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Homily for 12/28/08 - 2b4Nat - unexpected invitations

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  • Fr David Moser
    Luke 14:16-24 During the holiday season we have many unexpected events in our lives: we meet old friends and new friends, we give and receive gifts; there
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 28, 2008
      Luke 14:16-24

      During the holiday season we have many unexpected events in our lives:
      we meet old friends and new friends, we give and receive gifts; there
      always seems to be something new around the corner. In the Gospel today
      there were some people who received an unexpected invitation as well.
      The King decided to hold a banquet and so invited all of his friends.
      These friends did not expect this invitation and so had made other plans
      and each made his excuse as to why he could not come. Each one had
      something, in his own opinion, that was more important or more pressing
      than the invitation of the King to dine with him. The King, seeing that
      his friends were more interested in themselves than in accepting his
      invitation, withdrew that invitation and turned to some other unexpected
      guests so that his celebration might not be in vain. The poor, the
      blind, the lame the disabled were all invited. These new invitees
      expected the invitation even less, but when the opportunity to dine with
      the King presented itself, they set aside all their other plans and
      joyfully accepted it. For these new guests this invitation was not only
      unexpected, but it was also unimaginable. Here they were invited to dine
      at the King’s table – something that they would never have imagined
      possible. Perhaps a fortunate few might have the opportunity to serve
      those dining at the table but to be the guests themselves was beyond
      their wildest dreams. And yet, when presented with the impossible, the
      unexpected, the unimaginable, they embraced it with joy.

      In our own lives, as I already mentioned, we encounter the unexpected
      and even the unimaginable all the time. We have plans, goals,
      expectations for our lives which go along without question until all of
      a sudden we encounter the unexpected, the unimaginable. Perhaps some
      great opportunity presents itself, perhaps a tragedy befalls you,
      perhaps you are pulled this way or that by circumstances beyond your
      control. Whatever it may be, your ideas of what your life would be like
      are suddenly and radically challenged, your circumstances become
      substantially different, you are faced with a new and potentially
      different life. When this occurs you have a choice to make, just as
      those in the Gospel parable had a choice to make about their unexpected
      invitation. You can choose to ignore this new direction, this
      “invitation” (as it were) and persistently continue to pursue your own
      ideas of what your life will be or you can embrace the new direction and
      let your life flow into and fill the new opportunities which are opened
      to you. It is good to have your own plan for your life, for this gives
      shape and purpose to your actions, however, it is also necessary to
      leave room for God to intervene and alter your plan with something
      unexpected, even previously unimaginable. Elsewhere, in the Gospel of
      John, our Lord said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth and thou hearest
      the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it
      goeth; so is every one that is born of the spirit.” At your Chrismation,
      you were sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Be prepared, then to
      go where the Holy Spirit directs you, and do not allow your
      pre-conceived opinions and desires cripple you when the moment comes
      that you are called upon to do that which was before unimaginable.

      Today we remember the Holy Forefathers of Christ – those who came before
      Him to prepare the way and from whose lineage His humanity was drawn. If
      we look back at the lives of the forebears of Christ we see many
      unexpected and unimaginable changes wrought by God’s hand which served
      to bring history and the whole world to a single defining point – that
      point was marked by something so completely unimaginable that even now,
      two centuries later, we have difficulty grasping it. That unimaginable
      event was the incarnation. God, the Creator of the universe, Who is so
      beyond our comprehension and our capacity that it was impossible even to
      see Him without immediate death, took flesh and became man. God dwelt
      among us. That is completely and totally unimaginable – and yet it
      occurred. But even today we have difficulty with that idea and there are
      many who seek to demonstrate that Jesus was not God incarnate or that
      while Jesus might have been God he was not truly human like the rest of
      us. Even for us, who confess the belief that He is fully God and fully
      man, the reality of it all is difficult to accept and grasp. Despite our
      inability to fully grasp the unimaginable act of the incarnation – God
      did indeed become man. And, as St Athanasius so succinctly put it, God
      become man so that man might become God. Here we have another
      inconceivable and unimaginable possibility that we might become like
      God. The incarnation brings us not one but two unimaginable
      possibilities: that God has become man and that man might become like God.

      It is this unimaginable pair of truths that form the true basis of our
      lives. This is the path that God has laid out before us. He has come to
      us so that He might lead us to Himself. The path of our salvation then
      is given to us by God in our lives so that we might draw ever nearer to
      Him. All of the unexpected and unimaginable events that come to us in
      our lives have but one purpose, to allow us to draw nearer to God, to
      follow the path of salvation. At the incarnation, a star appeared in the
      heavens and the Kings of the East, the magi of the Gospels, saw the star
      and knew that the Great King had been born. They followed that star not
      knowing the path upon which it would lead them, what they would
      encounter or who they would meet, but knowing only the final goal, that
      the star would lead them into the presence of the Great King. As long as
      they kept their focus on the goal, on finding and worshipping the Great
      King, it did not matter what they encountered on the road – whether the
      heat of the sun or the wind and rain; whether they met friends or
      enemies; whether the road was easy or hard. All this they endured as
      they followed the star kept their focus on the final goal of their
      journey – to come into the presence of the Great King. We follow the
      same path as those magi of old. We are following the path to come into
      the presence of the Great King, our Lord and God and Savior Jesus
      Christ. Each step on the path shapes us and molds us little by little
      into His image and likeness so that by the end of the journey we will
      enter into His presence and be like Him. While we may plan the next day
      or the next year of our journey, it is not our plan we are following,
      but like the magi we follow the star which leads us invariably to
      Christ. They did not allow themselves to be distracted by their daily
      circumstances, by the events of the journey, but always they kept the
      goal of their journey at the center of all that they did. In our lives,
      we must likewise keep our Lord Jesus Christ as the center of all that we
      do and not be pulled this way or that by our own plans and desires and
      the temptations of the world. When God brings to us that which is
      unexpected and unimaginable, let us then not then insist on our own way
      and our own plan, but rather take the path which leads inexorably and
      unerringly to Christ. He is the star which we follow and He is the goal
      of our life leading us through unexpected ways to the unimaginable goal
      of becoming like Him.

      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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