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Homily for 5/28/07 - Pentecost - Birthday of the Church

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  • Fr David Moser
    Today, dear brothers and sisters, we celebrate a birthday. We celebrate the birthday of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It is on this day, with the
    Message 1 of 1 , May 30, 2007
      Today, dear brothers and sisters, we celebrate a birthday. We celebrate
      the birthday of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It is on
      this day, with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles that the
      Church was born. Up until this time mankind did not experience the
      presence of God directly for he did not have God living within himself.
      In the time of the prophets – that is the in the time of the Old
      Testament prior to the coming of Christ – we experienced God through the
      Law and the Prophets, through the words and promises that He gave to us
      in the words of the Prophets and through the effects of His hand on the
      course of history. All of these promises found their fulfillment and all
      of history focused upon the coming of God into the world, the
      incarnation, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the earthly life of
      Christ, we experienced God no longer as an abstract, but now as a person
      – the God/man Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ we see for the first time
      the union of God and man, we see what God had intended for us at
      creation and what He still desired for us in our destiny. Still however,
      while He was closer to us, He was not united to us. On this day, the day
      of Pentecost, God Himself, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Church as
      tongues of flame and began to dwell within those who followed Christ.
      The descent and indwelling of the Holy Spirit breathed the divine Life
      into the new Church, the Body of Christ. Just prior to His ascension,
      our Lord Jesus Christ instructed His disciples to remain together in
      Jerusalem. They were not yet united together by the one Spirit and so it
      was necessary for a time for them to remain united by physical
      proximity. However once the Holy Spirit came to them, they scattered to
      the 4 corners of the earth to preach the Gospel. Although they were no
      longer united by their physical proximity, now they were united by an
      even stronger bond – the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Now they were
      themselves a living part of the One Body of Christ – the Church – which
      is united by the One Holy Spirit of God Who lives within each member of
      the Church, joining us all together.

      In the Gospel today there are two distinct images of the effect of the
      Holy Spirit dwelling in us. Our Lord first tells us that we will become
      fountains of Living Water – that is the grace of the Holy Spirit. Then
      again He tells us that we shall have the Light of life. Light and water
      together symbolize the presence of God in us. When we are baptized, we
      are often said to be “illumined” that is we become filled with the Light
      of Christ. No longer do we walk in the darkness of sin for we are filled
      with Light and that Light shines in us so that we become the Light of
      the World. The living water, of which we have already spoken in the past
      few weeks, is the grace of God which transforms us and unites us to God
      Himself. We are not only filled with this grace but this grace overflows
      from us and touches the whole world through us. With the coming and
      indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Who is the source of that grace, now we
      are filled no longer from the outside, but from our inner being does
      this spring of divine grace pour forth. In this manner we have become
      not only receptacles of divine grace, but we have become fountains from
      which the divine grace flows.

      Just as our Lord Jesus Christ in His incarnation is the God/man, so the
      Church as His Body also manifests the same dual nature for the Church is
      a living thing, it is a divine/human organism filled with the life of
      the Holy Trinity. The presence of that Life is the result of the
      integral presence of the Holy Spirit living in us. Being partakers of
      the grace of God through the presence of the Holy Spirit, we now become
      members of the Body of Christ – cells, as it were in the divine/human
      organism that is the Church. By the Holy Spirit we are intimately united
      to Christ and just as intimately united to one another. In the Church we
      are no longer a collection of individuals, but we have become a unity of
      persons – just as the Holy Trinity is One God in three persons. In the
      Church we are the persons and we are united by the one Holy Spirit Who
      lives in each of us individually and corporately.

      John 7:37-52: 8:12

      Thus with the coming of the Holy Spirit the Church is as a divine/human
      organism is born. On this day God Himself not only comes to us as He did
      in the Incarnation – but He becomes part of us, living within us in
      unity with our own spirits, uniting us organically to God and to one
      another. The parish community that we see and experience here around us
      is the local visible manifestation of the One Holy Catholic and
      Apostolic Church. Thus it is that we are united not only to each other
      here, but we are united also to all of the other parishes and people in
      the Orthodox Church – the other local visible manifestations of the One
      Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church – who share in the life of the Holy
      Trinity. Whenever we receive visitors from other places – whether it is
      our own Archbishop Kyrill or perhaps a priest or a layman from a
      different city – we manifest that unity. Whenever we visit parishes in
      other cities and join with them in prayer, we manifest that unity.
      Whenever we join in prayer with the other parish communities in this
      city – we manifest that unity. The grace of the Holy Spirit that courses
      through us makes us one, unites us together in the life of the Holy
      Trinity and makes us to be the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

      Today on this feast of the descent of the Holy Spirit, is the birthday
      of the Church. The Church as a divine/human organism was born on this
      day. Today we have become fountains of living water, overflowing with
      the grace of the Holy Spirit to touch the world with God’s love,
      compassion, mercy and grace. Today we have become the light of the
      world, shining with the Light of Christ which illumines all men. Today
      the Church is born for today the Holy Spirit has descended upon us and
      dwells within us.

      --
      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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