The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 4 months ago

The Bridegroom and His Friend | Beheading of the Forerunner 2021


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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God's Prodigal Prophet: An Exposition of the Prophecy of Jonah  

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Now available at Patristic Nectar, DadOrg, patristic nectar. Publications ispleased to present a four part lecture series. My Father Josia Trinum,entitled God's Prodigal Prophet An exposition of the prophecy of Jonah. This text is found amongst the minorprofits of the Old Testament and is much beloved by believers, not only forits Christological typology, in which it sets forth the death, burial,plundering of Hades and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, but also becauseit is simply packed full of spiritual themes. Like obedience, repentancesinful nationalism, God's call to mission, the enlightenment of thenations, brokenness rebellion and grace the love of enemies and much much morefor these and other available titles visit our website at patristic nectar,not a work, and now the arena with Father JosiahTrenta, in the name of the father and of theson, and of the Holy Spirit, a blessed Lord's Day to all of you,brothers and sisters to day, is the Feast Day of the beheading of SaintJohn, the Baptist a glorious day for us and also a fast day. Even though itfalls on a Sunday and we would never ly never. Normally fast on a Sunday, we're fasting to day were with wine andoil in honor of and remembrance of Saint John, the forerunner and hisvaliant witness. I also thank God for you on thismorning, dear ones, for your devotion, I thank God for all of you who cameyesterday to receive our father and God Metropolitan Joseph who hadn't beenwith us in two and a half years and came to celebrate a most glorious,hierarchic calidity and to Tantur a reader and to make a sub Deacon and toOrdain a deacon was three and a half hour service challenged your kind of orthodox metal for sure, but to see your beautiful faces herethis morning after praying yesterday, makes me feel like my Labor has notbeen in vain for you. I can imagine some thinking well, I prayed onSaturday I'll just sleep in this morning on Sunday as though going tochurches, like some minimum thing, you're supposed to do so, you can feelgood about yourself like and think that you're righteous bla black all over that coming to church isthe greatest honor. Any person can have to come into the House of God to beinvited by the King of Heaven into in his inner courts into an intimacy withhim to receive his own sons, body and blood. What an honour,what a glory! I thank God for your maturation. You know, I know I'm not going to liveforever, I'm going to close my eyes, and I want to make sure when I close myeyes for the last time. I want you to be yourself. I want you to stayyourself. I want you to be faithful until the end until the Kingdom of Godis upon us until we see our to saviour's face together in his gloriouskingdom, which is coming. I've entitled this homily this morning, the love between the bridegroom and his friend, the love between the bride, groom andhis friend. I want you to reflect with me for a minute about the interaction between Jesus andJohn The baptist. The interaction in the Gospels betweenJesus and the forerunner is brief, but... precious the words that they each said about theother are absolutely moving words that just drip with love. Fidelity and admiration, amazing I'll start with John's opinion of Jesusand what he said just put yourself in John Shoes, John, who had spent his life in thedesert in communion with God, who was invited by God into this PropheticCouncil. He got to stand in the presence of God, though he didn't speakto men, he knew angels and he spoke to God faceto face. Then when it was time for him to fulfilhis public ministry, he came back from the desert into the concourse, thebusiness of men, and he remained who he was. He dressed the same way he ached thesame way. His radical thirst, for God remained even when he came back intothe cities and he began to prepare people to meetthe Messiah and large massive crowds gathered around him and he taught themrepentance. He taught them the law of God. He taught them who God was fromwhat he knew, and he amassed a massive discipledgroup shortly after doing that, and afterbaptizing many many at the Jordan River, the Lord Christ appeared and all of his disciples, one by oneJohn sent them away. Those who were his spiritual sons now found the one of whom John had beenspeaking, and they made a very important decisionto remove themselves from the inner circle of John and to fasten themselves now to the oneof whom John was speaking. You might think, at least if it was me or youthat that might be a very painful process losing all of your spiritualsons. Seeing all of the people leave you to go to Christ, but not for Johnfor John, it was delight and joy, he said to them, I have to decrease and hemust increase. He embraced decreasing for the sake ofChrist, and in that just like the mother of God. He is a tremendousexample. THAT'S THE HEART! By the way of every true Christian, I mustdecrease. He has to increase when he began to speak to the crowdsabout Christ. This man, this incredible man who had labored for God like no one else he said concerning this man, I have noworthiness at all. I am so unworthy of him that I am not even fit to grovel athis feet and undo his sandal strap. This is what he said: I'm not evenworthy to do that. That's how much he admired- worship, adored the Christ andhow humble he was when he met Jesus actually at theJordan, when the Lord actually came to him. He was completely undone though the church, ICAL tech say hishands shook this man was afraid of no one, as you saw today, no one, not eventhe great man of the Earth who held his life in his hand, did he get anythingfor and yet in Jesus's presence he was shaking and what did he say to Jesus?...

