LINE IN THE WATER

As I stood there along the bank of the lake I instructed the youth that were fishing with me: “You can’t catch a fish if your line is not in the water.” After all, there is a difference between catching fish and fishing! And since results were not happening fast enough, my companions had a tendency to keep reeling in their line to make sure bobbertheir bait was still on the hook! And it usually was unless the youngins threw it off the hook with one of their many casts into the water showing off all their bionic strength! As far as catching fish that day, with all of the casting activity on the surface of the water, the fish probably swam away to safer waters.

 
Well, perhaps I was lacking as a fishing instructor! After all, I have never been a great fisherman or hunter, but not yet quite a vegetarian either. You see, in the red neck dictionary the definition of a vegetarian is “one who can’t hunt or fish!” But here in our Gospel reading today, these men were professional fishermen, making their living and feeding their family by the filling of their nets! These men knew every way and everything there was to know about catching fish!

 
Peter and Andrew were having a tough time fishing. They patiently fished all night and did not catch a thing. There nets remained empty. But after a fishless night, the grace of Christ made what was impossible, possible. Not only were the nets filled but they were full of fish even with tears in the nets. And there was enough fish caught to fill two boats and the boats were overloaded and began to sink!

 
In my life, my nets have known emptiness too! There have also been times when I didn’t even get in the boat but chased empty pursuits that did not sustain me! I also know there have times in my prayer life when my nets have continually been empty! As Christians even when our nets are empty, we need to continue fishing. “If you do not feel like praying, you have to force yourself. The Holy Fathers say that prayer with force is higher than prayer unforced. You do not want to, but force yourself. The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force (Matt. 11:12).” – St. Ambrose of Optina.

 
We need to keep our lines in the water with disciplines of prayer, fasting, worship and charity even we it seems all hope is lost and our harvest is fruitless. The measure of a Christian is most accurately measured during these times when we have exhausted all of our efforts and our nets seem empty! Therefore, by resisting and fighting evil, we help to establish the Kingdom, or more correctly, we enter it and take possession of it.

 
We have one goal in life, seeking and serving God. And as God’s servant we are to be fishers of men. So many times we get distracted by worldly goals and get ourselves blown around by the storms of life. Yet we can be successful even with holes in our nets! We just need to remember the basics, keeping our equipment ready and maintained, our Christ-like bait fresh and on the hook, and of course keeping our line in the water with constant prayer and worship! And with the grace of Christ, our boats will be filled. We’ll catch ‘em and He’ll clean them!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-9-2016

YARD SALE!

This week as we prepared for the church yard sale I tookyard-sale a moment and reflected upon the effort needed to have a successful sale. Scheduling was a big problem for us this year with the many things in our lives we are so busy with. Matushka finally was able to corner me into setting a date and making a space in my hectic schedule.

 
And of course we needed items donated to sell and folks willing to give their precious time to price the items and also to help work the sale. We needed to advertise so we placed a small ad in the newspaper, the bulletin board and even placed yard sale signs on the street in front of the church. Matushka went to the store and found special yard-sale price tags and we had to go to the bank and get some small change to keep on hand.

 
On Saturday in the early morning before the roosters began crowing, we had to set up tables and moved all the donated items out front to the street. It sure took a lot of preparation to get rid of unwanted things we had kept in our lives and then we settled for pennies on the dollar. But the money raised will be put to good use!

 
Matushka was pricing items on Friday when a local woman happened into the church, lured by our new bright yellow yard sale signs. She looked around and quickly realized she was in unfamiliar territory. The church hosting this yard sale was not like any church she been in before. She immediately wanted validation as to why we had icons of the saints and why we honor the Mother of God so much. She wanted proof between the black and white pages of the constantly re-translating solo in the scripture, she believes is the Bible!!

 
This woman had the “I’m not in Kansas anymore look” about her. That saying came from a great musical the-wizard-of-oz-12679entitled The Wizard of Oz and it involves an enormous tornado devastating the farmland in Kansas, and sending Dorothy and her dog Toto to a make-believe dreamland while the untamed winds scattered and lost all the families’ treasures. Interestingly enough, I parallel that imagery to the church in the West, only some of the treasures remain but many have been scattered and picked through or lost. Perhaps that great scattering wind originated in the lungs of the big bad wolf, the evil one.

