A STITCH IN TIME SAVES NINE

Some of the great saints of the church have taught us correct theology and true worship. Some of the great saints have sacrificed their lives for others. Some of the great saints have been brutally tortured and executed for being a follower of Jesus the Christ. What kind of a saint do you hope to become? I ask this question as we all wonder how great our faith is. Of course we reflect upon our failures and laziness as we stand in the midst of these mighty saints and all that they have offered but sometimes forget the little things in life we do or need to be doing.

Today the first church remembers the death and very vaguely the life of one saint from many years ago, Saint Tabitha of Joppa. Saint Tabitha did not teach, she did not challenge the heathens with her great knowledge, she was not tortured for her faith; she simply lived day by day sewing, giving alms. And so it was that when she died the woman of the village wept. And when Apostle Peter came to see he heard of her great almsgiving and saw the widows weeping for their great loss and he said: “Tabitha, rise up.” And she opened her eyes. [Acts 9:40] She was no doubt, well loved! She helped others by using what talent she had for God’s glory, the glory of loving by helping others. She took time to make time for others!

My grandmother Hazel was also a good seamstress and she took time to help others. As a young boy I remember my grandmother telling me I needed to fix my holes in my jeans before they became unusable. She would say: “A stitch in time, saves nine!” Repairing the little holes and tears would prevent larger holes that would need a more lengthy repair or cause the garment to need to be discarded, beyond repair! My clothes were filled with patches and I did not see them as identifying me as poor boy, but as a hard worker who was tough on his clothes. Growing up poor, repairing clothes was necessary. So in this, we all know how much St. Tabitha helped those poor folks in the village of Joppa who could not afford new garments.

As far as helping others, I usually plan my day and know which things I want to get done. Each day for me is a task of finishing my list with my talents and not letting my hands be idle. This usually gives me a bit of tunnel vision and I sometimes miss the helpers God sends my way to help me with my list or to divert my efforts to another task that may be a greater need than the ones I had planned myself. Maybe by allowing a diversion I would be sewing a stitch in time that would save us from an enormous failure or obstacle later on.

The church wants us all to become saints! That is why she teaches us how to pray, how to fast, how to love God’s creation more than ourselves. We hear again and again the great teachings of Christ and all these things are stitches holding our garment of salvation together. And when we fail, as we all do, more stitches of confession are necessary as we mend our wounds, closing the hole of the evil ones opportunity that would deem us useless, beyond repair. And it is preciously this that our Lord is the greatest seamstress of all in that His love can mend and repair the greatest of rips and tears we have allowed in our garment. Those wounds that we think have made us disposable and unwanted when repaired with His touch are as good as new, ready to return to work in His vineyard.

Becoming a saint is not always about the big things so much as it is about being willing to stitch up our rips and tears every time we fall, and helping each other with their mending instead of ripping them to shreds. A great saint is one with many patches and repairs on their garment, which is exactly what faith is. You must believe that God loves you so much that He is waiting to help you fix your shredded and torn garment. Rise up from the death of sin and stitch on. Christ Is Risen!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 5-19-2019

Are You A Myrrh-Bearer?

The MyrrhBearing women after the Sabbath day had passed, bought sweet spices and headed to the tomb to anoint the body of Christ. They sacrificed their money, time and even their safety to love Christ, to properly attend to His dead body.(Mark 16:1-6) And we hear the story proclaimed in the troparion today: “The angel came to the Myrrhbearing Women at the tomb and said: Myrrh is fitting for the dead, but Christ has shown himself a stranger to corruption! So proclaim: The Lord is risen, granting the world great mercy.”

A women’s love has no boundaries just as the Myrrhbearering women were not frozen in grief and fear, their love took the form of action. Their actions were fueled by an uncreated love that exists within them, reflecting the love of our Creator! Their myrrh was more than the sweet smelling spices the women had purchased to cover the stench of decay; their myrrh was the living flow of love that saturates life and death.

Where did these sweet spices or myrrh come from? Both frankincense and myrrh are derived from the gummy sap that oozes out of the Commiphora flowering trees. The leaking resin is allowed to harden and scraped off the trunk in tear-shaped droplets; it may then be used in its dried form or steamed to yield essential oils. The sap in live trees functions to transport vital mineral nutrients and sugars to all living parts of the tree. During the growing season, water continually flows from the tree’s roots, up through the xylem and to the leaves. But not all tree sap is myrrh or frankincense. Some of the sap in our local trees is used for making maple syrup and sap is also used in food, medicine and industrial products.

But as for myrrh, I have had the blessing of venerating many icons that were oozing Myrrh in a liquid form. Myrrh-streaming icons are a mystery. Since the icon is written on a piece of dead wood or on a piece of paper, there is no root system or way for sap to flow up through the wood. Some of these myrrh-streaming icons ooze myrrh for years. It is a mystery! God’s love is alive, the tree is dead! Everything that is, is His!

Your love and actions when deeply caring for one and another is bearing myrrh. You may be dead in sin, grief or anxiety but when you let the living flow of God’s love surface, His Icon is alive in you! Sometimes with that kind of love, you will even have to go into the tombs where sin has brought about death and stench, and the evil one falsely seems to be triumphant! When you love God’s creation more than yourselves in prayer, in action, and in sacrifice, you are truly a Myrrh-Bearer? Christ Is Risen!!!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 5-12-2019