Excerpts from Sermons: "The Most Important Meeting"


Priest Sergius: We meet God every day, every minute of our lives. We should be careful because we often fail to notice or appreciate this meeting. People expect something grandiose: Angels' trumpets, thunderclaps, and thunderbolts flashing around. Sometimes God touches a person with a quiet word in a difficult or sad situation… This is also an encounter. Thanks to this encounter we become living human beings. A man without God is a mannequin: he might look fine — wearing a suit and a tie — but his eyes will be empty. We should be different: even if we do not have a tie, our eyes ought to shine with joy.
Sermon after a Liturgy on February 15, 2016
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Priest George: Humility isn't spinelessness. Humility is one's desire to be as magnanimous and open as possible, in spite of the others' shortcomings, sins and weaknesses, so as to become a lens through which the light of the Kingdom of God may shine on other people.
Sermon after a Liturgy on February 18, 2016
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Priest Andrew: As we pass through trials that are inevitable in our lives, we should learn to love and serve our neighbors, and to trust God. We should learn to accept everything that the Lord gives us here with humility and gratitude, so that we do not persist in our sinful ways but grow spiritually and become freer. We are chained by the sin; we are attached to earthly things and our habits. When one tries to live spiritually, he breaks free of the chains that led him to losing God.
When a person is free, he becomes open for God, and the Lord dwells in him, which makes that person happy. That was how saints achieved this joy: as they went through life trials, they broke free of the bonds of their own sins and became happy even here. The Kingdom of God was already in their hearts. This is the path that the Lord blesses us to tread.
Sermon after the All-Night Vigil on February 13, 2016
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Archpriest Sergius: Christ adds something new to the Old Testament Law, and it is the Law of Love. This is the Law we will try to follow fearlessly.
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God gives us the most important thing — the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, in which we receive God himself, and He drives away all demons, and nothing can do us any harm. Many people are afraid that something could harm them, politics or similar things. For a Christian, it does not matter at all. What is really important is staying loyal to God and never giving up on Christ.
Sermon after a Liturgy on February 14, 2016
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The Lord came into this world to transform people into temples of the Holy Spirit, so that each person could become such a temple. In this case, even those who destroy churches won't destroy these temples inside human souls because they are consecrated with the grace of the Holy Spirit. We have received Christ Himself into these temples, and He has made them holy.
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We can witness everything that Jesus told his disciples about: nations rise against one another, and kingdoms against kingdoms, states go to war; we hear about earthquakes, and we hear about new, previously unheard diseases. Naturally, these are the signs of the end times. When will the end come? Let us hope that the merciful God will give this world some time to repent, so that people would come to human-built churches, and so that these churches could be the places where the temples of our souls could be consecrated and where we could meet God. If encounters with God cease to happen, the world will also cease to exist. Therefore, let us be looking forward to these encounters; let us meet God more often; let us come to church in order to sanctify ourselves with the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Sermon after a Liturgy on February 19, 2016
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Archpriest Andrew: We have a habit of complaining: everything is not okay, we ache all over, people are bad, enemies are everywhere. Perhaps, we should try a different approach: how nice everything is, how many good people there are around me, how much love I have received from God! I must be grateful for everything I have today.
Sermon before a Confession on February 13, 2016
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Are we going to climb trees, like the publican did, to see Christ? Should we? Or we shouldn't? Perhaps, if we don't become like children, we will never meet God. If we are very clever, smart and rational, if we calculate everything: «What will people think or say about me? I don't want to be a fool in anyone's eyes, God forbid! People should think good about me». This is our human approach. God's approach is different. If we live with God, and Christ is the purpose of our lives, people will spit on us, they will persecute and rebuke us; they won't love us. But we will humble ourselves down and know the reason behind it, and be aware that God allows this to happen for our salvation.
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We want to combine the incompatible: Christ (His life, His love, His humility) and this world. This is impossible. Orthodox people aspire for the heaven, where laws are different.
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Our journey to Pascha(Easter) is not a path towards a special date, marked with red in the calendar. It is a journey into a new life, where it does not matter anymore who you are. Hence the exciting words of Elder Silouan: whether you are a worker or a king, a patriarch or a church gardener — it does not matter; your heart is the only thing that matters.
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How do we become free? This world has raised us to depend slavishly on financial standing, ranks, and property… A sinful word, a rumor, or a reproach, and that's enough — we have betrayed Christ. Sins are incompatible with God.
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Someone asked me, «What is the most difficult thing in life for you?» — and I replied, without hesitation, «Communion». You receive the fire, and you are not ready for it — and it will burn you and make you ache. However, God's love cleanses and sanctifies us through communion. It has cleansed us through confession, although we have not even started to repent properly; it has sanctified us through the Holy Sacrament of Communion, although we do not realize it at all. The Lord heals us and makes Abraham's children out of stone.
Sermon after a Liturgy on February 14, 2016
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«I don't want anything at all… I'm fed up with everything… I'm bored of living», people say. Why are they bored? Because human beings are not made for this temporary life — the eternity is their true destiny. They are not made for this earth that has lost its connection to God and has turned into a huge graveyard. They are made for the Heaven. A man is not a monkey: he is an icon. We should radiate the light of love that shines in the lives of those who live near us.
When a person is filled with light, his eyes are bright, and he sees everyone as if they had that light, too. It is very good to be around such a person because he can see beauty in you.
We all know that we are utterly spoiled. So if anyone says, «Listen, how good, how kind you are, how loving you are!» — people really change, even if it lasts no longer than a second.
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We have consecrated candles today. A candle symbolises the fire of the Holy Spirit. The brighter it shines, the quicker it dies. Likewise, if a person lives and shines, if he does not spare himself, if he is generous, if he understands that the more he gives away, the more he receives, then his life will be extremely bright. Such a person serves God all the time and makes people warm.
Sermon after the All-Night Vigil on the Eve of the Meeting of the Lord (February 14, 2016)
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One can see himself and God in his life differently. When a person lives as he pleases, he puffs his up to such an extent that God becomes small. On the contrary, when a person begins to see his sins and learns to humble down, to obey, to be patient and grateful for everything, God becomes bigger and bigger and bigger. Finally, the person perceives himself as a small grain of sand but this grain of sand is in God's hands. This is our strength. God's power is made manifest in weakness.
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I would like this flame, this sparkle of God's love never to die out in our hearts, so that we could always remember this beauty and this light that entered our lives and became their meaning and their purpose, regardless of anything that happens, even in the darkest periods of our lives.
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Poisoned by sin, people have a distorted perception of everything; they see everything not in the light of love but in the sinful darkness they are used to; thus, they are afraid to get out and see God's light. For a Christian, it is impossible to live in darkness and within the boundaries set up by people; his immortal soul cannot breathe within them. This is why we come to church: to hear that we must lift up our hearts, lift them up to God. We must realize that the main treasure that will never be de-valued is in the heaven. What we will keep there are the riches of our good deeds that will intercede on our behalf before God on the Judgment Day.
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It is so important for us to come to this Holy Chalice that contains eternal life and the love of Christ in its entirety. Behold, this is our encounter with God. It happens at every Liturgy, this unity of man and God. This is the beginning of immortal life, which we should get ready for. Today, we are mortal, subject to pain, sin, and wounds; we grudge and are depressed all the time. We do not want to live like that. Certainly, you get what you bargain for, you only get what you really need.

Sermon after a Liturgy on the day of the Meeting of the Lord (February 15, 2016)


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