I have need Lord, what I think to say this man apparentlyneeded nothing. He didn't need a house, he didn't needclothes, he didn't need friends, he had great power in his union withGod. He didn't need from our perspective anything, but when he sawJesus first thing he says I have need Lord. I have need to be baptized by you. That's what he wanted in the presenceof Jesus. He felt is the weight of his own sins. If wewere around them, we'd probably say what sins. What are you talking about sins? What have you ever done and then he says these beautiful words as people were coming to him and and saying: Oh, every one's going afterthe Christ they're all going to him. He said I rejoice greatly. My joy is full to stand near the bridegroom and to hear his voice. I am not the Christ. I am the friend of the bridegroom. What a beautiful thing for him! It was the height of hishappiness, the fullness of his joy, to be able to stand next to Christ to be able to bring all of thespotlight of the word of God on to Christ. This is the intimacy that John theforeigner had with our savor. This is how much he loved him. This is how muchhe adored Christ. He says he comes from above. He speaks of what he has seen and thefather loves the son and has given everything into his hands and so Johnloved the son and gave everything of himself into Jesus's hands and, as anexample to us, he joined his love with the Father'slove for Christ and responded to it. Now. Let's look at Jesus's opinion ofJohn First Jesus shows his unbelievable lovefor John. By going to John and asking him to do the unthinkable, he revered him so much that he actuallywent to John and as John to baptize him. He said it must be done and then, whenJesus heard people talking about John, he said what do you say he is. Do you say he's a prophet and frankly, that was the highest thing.A Jew could call some one to be a prophet set you in a littletiny class of people who are close to God and intermediariesbetween God and you whose words guided your life obedience to those words, would bringyou confidence when the Kingdom of God came, disobedience would lead you inyour family to be scattered across the earth. Was An incredible compliment and whenJesus asked them, what do you call John a profit? He Says No, no more than a prophet Jews had no concept for that. What doyou mean more than a prophet? It's incredible affirmation. Jesus wenton to call him several things. He called him the voice, you call them the forerunner. MyMessenger sent to go before me to prepare the way and he called him the new Elias...

...and then the capstone, the greatest man ever born from a woman. This is what Jesus thought about JohnThe baptist. This is the devotion and respect that our saviour had for Johnthe Baptist, and all of that Love was especiallyshown in our saviour's life for the forerunner, when the terrible event that we commemorateto day took place when John was arrested. Jesus wasdeeply grieved when he was actually taken in tocustody by a wicked ruler. Christ removed himself and he devoted himself to prayer on amountain and when John was killed and the newswas brought to our Lord. He immediately ceased what he was doing and went intoseclusion. This is how moved the Lord was, how concerned Jesus's response to Herod's violentopposition. I think it's a beautiful picture, a beautiful picture to seethee the sensitive and incredible mutuallove between the two John's murder has been commemorated in the church.For many reasons we never forget forget about it. You know every priest, every bishop, every person who is given the gift ofprophecy and is expected to use it by God. He has to have two things. He has to have a good rapet reputationwith people he has to be respected by people. This is in fact required by Paul in hislist for qualifications for ordination. You can't even be ordained. If youdon't have good reputation and not just in general, it has to extend so farPaul says a good reputation with those outside the church, not just to be respected. Of course youhave to be respected. The people have to say what you so magnanimously saidyesterday when you screamed Oxalis and you almost blew the bishops years offfor Jason, he was amazed. He was amazed. The priest needs not just an oxis from the congregation he needs. Therespect outside the church Paul says, so you need that on one side that comesfrom character, you can have all the prophetic gifts inthe world, but if people don't trust you, if people don't respect, youthey're not going to listen to you and it's going to be in vain, which is whyso many who held these little signs and run around saying things you know hellis coming hell is coming, will a yeah it is, but the potency of that depends upon who's actually holding thesign. I'm not saying that we shouldn't havesome signs, maybe so, maybe so one of my new dear friends, who some ofyou have met this nice young man who I catechised the Vasou two years agoduring Ovid when coved broke out, and he was a seminarian up in Minnesota, heended up taking a shorter degree than he intended and moved home to Tennesseewhere he finished his catechism and was received into Holy Orthodoxy, and hewas here a couple months ago for our conference. When bishop arenae came. Hesent me a picture recently and he says I had just sent him some very scary,...

