Archive for the ‘Epistle:Philippians’ Category

21st Week After Pentecost – Tuesday. JUST PRAY!

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008








Today’s readings, followed by a few small pastoral and personal thoughts.

Colossians 1:1-2, 7-11 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; 8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. 9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

 

Luke 8:1-3 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, 2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, 3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.

 

Colossians1:9-11 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

 

The Apostle provides us with a “template” for how to pray for others. See how vehemently he prays for others! When I read this passage, I am convicted about how little I pray for others, and how weak my prayers are compared to the Apostle.

 

Things are definitely better now that I have some time to breathe and am not either working at night, sleeping, feeling like a “zombie”, or at church. I have a regular prayer rule in which I pray for everyone in my flock, by name, every day. I want my prayer to be as warm and intense as the Apostle, and also as often, but at this point in time, I am what I am. So, I pray, knowing that I should be better, and also knowing that if I pray, I will become better (at prayer, and everything else in the spiritual life).

 

There are few of us who can pray with the depth of emotion, empathy and longing for the well-being of others that the Apostle possesses, but we must pray. A Christian principle is that if we try, with God’s help, we will become better (I believe that this principle is so important that I have said something like this maybe a zillion times in my homilies). So, let us as least pray for others.

 

I have recommended to many personally to make a small list of loved ones and to pray for everyone on that list everyday (I will send my dyptichs, which have all the parish member’s names, to those who ask). I should be on that list, because I am your unworthy pastor, and I need the grace of God to guide my flock wisely.

 

We should begin by merely saying the Jesus prayer for each person, i.e.

 

“Lord Jesus Christ son of God, have mercy upon the Priest Seraphim”

 

If this is too much for us, then all we need say is:

 

 “Lord have mercy upon the Priest Seraphim”.

 

This is the beginning for us. If we are faithful in prayer for others, God will guide us to deeper, more earnest and heartfelt prayer, like the Apostle’s.

 

I have meant for a long time to write a little essay that I have considered entitling “The hardest thing I did today”, or something like it. It would be about prayer. The hardest thing I do each day is pray for others. There are a multitude of distractions that attempt to keep me from this task. And then when I am praying, there is this “voice” that is whispering to me “Why bother the master?” (Mark 5:35). God will hear the “effective prayer of a righteous man” (James 5:16), and I am not righteous. How can I expect God to hear my prayer? My state of mind is distracted, and wooden, and how can I expect God to hear me in such a state?

 

These are powerful emotions, and they are from the pit of Hell. It is true that my prayer can be distracted and wooden, but I know that if I try to pray, I will learn to pray! I also know that my intent is good, even if my performance is flawed. God sees into our heart, and knows our intent, and helps us. If am firmly convinced that the most important time of the day is when I pray for others, and no matter how “well” I did, it is the best thing that I do every day.

 

I urge you to pray for others every day. Do not listen to the thoughts that tell you that your efforts are wasted. Just pray.


 

Priest Seraphim Oct 19/Nov 3 2008.                                              St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/21st-week-after-pentecost_tuesday_colossians1;1-2,7-11+luke8;1-3.rtf

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/21st-week-after-pentecost_tuesday_colossians1;1-2,7-11+luke8;1-3.pdf

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“Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.” Phil 4:17

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

 






21st Week After Pentecost – Monday

This is every pastor’s prayer and fervent desire for everyone in his flock. Although St Paul is talking about alms-giving that helped him personally, this sentiment equally applies to almsgiving to the church as a whole – tithes, pledges, ordinary regular giving, and extraordinary giving for specific needs.



The subject of MONEY is one of the most difficult for a pastor to discuss with his flock, individually and collectively. There are always those who become offended because it is “talked about too much”, or “all they want from me is my money”. The actual truth of the matter is that a pastor knows, that, since where a person’s treasure is, so is their heart, if a Christian does not give to God freely, easily, and with joy, he will make no progress in the spiritual life. The actual amount is not important; there is not a set amount everyone should give. This depends on a person’s financial and spiritual status. The only necessity is that giving be done with liberality and joy, with the expectation in so doing, fruit would be born in the soul.


