He’s Alive! Are YOU?

Hope is such a powerful word! I actually come from a little town in Virginia named New Hope. Some people over the years have made fun of this little town by proclaiming No Hope for New Hope! But I prefer to be a positive thinker and always leave the door and the window open for hope to come and blanket me like a fog consuming Afton Mountain! The more hope the better! I feel like my tank would be empty without hope!

Sometime ago, I was disagreeing with a scientist friend of mine who needs to be able to explain things within the confined boundaries of science. It is sad because he has no grasp of hope! He may believe in lady luck but that seems to be his only acknowledgement of positive thinking. Everything has a reason for him based on the limitation of human knowledge.

In our Christian faith, we believe in the power of prayer and things unseen. We hope that our Creator will hear our supplication and take action on our behalf. And it is important that we always conclude our petitions with “Thine will be done” for we have no idea at times what are really asking for and we do not know what will unfold for us in the future. We are also reminded with Scripture such as: “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”[Mt. 19:26]  And then in the Scripture today, Christ restores life to the young dead son of a widow. There is always hope!    

We are reminded that we are in a fallen world, evil is mistaken for good. Mankind was booted out of the garden because of for our thirst for greed. Our life now has an age limit and the evil one is here amongst us, enticing our greed and wanting to separate us from our hope. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”[Rom. 8:20-21] Saint Symeon the New Theologian writes: “This is the reason why, when God saw from before the creation of the world that Adam would be saved through re-birth, He subjected creation to him, and put it under a curse so that, having been created for the sake of man who had fallen into corruption, it should itself become corrupt and provide him annually with corrupted food. But then, when God makes man anew again and renders him immortal, incorruptible, and spiritual, at that time, I say, He will change all of creation itself together with man, and will bring it to completion as immaterial and everlasting.”

 It is easy to live as if we are god but the reality will overcome us on our death beds. Just like the dead son in the scripture today, I also am dead! My stench of death is not physical but spiritual! My greed forgets about my mortality and my need of God, and I chose to make decisions and seek things selfishly. Blessed Theophylact tells us: “The bier which carries the dead mind is the body. And indeed the body is like a tomb, as the ancient Greeks said, calling the body a burial mound, which means a tomb. Having touched the body, the Lord then raises the mind, restoring its youth and vigor. And after the young man, meaning the mind, has sat up, raised from the tomb of sin, he will begin to speak, that is, to teach others. While he is in the grip of sin, he cannot speak or teach; who would believe him?” (Blessed Theophylact)

But I have hope. “My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my shelter is the Holy Spirit, O Holy Trinity, Glory to Thee.” (Venerable Joannicius the Great) I hope that through my continued effort and God’s grace He will remove my selfish scars from my darkened eyes and enable my vision of the Incarnate. Our hope is a submission that we need a Savior and a that He is still working in our lives. Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, in order for you to abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.” [Rom. 15:13]

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-25-2020

STINKY BAIT

Back in my 20’s when I took time to go fishing, there was a sure-fire thing for catching trout, it was a new bait called PowerBait®. Powerbait is made from a combination of an oil-based resin and PVC. In 1988, a young chemical engineer changed the face of trout fishing forever. Combining a formal education in chemistry and a lifelong interest in angling, research scientist John Prochnow created a national fishing phenomenon we all came to know as PowerBait. In addition to the two main ingredients, a range of scents and smells were added to give the bait its signature fish-catching smell. 

Fish have a keen sense of smell that helps them determine where food is located and if it is eatable. This new fangled bait resembled what was being fed to the trout at the fish farm before they were transplanted into their new wild fish habitat. The basic theory behind these baits is to float and attract the fish to bite. Or in other words, it smells eatable and you catch more fish! Bon appétit!

Well, I am not a chemical engineer nor am I made of PVC and resin but the good Lord can use you and me as power bait as well! Let me explain. Fish have an intense sense of smell. The dark water fish are even more attracted to strong smelling bait! Now, you see, that is where I come in to being bait, sometimes, I am fragrant and sometimes I stink! The Good Lord has called us all to be fishers of men and He needs us to be fragrant! We need to ooze the love of Christ and not the rot of the world!

When I first discovered the Lord, I was ashamed and kept my failures inward, buried deep and rotting. I did not realize that every one of us struggles with sin. I felt enormously unworthy of His love! Along the course time, His grace continued to nurture me and draw me closer. I was then cleansed in the Holy Water of baptism but since that day, continue to occasionally fall short. When I go to confession and communion I release a peaceful fragrance. This aroma is something that needs to be shared. It is something that attracts the hungry humans that are in search to fill their empty souls.  

There is however a stinky odor we ooze if we can’t be used as bait and if we are not right with the Lord. As St. Augustine stated, we have been created in such a way that we only know and experience true fulfillment when we, by grace, faithfulness and love, dwell in God’s presence, and He in our midst. So in other words, if we chose to fill this empty hole with other things, we will spend our lives chasing our tail around in circles searching in vain for fulfillment and yet never ever satisfying the unreachable itch. So then, how can you catch fish?

As St. Luke records: “Cease being afraid; from henceforth thou shalt be taking men alive.” [Lk. 5:10]  St. Augustine instructs us: “Do what you can, and then pray that God will give you the power to do what you cannot.” We need to intentionally make a daily effort to move closer to God. We as Christians do not want to be stinky bait but power bait! Because the power of His life-cleansing blood can even save a sinner like me! And through His love for me, I can give love to those hurting and not yet in His bountiful net of salvation. Be fragrant and not a stinker, be a Myrrhbearer! Glory to Thee!!!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-11-2020

EMPTY WoRdS

Have you been crucified with Christ? [Gal. 2:20] What exactly does that mean for us here in 2020? St. Theophan tells us: “True, one may know man’s final goal: communion with God. And one may describe the path to it: faith, and walking in the commandments, with the aid of divine grace. One need only say in addition: here is the path-start walking!” St. Theophan The Recluse, The Path to Salvation: A Manual of Spiritual Transformation

Many folks today say they are Christian and yet they fail to regularly attend church (there is usually something more important preventing them from attending), they fail to set aside their first fruit as their tithe (bills, bills, and more bills), they allow their selfishness to navigate their lives (excuses, excuses, excuses), and they always promise to make great strides next week, month or year and get back on the narrow path (tic-tock, tic-tock). They waste their breath slobbering out empty words while lying through their teeth! Simply put, you are either here or you’re not.

I wish I knew what I could do to help people commit to a more righteous path for their salvation. I wish I had an evident cure for anything and everything that is keeping people away from living the true faith! I wish my poor, poor prayers could heal everyone and give them a bountiful life, but it takes cooperation. Unlike many folks in the West, the true teaching of our salvation is faith and works! You need to attend the meetings; it is a step process as we ascend the Divine Ladder! There are no shortcuts! You are either here, or you’re not!

That towering ant hill we are building in all of our busyness is going to be flattened by the big footprint of life, it just won’t matter! Our existence here is temporary! What really matters is our soul! Where will it reside when it leaves our body? Will you be prepared for Judgment Day? We are not God, He is! We need to wipe that slobbering excuse off our face and get busy, our afterlife depends on it!

Our combination of faith and action helps mold us into being myrrhbearers. Salivation would be extremely hard existing in this world without the supportive structure of the church. There are too many temptations and heartaches in life to be separated from the support of the church. She needs you and you need her. This is a place where broken wounded people come for healing. Which path are you on? You are either here, or you’re not!

“I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ liveth in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live in faith, in that of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.   [Gal. 2:20]

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-4-2020