...planned parenthood, billboard orsomething on. That's that I saw on our on our freeways, some horrid billboardand I sent it to him and he goes that's California. Let me show you what whatTennessee is, and it was a massive sign that said, Jesus is Lord and beauty if it was just massive sideright on the road praise. The Lord and call this number. If you need prayer, Nice sign, nice sign character matters, but you also have tohave something else and John the Baptist had it. He hadincredible respect from the people he put his life where his words were. Hewas a model of thirst for God, a model when he spoke about God. They listenedbecause they saw him living to be near God, but you also have to have an absolutefearlessness of criticism and a total disregard for being judgedby men. You have to have that and then you have to have it together. You have to remember those words thatJesus said: If you're going to be prophetic, if you're going to speak theword of God, you have to remember that woe when Jesus said woe to you, when all men speak well of you, how many of us would think that that'sa woe we pay for that? Most of us, wouldn'twe if we could save ourselves from the sting of criticism if we could escape in this social mediaage of those bad comments in you know, texting or whatever. It is woe to you when all men spell speakwell of you. This is the mentality that John the Baptist had he kept kept thesetogether, which is why he was able, with virtue and love, to stand beforethe most powerful man and to tell Herod you must stop to tear, tell Herod who was publiclydefying God who was publicly attacking the sanctityof marriage. He took his own brother's wife becausehe wanted her and she wanted him. It was against God's law. It was offensiveto every person who had religious sensibility. It was perverse and John would not tolerate it. Now. Ithink most of US probably would not have been happy. You know maybe overthe dinner table, we'd say: Oh, that's so gross, but if Herod was walking by, we choose not to speak. If Herod and his soldiers were going byour you know Deli and downtown Jerusalem, I don't think we'd stop thehorses and then point at herit and say stopdoing what you're doing you're, disgracing God and you're insulting theintegrity of our people. That's exactly what John the Baptistdid. He called him out Herod liked to listen to John the Baptist.That's a counsel that we have to avoid. The text says that Herod actually lovedto sit in John's presence that he knew he was a holy man and that he actuallyquote took delight in his breaching, except when it touched his own sin and it was after repent. This is exactly how what we must escape.Their ones is the heart of Herod. We have to love preaching when we hear the word of God. We haveto love it when we hear it red when we...

