Wednesday, 30 May 2018 17:16

Heaven On Earth

The Orthodox Church is Truth. The Orthodox Church contains no human innovation, but the Word of God. In her there is no place for opinions, only the active and divine inspiration of God. All that we see of her, visible and invisible, hear and touch, her fragrance and her taste, is filled with the Spirit of God. She is a treasure beyond all human understanding. She is all beautiful and all Holy. She is our freedom and our love. In her lies all Truth. Without her Truth, her love and her freedom, nothing has any meaning.
She is not of this World. She is heaven on earth.

THE CHURCH IS BORN

She was taken from the side of Christ. The soldier pierced His side from which His Blood and Water flowed. "That Water and Blood symbolised Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. From these two Sacraments the Church is born: from Baptism, the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit, and from the Holy Eucharist. Since the symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist flowed from His side, it was from His side that Christ fashioned the Church, as He had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam." (Daily readings from the writings of St John Chrysostomos pp. 17, 1988)

The Church sustains us, nourishes us, cleanses us, heals us, and restores us. She unites us to God.
"Nothing is more abiding than the Church; she is your salvation; she is your refuge. She is more lofty than the heavens; she is more far-reaching than the earth. She never grows old; she always stays in bloom. And so Scripture indicates her permanence and stability by calling her a virgin; her magnificence by calling her a queen; her closeness to God by calling her a daughter; her names try to spell out her barrenness turned to fecundity by calling her ‘the mother of seven’. A thousand names try to spell out her nobility. Just as the Lord is called by many names: Treasure, Lord, God, Son, Only-Begotten, Form of God, Image of God…. Since one name could not hope to describe the Omnipotent, and many names give us some small insight into His nature, so the Church goes by many names." (Daily readings of St John Chrysostomos pp. 117)

APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION
THE UNBROKEN GOLDEN CHAIN

Her beauty, her splendour and Her Holiness is never ending. Her tradition is unbroken. She is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. She has retained the faith because she is the True Faith. She has preserved the faith in its fullness because of the Holy Spirit. Her unbroken apostolic succession is an unbroken golden chain.

THE TEMPLE THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF TRUTH

She is the living Church, "the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15)
Her community comprises of the living and those fallen asleep, all of whom are members of Christ’s Holy Body and who draw their life from Him, whose Kingdom shall have no end.

"Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?" (1 Corinth. 2:15)
"The Church is the Temple of God and the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not you own." (1 Corinth. 6:19)

The Church was placed on earth so that those lost might be found. That those weary, might find rest. That those sick, might be healed. That those burdened, might find peace. That those living in darkness, would be given Light. That those in the tombs, might have life bestowed unto them. That those hungry and thirsty might find their fill. She anoints, loves and protects all who come to her with a pure heart. These are her beloved children whom "shall see God." (Matt. 5:8)

THE TEACHER

The Orthodox Church is the great Teacher. Through her we are taught all things.
But do we love her? "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." (Luke 14:23-26)

Her teaching is not founded on the wisdom or words of men.
"These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinth. 2:13-14)
In the Church we are Christ’s and Christ’s is God’s. (1 Corinth 2:23)
Without her we cannot be with God or belong to Him.

THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH

The Rock and Foundation of the Church is Christ Himself to which "the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:18) The powers of death are powerless against her. The Church rests upon this Rock by her unchanging faith and confession.
Christ is the head of the Church. The Church joins us and knits us together as one, "by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share." (Ephes. 4:16) All share according to operation of love and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in serving Christ. "She is the spiritual centre of our world, the focus of the whole history of mankind, from the creation of the first to the last man to be born of a woman. The Church is the bond of Christ’s love by virtue of her indissoluble unity with Him". (Archimandrite Sophrony We Shall See Him 1988 pp. 96)

 

Fr Emmanuel Stamatiou

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