Christmas Wish

Around this time, here in the Valley as we live and breathe the American dream often times you will hear folks ask: what do you want for Christmas? My endorphin hormones enjoy new and shinny things but now as I achingly realize my age, I am more concerned about other things like the wellbeing of my love ones and the challenges they are facing and will face in the near future. And I think I now should spend more time reflecting on my sinfulness and things I still need to improve on in the limited days I have left. Perhaps the Christmas Wish I most desperately need is answered with a bold statement like: Death to the world that still exists within me! [Col. 3:5-6]

Well, that’s easier said than done! I simply alone cannot rid myself of these addictions! I am weak and slothful and easily distracted! And then of course there are my scars and deep wounds that at times get agitated accidently by folks in my day to day walk in life. I am still in need of a Great Healer and Physician. I am in great need of a love that is so pure and unpolluted. I am in great need of a Savior because I can’t seem to cure myself despite my many thirsting attempts.  

Christ is Born so that we may lose the chains of death and lay aside all earthly cares! But we must accept His invitation to come closer! We have to cooperate with His grace by removing all of the obstacles we have surrounded ourselves with that block His Light from penetrating our hearts! St. Paul lists the following obstacles today in his letter to the Church in Colossians: “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience”. [Col 3:5-6] He then mentions “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth.” St. Paul follows that up with a warning not to “lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature.” (Col 3:8-9)

These are the pollutants that contaminate our bodies and souls and steal our true joy. They may at times seem small and minuscule but when rot is allowed to remain, deterioration comes to the whole body as it slowly encumbers our eternity. There is no happiness in damnation. Over the years I have found that the things of the Earth that are shinny and new require our attention to preserve them or keep them sparkling. We become their slaves. And over time, they tarnish or rust away anyway. True happiness can only come from above!

“Come; let us seize Paradise hidden in the cave! There the unwatered Root has appeared, blossoming with forgiveness.” (Cannon of the Nativity) He formed us from clay and carefully placed us in the womb and He wishes to restore blessedness to all of mankind. Christ is born at Christmas and hopes we chose Him as our Christmas Wish. Less of us and much more of Him! Glory to Thee who has showed us the Light! (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Fr. Gabriel Weller 12-27-2020

Are You Where You Are Supposed To Be?

Are you where you are supposed to be? We have heard the phrase “I was in the right place at the right time”. So, where is this place, because I want to be there! And I am certain you do too! We all heard the answer to this very question today, in the reading of the Gospel of Luke Chapter 13. A Good Jew was in the synagogue because it was the Sabbath and on this day Christ was there and He was teaching.

What we heard in this reading today was that this woman who was bent over in crippling pain was there as well. You see, she was in the right place, but we believe this was her custom; she managed to bring her broken body to the temple. So for 18 years, she made her way to the temple, despite her infirmity, she was there! But on this day, Christ saw her and had compassion on her laying His hands on her. He physically touched her! Think about it, how powerful is that? Not just to be in His presence but to have the Son of God touch you! Saint Gregory the Great: writes “He called her and straightened her up, because He enlightened and helped her. He calls us, but does not straighten us up….Our repeated sins bind our hearts, so that we cannot rise to an upright condition. They try, but then slip back. Of necessity they fall even when they do not want to, since they have so long acted according to their own wills. “[Ib., 253, 254.]

So I ask, are you in the right place? Where should a Good Christian be? Over the few years I have been here on Earth, I have known some folks that simply have severe physical infirmities and are just unable to make a weekly pilgrimage to the church. I have also known some folks that make choices that block their weekly trip and then others that think they have plenty of time left to work on their salvation. Are you where you are supposed to be?  

Well, we know that our Lord is All-Present (Psalm 33:13-14) but there is something really special here at the church waiting for you. The church is a place where we escape the world and its’ grip and find true worship. And here at the church, the Body of our Risen Lord can physically and mystically touches your tongue when you receive Holy Communion. By eating and drinking the bread and wine which are mystically consecrated by the Holy Spirit, we have indisputable communion with God through Christ who himself is “the bread of life(Jn 6.34, 41).I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”(Jn 6:51)

Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco writes: “Communion of the holy Body and Blood of Christ, which strengthens our contact with Him and refreshes us with the living streams of the grace of the Holy Spirit flowing through the Body of the Church, is necessary for everyone.” St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, “The Church as the Body of Christ”( Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco‘ border=0 v:shapes=”_x0000_i1025″>)  You need to be here, you are deeply thirsting for Him. (Psalm 33:13-14)  You need that physical touch from the One who suffered and died and defeated death and yearns to touch your crippled body and soul for that which is beneficial for your salvation. Won’t you come?

Fr. Gabriel Weller 12-13-2020

LET THERE BE LIGHT

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.” [Gen 1-4]

The night has also been interrupted by man-made illumination. We are told that early man 120,000 years ago with the discovery of fire was not only able to cook his food but also penetrate the darkness with the light emitted from the fire. And we believe the Egyptians formed a wax candle around 3000 BC and then the use of horn lanterns in the home in the early 1st century, gas lighting around 1816 and whale oil soon then after that, and of course Edison’s invention of the electric light bulb in 1882. Mankind has been intentionally trying to interrupt darkness with some type of energy source. 

I have always been drawn to light; after all, we are all programmed that way! At an early years in the 1970’s, I was infatuated with the 5 “d” cell flashlight Radio Shack was nearly giving away, of course the batteries were not included. But for a buck ninety-eight, I could hold a source of intense light in my hands! My friends bought one as well and we would wait till dark to turn those light beams on and have laser fights and tag. And as long as my batteries were fresh and recharged and my bulb was working, there was no darkness in my path!

We read in the Epistle for Ephesians this morning: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” It takes an effort to keep our path illuminated. Our human bulb must be firmly seated in the teachings of Christ and our energy source can come from none other than the omnipotent Creator. Listen to the instructions of Saint Symeon the New Theologian: “As many, therefore, as are children of the light also become sons of the day which is to come, and are enabled to walk decently as in the day. The day of the Lord will never come upon them, because they are already in it forever and continually. The day of the Lord, in effect, is not going to be revealed suddenly to those who are ever illumined by the divine light, but for those who are in the darkness of the passions and spend their lives in the world hungering for things of the world; for them it will be fearful, and they will experience it as unbearable fire.” [“The Church and the Last Things,” On the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses, Vol. I, Tenth Discourse, 146, 147.] [1 Thess. 5:4.] 

In short, if you seek your existence in the world, your bulb is dim and your source of energy is corroded and weak, it will not bring you safely out of the darkness. Many folks have not surrendered unto the Lord and continue navigating through the darkness bumping into things as they travel through life. They say: “Why me God?” with each life challenge they encounter and chose to remain their own little source of dim energy, in control but yet swirling round and round in the funnel of life. Listen to the life-saving words of St. Paul: But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5)

The world was pierced with Light when our Lord suffered on the cross out of His love for you and me. Don’t waste another day swirling around in the worldly funnel; surrender your heart to the Great source of Light. The world can only offer you death, but only He can give you an illuminated life!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 12-6-2020