The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 years ago

Do Not Let Go of the Cross


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We need to hold the cross upand say Hiss, you have forgotten who god is, you have forgotten yoursins and you're tearing our own nation in pieces because of it. Let usnot forget the cross. Ancient Faith Radio and patristic nectar publications present the arenaSunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah Trenne. Father Josiah is the pastorof St Andrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside, California. He is also the founderof Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirstywith the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. For more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Andnow, Father Josiah, in the name of the father and of the sonand of the Holy Spirit, one God, brothers and sisters, I was doingsome reading yesterday that recalled my mind to a trip that I took manyyears ago. In one thousand nine hundred ninety seven, presuytera and I leftand we went to Greece and we took with US little baby and Estacia,who was just a little thing. It was a memorable trip it. Wereally went for two reasons. We went to venerate all of the holy sitesassociated with St Nctarios and we wanted to go to the ancient city of Thessalinikito take pilgrimage to all those beautiful ancient Byzantine churches. It was on thatvisit, in fact, that the design of this church came to my mindfrom St Catharine Church at Tesliniki. It was a memorable trip also because Ihad never been to Greece before and I was a Californian. I didn't knowthat priests shouldn't be zooming around on scooters with their cassocks. We would passthe the Yah Yahs on the side of the road and they would be soaghast at seeing a priest, a Presley Tera and a baby in a backpackon a little scooter swimming around that they would cover their faces. So finallyI just told Pressu Thea, as we go by, just put your handsover my eyes. I don't want to see there what they're what they're saying, what they're thinking. On that trip we became we were hosted by amagnificent priest, by the George is his name. He was taking care ofthe church rich of St Minas agiasa Minas, a very old, beautiful church indowntown Tsliniki, and when he was... us a tour of the church, he showed us, just as we walked into the church, a gate, the main gate to the church, and he said one of our saintswas martyred here. I couldn't believe my ears and it was true. Andin fact this saint, his name is Christodolos and his Feast Day was yesterday. This is why the whole trip came back to me. I was readinghis life again. He, on the twenty eighth of July, was hungby the Ottomans from the main gate of the church in one thousand seven hundredand seventy seven, just a year after our country's independence. He had beena tailor. He was from Hulky Tiki, just to the northeast of Tesliniki.He had come to apprentice as a tailor and on one occasion his heartwas terribly grieved because he saw a brother, a Bulgarian Christian, living in Tesliniki. He saw this brother actually apostasize and become a Muslim. He wasso burdened, he was so upset that he decided then and there that hewas going to confront his brother and he was going to embrace martyrdom. Sohe went into his house and he got his cross, he had a handcross, and he went out into the street where, inside a roadside cafe, his brother, his Bulgarian Christian brother, was celebrating his circumcision with some Janissaries, some soldiers, some Ottoman soldiers, and he went he walked in.Cristothles walked into the cafe with his cross and he walked right up tohis brother and he said Hiss the Lord, and immediately the soldiers jumped up,beat him to a pulp, stabbed him many times and in that bloodedcondition, they brought him to the judge, because only the judge could issue theorder of execution, and the judge began to criticize the man and theman looked at him. He said, would you like to become a Christian? And then he was condemned and hung. They weren't. The Christians were notallowed to touch his body. They left it naked in the church courtyardfor two days before the Christians could get to it, and then he wasgiven reverend burial and immediately the account of his lice as miracle took place throughthe shreds of the rope used to hang his neck and from a little bitof his garments. So great as the grace of God, so triumphant overthe fallenness of this world. And Apprentice Tailor Saint, he knew not toallow himself ever to be separated from the...

