ONE FIST OF IRON, THE OTHER OF STEEL

baby-fist1“If you see me comin’, better step aside A lotta men didn’t, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel If the right one don’t a-get you, then the left one will”

 
In 1994, Tennessee Ernie Ford recorded a song titled Sixteen Tons. This song spoke about becoming hardened and calloused in the rivers of life. With one fist of iron and the other of steel, Tennessee Ernie became tough after being bumped and bruised along the path of life, and fightin’ and trouble became his middle name.

 
Saint Paul gives us a different example to follow than the one Tennessee Ernie spoke of. And let the peace of God be presiding in your hearts, to which also ye were called in one body; and keep on becoming thankful. [Col. 3:15] That is much easier said than done. When the bumps and bruises of life inflict pain and suffering, it usually takes our minds away from being peaceful and thankful. We find ourselves entrenched in a state of panic and despair, gasping for help.

 
How many times I have longed to alleviate the suffering I see other folks going through or I hear of in the confessional. And in my limitations as a man, sometimes the best I think I can offer is a tear or an encouraging word. For alone, we are helpless! But as a family, hand in hand, we are strong! And as God’s church, we are unbreakable!

 
When someone in a family or group catches a cold, everyone gets sick. The sick person spreads their germs just as we the church share our struggles and failures, our dust of the Earth sharing in life with your dust. We do not wish to infect others with our problems but to be reassured that we are not alone. We are thankful that we love people who care, and thankful that they love us enough to care, to share, to remember each other and our families in their prayers. A kind word, a hot meal, a hug or a pat on the back connect us all to the same body.

 
When my left eye is tired, my right eye increases, when my right foot limps, my left foot caries my load. And so it is in the body of Christ. From the dust of this earth we have been wonderfully made and to the dust of this earth we will return and what really matters is what we do in between those dots on our road map of life. Let the peace of God be still the rage of hurt and failure than rise up against us and tries to prevent us from loving His body, and loving our member that has gone limp and is sometimes prickly with pain. Don’t be offended so easily!

 
It takes strength to reach out. And it takes an effort to be a servant like Christ! Take up your cross and follow the great healer, the greatest lover of mankind, and the biggest servant of us all! “Come to Me, all ye who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. [Mt. 11:28] We are family, we are one body, and we are the church! Glory to Thee!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 12/20/15

An Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree

We’ve all heard the phrase “a nut doesn’t fall far from the tree” or “an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”! I guess you chose which cliché you want depending on if you are dealing with fruits or nuts! This truism means that we often see the fallen-apples-in-grass-112940814212gpsame behaviors and choices in our children as in choices we have made in the past. We have all heard; you’re just like your Father or your Mother because in some way, we remind folks of our parents. Although some fruits and nuts to tend to roll downhill from the tree!
We humans tend to also mimic behaviors of those folks we spend time with. As we socialize, we try to fit in with family, friends and coworkers by our choices and our demeanor. We hear in the Gospel reading today: “All things were delivered to Me by My Father. And no one doth fully know the Son, except the Father; nor doth anyone fully know the Father, except the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son is willing to reveal Him. [Mt. 11:27] Through Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, we come to know the Father.

 
Coming into the Orthodox Church way to far west of reality, it has been a struggle to reprogram my understanding of God, the Father. We all know the scriptures about the suffering Job was allowed to endure. And let us not forget about Noah and the flood and then the purging of Sodom and Gomorrah. So, is God a parallel to us all being in basic training with God being a punishing Marine Sergeant wanting to kick us out of boot camp?

 
In today’s Gospel reading we hear a contradiction to that western image of God: “And no one doth fully know the Son, except the Father; nor doth anyone fully know the Father, except the Son.” The Father had delivered into Christ’s hands all power, authority, and judgment. God took the form of man to show us how to love each other and how to love our Father. By His actions and His demeanor, mankind with their very own eyes could witness the fruit of God the Father.

 
By this example, we all can become more like our heavenly Father! And Orthodoxy has made for us all a formula with tools to help us become more like Christ. Just as an infant must develop into an adult, we Christians must also mature in our life struggle to choose Him instead of the death the world has to offer.

 
I pray that one day folks will see in us a likeness of God by our choices and actions. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful statement for us if we heard someone comparing us to the examples of Jesus? So, at the foot of the cross, the tree of ever-lasting life, which one are you, a fruit or a nut?

 
Fr. Gabriel Weller 12-6-15