The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 1 year ago

All Things New | Sunday before Theophany 2022


The Arena Podcast is the flagship of Patristic Nectar Publications and contains the Sunday Sermons and other theological reflections by Father Josiah Trenham delivered from the ambon of St. Andrew Church in Riverside, California and begun in 2010. Currently there are more than 550 sermons and lectures covering ten years worth of preaching through the liturgical calendar.

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Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar publications is pleased to present theological foundations God, man and the world in Genesis one through three a ten lecture series. The opening chapters of the Holy Bible provide the fundamental elements of the Christian World View. There we learn about the one true God, the human being fashioned in God's image and God's meaning infused creation. These texts, which have always formed a central element in the Church's catechetical ministry, present the most important of Christian convictions. These chapters are particularly relevant today, as secularism has suppressed these essential truths from the Western mind and priests can no longer assume that these basic theological affirmations are believed by those coming to the church or raised in the church. These lectures are presented as an aid in the formation of catechumens and as an effort to set forth the transcendent beauty of the glory of God, of the human being and of God's magnificent world. For these and other available titles, visit our website at patristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trennam, in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. Blessed New Year to all of you, brothers and sisters, and a blessed four feast of the Theophany of our savior. I've entitled my homily this morning all things new, all things new. Newness is a philosophical subject at the Great Sage Solomon, contemplated in the Old Testament, in fact in Ecclesiastes, in the first chapter of Ecclesiastes, he pontificates on the subject of newness and he says that life has become a great weariness. Whatever has been will be and whatever has been done will be done, so that there is nothing new under the Sun. And then he challenges his reader. He says, can you name one thing that we can point out and say, thus it is new? No, this is Solomon's contemplation. That's because he wasn't gazing into the future at that moment. He was speaking as a philosopher about the incessant decline of life, the constant and progress to death, and he didn't have the prophetic eye to see the coming...

...of Christ. He didn't have the eye to see the one who would come and be something completely new I'll tell you what's new. The panthroposis. New Saint, Athanasius the great and his magnificent treatise on the incarnation, says God becoming flesh is new. The Sun is never saw that and never dreamed of seeing it. In fact, our Savior, the God men, when he became what he was not without ceasing to be what he was, taking humanity to himself, wasn't just knew himself but began marvelous saving Ministry of Newness, doing the unheard of, the unthought of establishing his new life. And matter of fact, that word new is used all the way through the New Testament for a thousand things. I might in a minute tell you a few of those. Until it climax is at the end of the apocalypse, with a vision of the throne of God and the New Heavens and the new earth and the Lord saying behold, I make all things new. Everything's new. The world is not only not continuing to course down into darkness and death, repeating the same old recipe of misery and decline. On the contrary, it's moving to complete and total newness. It's being led into complete and total newness by him who makes everything new by the one who, Solomon at that moment, didn't have in his mind this newness, this magnificence. We've been celebrating for the days of Christmas, this great mystery that provokes all. We've stood with the shepherds, we've Sung with the angels, as we have this morning, singing the duck soology, and now, having finished celebrating Nativity and having come through that appearance of Christ, and today we stand with John the Baptist and we see that this breaking into our life, is breaking into our fallenness by Christ, the God man when he was born, is no longer just the quiet thing. It's going from cloaked mystery that only a few saw, although Luke is very careful to say even those few shepherds did everything in their power to tell all of their ends everything the angels told them. Read. Look to versus seventeen and eighteen. Luke put that in there. He wanted you to see that from the beginning of Christ's coming, even though for thirty years...

...the mystery of the incarnation would be kept under a cloak for our salvation, until today, as we celebrate with Theophany, Luke wanted you to know and us all readers of his Gospel to know that it's absolutely natural to tell everyone everything you know about the coming of Christ. Speaking about him is just what we do. The movement is from the appearance of Christ and darkness shown to a few and a few attentive souls like the Magi from the east. Now, after these beautiful thirty years of silence, of quiet, of humble obedience, our Lord comes to the Jordan River and there it's no longer a secret. They're the heavens open in front of everyone. There there are massive crowds responding to John the Baptist, people hearing the message of repentance and the coming of the Kingdom of God because the forerunner has stirred up their hearts. And then Christ comes to the Jordan River and the shaking hand of the Baptist is placed in obedience upon Jesus. Is said, though John Dreaded it, though John Himself asked to be baptized by Christ, Jesus commanded that he do it. Now we've recognized that Jesus hasn't just come to join heaven and earth, he's come to identify with sinners. We knew at his birth that his name Jesus means he was the savior of our souls, but we didn't know how closely he was going to identify with us. We didn't imagine that he would actually take up the position up a sinner on the banks of the Jordan, he would actually identify so closely with sin that he would ask for baptism. We certainly had no idea that what was a quiet secret would be proclaimed to everyone, not by man's power, but that the father himself would speak at the Jordan and tell everyone exactly who this man is. This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him, obey him, listen to him. You see, the miracle of Christmas is now come into the light and that illumination, that incredible public announcement that the father has made to all in Judea, now it's starting to run. It's not just a few shepherds, now it's hundreds and thousands of people who heard God speak. Now the word is going to run about Christ and he's going to fill all of Jerusalem, in the Holy Land, and for the next three years it's...