 
Which brings me to the wedding banquet mentioned in the Gospel reading today, what does it mean to have our wedding garment on? Just like the yard sale, it takes a lot of work. You see it takes a time commitment, our God is a jealous God, keep the Sabbath Day holy! I have heard some people tell me that they are Orthodox but they don’t attend or rarely attend Church. Perhaps they have become OTHER-ODOX? They are just too busy chasing there tail around in circles instead of clinging on to the pursuit of everlasting life. They’re heart has become blind and darkness is looming!

 
And then there is the great wedding banquet which has been prepared. Is there a dress code to attend such a great banquet? Yes, we should wear our best! And how many people have been invited? Everyone has been invited but how many are prepared to receive the Great Feast? It takes preparation. You need confession, repentance and you must take time to say the pre-communion prayers which help us reflect upon our sin thirsty nature!

 
That brings me to the next point, how often should someone receive the Holy Gifts? And the answer is: as often as one can. If you are Orthodox, you need this prescription to heal. You need this Gift to make ready your soul for the life everlasting! It should be at the very least of least once a year! It really should be as often as you can, it should be as though you’re very life depends on it!

 
Some folks have convinced themselves that they are way too unworthy, they are convinced that there worth has diminished to only pennies on the dollar! Some folks may say that they are serving a penance. Here at our church, please come to your priests and let’s have a talk. We want you to receive all the great treasures that the true church has to offer!

 
Every week, you are invited a grand wedding. Jesus desires you in marriage. You are the church! He wants a commitment from you! It will take a great effort and it will not be easy, but you know way down deep in your heart that it will be worth it!

 
Come, won’t you come? Don’t be an OTHER-ODOX!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 9/25/16

St. John the Baptist

This week we began bleaching the exterior of our cabin. We applied a special mixture of Trisodium Phosphate, Clorox and water to the exterior and then rinsed with the power of a high pressure washer and this process removed all the oil and stains that have weathered and blemished our logs over the last year. Once dried, this process readies the logs for a protective coat to be installed to defend the wood from the rot, wood boring bugs and hopefully hard-headed woodpeckers.

 
We Christians also use a special mixture to remove our sinful stains and blemishes. We Orthodox use prayer, blessed oil and water and the help of the Holy Spirit. We call this process baptism. Baptism in the Church begins with the rejection of Satan and the acceptance of Christ. Before being baptized, a person, or his sponsors or godparents, officially proclaims the symbol of Christian faith, the Creed. Because the godparent speaks on behalf of the child, sponsors his entrance into the Church and “receives” the child out of the baptismal waters into the Church and cares for his spiritual life, the godparent himself must be an active member of the Church.

 
In the Christian Church the practice of baptism takes on a new and particular significance. It no longer remains merely a sign of moral change and spiritual rebirth. It becomes very specifically the act of a person’s death and resurrection in and with Jesus. Christian baptism is man’s participation in the event of Pascha. It is a “new birth by water and the Holy Spirit” into the Kingdom of God (Jn 3.5).

 

john-the-baptist

On this day we remember the patron saint of godparents and his sacrifice paid for his faith in Christ. St. John the Baptist lured people into the river water and by the power of the Almighty removed their stains and through their repentance their lives were changed.

 
St. John’s father, Priest Zacharias was murdered in the temple and his mother Elizabeth (daughter of Aaron and cousin of the blessed Theotokos) took the young lad into the desert where he was raised. Later as a young adult, St. John began to preach about the necessity of repentance and self-sacrifice. He denounced the Sadducees and Pharisees and warned the tax collectors and soldiers against extortion and plunder.

 
St. John baptized thousands of people as a sign of repentance and a preparation for the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus was also baptized by St. John not because he was sinful and needed to repent, but because in allowing himself to be baptized he showed that indeed he was God’s “Beloved Son,” the Saviour and Messiah, the “Lamb of God who takes upon himself the sins of the world” (Mt 3, Mk 1, Lk 3, Jn 1–3).