If only everyone in the flock would understand the burden the pastor bears for the well-being of his flock! This burden is so evident to every pastor when he reads these words of the Holy Apostle Paul, a pastor’s pastor. Everything the pastor talks about and asks for is for the benefit of the flock. The giving of money is the sort of thing that ALWAYS returns to the giver – not in terms of increased material wealth (the heretics on TV often teach this), but ALWAYS building up one’s treasure in heaven. Almsgiving is a pillar upon which the Christian faith rests, and this pillar is formed out of love, obedience and desire to do the commandments..


 One MUST pray, and fast and give alms in order to be saved (note, this is not a comprehensive list!). If one does it poorly, then at least the attempt is made! We can always improve, but only if we try. All of these three things should be discussed in intimate detail with the pastor. A good amount of prayer of fasting or almsgiving for one is too much or too little for another. The only absolute is that we must struggle in all three.


 I must mention that there are criminal pastors who ask for money for sinful reasons. They will have their reward. May God judge them, and root them out of the flock. They are a scandal and an abomination, however, if a person gives in good faith, they always receive their reward. We must practice good stewardship. If we find out that there is dishonesty or wanton waste in church finances, we should give alms where we are more sure they can be used wisely, however, we must give alms!


 Philippians 4:10-23  But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. 14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. 15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. 19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. 22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

 

Priest Seraphim Oct 21/Nov 3 2008.                                              St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/21st-week-after-pentecost_monday_ philippians4;10-23+Luke7;36-50.rtf

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/21st-week-after-pentecost_monday_ philippians4;10-23+Luke7;36-50.pdf

 

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20th Monday After Pentecost

Monday, October 27th, 2008

 





20th Week After Pentecost – Monday

Today’s readings, followed by a few small pastoral and personal thoughts.

Philippians 2:12-16 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

 

Luke 6:24-30 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. 27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. 29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. 30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.

 

Phil 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

 

It is quite easy to behave correctly when in the presence of authority. This action applies as much as the other things mentioned in yesterday’s Gospel in which our Lord stated “Even sinners do”. The test of a Christian is if he does good and is obedient when others are not present. Of course, we fool ourselves whenever we think we are alone, because God sees all, but nonetheless, our vanity and dishonesty goads us into attempting to appear more obedient , than we really are when we are with others, especially those who have some authority over us, or whom we wish to impress. This is in direct contradiction to the command of the holy apostle.

 

This desire is also shared by parents, pastors, and teachers. Whoever tries to instill in another person a sense of right and wrong, and attempts to enable them to be good feels this way. I often think about my flock, and wonder how they are doing during the day. You are all in God’s hands, and my influence is but for only a short time each week (or even less than that!), so I console myself by praying for everyone in my small flock every day.

 

Phil 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

 

The Christian faith is active; it is change. God works in us to help facilitate the change, but we must WILL to change and DO according to this will (in this verse, the one doing the “working” is god, and we are doing the “willing” and “doing”). The scripture is full of admonitions and encouragements like this. The world may tell us that salvation is won without labor, but the scriptures tell us emphatically that we must labor!

 

Phil 2:16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

 

This is the prayer of every pastor. I wonder often if my labors will be fruitful. There many times when I am tempted to doubt this, such as when the church is almost empty at the beginning of the liturgy, or when other services are sparsely attended. There are many other things also. I also wonder when I see great inconsistency in lifestyles, and wonder why is this so? Is it because of my sins, my weak faith, my poor prayers? This is a dangerous feeling, which I believe all pastors are prone to, some more, some less. I admit I have it, and there is only one solution: “physician heal thyself!” This is actually the only solution for all our troubles, and by this I mean that we must attempt with great vigor to change ourselves, with consistent prayer, fasting and obedience to the commandments. We must attempt to change before we can expect God to intervene, I try to apply this idea to my life, and teach it. The only reason for doubt is lack of faith, and we lack faith because we lack purity.

 

 

Luke 6:24-26 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets

 

All of this is an amplification of the thought I shared yesterday (St John Chrysostom’s teaching, in agreement with the whole church, that we will be rewarded with the reward we see, whether a temporary reward, or an eternal one, but never both)

 

Priest Seraphim, Oct 14/27 2008

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/20th-week-after-pentecost_monday_philippians2;12-16+luke6;24-30.pdf

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/20th-week-after-pentecost_monday_philippians2;12-16+luke6;24-30.rtf

 

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Nativity of the Theotokos 2008 – Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

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Philippians 2:5-11 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.



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