Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Stretching Exercises

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mathetes On the Great Exchange

Mathetes on the Great Exchange -

Christ took our sin on Him and gave us His righteousness. Oh believe it! Oh receive it! Christ is for you if you will take Him as a free gift. What do you give Him in return? Your sins. Love like that provokes lifelong worship of and devotion to the One who gave His life for us. This is what Christians have always understood and banked on.

"But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us,* He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God?

O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!"

The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus

* 313 In the ms. “saying” is here inserted, as if the words had been regarded as a quotation from Isa. liii. 11.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Nativity Sermon

I am not of the Orthodox faith. In fact, I am REALLY not of the Orthodox faith.  I cannot accept any church which believes itself to be the one, true church.  There is one, true church made up of all who have believed in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Yes, I am sure that there are many in the Orthodox church who are also part of the one, true church in Christ, but it is the height of arrogance for one organization to claim sole proprietorship to "the one, true church" status.

However, I have a soft spot in my heart for Chrysostom's homilies. I love the way that he was very spiritually aware, yet also very down to earth and practical in his exhortations. He lived in God's presence and also with integrity here on this earth. He was not one of those mystics who are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good. He had a sense of beauty and poetry, too, and that is seen even in his homilies. If nothing more, enjoy his works as art and great literature. You will be enriched.
Nativity Sermon
By Saint John Chrysostom

I behold a new and wondrous mystery!
My ears resound to the shepherd’s song, piping no
soft melody, but loudly chanting a heavenly hymn!
The angels sing!
The archangels blend their voices in harmony!
The cherubim resound their joyful praise!
The seraphim exalt His glory!

All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead herein…on earth and man in heaven. He who is above now, for our salvation, dwells here below; and we, who were lowly, are exalted by divine mercy!
Today Bethlehem resembles heaven, hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices and, in place of the sun, witnessing the rising of the Sun of Justice!

Ask not how this is accomplished, for where God wills, the order of nature is overturned. For He willed. He had the powers. He descended. He saved. All things move in obedience to God.
Today He Who Is, is born! And He Who Is becomes what He was not! For when He was God, He became man – while not relinquishing the Godhead that is His…

And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him angels, nor archangels, nor thrones, nor dominions, nor powers, nor principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.
Yet He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His care, nor because of His incarnation has He ceased being God. And behold,

Kings have come, that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven;
Women, that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of childbirth into joy;
Virgins, to the Son of the Virgin…
Infants, that they may adore Him who became a little child, so that out of the mouths of infants He might perfect praise;
Children, to the Child who raised up martyrs through the rage of Herod;
Men, to Him who became man that He might heal the miseries of His servants;
Shepherds, to the Good Shepherd who has laid down His life for His sheep;
Priests, to Him who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek;
Servants, to Him who took upon Himself the form of a servant, that He might bless our stewardship with the reward of freedom (Philippians 2:7);
Fishermen, to the Fisher of humanity;
Publicans, to Him who from among them named a chosen evangelist;
Sinful women, to Him who exposed His feet to the tears of the repentant woman;
And that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that they may look upon the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!

Since, therefore, all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice!
I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival! But I take my part, not plucking the harp nor with the music of pipes nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ!
For this is all my hope!
This is my life!
This is my salvation!
This is my pipe, my harp!

And bearing it I come, and having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels and shepherds sing:
“Glory to God in the Highest! And on earth peace to men of good will!”