 
Our baptismal water is prayed over and blessed as the sign of the goodness of God’s creation. The catechumen to be baptized is also prayed over and blessed with sanctified oil as the sign that his creation by God is holy and good. And then, after the solemn proclamation of “Alleluia” (from Hebrew, meaning “God be praised”), the person is immersed three times in the water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

 
Through the act of immersion, the baptized person dies to this world and is born again in the resurrection of Christ into eternal life. He is clothed with the “garments of salvation” symbolized by the white baptismal robe which is the “new humanity” of Jesus himself who is the new and heavenly Adam (Jn 3, Rom 5, 1 Cor 15). Thus, the words of the Apostle Paul are chanted as the newly-baptized is led in procession around the baptismal font three times as the symbol of his procession to the Kingdom of God and his entrance into eternal life: “For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia” (Gal 3.27).

 

I pray that your baptismal waters bleached away all your stains and the protective coating of salvation in Jesus Christ shed away all the sinful rot, fungus and the hard-headed woodpeckers of a world which is lost in the desert and in need of a Savior.

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 9-11-2016

POWER OUTAGE

lightning1As we enter into the summer season, I am reminded of the many fierce lightning storms we will encounter. It is the time of year when lights flicker and some people will occasionally loose power for hours. This energy loss effects folks lifestyle by changing normal routine behaviors and returns them back to a simpler time of life when candles and oil lamps produced our light and cooking was done on a wood fire or gas flame, and of course there was no instant messaging or tweeting. It seems as though when this unharnessed source of energy strikes and interrupts our man-made source, we find ourselves disconnected wishing for some bit of normalcy to return to our world.

As Orthodox Christians, we also need an unwavering power source. In order for us to have a constant connection to sustainable energy, we must pay our bill. We must pray without ceasing, support our church faithfully and financially, study, and give service with our time and talent to our neighbor. But if we chose a worldly power source instead and avoid being a stable part of the church, we certainly seek a course for destruction and instability. There is only one source of power you can trust. It is the authority of God and His power handed down to the church by Christ. It is here in the church that the sheep are cared for and protected. “For the word, that of the Cross, on the one hand, to those who are perishing is foolishness, but on the other hand, to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.” [1 Cor. 1:18]

We need to stay connected to the teachings of Christ. We must constantly be reminded of the Holy Scriptures and make our choices in life putting God first with our time, talent and treasure. Saint Basil the Great writes: “You will find that the world was not devised at random or to no purpose, but to contribute to some useful end and to the great advantage of all beings. It is truly a training place for rational souls and a school for attaining the knowledge of God.” [On the Hexaemeron, Hom. 1(6) in FC 46:11.] The word “power” is found over 30 times in the New Testament alone and in the Gospel reading today; Christ identifies our source, “But be seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” [Mt. 6:33]

Without the power of electricity, our refrigerated
perishables begin to decay, without the power of our Lord in our lives, we too decompose and the stench of sin becomes our aroma! Don’t be a stinker, stay plugged in, pay your bill, and when the fierce storms of life are hovering above you, stay connected to the steadfast source of power, our Lord Jesus the Christ, who chose to give of him-self so that we sinners will not perish. Glory to Thee.

Fr. Gabriel Weller 7/10/2016

All Saints 2016

Today we celebrate all the Saints of the church. Who are these Saints? Saints are not created by the people of the church, the church recognizes as saints those whom God himself has glorified, seeing in their lives true love for God and their Christ-like love of neighbors. From the Latin word sanctus, a saint is one who is holy or set apart for God’s service. It is a person who has cooperated with God’s grace to the extent that his or her holiness is beyond doubt.

 

