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Homily for 3/1/09 - CF - wake up

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  • Fr David Moser
    Rom 13:11-14:4 “..now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2009
      Rom 13:11-14:4
      “..now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation
      nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand:”

      Every year at the threshold of Great Lent we hear this same call to
      wakefulness. Throughout the year we have sunk deeper and deeper into the
      sleep of sin and now it is time to wake up and rouse ourselves out of
      the comfort of our lives and begin to work out our salvation.

      Sin is a deceiver for it comes to us in the guise of a harmless idea –
      not even a real temptation. The idea keeps coming back and coming back
      until we get so accustomed to it that we no longer notice it. Our
      vigilance begins to wane and soon the temptation slips by our guard and
      finds a way into the heart where it takes root and begins to grow.

      Sin lulls us to sleep. When we are asleep, we are unaware of what is
      going on around us. Things may change, pleasures may pass by, dangers
      may manifest – but as long as we sleep we do not notice any of these. So
      also in the sleep of sin. Our lives continue on around us, but we do not
      notice the lost opportunities for righteousness, we are oblivious to the
      opportunities to do good and chances to practice the virtues go by
      unnoticed. As the effects of sin pile up in us, burying the soul under
      the weight of sin, the sleeper does not see this danger but assumes that
      he is a “good person” and is “doing ok” because he is not aware of the
      sin that has made its home in his life. When a person sleeps the mind
      and body are given over to the fantasies of dreams – meaningless images
      which are plucked from the memories and thoughts of the unconscious and
      strung together in some kind of story. In the sleep of sin the soul of
      the person is likewise given over to meaningless fantasies of the
      spiritual world which hide its true nature under the mask of foolish and
      meaningless ideas. When fully asleep only a strong stimulus from the
      outside such as a loud noise or an unexpected movement or touch will
      awaken the sleeper. When awakened in such a manner it is the natural
      inclination to immediately fall back asleep, only a purposeful act of
      the will maintains the state of wakefulness. So also with the sleep of
      sin – only a strong intervention from God will awaken him and then only
      by an act of the will is he able to remain awake and alert.

      So now we hear the alarm, the voice of Apostle calling to us saying,
      “Wake up! Your salvation is near! Now is the time to awaken from the
      sleep of sin to the reality of the spiritual life!” We could continue to
      “sleep through the alarm” and just think to ourselves, “Oh, Lent is upon
      us” and return to our daily lives with little notice, just as a sleeper
      might hear an alarm but having shut it off, roll over and go back to
      sleep. Or we can awaken and begin the ascetic labor of the Lenten season
      which will cut us off from the soporific of sin and which will
      invigorate our soul with the life of Christ.

      During the first week of Lent, we give ourselves over more vigorously to
      prayer. The services of the first week, particularly the Great Compline
      with the Canon of St Andrew, serve to bring us time and time again
      before the throne of God, encourage us to kneel and prostrate ourselves
      before Him and rouse the soul out of the sleep of sin. In its intensity,
      the prayer life of the first week of Lent is only matched by that of
      Holy Week. In many cases, monasteries, which are buffered from the world
      somewhat, suspend all other business during the first week for there is
      so much activity in the prayers of the Church that there is no time for
      other pursuits. We, who live in the world and who are therefore must
      fulfill duties to our families and our employment and society, may not
      be able to completely “close shop” during the first week as the
      monastery does, but we can devote all our time and energy that is not
      taken up with the necessities of our daily lives to prayer, suspending
      all other pursuits and activities during this week. The reason for this
      intense activity is to help us change direction. Before we were
      motionless in the sleep of sin – now the intense prayer of the first
      week of Lent gets us moving, and pushes us forward, creating the
      momentum that we will need to continue moving towards the Kingdom of
      God. As we go through Lent, we perceive that the Lenten struggle seems
      to get easier and easier – this is really only a matter of inertia for
      as we gain momentum it become easier and easier to continue moving in
      that direction. If we miss the “kick start” of the first week, then Lent
      remains more of a struggle for we don’t get that extra push that gets us
      moving.

      Now is the time to wake up. The alarm clock of the Apostle’s cry is
      ringing for us even as we listen here. We have fallen into the sleep of
      sin, unaware of the dangers that surround us. But God in His infinite
      mercy and compassion, rouses us again so that we might resume the work
      of our salvation. Again we are called to deny ourselves in the ascetic
      labor of Great Lent. Again we are led to Holy Week where, with Christ we
      will take up our cross. Again we are given the chance to follow after
      Christ, to die with Him, to be buried with Him, to descend into Hades
      with Him and to defeat sin, death and the devil with Him and rise from
      the dead with Him and ascend into glory with Him. Now is the time to
      deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Christ. Now is the time of
      your salvation. Now is the time to rouse yourself from the sleep of sin.
      Now is the time to wake up!

      --
      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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