...cross of our Savior, and healso knew that his brother's main problem was that he allowed himself to be separatedfrom the cross of our Savior. Don't let go of the Cross. Christololosis a witness to this, and he was hoping to bring back his brother. He didn't think his brother could actually look Jesus in the face there onthe cross and continue following a religion that denies on principle that he ever wentto the cross. We cannot let go of the Cross. As long aswe hold on to the cross, as long as it's first in our life, we will always remember who God is, will remember how man loving he is, what he's done for us, how much he seeks us, andour hearts won't grow cold as long as we hold on to the cross.Will also remember how terrible sin is, how really awful our sins are,so awful that the only way that we could be saved and redeemed was thedeath of the son of God on that cross. And we'll have compunction becauseof that and will have an attitude towards righteousness that's fueled by the memory ofthe cross, will avoid our sins and will work hard against to conquer oursins because of the cross. And, brothers and sisters, if we holdon tightly to the cross, we also will hold on tightly to each other. The Cross is the very unity of the church. The Cross and ourbeing at the foot of the cross is what keeps US bound together in heartand soul. This is why, in holy week, I can't, I'venever been able not, to watch the most marvelous night, on holy Thursdaynight, after we've read all the Gospels and after the Lord is on theCross and everyone comes in darkness and expresses who they really are by falling downin front of the cross of our Savior and you're hearing those beautiful him sunghe who hung the earth on the water to day is suspended on the cross. I always hide, usually on the side of the Church and watch untilthe last person's done, because this is when I see you for what youreally are. This is we're never more united than then and the Chalice andbefore the cross. I'm telling you all this because that pull, the temptationto forget who God is, to think lightly of our sins and not totake them seriously, and then to fracture...

...the church. It's always prevalent anda big temptation. You heard it in the epistle lescent. Saint Paul wrotethis Episto, lescent to the Corinthians because the church, that itself was fracturedinto pieces. Some were saying I am of Paul, others were saying Iam of Cephus or Peter, others were saying I follow Apollos. You knowhow Paul solved that whole conflict, that hideous embrace of Spiritual Guruism, followingthis priest and that bishop sick? You know how he solved it. He'sall that by asking one question. Maybe you heard it in the epistolescent.Was Paul Crucified for you? That was his question. Later in the epistlehe would say the apostles, they're nothing. One plants another waters and God causesthe growth. Apart from him, we are nothing. The greatest men, the greatest Christian leaders with the most magnificent gifts are nothing more than Tokensof God's saving grace. This is what Paul believes, this is what hetaught us to think. The person who is everything's right there, and stayingin front of the Cross, bowing before the Cross, is the way thatwe remember that and that we hold on to each other tightly and we don'tget broken into bunch of pieces. We are Christ centered people and the churchis his body, and living in the truth keeps US loving God, humbleabout our sins and holding on to each other in love. Now I wantto put a thought in your mind the conclusion of my homily. You knowthat the meal you in which we live today is not holding on to theCross. We are very aggressively forgetting the cross in our society, and Idon't just mean that we are hiding the literal cross, as we are doingthat. For twenty years, different governments, local, state and federal, havewaged, or at least permitted to be waged, a war in thename of secularism and a misreading of our constitution against crosses throughout our land andthere are lawsuits designed either to get crosses removed or protect crosses, because it'sso natural for Christian people, in a nation where eighty percent of the nationself identifies as Christians, to place crosses everywhere, and we have them everywhere. But that's not what I mean when...

I say that we're not holding onto the Cross. That's one small aspect, but what I mean by that isthat we're not holding on to what the cross is proclaiming to us.We're not remembering the men loving God, which is why we're allowing ourselves asa nation to be enticed by so many other things less worthy and less wonderfulthan the knowledge of God himself, because we're not looking at the cross,we're not remembering our sins and things that are for pair our forefathers, ourgrandparents, would not even speak out of their mouth, are all over thepublic media, everywhere you look in society. This is because of a distancing fromthe cross and a rejection of believing in the seriousness of sin that wasonly solved by Jesus as precious blood. No one who takes the Cross seriouslytakes sin lightly. Perhaps you heard this week about the conflict over the CEOand the company Chickfill A. I made some reference to them some months agobecause I found out that they keep their shops closed on Sundays and I likethat. I like that, but I was shocked to see that simply becausethe company has as a policy to encourage the law of God the following ofthe law of Gone Society, because the company actually supports what the Church saysis marriage, what the Bible says in marriage, the company has come undermassive attack. Major mayor's of Bofton and Chicago actually had the gumption to subjectvery clearly that the company has no future in their city. Really, thatlaughed at about twenty hours until someone reminded them what this nation is and somethingcalled the US Constitution and something called freedom of religion. They had to bereminded of it by the Mayor of New York City and so they revised theirstatement and said, well, we didn't really mean that they couldn't do businessin our cities. It just means we don't share our values. So theyadded a both face lie upon their attack on Basic Christian things, that principle, that idea that if we don't go along. If we don't go alongwith apostasy, if we don't take wickedness lightly, then we aren't going tohave a place to do business in this... This is very important spiritfor us to discern, brothers and sisters, and we have to hold the crossup and say kiss it, because most of the people who are proclaimingthis have memberships in churches in this land, most of them, not all ofthem. We need to hold a cross up and say, Hiss,you have forgotten who god is, you have forgotten your sins and you're tearingour own nation in pieces because of it. Let us not forget the cross.Let us not forget the cross, and that wickedness degrades a nation,righteousness lifts up a nation, exalts a nation. For those of you whohave been finishing up, trying to finish up strong in the Bible reading thismonth, we're about to enter the last month. We've just finished reading theprophecies of Jeremiah, fifty two chapters of incredible text, written mostly to believerswho had been taken into exile into Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon was the predominantpower of the age and terribly degraded and immoral. It was not a placebelievers wanted to live. But Jeremiah told them take a deep breath, you'regoing to go there for a time. Invest love that land, spread outand multiply and God will bring you back. And then he made this beautiful prophecy. He wrote his final word on a scroll and he sent it withSariah to go from Judah to Babylon and he wanted it read out publicly there. And then he told them. In that prophecy he announced the judgment thatwas coming on Babylon and the return of the exiles. And then he said, when you're done, tie the scroll to a rock, walk to theEuphrates River and throw it into the river and watch it sink. It wasa prophetic symbol, he said, because as you watch that scroll sync withthe Rock, so Babylon will sing. This is how he ended his prophecies. Brothers and sisters, Babylon became a type used by the apostles and thefathers to describe a world system not serving God, a system of darkness.Saint Peter and his first epistle, when he's in Rome, just before hismartyrdom, he writes and he says at the end, she, who isin Babylon with me, sends you greetings. Here he's calling Rome and the RomanEmpire Babylon, an empire that was...