From the beginning, the Church recognized the righteous ancestors of Christ, Forefathers, as grace-filled men and women whose lives were pleasing to God. Also the Prophets who predicted Christ’s coming and the Apostles and Evangelists who proclaimed the Gospel were assumed to be saints.
Next the Martyrs and Confessors who risked their lives and shed their blood in witness to Christ were also recognized as saints. And in time, Ascetics who followed Christ through self-denial were numbered among the saints. In more modern times, Bishops and Priests who fought against heresy and proclaimed the true faith are recognized by the Church as saints. And then today, holy people, in all walks of life, can be recognized as saints.
While the glorification of a saint may be initiated because of miracles, it is not an absolute necessity for canonization. The Roman Catholic Church requires three verified miracles in order to recognize someone as a saint; the Orthodox Church does not require this. There are some saints, including Saint Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and Saint Innocent of Moscow who have not performed any miracles as far as we know. What is required is a virtuous life of obvious holiness. And a saint’s writings and preaching must be “fully Orthodox,” in harmony with the pure faith that we have received from Christ and the Apostles and taught by the Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils.
In the epistle to Corinth, Apostle Paul writes: “to the Church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints, with all those calling upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, both theirs and ours.” [1 Cor. 1:2] And also, “Do you not know,” Saint Paul asks, “that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16).
You and I are too called to become Saints! Three times in the Book of Leviticus (Ch 11, 19 and 20) God tells us to be holy, because He is holy. We must consecrate ourselves, for we are His people. Saint Peter reiterates this commandment in the new testament, challenging us to obey God’s commandments and submit our will to His will (1 Pet 1:16). We read about great life story conversions such as St. Mary of Egypt and the Apostle Paul and yes we too by the Grace of God and the structure of His Holy Church can change and become selfless and Christ-like! In the last book of the holy bible we hear: “Here is the patience of the saints, the ones keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” [Rev. 14:12]
Every Sunday as you walk into this church, I want you to remember the love of Christ shown by the great saints of this church in their sacrifice and service they have made. And then take that mindset back out into the world. And in the ranks of the church faithful, we will leave NO ONE behind. We will surround everyone with the fragrance and peace of Charity, Hope and Faith that is only found in the sweetest love known to mankind, the love of Christ!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 6/26/2016

FIRE AND WATER

“But whosoever drinketh of the water which I shall give him in no wise shall ever thirst. But the water which I shall give him shall become in him a fountain of water springing into eternal life.” [Jn. 4:14]

woman at the well
In today’s news stories, a lot of time is devoted to eyewitness reports about peoples’ lives being drastically changed as the result of fire and water. We here about the destruction of homes and forests by violent fires; and in other areas, we here about heavy downpours causing floodwaters to rise and wash away homes and businesses, and we also here about people getting caught in these powerful catastrophes and losing their love-ones. Fire and water are two very powerful forms of energy.

 
Spending my adolescence years in Tidewater, I grew to respect the authority of water. The ocean is massive and ever surrounding the land. If you’re not careful, the waves can knock you off your feet and pull you out into the swift current! But water is also a force that can give us positive things like electricity from our hydroelectric plants, nourish our food supply, a means of transportation, and water is necessary to maintain our lives and cleanse us free from dirt and sin.

 
Fire can be destructive but it also has positive attributes such as cooking, refining minerals, illumination, and the warmth of heat to name a few. I am speaking today about these two forms of energy because Christ describes the Holy Spirit as both fire and water. Fire gives us the warming property of grace and the power of destroying transgressions; and in our baptismal water we are cleansed and our minds renewed.

 
Verse 14 of the Gospel reading today speaks to us about these two energy sources in a different aspect. At the well, Christ instructs the Samaritan women (Svetlana) about the Holy Spirit. The description includes a motion started by the Holy Spirit that then keeps regenerating, it is contagious! Saint John Chrysostom describes the grace of the spirit as a source of energy that purifies and refreshes us. Just as a source of energy cannot ever be fully contained, the Spirit is constantly causing a reaction within us. The Lord is asking us to be good stewards of this precious lively gift. Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Orchid and Bulgaria, instructs us not to bury this talent as did the servant in the parable found in Matthew 25, but to put it to work so it will increase.

 
We Orthodox receive the Holy Spirit at our Crismation and this is our personnel Pentecost where God pours out His Spirit upon our flesh. In the Book of Acts, Paul laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:12 and 14-17). The oil of Chrism seals in the Holy Spirit which we find rooted scripturally in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, “Now the One Who establisheth us with you in Christ, and Who anointed us, is God, Who also sealed us and gave us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.”

