More perfectly receive Truth and Life

Dear Friends

We started the Great Fast by forgiving and asking for forgiveness—from our loved ones and from our acquaintances, from our friends and from our enemies—which is precisely the opposite of the world’s instincts. Our world wants to ascribe blame to others, fault with another person; and through gossip and slander, litigation and lawsuits, public naming and shaming, we can make all know the true wrong-doers. We, in contrast, in the Church should place blame only on ourselves: I have done wrong, I have sinned, I must repent.

After forgiveness we are called to purify ourselves through fasting, through serving others, through seeing in each person we meet—the downtrodden alongside the wealthy, the scoundrels and the morally righteous alike—in seeing in all our race the image of God.

And then, having come through all this, we think we have performed good deeds, we think we are worthy, we think the Kingdom of God is opening to us—the Church in her love for you and her love for me sets before us the Cross. And I am scandalised. I am expecting a “well done,” I am expecting a reward, I am expecting the Lord to say to me,

Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.

Matthew 25:21,23

Yet before me stands the Lord’s will for me, before me stands the way in which I should live my life, before me stands the Cross.

Whoever desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s will save it.

Mark 8:34–35

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reach the midpoint of the Great Fast the Church places before us the Cross to point that we must go further. The Fast is not merely a diet but a means of purifying ourselves through asceticism that we may lift up our crosses alongside Christ, that we may ascend Golgotha and be crucified with Christ, and thereby our crucifixion with him will lead us to the glorious Resurrection. Be encouraged, be strengthened: we have not yet arrived at our destination so we must continue to work and struggle so that we may more perfectly receive Truth and Life, more perfectly receive Jesus Christ.

Live this, know this, understand this, through Christ in his Church.
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In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen.

The Lord calls to me, “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” I have been carried to him by the four Evangelists and a hole made in the roof of my mind; this roof is made of earth and clay, for I have covered myself with worldly cares, my desire is for earthly things which need to be stripped away. And I am lowered, which is to say I am humbled, and brought before the Lord. The Evangelists look on, in love towards me and in love for their Master; and seeing their Faithfulness, together with that of all the Apostles, the Martyrs, the Confessors, the Ascetics, the Teachers and especially the blessed Theotokos, seeing their Faithfulness he has said to me, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” By their faithfulness, I have been numbered as one of the sons of God, an heir of the Kingdom, and my sins have been forgiven.

“I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” For what I have received thus far is not enough, I must do something about it. I have had my sins forgiven me but the Lord expects me to do something: to lift myself up and return to the world. I cannot live my spiritual life as a freeloader expecting others to carry me to wherever I would want, I must do something. And my bed—that on which I travelled, that which supported me and helped me—must now be carried by me. The prayer, which was once so easy in my life, now must be carried by me, attending services in the hard times as well as the easy, remaining grateful when evil befalls us as well as when we receive blessings all become my work in the life of being a Christian.

Read last Sunday’s Sermon, Rise, take up your pallet and go home.
Archive of Past Sermons.

Services this week

Friday 17th March
Discussion on the Book of Numbers, 8 pm
Online only

Saturday 18th March
Vespers, 6.30 pm
At St Francis’ Hall, Eastleigh

Sunday 19th March
Matins & Divine Liturgy, 9 am
At St Francis’ Hall, Eastleigh

Online session is via Google Meet: please get in contact for the details.

Please join us: all are welcome, come and see.

Attending Church

We meet at St Francis’ Hall, Nightingale Avenue, Eastleigh, SO50 9JA. Come and See.

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Yes, absolutely. Offer yourselves to the Lord: pray! Make available to him all your talents and ask him how he would like you to use them — listen for his reply.

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With love in Christ

Fr Alexander
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