...stained, that had hands dripping withthe blood of Christians. Saint John and his apocalypse. When he was writingthe revelation and dictating it to Prokreros, he describes in great detail the judgmentthat was to come upon the city of the beast, the city of thefalse prophet, which was Babylon. And he prophesied, in fact, thatfor the blood of the saints on its hands, it would fall. Andthe whole Hallelujah chorus found in the nineteenth chapter of the revelation and made sofamous by Handel, the whole Hallelujah Chorus, Hallelujah for the Lord, our God, the Almighty Reigneth, is proclaimed by the people of God in responseto the fall and judgment of Babylon. I'm telling you, all of hisbrothers and sisters, so that you believe that Babylon will fall. Babylon willsink without question. Men can rage, the gentiles can get all in ahuff against the Lord's Christ but they will fall and everyone who does not alignhimself with the Lord God will also fall. We're not afraid, we're not trembling, and it's not written. America is Babylon. It's not written Americahas no future. I hear this all the time and it grieves me.Who is the prophet that announced that America is going to continue going down thetubes? Who is this person? I have yet to find out his name. I've never seen him validated by the people of God. I don't believethat. Where do you get this idea that America, because we've been ona downward slope, means that we're going to stay on a downward slope?All America is as a collection of individuals? We're more than that, but we'renot less than that. When you see an individual going down a hill, does that mean that they're going to continue down? Can individuals not changetheir minds? Is Repentance not possible? Is it not possible for someone WHOLOVES WICKEDNESS TO LEARN TO LOVE righteousness? Absolutely, you all bear witness tothe fact that God changes hearts and enough of those hearts change, nations change. Have you ever heard of a city called Nineveh, the capital of theAssyrian Empire so wicked that God sent Jonah there to announce his destruction, andthe Lord visited them with repentance and he stayed his judgment and the people becamebelievers. This is what I want to happen for our country. I don'tknow if it will. I don't know, but let's not give the nation tothe devil and say, Oh,... must happen, as though webelieve in fate, as though we don't serve a God who respects human freedom. We do. Let's not talk that way. And even if there's somany bad signs and we say, well, look what happened to Europe and we'refollowing in the same trend, don't give in to fate. Pray fora return to the cross. Hold it up and ask those who are totteringand are on the edge of Apostacy, and there are many. We've neverhad as many unbelievers and atheists in our country ever as we have now,those that you know and love. Hold the cross out to them. Letthem see it, let them be reminded about the man loving God. Letthem be reminded of what the solution to human sin is. Let them havethe chance to be united together in the cross, in the blood of Christ. May God hear us. May God hear us and Exalt the cross ofhis son save us and our nation. A then, we hope that youhave enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by Patristic NectarPublications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachingsof the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in other available titles or ifyou would like more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website atwww dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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