Sermon ~ Be Anxious About Nothing

palmsunday“Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say Rejoice!”

Saint Paul writes these words to the Church at Philippi but they are also applicable today.  It has been said that we Orthodox have the joy of the Lord we just have not told our faces yet!  We are some of the most dower people but how can we remain that way when we know that we have found the true faith?  We should be shouting it from the roof tops.

I mentioned on Wednesday at the Presanctified Liturgy that when we enter the Church we should, as the song goes, lay aside all the earthly cares of life.  When we walk through the doors of the Church, regardless of what is going on in the world or what is going on in our own lives, we need to rejoice always!  The Church is an oasis from what is happening outside, even for a short period of time.

Saint Paul teaches that the ability to rejoice comes as a direct result of our prayer life.  Rejoicing in life, no matter what that life brings us, is a fruit of perseverance in prayer.  The Church fathers teach that unceasing prayer is the goal of all of us because spiritual growth comes through the discipline of constant prayer and rejoicing.

So how do we handle the daily pressures of life?  How are we to go about our daily life outside of the Church?

1.  Start the day with prayer.  If we begin each day with prayer, even if it is something simple like Lord help me this day to walk the road that You wish me to walk.  It does not have to be any more formal than that, or simply say the prayer that Jesus taught us, the Our Father.  If you have time, then sit down in a quiet place and read the more formal prayers of the Church.  If not do what you can.  It is not the quantity of time but the quality of time that we spend in prayer.  On days off or the weekend, try and do more.

2.  We hear in Scripture today, “Let your gentleness be known to all men.  The Lord is at hand.”  Saint Seraphim a Sarov has a saying that I think fits with this passage. “Acquire the spirit of peace, and a thousand souls will be converted around you!”  If we have a sense of peace about us that will do more than any words we could ever say.  If we have faith that the Lord is present at all times, in season and out of season, then we have nothing to fear.

3.  Be anxious for nothing! “Be still and know that I am God,” Scripture tells us.  Interior stillness is important in our spiritual life.  We should not be anxious about anything for the Lord will provide all to us.  We waste more time worrying about stuff then we do trusting that God will provide.  If we have faith, then this should not be an issue.  Faith is easy when all is going well, but when the chips are down, that is when faith gets difficult.

Today, the people gather and sing Hosanna, and wave Palm Branches as Jesus enters Jerusalem.  All is well, or so it seems.  In a few days’ time, however, those same people will be screaming Crucify Him!  What drove them to this?  Lack of faith.  Imagine they witnessed all of the miracles of Jesus, and even those closest to Him still did not have the faith to believe in what he was saying, even on the night of His betrayal, Peter, who would become the chief Apostle, denies Christ not once, but three times.  Lack of faith is dangerous thing and we need to be on guard for it lest we fall into despair.

4.  Meditating on that which is Holy.  How much time in our day do we spend meditating on things that are Holy?  What are we reading, or listening too.  When we are in the car what do we have playing on the radio?  Now I am not saying that we need to cut ourselves off, no, but we need to have a balance in our lives.  We need to understand what is going on in the world, but we do not need to be so immersed in this world that we do not have time for reading books that will be spiritually edifying and I mean more than just Scripture.

Twenty years ago, there were very few books in English about Orthodoxy.  Most things were either in Russian or Greek so people who did not read those languages were not able to read the fathers and mothers of the Church.  Thanks be to God today we have virtually an unlimited supply of books on Orthodoxy that are very edifying to the soul to read.  If you need some suggestions just ask.

5.  Imitate that which is Holy.  We have a wonderful communion of saints old ones and contemporary ones.  The Church gives us these lives so we can imitate them and learn from their example of how we should live our lives.  They were not perfect, in fact some of them were down right scoundrels, but with God all things are possible.  We should be reading the lives of the saints and meditating on them and understanding their lives so we know how we should live our lives.  And if that is too difficult, open the pages of Scripture, Jesus left us an example of how to live.

6.  Finally we are to give thanksgiving in everything, good and bad, we are to “let our requests be known to God: and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  God does not give us more than we can handle.  I know it might seem that way from time to time, but if we are earnest in our faith then we know that God will give us the strength we need to handle any situation.  Turn it over the Jesus and ask Him for the strength to get through whatever it is.  When we pray in the morning, ask for the strength just to get through the day.  You will be amazed at what will happen.

We are standing in the door way of an amazing journey this week.  I have asked you this before but I will ask it again, take the time this week to come to all of the services, not just the ones you have time for, but all of them.  Holy Week is a time set aside by the Church for our spiritual edification, it is there for the taking all we need do is take that first step through that door.

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