we are not the most important thing in our lives, but how we selfishly spend our precious time left loving all of God’s creation is.

 

 

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 12-24-17

I BELIEVE IN PRAYER!

Boy, we have had a busy week!! My wife was released from the hospital Friday. Her sister, after have been given this kidney on Tuesday was going to have to have it removed two days later. The kidney was not working. It was not a good fit! Something was wrong! And her sister Sophia would need to stay at the hospital for several more days with the hope of a somewhat normal life being postponed, in wait of another matching kidney donor!

 
Where was God? After all, we prayed and prayed and prayed. We literally had folks all over the world praying, thanks to social media. The two sisters had confession and communion days earlier. We did akathist to the Great Surgeon and Healer St. Luke, Archbishop of Crimea (1877-1961). We anointed the two sisters with oil from the lampadas of St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr and Healer, and the healer Saint Matrona, the Wonderworker of Moscow (1881-1952).

 

 
My wife offered this sacrifice knowing full well the risks to her life and health and the slight possibility that her kidney may not work for her sister. She is a very giving person, unless of course you are asking her to hand you the TV remote while she is watching her Hallmark Christmas Movies or her WWE Wrestling Divas. Don’t cross that line! But there were so many tests done and redone in the past several months to ensure success. Why then, why did we have this outcome? Where was the Great Surgeon Luke? Did he take a knee? What went wrong with our holy oil and our fervent prayers?

 

People know us by our love! They will know you by your love! We read in the Gospel this morning: “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” [Lk. 12:20-21] Our prayers for others are a sacrifice of our precious time helping us to be less self-centered. Sacrifice for one another is riches. Let God be in control and allow His love through your actions to encompass those around you! And that action through your prayers was like a warm blanket wrapped around them this week! We are family!

 
Hear the words of St. John of Kronstadt: “Do not let pass any opportunity to pray for anyone, either at his request or at the request of his relatives, friends, of those who esteem him, or of his acquaintances. The Lord looks favorably upon the prayer of our love, and upon our boldness before him. Besides this, prayer for others is very beneficial to the one himself who prays for others; it purifies the heart, strengthens faith and hope in God, and enkindles our love for God and our neighbor. When praying, say thus: ‘Lord, it is possible for Thee to do this or that to this servant of Thine; do this for him, for Thy name is the Merciful Love of Men and the Almighty.’” (St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ)

 
I believe without hesitation that Blessed St. Luke was all over that hospital at the time of the surgeries helping and guiding. I believe all your prayers were heard and the lampada oil is aiding in the healing! We all remember the words of St. Paul: “And we know that to those who love God all things work together for good.” [Rom. 8:28] The results we selfishly asked for may not have all been granted but God is in control, and I trust Him! He loves Tatiana and Sophia and He wants what is best for their salvation. And He loves you too!! Everything that is, is His! Thanks be to God in all things!

 
Fr. Gabriel Weller 12-3-17

THE RECIPE

Some of my fondest childhood memories were made by Follywood, I mean Hollywood, yep, believe it or not. Back in the day, quality television programs that taught morals and values were plentiful. Some of my early formation came from Ben Cartwright of the Bonanza,  Sheriff Taylor from The Andy Griffith Show, and Grandpa and Grandma Walton from the show entitled The Waltons, just to name a few.

 

One evening as I was watching an episode of The Waltons, Grandpa Walton was going over to visit the Baldwin sisters and hoped to sample some of their secret recipe. I wasn’t quite sure what the recipe was at that age but the characters on the show were convincing that there was something really special about this secret recipe. In today’s times, it might be compared to the secret recipe that the Irish-Setter knows about those delicious Bush Beans that we see advertised.

 

My childhood experiences created in me a longing to uncover hidden treasures and made me eager to find the secret recipe, the one right mixture of just the exact amounts of “this and that.” And to seek in life a mixture that is not lacking in anything, the blue-ribbon holder of recipes, the one recipe people yearn for.

 

Being molded into a bible thumping Pro-test-ant in my formable years, Orthodoxy was quite a pill to swallow. It was not the normal flavor I had become use to. I was trained to discount Holy Tradition because of the heresies of some of the faithful. I was equipped with the Bible with over two thousand translations and interpretations of truth to pick from, which would give me the answers to all my questions and struggles in life. I was taught that the Inspired Word was living and adapting or changing with the current social and economic conditions. These defenses and so many more made me very cautious when I peeped in the window of Orthodoxy.

 

Rest assured that the lessons I had been taught came from people that truly love the Lord. But when it comes to religion, I like my faith as thick as gravy! Finding Orthodoxy has convinced me that I had been settling for a watered down recipe of what Christ offers His faithful, one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. I am no longer a seeker. I am not hungering for the latest translation or the most recent buzz word or desert unearthing stirring up this Protestant nation. I have found true satisfaction with ancient interpretations and I do not worry if the path I am on is leading me down twisted roads that misdirect me away from the Father.

 

Saint Ambrose says that the woman that touched Christ in the Gospel reading today: “Heard the people of the Jews were sick, and began to hope for the remedy of her own salvation.” [Ib., Bk. VI, §57.] [Lk. 8:46a.] I know the church I belong to is built on a solid foundation and it will continue to stand strong against the storms of time. You and I have found the blue ribbon awarded recipe. It is truly something we need to share. Saint Symeon the New Theologian said: “that all the nations from east to west are invited…. So shall the two become one, one body with Christ, His co-participants, brothers, and co-heirs with Him.” [“The Church and the Last Things,” On the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses, Vol. I, Second Discourse,  II:95.]