 
The Samaritan woman at the well spent the rest of her life contagiously preaching the Gospel of Christ. In her sixty-sixth year, Svetlana was tormented and thrown down a well. We celebrate her memory on March 20th as the holy Martyr Svetlana or Photina in Greek. The powerful energy that was given to her in the Holy Spirit was not hidden or repressed but she chose to increase it and spread the Gospel. She allowed the energies of fire and water to consume her life and spread from her temple outward as a beacon on a hill and as a raging storm that could not be contained. Maybe I can one day be like this great saint! “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit [Mt. 28:19].

Fr. Gabriel Weller 5-29-16svetlana

Holy Myrrhbearers Feast Day

The Holy Myrrhbearers: Saints Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome (daughter of Joseph), Mary (Joseph’s sister) the wife of Cleopas, Susanna, Mary and Martha (Lazarus’s sisters), Obedient to the observance of the Sabbath, the women waited until the following sunrise after the Sabbath to launch their plan into action. They were going to do something costly, something dangerous, something maybe even foolish in the eyes of many others, but they knew in their hearts that it was the right thing to do.
The Holy Myrrhbearers were poor peasant housewives with the exception of St. Joanna, who was the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza. Yet the Evangelist Mark tells us they purchased large amounts of pricey myrrh, ointments, and perfumes with which to anoint the body of the Lord. These humble servants sacrificed the little they had saved up for their own families for ‘a rainy day’ because they realized they could not put a value on God’s love. Christ’s presence in their lives had been priceless and they were not going to spare any expense to anoint the body of the One who loves without measure.

 
The Holy Myrrhbearers literally put their lives at risk to accomplish their goal. Cities in the ancient world were walled for good reason – the territory outside the walls was an unsafe area and the domain of wild animals and thieves, especially after dark. Since our Savior’s tomb was in the garden near Golgotha, it was beyond the safety of the city walls. The women deliberately and knowingly stepped out into this vulnerability in order to express their love, in order to do what their heart commanded of them. Even more, assuming if they made it safely to the tomb, the elite Roman guards would certainly have used any force necessary to prevent them from entering the tomb. But the lovers of Christ were not paralyzed with the danger and great risk, and they took action!

 
There is a powerful lesson here for all of us. For all of us profess our faith in Christ, do we possess the fearless, trusting, unhesitating faith of the Holy Myrrhbearers? Too often, despite our initial good intentions, we allow ourselves to be discouraged from expressing or acting out our faith. We fear the COST of living as Christians, whether in actual financial terms, or in terms of the time and energy or emotion it takes to sacrificially offer ourselves to others, out of love for Christ. We fear the DANGER of living as Christians – it always seems so much easier to maintain the status quo, so much safer to keep doing the same old things in the same old way, even if it means passing up the opportunities to allow Christ to manifest in our little corner of the world. We fear looking FOOLISH by living as Christians, in a world that holds values and priorities that too often are very different from the teachings of the Gospel.

 
Pride, Vainglory and Perversion of our created sexuality have been the demise of many great civilizations and have now seemed to be the most sought out activities here in this once great nation. No, the love of Christ is not always a yes with wide open arms, it is a yes we love you but we must separate ourselves from marinating in Lucifer’s sewage and placing our youth on a path of self-destruction. We need to speak out loudly and we need to speak out now. Do not hide your light under a bushel but be the salt of the earth, seasoning everything you encounter with the teachings of the Holy Church!

Pray to God for us, Holy Myrrhbearers!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 5-15-16

SPLINTER

[Rom. 13:12] The night is far spent; the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

 
When you work with wood you enviably get splinters in your flesh. I have been working on our log home frequently and have come to know this all too well. I keep plenty of Band-Aids and electrical splintertape in my truck for administering first aid.

 
In order for me to remove the splinter I need plenty of light and a knife or pair of tweezers to aid me in digging the splinter out of my flesh. I also need plenty of light and I now, with my failing eyesight, need my reading glasses to magnify the injury!

 
If I can’t see the splinter, I can feel that there is something foreign under my flesh. Sometimes I realize this immediately depending upon the size and nature of the splinter. However, sometimes I am unaware that I have acquired a splinter until an infection sets in and my skin turns red and it becomes tender to the touch.

