The Arena
The Arena

Episode 574 · 6 months ago

Be Careful! | 4th Sunday after Pentecost Titus 3


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 a seven part lecture series by Father Josiah Trenham entitled Heaven, our True Home. One of the most shocking realities of the preaching and teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ to his early first century Judean audience was his fervent, expansive and repetitive teaching on Heaven. Heaven literally permeates the sermon on the mount and our Savior's parabolic instruction. The Holy Apostles received this single eyed focus upon the next life from the Lord Christ and passed this teaching on to their disciples in the early church. Sacred tradition has vivified and animated the discipleship of Christians in their race toward heaven ever since. In these lectures, Father Josiah opens the scriptures and the writings of the church fathers on the subject of Heaven in an effort to plant a deep impression of the future life for God's children and to stir up a great desire for obtaining it. For these and other available titles, please visit our website at patristic nectar dot org and now the arena with Father Josiah Trena. In the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, blessed Lord's Day to all of you. I've entitled my homily this morning be careful, be careful. I took those words from the actual words that are repeated twice in the epistle lesson St Paul's epistle to Titus is at the conclusion of his letter, but also from the substance of Jesus's words in the sermon on the mounth that you heard in the Gospel, especially about the Commandments. Be careful not to relax any of the commandments, unless you want to become least. Be careful to keep them, to honor them, and then you'll be called great. That's where the title comes from. Carefulness is a hallmark of maturity. It's not something that the young are known to have. I certainly didn't have it when I was young. I was reminded of that graphically this week, which I'll tell you about in a minute. It wasn't just by being at the annual team camp out, which was a blast as usual. Being careful is something that we usually learned by experience when we're young. We just don't know how dangerous things can be when we're young. We just don't know the trouble we can get into, often until we get into it and then we put one and one together and we recognize what's happening. We know this, of course. In our urban life, in our car are automobile centered life, we especially know this. I doubt there's one adult in this room who doesn't have a friend who passed from this life as a young person in a car accident. I doubt it that there's one of us who doesn't. I have quite a few actually, and maybe you do too. The second leading cause of death for teenagers as car accidents. Teenage drivers are three times more likely to die in car accidents than anyone out of their teens. Mostly that's young men. The majority of those statistics are young men, although young women too. It increases. The danger of teenage car accidents increases with every additional team in the car. If you add..., it's much more risky, if you add two, it's even more risky, and on and on it goes. The danger is highest in the year following licensure. That year, if you can make it through that year, most parents prayed that vigilantly that year and they get through one and they thank God that they made it through. Speeding, and especially speeding with drug and alcohol use, the number one cause of car accidents that take the lives of teenagers. So many, so many every year. I was with the teens, as you know, this last week, as well as a whole collage of magnificent chaperone's, cooks and others helping them and working with them. We had a marvelous time and that young people, as has been the case for a long time, we're just pleasant, just pleasant and encouraging and joyful. Although it's not a week that leads to much sleep. It's not just the sleeping on the ground part either, although every year that feels worse for sure, especially if you try to uh some years ago. You know, this is like our year some years some years ago, I started going to a blow up mattress, but I have yet to find one that stays blown up. That's my problem. That's my problem. I came back just a little bit early. The camp out finished yesterday, but I had to leave on Friday in order to drive south and go to the airport and fly late at night to Utah because we had the great joy by our diocese had the great joy of consecrating a new church in pace in Utah, about an hour south of Salt Lake City, dedicated to sat Zania of St Petersburg, who's on our South Wall back there. Beautiful New Church, beautiful new community. His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph, came out. The founding pastor, Father Justin Havens, had been the senior pastor at St Peter and Paul in Salt Lake City. His assistant, Father Paul, took over and he came at South and started a new church and built yet another church in Utah. Glory to God. And though I my body told me not to, my heart told me to go. Father Justin was here. You might some of you who know him might remember that for our consecration December three two thousand eleven, almost eleven years ago, amazes me. And he extracted from me, as the wise pastor he was, a promise that whenever he consecrated his church I would come. So none of my protestations that we had the team camp out, that didn't work with him. I said, well, what if I worked to try to get you some relics for your altar and how about that? He goes, that would be wonderful. Bring them. So I did. So I did, and I flew into Salt Lake City out of Ontario. I couldn't get a good flight because, uh, I didn't get convinced to go until very late. So I had to go through Phoenix, and you know how flying is at the moment, post covid flying is just atrocious. So I got in very late into Salt Lake City and I rented a car and I was pulling out of the airport and I put my hand in my bag to grant my to get my glasses. I have glasses for one reason. The only thing, the only way glasses helped me is in this sense,...

...and especially since I have very little retina left and my right eye especially, the issue of light at night is very I need light and those glasses really helped me. Presy tera will say that even with the glasses, I shouldn't be driving at night, but she's right about everything except that. So I reached in my bag I found my glass this case. I pulled it out and I opened it up. No glasses. No glasses. I had made a reservation at some podunk hotel the RAMATA Ramata. I don't mind telling you that it's after what I experienced there. Avoided the Ramata by Wyndham at the Salt Lake City Airport. So I put my that in my phone and then started to drive. Unfortunately, I couldn't read any of the signs and so my ten minute, two point seven mile trip to the Ramata by Windham at the Salt Lake City Airport was a ninety minute crazy trip. I uh, I missed. Evidently, as I saw my phone recount reroute itself, I missed an important turn and I ended up getting off and going left and right through some sort of industrial area, and it was going on and on and then it just kept telling me it was getting longer and longer and longer to get to my hotel. When I got to the hotel I was so happy and I went to the counter. I gave him my reservation and he looked at me goes, you're sure you reserved the hotel here? I said, doesn't it say that right there? He goes, no, it says you reserved a hotel at the Ramada by Windham at the Salt Lake City Airport. I said, isn't this the Romata by window at the Salt Lake City goes, it's one of the Ramata by Windham's at the Salt Lake City Airport. I said, you are meaning to tell me there's another Ramata by windham entitled by the Salt Lake City Airport. He goes, yes, it's about eleven miles that way. I caught back in my car, typed in the new address. Fifteen minutes, eleven miles and off I went. This time I got lost again, but the Lord wasn't done playing with me. I ended up in a very dark area and there were no cars left and right and I made a left turn onto a two way street. Next thing I know there are hundreds of cars, hundreds of cards in a parking lot and on the street and I'm like, is there a concert in the middle of the night? Is this, you know, what they call a rave or something, you know, forgive me after my time, and I thought what is this? And then I recognized where I was. I recognized where I was when I recognized that I was actually on the wrong side of the eat but there were cars in front of me on both sides of the street, and then I saw the man in the middle with his arms up and I drove right into the middle of a drag race. No, I thought maybe it would be good for me not to tell you this story, because it couldn't it could damage my reputation when I'm going to say next, as if it hasn't been damaged these days, you know, by many other things. I must say, as soon as I recognize where I was, my heart began to race, my face was flushed and I did time travel immediately back to and my hand reached for my month see four speed stick shift of my nine Camaro, even one comprey, and I imagined that I was on New...

York Avenue in the hills of Pasadena doing that very thing. And then I recognized I was in a little economy rental. There was no moving. The next set was behind us. Everybody was walking, was watching. Those guys were done in their smoke, and so I rolled down my window and I put out my phone and I said sorry, brother, I'm just trying to get to my hotel, and he showed pity and he said we'll wait for you go and so I just drove me entered my off the rat off the racetrack. Yes, be careful, be careful, oh my gosh, I was talking to the Lord saying Lord, really, really, my parishioners must have needed a shot in the arm. Being careful. It is important in many ways and I'm not certainly promoting or encouraging a lack of adventure. Adventure is marvelous, reasonable adventure. I'm not encouraging people not to be courageous and to do wonderful things and but being careful is something that we're asked by God to do. It's a hallmark of maturity, it's a hallmark of good parenting. It applies to all of life, but especially dear ones. As you heard from the epistle lesson, being careful is most important in the area of your faith. This is where you need to be the most careful. I think sometimes we have it reversed. We put most of our care and attention to making sure that we're physically safe, for our children are physically safe, when that is as important as that is. The real care we have to take is to make sure that we're spiritually safe and that our children are spiritually safe. You heard that epistle lesson and that Gospel lesson today, because those are four the honor of the six and thirty holy fathers of the fourth Ecumenical Council, who had great risks to themselves and out of great fidelity to God and his revelation, labored to defend the truth about who our Lord Jesus Christ is, perfect God and perfect man in a hypostatic union, a union in his person. These holy fathers took great care to define the faith and to make sure that it was preserved intact, the faith that was once delivered to the saints, that Christ himself gave to his also some of the apostles have given to us. One of the great champions of that contest was Saint Leo, the Pope of Rome, who wrote a magnificent tomb defending the two natures of Jesus. This is a small extract I want to read. You. Open your ears, will you to this from St Leo, for each of the natures retains its proper character without defect. And as the form of God does not take away the form of a servant, so the form of a servant does not impair the form of God, for each form does the acts which belong to it in communion with the other, the word, that is, performing what belongs to the word and the flesh carrying out what belongs to the flesh. The one of these shines out in miracles, the other succumbs to injuries. And as the word does not withdraw from equality with the Father in glory, so the flesh does not abandon the nature of our kind. For, as we must often be saying, he is one and the same, truly son of God and truly son of Man. God inasmuch as in...

...the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God man, inasmuch as the word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Accordingly, on account of this unity of person, which is to be understood as existing in both the natures, we read, on the one hand, that the son of man came down from heaven, inasmuch as the son of God took flesh from the Virgin of whom he was born, and on the other hand, the son of God is said to have been crucified and buried, inasmuch as he underwent this not in his actual Godhead, wherein the only begotten is co eternal and consubstantia with the father, but in the weakness of human nature. Sat Leo, inspired the Fathers And the fathers issued the decree of the Council of Chalcedon in and this is a short extract from the creed. Following the Holy Fathers, we all, with one voice, teach the confession of one and the same son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect and divinity, perfect in humanity, the same, truly God and truly man, of a rational soul and a body, consubstantial with the father as regards his divinity and the same consubstantial with us as regards his humanity, like us in all respects, except for Sin, begotten before the ages, from the father as regards his divinity, and in the last days, the same for us and for our salvation, from Mary the Virgin, Theotokos, as regards his humanity. One and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, acknowledged in two natures which undergo no confusion, no change, no division, no separation. At no point was the difference between the two natures taken away through the union, but rather the property of both natures is preserved and comes together into a single person, a single subsistent being. He is not parted or divided into two persons, but is one and the same only begotten Son, God word, Lord Jesus Christ, just as the prophets taught from the beginning about him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ himself instructed us, and as the creed of the fathers handed it down to us. Look how careful listen to those four Alpha privatives, without confusion and change, separation and division. How careful the fathers are to maintain the truth that God has become man and that Jesus is the theanthropos. When you see Christ, you see the God man able to divinize us and able to sympathize with us at the same time. Being careful with your faith keeps you from falling away. Remember, dear ones, that word heresy. You heard it in you heard it in the epistle lescn. Reject a heretic after a first and second warning. It's not a wonderful word. We don't like to use it. Sometimes it can be used as a bomb to hurt people, but it's a truth. It's a truth. Do you know how many heresies you have to believe to become a heretic? That would be one. You don't have to become a heretic in twenty ways. Hold your faith. Be careful with your faith, heresy does not save us. Christ the truth saves us. You know that word heresy comes from the Greek word to choose. This is why it's so popular in America. This is why there are so many heresies in America, because of our great devotion to the idea of autonomous choice. We make a big mistake when we apply that two matters of revealed faith.

Whether we want the revelation of God to be one way or another is irrelevant. The truth exists. God has revealed the truth for us. Our responsibilities to embrace it and live it, not to mess with it, not to play with it, take one part for ourselves and leave the part over here that we don't like. You know, I heard something recently that hurt me badly. I don't want to be too specific about it because I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings unnecessarily, but it was in the context of interacting with the young people and I had been teaching, laboring to teach something, and some of the young people are one in particular was having some difficulty with some aspect of what I was saying and when I was gone, spoke to an adult about that and the adult, knowingly completely undercut cut what I was saying. I was very sad. I wasn't so sad for the it was an important matter. Wasn't some stupid thing. It was an important matter. I wasn't so worried about the kid because, thank God we have such an active youth program there's the faith is taught and delivered in so many ways. Thank God for that. I was very sad for the adult. The presumption, the arrogance to exercise autonomous choice, to pick and choose. That doesn't mean that we can't sometimes be confused or sometimes the priests be wrong. You can ask the priests about that. If you ever think I'm saying something that isn't from the church, all you have to do is ask me, Hey, father, where do you get that, and I'll tell you where I got it. But to present yourself, to function yourself as though you're going to pick and choose what's the truth, and then that's bad enough in your own mind, but then to speak it to a person for whom I'm accountable, that's high handed arrogance. That's high handed. That's not being careful. In matters of faith we need to be careful, be careful St Paul says to titus to reject a heretic, and then he turns to the subject of good deeds. Be careful also with regards to piety, he says. Insist on these things so that our people will engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs. Twice he says that be careful to in cysts, that are people engage in good deeds. That's marvelous. It's a marvelous exhortation. We have to be careful with regard to matters of faith, but we have to be careful also with matters of ministry, with matters of service. I'd like to end by just giving you a few encouragements. Okay, be careful with how you are here in Church, in worship. This is your highest ministry, this is your greatest acts of devotion to God. Is How you are here. Be careful. Don't let a similarity exists between how you move an act outside and the intensity, the focus and the care that you take when you walk in this Holy Temple. You know, I told you I went to a consecration yesterday. I participated with Metropolitan Joseph and twenty other priests and a packed church in turning a normal building into an outpost of the Kingdom of God.

We sanctified matter, we turned stone and would into holiness and that place. I sent to text last night when I was stuck at the airport coming back. That's another story. I sent a text to the priest. I said, Abuna, have a wonderful liturgy for the first time in your consecrated temple. It's gonna work with you. The temple itself is going to speak. Do you remember what Metropolitan Joseph said when he consecrated our church and it proved a prophecy? He said the church itself, consecrated, is going to speak to the people of Riverside and call them to come, and that's exactly what's happened. Be careful when you're here. Be careful with your your ministries. How do you be careful with your ministry? Have One? Have One. Make sure you have a ministry in the church. Find It. If you don't have it, be careful that you fulfill it. Do Your Ministry and do it unto Christ. Do it with your whole heart and don't abandon your ministry. Be careful to hold onto your ministry. You know my hope and ambition for the church is that the numbers of ministries will just grow. But the way that ministries grow is that those who are committed to a present ministry don't abandon that ministry. If you start a ministry and you are pursuing that ministry, unless God does something like takes you to Paradise, don't just abandon it. Take Care and let me tell you what it means to take care of a ministry. It means to fulfill it with equomony, with patience and long suffering and piety. And then, if you have an ambition for doing something else, a different ministry, don't abandon your ministry until you have cultivated a successor. One of the hardest things for me and for every pastor is to receive a notification from someone who has a beautiful ministry that they quote are not doing that ministry anymore. First of all, that's not how you're supposed to do ministry in the church. Supposed to do it under the priest and with the blessing of the priest. That includes stopping. Never just tell me you're stopping. Says who this is a corporate labor we're doing here. This is a corporate labor. There are consequences if you just stop it have to be. Would you like that if I just decided? You know what, the Big Island is just calling me, and you know what, I think? It's calling me on Wednesday and I'm done. I am going to be done, by the way, someday, I think. I think sort of God's saying I'm gonna be done, but I'm not going to tell you in three days. I'm not going to tell you that I'm leaving on Wednesday. Right. If you have a ministry and you feel like you want to go on to something else, cultivate a successor find someone that you can hand it off to, what am I supposed to do about it? Do I know how to run your ministry? I don't know how to run your ministry. I don't even know exactly what's necessary in your ministry to make it good. You do by making sense. Do you get it what I'm saying? I'll pray for you. It's good to notify me that you want to go on and I'll pray with you that the Lord would send someone. But please persevere a little bit longer so we don't have gaps or whole ministries that disappear, which we've experienced. Be careful with your ministry, to persevere to the end, let your light increase and mostly, be careful with your own salvation.

Don't let yourself in any way drift away from God. Don't let your heart grow cold. Instead, take care of that beautiful light that God gave you. You're the light of the world, with the salt of the earth. Cherish the light. If it's flickering, protect it from the winds of this world. If it's smoking and it's about to go out, bring it near a flamethrower and get it hot again. But whatever you do, keep the light. Keep the light going until your last breath, and then we'll be saved. Comment. We hope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by the Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit 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 www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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