 

You see, the recipe for our salvation is not a secret; it is by the sharing of the recipe that we may obtain unity. “Until we all might come to the unity of the faith, and of the full knowledge of the Son of God.” [Eph. 4:13]  Saint Chrysostom wrote: “Until we shall be shown to have all one faith. For this is unity of faith…. Till then thou must labor to this end. If for this thou hast received a gift, that thou mightest build up others….For tell me not of the difference of the spiritual gifts, but that all had one work. Now when we shall all believe alike then shall there be unity; for that this is what he calls perfect knowledge.” [Hom. 11, P.G. 62:83, 84 (col. 83).]  The gifts you have been given are the necessary ingredients or the “this and that” Christ needs to complete His recipe, the perfect recipe. All brothers and sisters hand in hand. Theosis of the faithful, thick as gravy!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 11/19/17

MORTALITY

And He approached and touched the bier, and those bearing it stood still. And He said: “Young man, I say to thee, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to talk. And He gave him to his mother. [Lk.7:14-15]

 
The young man in the Gospel reading this morning was lifeless; his very heart had stopped beating. His future earthly plans were now in shambles; his mother was grieving for her great loss. And then into the emptiness of death walked the brilliance of everything that is. And those lifeless members of his body that were dead were now restored to life and humanity.

 
Both the mother and son would eventually repose in their mortality because this life that we now struggle with is just temporary. But there is another kind of death that we wrestle with that is even greater than mortality. If we spend our days and hours without Christ we will truly learn what it means to suffer. Venerable St. Bade says: “Whoever will not guard his senses, leaves open a way for death to enter!” And St. Ambrose writes: “You must not be greatly troubled about many things, but you should care for the main thing — preparing yourself for death.” St. Ambrose of Optina, quoted from Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

 

 

Our body will return to the earth but not be lost, and our soul will embrace judgment. Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believeth in Me, though he die, he shall live; “and everyone who liveth and believeth in Me, in no wise shall ever die. Believest thou this?” [Jn. 11:25-26] These ideas are captured in the Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs on the Orthodox Faith: “We believe that the souls of the dead are in a state of blessedness or torment according to their deeds. After being separated from the body they immediately pass over either to joy or into sorrow and grief; however, they do not feel either complete blessedness or complete torment. For complete blessedness or complete torment each one receives after the general resurrection, when the soul is reunited with the body in which it lived in virtue or vice.” (The Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs on the Orthodox Faith, paragraph 18)

 
Be not afraid for God is working in our lives to save us from our destruction. His grace is an invisible element in the air we breathe with visible results. His grace is the love of your Heavenly Father longing for you to come home. Christ touches our deathly bier at the Sacrament of Holy Communion, restoring that which was confessed to newness. “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

 
St. Dorotheos of Gaza writes: “A man obtains the fear of God if he has the remembrance of his unavoidable death and of the eternal torments that await sinners; If he tests himself every evening as to how he has spent the day, and every morning as to how he has spent the night, and if he is not sharp in his relations with others.” (St. Dorotheos, Soul-Profiting Teachings, 4)

 
Let go of this world and its death and thirst for the next! Do not be troubled and hold on to Christ who has defeated death with death and is waiting for you to come home!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10/22/17

CAMPFIRE

Arriving at camp this year with darkness nearing, we pulled our pop up camper up to the clergy cabin, also known as the hut of snoring, and began to situate the camper out of the way. Fr. Jonah’s joyful face appeared from his family wagon and he suggested that we arrange our camper to allow for a campfire. My wife loves campfires! In all the years attending camp we had always been to distracted or unwilling to put forth the effort needed to accomplish such a feat at the clergy cabin.

 
Did I mention that my wife loves campfires! There already existed a fire-pit surrounded with Pennsylvania rocks and there was already a little dry wood sitting on the porch. And I also happened to bring by cordless circular saw along to add dry limbs to the burn pile. So, with a little effort and some camp chairs, we were set!

 
At nightfall with flames jumping, thanks to Matushka campfire abilities, Fr. Andrei said: “There is something peaceful about watching the flames of a campfire.” We sat around the fire sharing our victories and struggles and a story or two. Seems like when I share my heavy burdens with my brothers, the load seems lighter! We sat around the fire as family. Orthodoxy is one big family. We sat around the fire watching the unharnessed flames dance about as the smoke ascended towards the stars.

 
Back home now and back to the grinder of life I miss that time sitting around the campfire. It was a time to escape. It was a time to remember that my everyday hustle and bustle entices me to love myself more than others. And so on it goes, paying bills, going to work and all of these actions that have become distractions from what I was born to be, a lover of man-kind.
We read in the instructions to the church in Hebrews, “Our God is a consuming fire.” [Heb. 12:29] And I remember how peaceful it was staring at the camp-fire but then I return to the world and fall into want. I seem to have assembled my life in a method of my control. Just as someone dipping his toe in the water to check the temperature, I have only allowed myself to admire the flames but not trusting God enough to be consumed in His fire!

 

The church Fathers say that God’s fire is actually His love. When we chose to hate our enemies as we have seen recently in the news, we experience a negative aspect of God’s fiery-love. Hate is a four-letter word that will rob you of your salvation! But in His salvific love a Reformed pastor once told me that if you are on fire for Christ, people will come from miles around to watch you burn! Maybe my kindling is too wet for that to ever happen. Perhaps I hate myself and others more than I love God? I’ll have to take an inventory of my time and see how much effort I truly spend building His church! But maybe one day with the help of God I will become a burning bush of love with flames dancing about bringing peace to a world in turmoil, with a fire that cannot be extinguished!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 9/13/17