...going to be a blaze, a miraculous blaze of miracles and incredible teaching that leads everyone stunned, because he speaks as God speaks. He solves all of our problems, internal and external. And then it will lead to the cross, it will lead to the resurrection, and then it will culminate. This movement from the shadows into the light will culminate on the day of the ascension, when the Lord tells his disciples go into the entire world and proclaim the gospel to every creature, baptize everyone in the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them everything I have taught you, and I'll be with you until the end. Do you see the move, the increase of the light? First it was just the star telling us that the light has come to the earth. Now, at high noon, the heaven's part and the father speaks. Jesus is going to expand the light through Judea, but then he's going to command it to go to Sumaria and to the gentiles, into the ends of the world. This is us, this is our life, this is the new life that we live in, dear ones, this is where we are now, as we've moved from Nativity to Theophany and everywhere the Gospel goes, the newness spreads death and the same old, same old. It's over. It's over. You know, one of the most beautiful aspects of being a catechist and being a confessor is to see the lightbulb go on in a convert's mind and heart that the things the way they have been truly are no more, that God does, that Christ literally makes all things new. A very common experience during someone's life confession or during someone's first year, maybe within the first year of their confessions, when they're really just trying to figure this out, the starting to get used to this interaction with God in which shackles fall off, in which the binding of passions cease, in which a whole new measure of freedom and possibility erupts in their life. If I had a dollar for every time I've had an interaction like this with someone, I'd be a very rich man. It goes something like this. I hear something in confession and then I say it's the confession of a of an alienated relationship, of a relationship that has been broken, sometimes...

...for a very long time, and I'll hear, I'll listen and the person will be very nervous in confessing it because they're absolutely paranoid that I might say to them that they have to do something about it. They're confessing that they have in their heart either a lack of forgiveness or not as much grace as they know they need to have to this alienated friend or family member, whoever it is. But whatever what down was bad. It was really bad and they're so there's been this breach, this horrible separation, for who knows? A year, ten years, twenty years? I've heard it all. And then it goes something like this. After I hear the confession, I'm like, well, do you feel that it's God's will for you to be separated and alienated from Your family member? That's a hard question to answer. When the priest asked it to you. Do you feel it's God's will? Well, I just don't think it's going to do anything good. And then the priest says, when's the last time you tried, and they might say, well, it's been a few years. Has Anything changed in your life in the you're asking this to a new convert. Has Anything in your life changed in the last few years? Do you think it's possible that something also could have changed in that person's life in the last few years. How would you possibly know if you aren't trying? And if you aren't trying, you know what this really means? You aren't praying. Because, even if it's the greatest SISM, even if it's the most grotesque separation from the most horrible circumstance, a fight or division, if you're praying, you have to at least have a little bit of one eye open, don't you, unless you're just lying to God and you're just going through the motions to pretend that you're praying but you're not really. If you're praying, then you have to have some expectation for change. Yes, asking, you receive, seeking, you will find. Knock and the door will be open to you. This is how it works. This is how it works. Reconciliation takes place, miracles take place, hearts are changing because our savior is making everything new and the fact that he has saved us, it's absolutely natural for that to spread. And yes, it can be terrifying. Absolutely it can be terrifying reaching out to someone you've been alienated for from some time, even if it wasn't your fault.

How beautiful, how beautiful breathe. Some fresh air into relationships. Have No expectations, extend your hand in love with the hope that some fibers of connection can be re established and some newness can spread from your life into these old, broken relationships, because God's will is that everything is that was destroyed as rebuilt, everything that's in misery come back to health. This is what he's doing. I make all things new. He makes the new covenant, he gives a new commandment, he opens a new and living way. He enables us to put on the new man and no longer be dominated by the old man. Paul some is it all up if anyone is in Christ new creation. If anyone is in Christ new creation, he even says that will speak with new tongues. That doesn't just mean speaking new languages. That certainly happened too, but it means speaking with new tongues. For us, all meanings new grace, new words, new love, new kindness, new on this day, as we enter the new year, there's lots of anticipation. New Years are celebrated all over the world for reasons. People want to be free from the old. They want Solomon to be wrong. Last night I was sitting in my house and I was watching one clip after another of New Year fireworks all over the world, all over the world. By far. The best one was in London, absolutely by far, where the English lion in lights actually appeared over the Thames Times. But I'm not, I'm not, you know, advocating for the English. They don't need people to advocate for them. I'm just saying. I'm just saying. I watched Athens, I watched Athens, I watched to buy, I saw, you know, don't worry, I saw other places. I even saw the first ever one in North Korea. Wow, all of those lights, all of that effort, hoping that Solomon's a wrong. Just think of all those countries just waiting, waiting for the words about Christ, all of the people. I look...