 

I also suffer the effects from another type of splinter, but this one lodges in my heart and adheres to my soul. These splinters are foreign objects and should not be found in my temple of God, but I have even grown accustomed to their existence and chose to continue on in life ignoring the soreness and the infections they have caused.

 
These splinters are sin and they hide in the darkness of my self-justifying intellect. I like to feel good about myself and my actions and therefore ignore their existence! I allow the sinful splinters to separate me from the loving embrace of my creator which is the beginning of a life-threatening infection. Their existence distracts me from the light of Christ and I cling to the darkness seeking a place to hide them.

 
Saint John Chrysostom says: “As a wound, so long as it is embedded and concealed, running beneath the surface, it enjoys not a bit of attention, so also sin, as long as it is hidden, being as it were in darkness, is daringly committed with full license. But as soon as it is made manifest, it becomes light; not indeed the sin itself—for how could that be?—but the sinner. For when he has been brought out to light, when he has been admonished, when he has repented, when he has obtained pardon, hast thou not cleared away all his healed darkness? Hast thou not then his wound? Hast thou not called forth his unfruitfulness into fruit? For no one hides a blameless (irreproachable) life; whereas things which are hidden are hidden by darkness covering them.” [Hom. 18, P.G. 62:127 (col. 122); cf. Bl. Theophylact, P.G. 124:408 CD (col. 1108).]

 
When I realize I have caused someone pain, I need to examine my flesh for the splinter. Seeking Christ’s-aid by self-examination and exposing the splinters to the Light by study, confession, prayer and fasting, and then applying a heaping amount of the antibiotic of heartfelt forgiveness frequently.

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 3/13/16

Attracted To Distraction

It’s fourth and ten with a minute to go and you’re down by seven. The very next play, the next snap of the ball will determine if your year was a success or a failure. Yes, it is time for the Super Bowl. If only life were a game and a great big pay check awaited us despite the outcome of our next decision, win or lose.

 
After church today, Super Bowl 50 is expected to generate some 620 million dollars in revenue. And according to the American Gaming Association, people will gamble away 4.2 billion dollars on Super Bowl wagers. That’s a lot of dough for entertainment!

 
The events held in the coliseums offer us a fresh bouquet of life in the midst of our grey day to day struggles with health, wealth, happiness and purpose. And let us not forget the advertisements that tempt us and seduce us into wanting things we don’t need and can really live without!

 
We are all attracted to distraction. And as for me, even when I’m not beDistracteding entertained by sports, my mind often leaves reality behind in pursuit of dream weaving. I find myself struggling throughout the day reflecting upon my woundedness rather than counting my blessings, or I use my vivid imagination entertaining myself in the land of “what ifs”.

 
All of our senses gather information from our surroundings and send that information to our brain for processing. This information can be vital for our survival and makes us want to seek out new information or makes us attracted to distraction and new surroundings. And it seems these days with our new electronic gadgets; we are allowing ourselves to be seduced more and more away from reality and away from God.

 
And then there is my prayer time when my need to center myself on God is interrupted with an attack of distraction. As long as my brain is healthy, it will continue to generate thoughts and ideas and it will seek out distractions. But I can dismiss them by turning my attention back to my prayer offering and making the sign of the cross from the top of my brain to the bottom of my heart to reapply my attention.

 
When most folks go to sleep they turn off the light and turn off the distractions. We need a time of quiet and peace. We need a time to turn off the world! To continually allow ourselves to be distracted is choosing to separate ourselves from God. Saint Gennadius of Constantinople wrote: “Do not forsake prayer, for just as the body becomes weak when it is deprived of food, so also the soul when it is deprived of prayer draws nigh to weakness and noetic death.” (St. Gennadius of Constantinople, The Golden Chain, 44)

 
Before the age of the Super Bowl, Facebook and the internet, Saint Paul’s warns the folks in a letter to Corinth: “And this I say for your own profit, not that I might cast a noose upon you, but for that which is seemly, and for constant waiting on the Lord without distraction.” [1 Cor. 7:35] And we hear from the words of our Lord: “Without Me you can’t do anything.”(John 15:5) I pray in this New Year we can all seek out the Kingdom of God firstly and be less attracted to distractions in our hot pursuit of the Kingdom of God.
Glory to Thee!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 2/7/16

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