SERMON FOR THE MEETING OF THE LORD
February 2, 2017
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we look down the road in February we see that the Great and Holy Forty Days are quickly approaching. It is the great season of preparation, but preparation for what? The fulfillment of the resurrection. It is the fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy concerning His resurrection, and it is the fulfillment of His promise to us - that we, too, shall rise again. We have a number of such seasons and days: preparing and then celebrating the fulfillment. The Nativity Fast and Christmas; the Dormition Fast, and the celebration of the Falling Asleep and the Carrying Away to Heaven of the Most Holy Virgin Mary; the Apostles’ Fast and the Great Feast of Ss Peter & Paul and the Synaxis of all the Apostles. The holy seasons of fasting and feasting, preparation and fulfillment are like great wheels that turn, day after day, month after month, year after year, century after century. They turned long before us and shall continue to turn long after we are gone. We occupy such a miniscule, sub-atomic space in history, that it almost seems like we don’t really matter at all in the big scheme of things, but nothing could be further from the truth.
In the heavenly vision that Ezekiel saw, he mentions seeing wheels. Let me share it with you. Mind you, it sounds a bit psychedelic to us today, but I just want you to focus on the wheels. Ezekiel says:
And I looked, and, behold, the four had each one wheel on the ground near the living creatures. And the appearance of the wheels was as the appearance of emerald: and the four had one likeness: and their work was as it were a wheel in a wheel. They went on their four sides: they turned not as they went; neither did their backs turn: and they were high: and I beheld them, and the backs of the four were full of eyes round about. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures lifted themselves off the earth, the wheels were lifted off. Wherever the cloud happened to be, there was the spirit ready to go: the wheels went and were lifted up with them; because the spirit of life was in the wheels. When those went, the wheels went; and when those stood, the wheels stood; and when those lifted themselves off the earth, they were lifted off with them: for the spirit of life was in the wheels.” (Ez.1:15-25)
I know, it sounds pretty far out, but it all makes sense once you know the key to unlock it. But that’s not what I wanted you to hear. I wanted to talk to you about the wheels. There are four creatures which stand for the Gospel writers – Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. Accompanying the four creatures are wheels; in fact, the Prophet says “wheels within wheels.” While the wheels doubtless represent angelic beings, nonetheless, they remind me what the Church looks like in its fullness: 1.) The Logos, the Word of God, as eternal Head; 2.) the Scriptures as the Gift of His life and teachings as the bedrock of reliability and truth; 3.) the Saints who through their writings (including the Scriptures) and their lives guide all people to the heavenly Kingdom; and last, but not least, 4.) the Wheels, those magnificent seasons of Sacraments and Services, of Fasting and Feasting. And I’d like to explore one of those wheels within a wheel, and I’d like to call it the wheel of “Exodos & Eisodos” Exit and Entry. Let’s look at it:
In the beginning there was nothing. And then God created Out of nothing. Right? Listen to what the Bible says in 2 Maccabees 7:28,
"I beseech thee, my son, look upon the heaven and the earth, and all that is
therein, and consider that God made them out of nothing; and so was
mankind made likewise."
So God, through His Son, the Logos, spoke the world into being: “Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be” (Psalm 33: 8-9). So creation came OUT from God, but now something must enter in. What? Human beings. God made creation, prepared a garden, and placed Adam within that garden. Genesis 2:15 LXX says, “And the Lord God took the man whom he had formed, and placed him in the garden of Delight, to cultivate and keep it.”
Exodos & Eisodos, Exit & Entry.
Next, let’s look at the preparation for the revelation of the Messiah in the world. God comes OUT of heaven and descends to earth, and ENTERS into the womb of the Virgin. What does the Scripture say? “Thine Almighty Word leapt down from heaven, from thy royal throne” (Wisdom of Solomon 18:15).
Exodos from heaven; Eisodos into the womb – Annunciation!
Next, the Exodos again– Christ is born.
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Child is given” (Isaiah 9:6).
And, “From out of the womb before the morning star have I begotten Thee!”
And what is the Eisodos, the Entrance? Ah, it is the Lord being brought into the Temple – the very image of the Lord being carried into human hearts. Archimandrite Zacharias says:
“(God’s) aim is for our "Heart" to become His temple. He says to us, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If anyone hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Rev 3:20). When...the door is opened we discover the greatest of miracles. Our heart becomes united with the Holy Spirit. With an open "Heart" we can unify our mind with our heart and God will fill His Kingdom within us with His full goodness” (‘The Hidden Man of the Heart’ by Archimandrite Zacharias.)
Brothers and Sisters, in our lives in the Church, we have so much to be grateful for today. Especially we should be grateful for those wheels within wheels that God gives us in the Church for our salvation and for the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. God does not view us as small and insignificant. If He did, would he give us all of these blessings? Would He fill us with such unfathomable depths of grace? Would He have died for us on the Cross?
May the Lord Who enters into the Holy Temple and fills it with Light, always be present in our hearts bringing light and life to us and to all. Amen.