|Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes - Spiritual Nourishment for the Soul - November 2004|
Our Bi-Annual Love For God
How often do we love our God? Only annually? We should love him every day of our lives, and go to Church and give Him honor and glory when our local parishes have liturgical services. We should all be going to church not just annually but whenever the church calls us to pray.
Sadly enough we seem to be going to church bi-annually, for some of us only get round to going to church when itís our Lordís Nativity and the celebration of His Glorious Resurrection.
Now the question must be asked: why is it that we go to Church so infrequently? Is it because we get so busy with the things of the world that we forget that we have services at our church? Is it because we are so exhausted by the time Sunday morning comes we decide we would rather rest on Sunday completely away from the house of our Lord God? Is it because we would rather take a drive or go to a football or soccer game instead of Church? If so, then itís no wonder that our lives become confused and we start to suffer from stress and depression!
The love we should have for our God is truly slipping away before our eyes. These constant excuses as to why we do not go to Church means we are depriving ourselves of many spiritual rewards, our souls become under-nourished and we are starved of the fellowship of love that is at the heart of the Gospel Ė the love of our God, and His Church.
The Holy Orthodox Church, and the Greek Orthodox Church in particular, has a cycle of services that are inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, and designed to bring us close to our Creator Who is the fount of love and blessing. Vespers are held in the evening (on a Saturday) which is not really that long a service; then on Sunday morning Matins is celebrated, followed by the Doxology, and then afterwards the main celebration of the Holy Divine Liturgy. On the parish level there are special feast days celebrated as well, and so if we cannot make it to church over the weekend we should consider attending a weekday service. However at the same time we cannot substitute say Vespers or Matins for the Divine Liturgy, because each of these services complements one another.
So let our commitment to our Lord and His Church be more loving and more regular, not only within the church building but also in our homes. If we are part of a family, do we neglect saying our morning and evening prayers? Do we forget to thank the Lord for the blessing of the meal that is set before us Ė and afterwards for the nourishment we have received, and the great gifts we receive in our lives? If we receive a birthday present, do we not thank the person who has given it to us? How much more should we thank our loving God Who gives us life!
By neglecting our prayers and attendance at the services of the church we are showing that we lack true love for our God, and are turning our backs on the abundant blessings He has for us.
The Church is always there for us, always willing to hear our requests, support us in our struggles and our sufferings and to pray for us. Our Gracious Lord God loves us the most when we give Him honor and worship, and when we come to Him with simplicity and humble hearts. The Apostle Peter wrote these true words in his First Letter: ďTherefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for youĒ (Ch. 5: 6-7).
The Mother of God and the saints, as well as the martyrs of our Orthodox Church, are most happy and joyful to see us in Church. They join with our earnest supplications, praying with us and taking our humble petitions to the Throne of Grace. Never forget that we are surrounded by innumerable saints and angels who care for us. The grace of the Holy Spirit dwells there too, as well as all the Holy Fathers of our Sacred and Holy Orthodox Church. It is truly wonderful to be part of such a great family, some here on earth and many more in heaven. Indeed, it is as if we are already in heaven when we are in Church praying, loving our God, worshipping Him and resting in His presence. We become totally united with the mystical church on earth as if in paradise, and the peace of God fills us. We now know that when we have to go out and face the world, we are strong because of the spiritual riches and grace we have received.
Let us not only just love our Lord God and His church annually, or infrequently, but every single day of our lives, and make the necessary loving commitment as a family to go to the services the church is offering us. Let us stop making excuses as to why we canít go to Vespers, Matins, or the Holy Divine Liturgy, and let us walk into our Church with love in our hearts for our God and for each other.
We know you are tired, we know you have all sorts of responsibilities. Our prayer for you is that our Lord God will give you the strength and commitment as a family to worship and pray in your Church and in your homes, and so receive the abundance of blessings that our loving Heavenly Father has for you.
Our Lord God does not love us just annually: He loves us today and even until the end of the world. Amen.
Humbly In The Love Of Christ Our Lord,
+Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth Peace, Good Will Toward Men!
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(c) Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes