The Arena
The Arena

Episode 578 · 3 months ago

Beholding Strange Visions


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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Heaven Our True Home | 7 Lectures

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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. A blessed Lord's date all of you. They're ones. I've entitled my sermon this morning beholding strange visions. Of course I'm tempted to preach on that Marvelous Gospel text, the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, or even on the Epistle lescent from First Corinthians, where Paul makes that incredible apostolic exhortation to unanimity of mind. Working hard in the parish, in every pair is to have the mind of the church such that we can be united in our fundamental convictions. I also love the fact that, and I love it now more than I used to. After many years of ministry and many faces and names, I find myself not remembering everything, at least not like I used to remember. And did you notice that Paul said about his own ministry, and Corinthee said I baptized this one and that one, but I do not remember if I baptized to anyone else. There's Apostolic Precedent for memory loss and dealing with memory loss. Uh, a little constellation instead, though, I want to preach on the great feast that we're celebrating, the Feast of the holy transfiguration of our Savior. Those of you who are here yesterday morning for the Liturgy, I spoke about the feast yesterday, but want to speak about a different aspect of the feast today. That language beholding strange visions isn't mine. It's actually the churches on the Feast of transfiguration. And before I talk about the strange Holy Vision, I want to talk about the unfortunate strange visions of our own time. We're seeing things that most of us had hoped we would never see. I certainly am just in the last two weeks in my neighborhood. What you know is uh an eventful neighborhood. Living Downtown has had its pluses and minuses for all the years that we've been here. But some of our dearest friends, some of our closest neighbors, have had the most strange visions that they've communicated to us in the last two weeks. One of them was our old neighborhood who was directly across the street from US for years. You might remember, some of you who old timers, that...

...when we first moved here. We had one deacon and I had one afternoon to find a house and I wanted an old house that would weather a laugh in plaster house, that would weather my children. Maybe not even a laugh in Plaster House could do that, but I wanted an old house that had thick walls. And so he took me downtown against his better judgment. He wanted me, presidently, I think, to live in this neighborhood. This is where Deacon tried to take me when I first came here and uh, I said no, Deacon, take me where the old houses are. I didn't know that when we bought a house on mission in Avenue, I had no idea that mission in boulevard, having seen it in the evening, I had no idea that during most of the day it's a functional freeway. And after two years in that house, our son Aidan, almost was run over and killed and uh while going across the street in a crosswalk to our friends the Austin's house. That's what motivated us to move just two blocks in from mission in the neighbor to whom he was going, uh is still there and two weeks ago, while being in the middle of the day in her house she heard pounding on the door and she looked out and there was a crazed man standing on her front porch screaming at her through the door. Let me in. I see you in there, I'm going to kill you. This was his message to her. She went and then hid in the kitchen. Called the police, called her husband. Her husband got there first, which tells you something about our troubles in downtown these days, and he found the guy still pounding when he got there and then the pounding switched, if you know what I'm saying. But that was two weeks ago. Then this week our dear friend George, who lives just two houses from us, who's always working in his garden, got up and invited a friend over for breakfast and thought while the friend was walking over, he would go out and work in his yard a little bit, pull some oranges off his trees, etcetera, and so he left his door jar. His friend came over and walked into the house, thinking George was in the house, and found a large man in his kitchen and she immediately came out and said, George, there is a strange person in your kitchen. He said what he walked in and there was the man and he looked at him and he said you should not be in here, and the man walked out, right out the front door, but on the way decided that he would grab his George's Wallet, which was on his little entry table there right in front of him. grabbed his wallet, he walked out with his wallet and George said You should not take that, put that back, and the man, as though being given a divine command, turned around, put the wallet back, put the Wallet back and walked right out. Yeah, what in the world? What in the world? What a time we're living in, dear ones, what a time we're living in. You know, many of us have read that prophecy of St Anthony The great, that he was famous for, about a time coming when the world will go so crazy that the world will think we're crazy, when in fact the world has just gone completely cuckoo. We see that, sadly, as grace recedes from our culture, as we have asked God to leave our culture so many strange visions that we never wanted to see. It makes me think of that Psalm verse from Psalm. It's a it's a terrifying, heart wrenching verse, especially verse four of some sixty eight more in number than the hairs of my head. Are Those who hate me with cause mighty.

Are Those who would destroy me. Insults have broken my heart so that I am in despair. It's a really sad time as we hold our Christian faith and find ourselves witnessing so much opposition, so much criticism for simply being what we are and staying Christians, staying faithful. That psalm goes on with this word, and this will give context to the Psalm. I think. For My thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink. When you're feeling this way, there ones and you feel so out of place, and holding your faith can even provoke strange opposition and criticism. Remember that no one knew this more than our savior. No one more knew this more than Christ himself. No one beheld stranger visions than our savior seeing the world he had come to save, the world that he had fashioned with his own hands, the world that he loved to the point of shedding his blood, turn on him universally, including US, including US, turn on him and crucify him to a tree. Strange visions indeed. Today, the church sets before US another strange vision, a glorious strange vision. This is from the seventh ode of the forefeast for the transfiguration that we prayed on five. Listen to these words. Let us now follow after Christ as he leads the Chow Zen of his disciples up to a lofty height of soul, and there we shall behold strange visions. Ode Seven, the Vision that the disciples saw on the top of Mount Tabor, on that magnificent mountain that before wasn't so important but afterwards became precious in a side of pilgrimage for us Christians to this day. I was speaking yesterday with one of our parishioners about the mountains of the holy scripture and about Mount Tabor. You know, if you California and saw Mount Tabor, and I know some of you have, a few of you have actually lived growing up around Mount Tabor, but most of you haven't. I don't think seen Mount Tabor. If you saw it, you wouldn't recognize it. You live in a state that has over forty mountains ten thousand feet high, three mountains over fourteen thousand feet high. In this state you're used to massive, massive mountains, the Holy Lands Mountains are quite small. When I saw Mount Tabor, you know what, the first thing I thought was Mount Rubidoux. That's the first thing I thought, because they're about the same size. They're about the same size. Mount Tabor was just a little mountain until our savior walked up that mountain and was transfigured in glory. There, in the presence of Peter, James and John and the Great Law Giver Moses and the Holy Prophet Elias, he revealed two incredible things too, strange sights that completely blew the minds of the disciples, and that shock is represented in the icon as the apostles are falling down the hill, upside down in wonder, in absolute disarray for what they've seen. The first sight, the first strange vision that they saw...

...was Jesus himself, radiant and brighter than the sun. They saw Jesus's own divinity. This is what we say in the text of the feast today. Immortal to the site, but hiddenly God, Christ goes up on Mount Tabor to lay bare the splendor of his divinity. This is why he took them up. He was about to go to the Cross and he wanted them to know very clearly who he was and that the choice he was making to go to the cross was a choice. He didn't go there because he was overpowered by the wicked. He yielded out of love for off to the will of his father and went to the cross to save us. He revealed his true divinity to his disciples. This was the straights first strange vision. The second aspect of the strange vision on the top of the mountain. The second was that there he revealed not just his divinity, but he revealed our destiny. He reviewed the future of his disciples. They saw it already when two supposedly dead men were standing there next to Jesus in glory. The disciples themselves saw what their future was. Jesus came to share His Majesty, His glory, His light with us. This is your future, Jesus says. The time will come when he'll send forth his holy angels and they'll separate the wheat from the chaff. The angels will cast the chaff into the fire. That's a fiery destiny for the wicked. But he will gather the sons of the kingdom into God's presence. There they will shine like the sun in the glory of his father. This is what's coming. What is Jesus is by nature, is in his love, given to us by grace, and this is our future. And when you see that icon, when you celebrate this feast, Remember this is about your destiny to with him. This isn't just about the revelation of his own glory. This is what's coming. It's Jesus's will to transform our nature. That's clear. This is what he intends to do. In the words of the feast that the Church gives us, we say this in the feast, to prepare a glorious bride chamber of future joy for his friends. Let me repeat that marvelous sentence. To prepare a glorious bride chamber, a future joy for his friends. Christ goes up onto the mountain and he draws them up from a groveling way of life into an exalted conversation. That word conversation means way of life. This is what Jesus did in going up as our head. He drew us up. This is why he brought his disciples and he's drawing us all there so that we're no longer affixed. What the text here says is a groveling way of life we're not groveling anymore. Christians ought not gravel after earthly things, pine after things that can only be defined by this fallen world, when our destiny is so much more glorious. This is what's coming. Note, dear ones, that the disciples had... walk up the mountain with him. He didn't pick them up, all three of them, while they were kicking and grabbing for the earth, and carry them up onto the top of the mountain. They walked with him into the glory. We're called to do that. We're called to go up to set our feet on that beautiful place. This is what the text of the service says. Quote. Let us go up and set foot upon that Holy Mountain. This is what you're being called to in the celebration of this feast, to take action, to ascend. God is calling you to go up, to lift your feet, to exercise your soul, to join Christ on the top of the mountain. You know, the people of God have heard that language for a very, very long time. We have a whole collection of fifteen psalms, from somesal one nineteen until Psalm one three. You know what they're called? The Psalms of ascent, the psalms of assent. Why are they called the Psalms of assent? They're called the psalms of the scent because these are the psalms that we chanted three times a year when we went for the Holy Feasts, by God's command, to the temple in Jerusalem, and the temple of their Jerusalem was built up on a hill, and we would go and we would go in together and we would walk up that mountain singing these psalms. We still do that. You're doing it right now. When the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost and the experience that we have with God that was established by Christ saving deeds became normative for the whole Earth, for believers everywhere. We built temples everywhere and we would always choose to build them on the highest place. This is why, if you travel through Christian countries, you always find the churches on the best land. Even if the pagans knocked them down, we tried to rebuild them in the best places. I remember when I went in two thousand sixteen Basil and Reader Basil and I went to Tbilisi, Georgia. You might remember, those of you who are here at the invitation of Patriarchy, Leah, God bless him. We went to Georgia and we participated in a conference there and we were able to venerate so many of the holy places there in Tbilisi. And after the fall of communism, the Church built again what the Communists had torn down. The Court Communists tore down eighty thousand churches in the Soviet Empire. I'm tempted to spit, but I'm in the House of God and I will not. I will not. But that's how vicious these Marxists were, and those who are following the same ideology in our land, and there are far too many who are, have the same intentions and Marxism leads to the same destiny whenever people are stupid enough to actually try to apply it. When we were there, they had just rebuilt, finished rebuilding, the cathedral in Tbilisi of the Holy Trinity. And where was it? Right there on the highest part of Tbilisi, on the top of the hill overlooking the entire city. This is what we do. We ascend, we heed the command to go up and set foot upon the Holy Mountain. Every time you come to church, this is what you're doing. Think of that, think of your destiny every time... come into this place. You come here to be transformed into Christ's glory. This is your future. Know Your destiny, thirst for what is coming. The text of the fist say if we have the most lofty mountain of a heart cleansed of passions, we will see the transfigured Christ and we will have enlightened minds. Our little minds will literally be inspired and illumined by the same light that Christ showed on the Mount Tabor. I really want to encourage you to have the transfiguration in your mind. Let it shape your spiritual life. Let it be something that impacts your prayers, informs why you come to Church. You know, one of the ways that I keep the transfiguration in my mind is by watching sunsets. I bet of you love watching sunsets and the other five probably just are almost blind and therefore you don't even remember what they look like. Who, who doesn't love watching sunsets? I can sit and watch sunsets for hours, with nothing else, just gazing at sunsets. I remember when I was seventeen years old and I went to college and I left Pasadena. I went to Santa Barbara to go to school at Westmont. Westmont has a massive West monts on a hill overlooking the ocean in Santa Barbara and has a massive stone. It's a very, very old stone. It actually has a shark fossil in it, even though it's up the hill. There's actually a massive fossil of a shark in the stone and the stone had just outside the library and it has a very flat top and so for many months when the sunsets are so beautiful, that top would be the most choice real estate for the college students. About the sunset, you would try to get out of the dining comments as quick as you can to see if there was still a spot to sit on the top of that stone so you could watch the sunset. I saw sunsets there that were the most masterful paintings I've ever seen in my whole life. The colors, the mixture, the movement, especially if you had those beautiful clouds accenting it. The sunset is so attractive to human beings because it's the time when we can actually look at the sun, when the sun's at its height and it's above us. We can't bear looking at it as human beings. But when it comes down to the base of the horizon. Due to the curvature of the earth and due to the fact that the blue light has such shortness and wavelength compared to the reds and the yellows, we're able to see the sun. There's such a greater density in the atmospheric portion there that that the lights going through. I was reading an article about this that said that the distance that the light has to travel between when it's in the air above you and when it's at the horizon is the difference between two miles and a D and twenty miles, and because of that it dissipates and it's not as single in its point, which means you can look at it, you can actually see the sun, and we love that. We love to be able to gaze at it without being damaged. Dear ones, just think, just think of the light of Christ more...

...beautiful than the earthly Sun. The only thing in all of creation that is a type and a picture of the glory of Christ is the Sun. He's even called the Sun by the Prophet Malachi. He's the son of righteousness. Gaze, when you gaze on Sunsets, think of your destiny when you see the light be convinced that seeing that light is why you're alive, and being transformed into that light is your future. This is what's coming. Yesterday, when I was holding the cross, one of you came up and gave me a theology lesson. That usually doesn't go well, but this was so beautiful. You came up at the Cross and grabbed my hand and before you kissed it, you said, father, that light on the mountain, we can see it. All we have to do is make this clean. We can see it. All we have to do is make it clean. Happy Feasts to all of you. We hope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by 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. Moving by moving and the building made up and went be.

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