The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 1 year ago

The Dynamism of the Early Church - Myrrh-bearers Sunday 2021


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Patristic lector publications, is thrilled to host its two thousand and twenty one conference, entitled the Mother of God in our lives, right here in person at St Andrew Church in Riverside, California, and for all who register by video live streaming around the globe. Our theological itinerary is superb. We expect for lectures by His grace, Bishop Erina of London and Western Europe and additional lectures by Father Chad Hatfield, Father John Parker, Father Colinique Burger and myself. To Register, simply go to patristic nectar dot org and click on the registration button. Those who register will be able to see each of the lectures by live stream over the course of the weekend, participate in the Q and a, as well as received the edited lectures in their library at P ANDP. We hope to see what the conference and now the arena with Father Josiah Treno, in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, tries to this risen amen. What a blessing it is, brothers and sisters, to hear the acts of the apostles during possible time, a great gift from God to us, bearing witness to the fruit of the resurrection of our Savior from the dead. What's the consequence of Jesus conquering death? The answer is in twenty eight chapters, following the Holy Gospels, the arrangement of the Bible is for a reason, Matthew, mark, Luke and John, for magnificent and varying accounts of our saviors mighty deeds, his saving acts, followed by the acts of the apostles, and then from the epistles to the parishes, to give us an inside look of what this church and that church in this church we're dealing with, all to nourish us and our souls. The acts of the apostles absolute inspiration, absolute inspiration, and we see we see the church dynamic and full of the life of Christ, taking the gift that Jesus promised, which is eternal life. What did he say to last her assis sisters? If you believe on me, not only will you not die, but you will have eternal life. This is what he granted to the church. And what does that eternal life look like? We see that in the opening chapters. We see an incredible explosion of love. Much of it is summed up in the second chapter and the forty two verse, such a precious verse describing the Early Church dedicating themselves to the apostles teaching and to the breaking of bread and to the prayers and to keen o'nea, to fellowship. This is the way of life for believers, as dedicated to the liturgy as they are to the scriptures, as they are to each other. This is how we live and it shows itself immediately in the chapters that followed it. At fallow Pentakoft, so many people came from the corners of the Earth for that feast. Right the Jews were required, under the mosaic lost, to return to Jerusalem for the great feast, to make sacred pilgrimage. Thousands and thousands heard the apostles preaching Jesus is crucifixion and His resurrection from the dead. They believed and they did not want to go home. For them, Christianity was in Juste a idiological change. If it was, all of those people could have just gone home. They made the change. They made the mental assent to the new information, which is that Jesus is alive and... we can go home, because now I'm a Christian. No, that is not what happened. They said, are you kidding me? I want to be near the mother of God. I can't go home right now. I want to sit at the Apostle's feet and hear more about the Jesus I have just believed in. I want to drinking deeply and let be fully rooted this new life that I'm experiencing here, that I'm witnessing here. And that's what they did. They didn't have jobs, they didn't have money, they only had enough money for the pilgrimage, but thousands were cared for by the early church, by a hundred and twenty people. They started selling their properties. That's what they did. Barnabas, whose name means son of encouragement, what how did he encourage? He encourage people who wanted to stay and had nothing by going and literally selling property after property and bringing the money and giving it to St Peter, giving it to St Andrew and saying here, take care of all these people with this. And that's what they did. They nourish them, they fed them, and more and more people converted. Three thousand, five thousand, you heard reading from the acts today, a great number of priests Jewish priests were becoming obedient to the faith. The text says they launched immediately into a charitable food distribution program they were taking care of widows. They immediately had the martyric spirit. How long did it take for the truth of out Jesus's victory over death to influence the psyche and the heart of believers such that we became courageous enough to look death in the face with a smile? Act X. that's how long it took. Acts Six with him, the Holy Archdeacon and Proto Martyr Stephen, where he transfigured in the uncreated light, his face shining like an angel, seeing Jesus, had a heart, the heart of Christ, praying for the forgiveness of his persecutors as he was murdered right there, and his martyriic blood, which watered the ground of the church and caused incredible fruits. Look at the dynamism of the early church. Look at the dynamism, look what Jesus produced. That's what you're supposed to see. That's why we read the acts through Pasca. Now, don't fall into a naive optimism. Don't be unrefined in your thinking about the early church, the early church is extremely important, no doubt, but don't think that the early church, with all that dynamism, meant that you couldn't fit in or that I couldn't fit in. There's a place for me there and I'm let me tell you where. That same church also had troubles, lots of troubles. That same church, right there in the middle of the chapters I'm talking about, had a couple, a married couple, who had converted, they had been baptized, they had seen the incredible examples of Barnabas and they had been inspired by it, and they too owned property and they too wanted to make a sacrifice. But they still had that poison, a PHARISAIC hypocrisy, that poison of externalism, Jewish externalism, where was all about external things. And now looked at you, see what I did. And did... take note of that? And did you say thank you? All of that demonic nonsense, self centered nonsense, they had some of that and they couldn't shake it. So they've sold the piece of property. They made an agreement, a terrible agreement, and I'll prove to you that I'm not using exaggeration when I call it demonic nonsense. That's what Saint Peter called it when he confronted them. Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to God? They sold their property. They've said, we're going to give them money, but we're going to keep some for ourselves, but we're going to tell Saint Peter this is all the money. And that's exactly what they did. They brought the money to set Peter. They said this is the money for our property. He said, really, that's what you sold it for. They said yes. Can you imagine? Can you imagine, with all of the incredible things happening, you still have to hold on to lies so that you make yourself feel good, presenting some sort of image that you are good, when you know Jesus has already made you good. You're good in him. He provided for you, even though you're not good, you're terrible. Anyway, Peter said it much shorter, much shorter. They lied. They lied to Peter, and Peter Understood that lying to an apostle was lying to God. And what happened? And and ice fell down dead. Then Sephara came in a little bit later and he tested her. He said, did you sell the property for such and such a price as she said, yeah, we did BOA. Goodbye, Sephira, the men who dragged your husband's feet out are going to drag yours out to Peter said to her goodbye, and it was done. Can you imagine? So, remember that early church, credible dynamism, the true church, the dynamic church, is not a perfect church. If the church was perfect, brothers and sisters, none of us would go anywhere. Either the second coming would come immediately or we'd all lose our souls, because the only way we're going to continue to grow and in continue to get better is by living in this mixed condition and learning to put up with each other, to love one each other, to cover over sins, to put blankets over at scandals, to forgive, to seek forgiveness. This is what we do. Chapter six, this Beautiful Ministry of distributing food. What happens immediately? Murmuring. That's the text you heard this morning. So it's not just the leftovers of FARASAIC externalism. You see an Antonias and Sephara. It's not just selfrighteousness, it's also argumentativeness, murmuring. And what was the murmuring about? The Hebrews speaking widows were being taken care of. And the Hellen is like the Greek speaking Jewish widows. There weren't any great converts from Paganism yet. That was going to come in a few days, in a few days, but most of the Jews spoke Greek. Most of them were in the hell and Hellenic world, right the Greco Roman world. Then they spoke Greek and they had these divisions and they got jealous. Well, I think you're giving more food to the Hebrews speaking people, the Hebrew widows, then you are to the Greek widows. And it got so bad it got all the way to the apostles. It's like those churches, I'm not looking at anybody, that have the little cliques. Right, we got the Arab clique here, we got the little Greek click here, we got the little Russian clique here, we got the little erretrian click here. No,...

