Where are we going?

By Father Andrew Lemeshonok

Our earthly life is getting shorter. The life of a Christian seems strange to other people, who need large-scale events and effects. The outer life of a Christian is much more humble and simple. It is difficult to imagine from the outside, how it could be so: stay in your cell, and it will teach you everything you need. People want to travel, to gain certain impressions. However, when a person finds God, he understands that God embodies everything what can be in this world, and contains in Himself far more than we can find on this earth. This is why a person spends all his energy to reach his own heart and stay there with God, to make his own heart turn into the Heavenly Kingdom.

But sometimes we cannot do this. We are often torn apart. On the one hand, there is an old "self" with its emotions and feelings, always trying to gain something new, something interesting, something tasty… On the other hand, a new self wants nothing new at all. It is bored, because everything is the same in this word – it was the same a thousand years ago, and it is the same today. What can be new in this world except from God? We think that he is hiding from us, but He is near us. But we do not see Him…

When a person preserves peace inside, then he will feel as if he is in Heaven, wherever he is. When we lose this peace, when the sin prevails in us, then we begin to dislike even those who are close to us. We do not want to be with them. Today we have read: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself” (Luke, 9:26). How can one deny himself? How can one desire to sacrifice his soul to save it? A spiritual man dies, and we feel sorry for him. What concerns me personally, I can say that earlier I was interested in everything beautiful, in everything nice, in nature… Now I cannot fill my heart with these things. What should we do? How should we live then? A Christian understands that each step towards God causes pain, because it is impossible to preserve this grace in our heart by our own means. The grace leaves you, and you suffer in despair, because you cannot live like you have lived before anymore, but at the same time you still cannot live in a new way.

Where are we going? To the Resurrection from the Dead, to Pascha! This is why we should not be afraid of following Christ. This way seems scary to the people, who do not know that God is love. Has God deprived someone? Could it be possible, that God gives someone more than another one? Equally. The thing is, we perceive the gifts of God differently, and keep them differently as well.

We need to die and resurrect in this life, so that we will not be afraid of physical death. Our energy goes away, and we can do nothing: our eyes do not see, our ears do not hear. A person can hardly move, his physical resources are exhausted. Only the end is ahead of him. If we are tied to this world, our life becomes the way to our own grave. But we do not want to die, we want to live forever. This is why we come to church, and this is why we come to the Chalice. We have to learn again. Our study will help us discover a completely different view on what life is, what the world is, and what love is. “My sister and my brother are my life” (from the prayer of Sophrony (Sakharov)) – this is how we should look at a person near us. He is not a hindrance, not a burden or a competitor, but my life. If we start looking for beauty in one another, then the world around us will change.

Today we thank God, for we have opportunity to speak about Heaven, about something important in our life. People speak rarely about these things. They do not have time for this; they have a lot to do. Everything is artificial in this world. Everything is substituted and confused. Not only food and relationships become artificial, but our life itself becomes unreal. People like natural food, because it is healthy. Natural materials are more reliable. And we need a natural, a normal life with God. Without God there is no life at all. We ask God to strengthen us, because each of us is weak. Each of us dithers. There is a lot of sin in each of us, which disfigures everything around us.  We should not be afraid of rooting this sin out. We should be not afraid of pain this can cause. We have to work on ourselves. This is what our earthly life is intended for – to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, to restore what our ancestors have lost in Eden, to restore the connection with God, which will make a person like God in our image.  

March 20, 2017
St. Elisabeth Convent