Message from Fr Gary May 2016
Preparing for a fishing expedition, I handed a copy of a map of the lake to each of my boys. It was a copy of an original and an old one at that. You could see the residue that accumulated on the copy print after print after print. We gathered our supplies, some tackle, snacks, drinks and a variety of activities to help us with our patience.
After approving the snacks and activities one of the boys asked an important question. While pointing to the map he asked, “Where are we going to fish?” “Right there,” I said touching the map and pointing to a corner of the lake. He responded, “How do we get there?” “Well,” I said, “you follow this road and turn left up over here.” “And how do you know that? Have you been there before?” “No,” I said, “never been there. We’ll follow the map.” “Who drew the map, Dad?” “Someone who knows the lake.”
Finally, I understood his point! He wanted to know why I was placing my faith in this map, trusting that it would help us to our destination. When we finally arrived at our fishing spot, we sat there for half a day and caught nothing, nada, zilch, not a bite! But all the while as we sat, waiting, I kept thinking about the exchange outside the Outpost earlier that day. Our Orthodox Faith is like a map. It helps us stay on track and helps lead us towards our destination, which is the entrance into God’s Kingdom.
This life is not the end of our existence, merely the introduction to a never-ending, everlasting, eternal life with our Lord in His Kingdom. Do we take full advantage of the benefits our map (the Orthodox Faith) offers us? Or do we frame it for all to see, to enjoy its beauty, never really getting our hands on it, to study it, crinkle it and learn from it.
Orthodoxy offers us the greatest expression of Christianity. Through the study of Holy Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the determination to live a Sacramental Life, we have the tools to reach our destination. But do we compartmentalize our lives and wear our Church clothes on Sunday and take them off the rest of the week, not giving it another thought until the next Sunday?
In Psalm 37:23 we read, “The Lord guides a man in the way he should go and protects those who please Him.” The Bible offers us a guide for life circumstances. It teaches us how to deal with anger, with our enemies, how to help others, and how to live like Christ. From the Tradition of the Church, our Church Fathers tell us in the Didache (The Teaching, an early manuscript of Christian writings) there are two ways to live: “One of life, and one of death, and there is a great difference between them.” The Didache goes deep into the teachings of Christ, expanding upon them, reminding us of the two great commandments, “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Living Sacramentally is an essential aspect of imitating Christ. Everyone of the seven sacraments offers us the opportunity to restore our relationship with God (The Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Baptism, Christmation, Eucharist, Unction, Marriage, Confession, and Ordination are all avenues towards the same location (note that marriage and ordination are the only two sacraments that are optional, Baptism and Chrismation are offered once and for all time, but as Orthodox Christians we are required to regularly participate in the Eucharist -communion, Confession and Unction.) The Sacraments reestablish our bond and connection with God. It is a way to secure of our spiritual foundation.
No one builds a house without blueprints and it would be foolish to set out on a journey without first considering the destination. Every now and then we need to reset our compass and make sure we are on the right path.
Where are we going and how do we get there are great questions. The answers are found in our Orthodox Church; Holy Scripture, Sacred Tradition and a Sacramental Life. Let’s reset and set your sights on the purpose of our being, finding communion with God in His Kingdom.
In Christ’s Service,