...we don't believe in that nonsense. We have one click this. It Jesus is clique, his people, every color, every language, and that doesn't mean we don't appreciate our backgrounds. We appreciate our backgrounds, but we don't separate ourselves by those things. We don't define ourselves by those things. We believer is what we have in common is not Arab blood, in Greek blood and Blah Blah Blah blood. It's Jesus is blood. This is the most important thing to us and we have to be very careful because this hurt the church, this kind of breaking into groups and then the argumentation. I'm very proud of what we have here, brothers and sisters, with regards to this, but we could do better. But we could do better and I want to continue to do better, and that means not allowing ourselves magnetically to be drawn just to what we're comfortable with. Of course we're all comfortable with people from our own backgrounds and since you all don't have the great privilege of being an Anglo Saxon, I mean, excuse me, I like Anglo Saxons, but actually I've never really grown up with Anglo saxons because I grew up in Los Angeles. So for me, sorry, ever, it's always been a collage, it's always been an incredible tapestry like we have in our parish. But I know from any of you you grew up in monocultural places and you came here after being in a monocultural place, and it takes intentionality to express your interest, maybe with someone who with whom it's more difficult to communicate, but that is important. It's important to sit down with each other, not just with those that were comfortable with, because we're Christians. Were in the body of Christ. This is the early church, this is the miracle of the Early Church, this is the dynamic church, full of troubles but full of the spirit of God. And I want you to see also in this incredible text what's at the heart of this dynamism. What's at the heart of this dynamism is that Ministry of the apostles, the Apostolic Ministry. What did the apostle say when they heard this problem about food distribution to the widows? It was brought to them, the apostles consulted together and then they said this. The first thing they said is it's not appropriate for Uugh to deal with this. This is not apostolic business, anymore than Evalue, waiting the pro problem and deciding how it should be fixed, but actually fixing it. We will not do it. This is a very, very important message. The Apostle said it is not appropriate for us to neglect the word of God and prayer, to serve tables. They weren't looking down on the glories of mercy ministry. This is the heart of the church, absolutely caring for people, visiting the sick, cooking for those who are hungry, solving and reconciling problems. But you see them mount. The mindset of the apostles right. The mindset of the apostles is all of those things happen as a response to prayer and the Scriptures and the Apostolic Teaching. Prayer and the Ministry of the word inspire all the rest of Christian Ministry and they didn't want to get distracted by neglecting the most needful for something that's needful but less needful. This is how set John Krysostom describes it in his commentary on this text. He says there's the needful and then there's the more needful, and the more needfulness for the apostles and their successors to be absolutely dedicated to prayer constantly, and that meant daily, daily, multiple services daily. Is what the early church was doing and what the church is all was done constantly. We don't build churches... they can be used like five percent of the of the week. That's not what we do and constant submersion in the Ministry of the word. This is what the apostles did. The way that they solve that, in the way that they propagated it. White was asking the people to find people, seven men, seven men who were full of faith and the Holy Spirit that they could lay their hands on and Ordain to oversee the Practical Ministry of the Church. This is the the root of the Ministry of the diaconet St Johnkrasassam says. He points out how grace passes, how the Apostolic Grace Passes Through what we call Apostolic Succession, through ordination. The grace of the apostles is passed on through the church and continue to inspire the church through the laying on of hands. Hero Tunia, as the words of fantastic word here, means hand hero Tonia, the laying on of hands as a means of passing grace. And notice that two things were involved. The laying on of the apostles hands, but the choice of the people. The Apostle said to them, not these are the seven men I want you to accept. That's not what Saint Peter and the Apostle said. Saint Peter came to the people and said you choose, you choose the people who are full of faith. Seven men bring him to us and we're going to ordain them. That pattern pursue. It goes for twozero years, you know. Let me show you practically how it's expressed in the parish. We've sent, I think, ten men to seminary over our history, and it usually went like this. The men would become devoted Christians, their hearts would be growing in heat and fire and they would begin to love and love and love. That's where it all starts. If you're going to be a deacon or a priest or a bishop, the best way you know that that is your calling is that you act like one before you ever are one. If you're going to be a shepherd, you start acting like a shepherd before you ever have hands on laid on you, and that demonstrates some calling. You Start Learning, you start chanting, you come into the Holy Altar, you serve the holy table, these kinds of things, and then maybe you have a conversation with your priest and you say the priest asked you what do you think? You think of what anything about serving the church, and they may say I don't know, and some would be timid and need encouragement. Others would say yes, I'm ready, and the priest is like, Oh, you don't even know what you're what's coming, my friend, you don't even know what's coming to your life. But I'll tell you one thing that always have to be done. You have to speak. No priest worth his salt would ever right to the bishop for permission to send someone to seminary without the strong amen, the strong preoxios of the people. And you know, today happens to be a very significant memorial of someone who was my touchstone on this for years. You know, today I was going to say forgive me for talking so much about our founders this last