St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

On the Sunday Before Nativity

 

Sermon preached by His Grace Bishop John on Sunday, December 20, 2015

We heard in this morning's epistle reading that it was in faith that those who traveled and acted and worked in the Old Testament experienced or were guided. So what does it mean to be in faith? To be in faith or to have faith means that you walk with God, you listen to God, you cooperate with God. Your life is inside of Christ. We are baptized into Christ and we put Christ on. We hear the voice of God through the scriptures and through our living in a righteous way. Our being in faith means that we cooperate with what God is doing around us and within us.

This morning's Gospel lesson is about the genealogy of Christ. Even though it is difficult to hear or read all of these names, it is a very important Gospel reading for our faith. The flesh that Christ took on from Mary was real flesh. The ancestors of God in Christ, were real characters. When you study them, you find that they were jews and non-jews; righteous and murderers; people who were faithful and people who betrayed God; there were slaves and there were free, and so on. So, none of us can claim that God can't understand us because of our circumstances, because of our lousy childhoods, because our parents weren't perfect.

For 14 generations plus 14 generations plus 14 generations of extremely real people, the Word of God took on very real flesh.

The significance of dividing the genealogy this way is that seven (7) is the number of completeness. Fourteen (14) is double completeness. We have seven days in the week, seven brings us full circle. We have seven generations plus seven generations, PLUS seven generations plus seven generations, PLUS seven generations plus seven generations. This implies that all of time is encompassed, and everything is complete. The Word of God takes on flesh from everything that it needs to become human and to regain and recapture the world that we are in.

Joseph needed God to give him a right heart and a right relationship in order to be guided to understand the fulfillment of the mysteries of the generations that the Word of God would take on flesh and become human.

The significance of the Magi is that even those honest people who didn't have the scriptures but were seeking truth to know God understood from their studies of the stars that God was taking on flesh and was being born. So, they came from the East to worship God, bringing the gifts that no human being needs. I don't know how many of you give your kids incense or myrrh or burial oils for Christmas. So, they knew that the King was God and is being revealed to us and reclaiming us and recapturing us. So, it is meet and right and reasonable to gather as the Church to celebrate the Nativity of our Lord, to offer each other love and encouragement and life, so that together we can know what God is calling us to be, to know what God is calling us to do. We can then love each other and challenge each other and forgive each other and work together to discern God's will and guidance for us.