...hear it preach, we have to love it, andespecially, we have to love it when it touches a sore spot in us and it hurts that's when we have to say. Thank youJesus. Thank you. Do Your Work Perform yoursurgery administer the medicine that I need for the salvation of my soul. Youbelieve that don't you you're listening to the Gospel and to my preaching,because you want to be saved by it right. I don't see any head nodding, yes, Huh, if you're here to listen justbecause you want to hear something else about someone else, you're ruiningyourself. Don't do that! Don't come to feel good, come to hear the word of God and tostand in. The presence of the word of God is not a safe place if you're trying tokeep your image together. If you want to have a high image ofyourself, this is the wrong place to be. That's not why we're here we're here tobe actually re fashioned into a new image, and in order for that to happen,we have to have our own self image completely broken into pieces. We haveto be able to honestly hear the word of God, which is brought to us, because Godloves us so much and he wants to free us from our own weaknesses. So we don'tend up like this horrible man, Saint John Crisostomo, his commentary on thispassage. He says besides calling us to imitate John andloving the Lord's words, cherishing his law and fighting for it, defending it.There's lots of applications for that in our society, specially marriage Huh,especially fighting for that, but Chris System says, and he makes aninteresting application. He applies the test and this murderous scene towedding receptions. Yes, let me let me do the same. I knowthis makes me very very unpopular. I hear the ladies laughing yes, I understand and I don't care Ireally don't Chris as them applied it to wedding receptions. Why? Because theRAUCIS nature of the party that was being celebrated, it wasn't a weddingparty, but it was all about being wed to someone he wasn't supposed to be wetto. It was actually his birthday party and there was drinking and there wasdancing very lascivious dancing and Chris, as Tom says quote, where thereis that kind of dancing. There is the devil, unquote wow. When there is that kind of dancing,there is the devil. He applies it to wedding receptions,because at that time, in the fourth century, evidently there was asignificant chasm between the sanctity of theCrowning Service and the celebration of it, and forgive me brothers and sisters-it still exists. It still exists, I'm not trying to criticize anyone or anyrecent weddings or any future weddings. But I've been a priest long enough tobe at so many weddings that I had to leave from so quickly. Why in the world,would pious God loving people create any scenario in which their bishop ortheir priests would be uncomfortable? If you want to listen to rock and rollmusic, and you want to drink too much and you want to dance like barbarians,there are so many places to do that. I'm not encouraging you to do that,...

...but that's not what a weddingreceptions for a wedding reception is for the celebration of a mystery that Christ has appeared and joined twointo one, and the three have become one: the bride, the bridegroom in Christhimself and the party that is celebrating this mysticaltransformation that we've just witnessed is celebrating this mystery,this sacrament that should determine who's there, which is why we bring our grandparentsand if we have great grandparents, we bring them w. We want, we weren't, wedon't just want people who are our age, we bring everybody together. We bringthe people that are important in our lives. We bring our bishop. If we cancome, we bring our priests and usually multiple priests, and we bring ourDickens and it's a holly celebration. We should be able to go away from o thewedding reception with smiles and everybody. There should be comfortable not having to go see the the doctor to help fix our ears becausethey were so pummeled and completely destroyed by the level of the music.You know what loud music means. Then you don't respect conversation, that's what loud music means. If you'regoing to blast music you're, guaranteeing that the people who arethere to celebrate, you cannot have any sort of reasonable conversation at thetable and unless they know how to do the kindof dancing to the super loud music, why would they stay? Why would they stay so because you're, pious- and I know youlisten- I am saying these words to give us a vision for a healthy and holy weddingreceptions. For the most part, I've been I've been pretty happy for themost part. I've been pretty happy every year. I think it gets better andbetter. I really do and we're becoming more Orthodox. I wouldsay in many ways. Lastly, I want to encourage you, dearones, based upon what happened to John, not to look for your reward in thislife. Think of how honored John is now andhow honored he will be at the resurrection. The greatest man born ofwoman. Look what he got in this life, nothing, nothing! He had no banquets honoring him. He gota banquet to kill him. He didn't get a nice little twentyfifth, you know banquet. Like I got three years ago, it was the most lovingthing you ever did and probably the most poisonous thing that ever happenedto my soul, to listen to all those nice things to be said about me extremelyloving on your part, but certainly John. The Baptist didn't have anything likethat. I can tell you that don't look for your reward in this life and don'tthink if it doesn't come in this life that is not coming. I promise you it'scoming. Every effort that you make every sacrifice you make, for Christ'ssake, will be rewarded down to a little cup of water. Jesus said noone who offers a single cup of water in my name will lose his reward. I promiseyou what's coming, don't look forward in this life remember. Instead, what Paul says momentary momentary light affliction is providing for us an eternal weightof glory. Far Beyond all, compare momentary light affliction is preparingfor us in Eternal Way of glory. Far Beyond compare a man. We hope that you have enjoyed and havebeen edified by this presentation...

...offered to you by patristic nectar,publications, a non profit organization committed to nourishing the spirituallythirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in otheravailable titles or if you would like more information on patristic nectarpublications, please visit our website at www, dot, patristic nectar, dot, Org,again, that's www dot, patristic nectar got OL e e.

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