year or two, but I'm not. I'm not sorry, so no forgiveness. Sorry, I'm not asking forgiveness for the reason this is is because our parish is changing so much, so many of our founders are going to the reward, so many others have moved away and so many of you are new... the last ten years, some even shorter than that. You need to hear about the lives of those who made this parish the way you love, why you love it. It's because of them, and one of them is on that pillar right there when you walk in, on the right side, St Vera. Do you know to dat? Today is vera kiss lacks ten year memorial. May God rest her beautiful soul. Everyone who knows her loves her and misses her terribly, which is why we put her on the pillar right there across from her husband Nick. That's why you have sat nicholas and sat vera when you walk in the church, and if you can look right there you'll anyway we could go. The founders are all pretty much in the back there, Vera. I would always see Vera and her house for House blessings and whenever I had a thought about a seminarian at the end of the House blessing, when I was sitting down to have my Borsh, because I could not leave her house without having my boorsh. When I sat down to have my boorsh, which was extremely good, by the way, she made fantastic Borsh, I would say to nick can vera, Hey, what do you think about so and so? And, being the gracious people that they were, they would either say and I got it both. I got both from them. They would either say fall that is such a wonderful idea. Or they would say, well, all, make sure to keep an eye out for that person, which meant father, whatever you do, do not send that person to seminary. That's what it meant. And you know how I know that? What that's what I meant, is because whenever I would get the latter response, I would take it like not yet, and I would come back and I'd say something to the young man. I say, you know what, let's work on this, or how about you work with the youth a little bit more, have them over to your house, do this and that, and then the following year I would go back and I would say, Niken Verra, what do you think about sending so and so to seminary? And if she had watched that year and the improvement had been made, she would go, father, that is a wonderful idea. And then I would come home and I would execute the paperwork in there he would go, that's how it works. That's how it works. The ordination, the laying on of hands as the laying on of God's hand. Chris System says that. He says hero Tonia means that when the Bishop laces hand on the head of the person. It's the hand of God on that Person Grant in the grace of the sacrament of ordination to become a deacon or to become a priest or, if multiple bishops ordained to become a bishop. And that ministry keeps at the center of the church the most important thing, which is the Ministry of the word and prayer. Some of you might remember when I came to this parish the first thing I did is start daily services, but I was nervous about starting them at that time that they weren't that common. There are a lot more common today across the country, thank God, but at that time they weren't that common and I was worried that, especially in a mission context, that maybe people would think, father, you're going to be spending too much money keeping the lights on, burnen too much olive oil, etc. But what I told the what I told the mission, was I want to do this because I want to lay a foundation of prayer and I want to pray for you every day. I want to be able to mention your names every day. That was a different story. Oh, our priest is going to do prayers every day so that he can mention my name every day. Who Doesn't want that? Who Doesn't want that? What a beautiful way of life. Because you don't. That's the whole reason priests exist. First reason priests exists to stand before the holy table and to mention before God their people, their flock. This is how the apostles taught us,...

...and sure enough, our worship life has grown like crazy over the years because it started simple, without expectation. You want to calm, you calm for goodness sake. You don't have to beg people to come to the greatest thing in the universe, to stand before God. And also we've had on principle and aggrifts of catechesis, both for the flock and for those who are outside. And Has God blessed it? Come on, come on. That's what happens when you hold at the core prayer and the Ministry of the word and you work hard at it. You work hard at it. You know Paul in his letters, he says that we should, we should respect and support the hard work of preaching and teaching. Did you know that he says it in First Timothy Five. He says this. He says hold the priests and honor by virtue of their office, and the same could be safe for deacons, and the same could be safe for for deacons. Also hold the clergy in in respect, especially, he says, those who labor hard at preaching and teaching by your prayers. I'm hoping one day to get there. I'm hoping one day to get there, but I want you to know, dear ones, I'm I want you to know. This is the core. This is what you see in the acts to day. It's not right for us to neglect the word of God and prayer to serve tables, not because tables aren't glorious to serve. They are. They are needful, but there's a needful and there's a more needful. And be thankful and be supportive. Every where you see, every where you can be supportive of this commitment and Nourish Yourself, take advantage of it. Let the word of God light your fire every single day. Open it, read it, listen to it, pay attention in the sermons, come to the classes, teach yourself. You know, one of the great ways to learn. Commit yourself to to some teaching. Decide that this year you're going to want to be a Sunday school teacher. Believe me, if you don't know your lessons, you're going to study hard to learn them. It's one of the greatest ways, actually, too, to gather wisdom is to accept responsibility for a little teaching for others, and then maybe some of the same dynamism can take place, maybe some of the same charity, some of the same martyric spirit can be upon us and we can see a great increase, like the early church saw. Tess my homily for today, the needful in the morningful. Thank you for listening. Christ has risen. 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.

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