28 October 2008

Another experiment

I don't write my sermons out in full any more. I've taken to jotting down notes and preaching from them. So I thought I'd share with you (both?) the notes from last week's sermon. It's an unsatisfactory way of doing things, I know, because a lot of the 'meat' is left out. But it's what I have time for now. So here goes. If it's helpful to anyone, let me know; if not, let me know that as well. The text is the healing of the demoniac in Luke 8...

1.”Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you.”

Why home? Hadn’t those people seen him

…in his shame and nakedness?

…in the demon-inspired violence and torment?

He wanted to go with Jesus. But Jesus had something else in mind.

2. Christ and the apostles had traveled across the lake, it seems, for one purpose: to heal this man. They left the west shore the night before, and when this man is healed they return again. (Tell story, through “Return to your home.” Stress Christ's power over the demonic--the ultimate conquest being in the cross.)

3. The people of the town had begged Jesus to leave. He did. But he left behind a witness, one of their own, a living reminder of God’s mercy. It was because those people knew what he had been, that they above all might continue to marvel at what he had become through Christ.

4.The holy fathers teach us, “Remain in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.” Here they echo the words of St. Paul, “Remain in that situation where you were called.” It’s happened to me on more than one occasion: as I stay in a place, and get to know people, they see my shame and faults. I have, in the past, sometimes changed my location instead of changing my heart. It feels good for a while—a new adventure. But when I journey, I bring myself along with me. I must learn repentance where I am, or I will learn it nowhere.

5. “But Father,” you say, “I want to journey with Jesus.” Thanks be to God, we have an option that man did not have. We can remain where we are and journey with the Lord as well. For he has promised that we can find him in two places, neither of which requires a move:

* here in the liturgical life of the Church—that’s why, after all, we come (“where two or three are gathered; lo, I am with you always)

*and out there in the lives of his precious ones, the poor and the needy (I was hungry, and you fed me…)

6. Let us therefore stay where we are: let us cultivate not a change of scenery, but a change of heart. And let us seek Christ where he wills to be found: here in his Temple, and out there among the poor and the needy. For so our cell will prove the entrance to his Kingdom, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.


Dixie said...

Dear Father,

I know you are busy but when you find a few minutes could you write a little more on "stay where you are" in the context of the Church? For example, in my readings of Jaroslav Pelikan's life, one of the reasons he intimated that he remained Lutheran as long as he did was his faulty understanding of this very notion of "stay where you are". Clearly "stay where you are" shouldn't be interpreted in such a way.

On an irreverent tangent...now that Mr. Dixie and I are in Georgia and have no further need for the snowblower we sold in the garage sale we had before we moved...we are fully prepared to stay where we are! ;)

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Gladly, Dixie! WRT questions of the Church, one should stay where one is while he is examining the truth-claims of the Orthodox Church. No one should become Orthodox on a whim, for example, or simply because someone else tells him it's right.

One should study the issues carefully and prayer-fully. Chief among those issues is the examination of the Church's history in the light of Christ's words "the gates of hell shall not prevail" and the words of St. Paul, "the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth."

At a certain point, one becomes convinced that the Orthodox Church is the Church. Before that time, he should stay where he is. From that moment on, he becomes responsible to follow the truth at all hazards. His actions should be like those of one abandoning ship: he may try to help others escape, for the sake of love, but only for a limited time.

That critical point does not happen, in my experience at least, when all the questions we have are settled. It happens when enough of those questions have been settled to convince us that the Orthodox Church is the Church.

He who acts against that conviction, for reasons of wife, family, possessions, connections, office etc. sears his conscience. He loses the knowledge he once had, but he remains responsible for that loss.

Does this help?

Sbdn. Lucas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mikeenglish.net said...

Thank you Father, I only wish I could have heard the whole homily.

Rosko said...

I like this. Maybe it will become a regular feature?

Eric said...

For what it's worth I do read your blog. In fact you had me musing over impute and impart for about a week. E. Tank