...for Beijing and Shanghai. Couldn't find any. But I did see Hong Kong, I did sing Hong Kong and I'm hoping that through that place that has so many believers, we have a metropolis in Hong Kong, for Goodness Sake, that through Hong Kong, into that country in such need of the light of Christ, might they might hear something new, some newness, this day on which we're celebrating the new the newness of Christ is the Feast of that man there on the wall, on his knees on that rock, Saint Seraphim of Saraf it's he's a Russian saying who has literally taken the world's heart like a Saint Nictario, Sat Nictaros, I should say, is more like a Saint Seraph and Saint Saraphim died in eighteen thirty three, Saint Ingtaros in nineteen twenty, but they both transcend geography and Christians loved them from all over the world. This man who is there, you see him painted in that White Cassock. That's because he lived the newness of Christ in a very unique way. He literally greeted everyone with Christ has risen three hundred and sixty five days a year, everyone who came to his cell, and that would be thousands a day for the last fifteen years of his life, he greeted as my love, come here, my love, and tell me Your problems, because Christ is risen. This is how he greeted people. You know he's on that rock because he very famously spent one thousand days and nights praying on this rock in his hermitage a thousand days and nights. What people don't know and what I'm going to tell you to incourage you, this man, such a witness to the newness of Christ, who died literally on his knees Reading The Gospel. The Gospel was open, he was in repose on the pages. He read the entire New Testament every week, every week of every year. Who wouldn't be new if you read that New Testament fifty two times a year? Huh? Oh my gosh. Yes, he read Matthew on Sunday here at mark on Monday, he read Luke on Tuesday, he read John on Wednesday, he read the acts of the apostles on Thursday, he read the epistles on Friday and the apocalypse on Saturday. Every week all the candles around him were burning and that's how the monks found him in his cell, in repose, with the Gospel Open in his hands, on the Gospel. The reason he was on that rock was because he was an utter, total distress. He prayed one thousand days in a row on that rock because he was on the verge of death. He was absolutely overcome with the darkness of despair...

...and depression. He had fallen into such a deep depression in his labors against the devils. They beat on him so badly that he spent three years, he calls it being spending three years on the ground. He says he just ate dirt for three years to survive. And what was the end of it? The end of it was beauty, radiance, Victory, redemption. But he always told people about his struggles and he says, look, if a person like that, if a person like that can suffer from terrible depression and terrible despair, we ought need not be surprised about us. You know that this darkness runs all over our country, all over the West. Despair and darkness is everywhere, gripping people's hearts, threatening them. He's a great model for us, he says. He told people afterwards there's only one solution to depression, prayer. Prayer is the only medicine that will deliver someone. You can take medications all you want to help you pray, maybe, but don't put your hope in any medicines. Put your hope in the one who makes things new. That's the message from St Seraph and Mopsart off. And if a person like that could go through such a dark time and could be struggling so much with depression. Let us not be the shop if it comes at to our door, if it's threatening us, but let's follow the same path, let's put our hope in the same deliverer, just like he did. Let's struggle to pray, let's struggle to fast. You know, in a few minutes I'm going to lift up the Chalice of the Lord and I'm going to say, with the fear of God, faith and love draw near, and I want you, brothers and sisters, to make a promise to your savior when I do that, when you're coming to be with him right now. I want you to make a promise, and that I want you to seal the promise in his blood when you take communion, that this year, this New Year, you pledge to seek his newness in your life, to be new, not to continue the things of the past that you know he's asking you to drop. I'm masking you to pledge to him to have some courage and seek some new ways, some new paths, particularly reconciliation with those that you are alienated from. Seek something new and don't judge the future by the brokenness of the past. If that was the truth, there'd be no gospel at all, there'd be no salvation. I wish you all very, very fruitful, great spiritual acquisition in the New Year. We hope that you...

...have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by patristic nectar publications, a non profit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in other available titles or if you would like more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's W W. W dot patristic nectar dot org.

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