Headed in the Same Direction


alright can you guys hear me now no you guys got to do something back there okay is that better all right good evening everybody happy new year I wish you all a blessed and a Happy New Year I pray that 2019 is a new beginning for all of us if you guys are anything like me you're always looking for an excuse for a new beginning right sometimes we do things we shouldn't have done and I'm always looking for a new start maybe you said something you shouldn't have said or maybe you hit Send on that email when you should have hit Send right don't we wish sometimes that there was an undo button in life the same way we have that undo button on the computer well there's good news and there's bad news the bad news is there's no undo buttons in life the good news is is that there's a redo button and who pushed that redo button is our Lord Jesus Christ and that's why we're here tonight that's why we're here in this season that's why we have this season is because our Lord Jesus Christ decided to redo and renew our human nature in himself and when he chose to do that he saw well he saw that man was corrupted man had fallen and man had reached a very weak state and so he decided that he would take flesh and come and take our nature and renew our nature and when he did that he gave us the tools and the means of grace to overcome our human weakness you know one of the problems with our human weakness is division and we are surrounded these days by division division in the world division in the country division in our homes and even division in the church division is the tool that the devil used from the beginning to separate man from God you can see it very clearly in the beginning let's take a look at what happened before the fall before the devil had a conversation with Eve look at what Adam said about her he said this is bone of my bones and flesh of my but then after the sin after the fall look at what his reaction was he told God he said the woman that you gave me to be with me she gave me of the tree and I ate and here we see the problem of division the first married couple fight in the history of humanity right and as you guys could see from the the presentation and from the poem and from the prayer that st. Mark's theme for this year is unity we are surrounded by division and we need unity we need unity unity is part of the nature of God it is part of the character of God in God we see the perfect model of unity right the Holy Trinity three-in-one without division without dissension without any jealousy amongst them and not a single one is higher than the other they are the model of perfect unity and that's the model that we want to have and it is on the heart of God that we would have that same unity and we see this very clearly in our Lord Jesus Christ prayer right before his passion and crucifixion look at what he said when he prayed to the Father he said I do not pray for these alone but also for those who will believe in me through their word that they all may be one as you Father are in me and I in you that they also may be one in us that the world may believe that you sent me and the glory which you gave me I have given them that they may be one just as we are one I in them and you in me that they may be made perfect in one and that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me it's very clear the Lord wants us to be one family so look to your left look to your right look in front look behind welcome to your family you know they say that you don't choose family but God chose us to be part of his family and so our theme for tonight our theme for the year is unity and a lot of times when you hear this word unity there's a lot of misconceptions sometimes we think that unity means that the everybody has to talk like me everybody has to look like me we got to speak the same language we have to be from the same culture and that's not true God created every single one of us different okay and believe it or not there are other cultures in the world right God created each one of us unique we all have our gifts we all have our talents but you know what unity means unity simply means that we all have the same goal we all have the same goal and what is that goal I think it is summed up perfectly in Ephesians 4:13 if you've been in st. marks for a few years this is kind of our theme verse it says till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to a perfect man to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ this is our goal to reach the fullness of Christ so then how do I get there if this is my goal how do I get there well I can't do it on my own if we look at the verses that came before let's see what it says it says and he himself meaning God gave some to be apostles some prophets some evangelists and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the Saints who are the Saints you and I for the equipping of the Saints for the work of ministry what is ministry service of the church for the work of ministry for the edifying or the building up of the body of Christ till we all come to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God to a perfect man to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ so the goal of ministry the goal of anything that we do in the church is what to reach what the fullness of Christ and it's for the edifying of the body which is you and I so the question for us tonight is how can i fulfill my role in this body and how can I help edify how can I help unite the body of Christ well I think there are three main things that we have to do each and every single one of us has to do these things number one is to offer personal repentance which means I am getting right personally with God to offer personal repentance now I know the word repentance is a very churchy word it's a Sunday school word and we hear it all the time but the question is do I really understand what it means repentance in a very simple way means to return to God to come back to God and as I said earlier the devil tries to separate us from God and how does he do that when we fall into sin so any sin whether big or small separates me from God this is God okay and every time I sin I get further and further away so any sin whether big or small is separating me from God and repentance is to return back to God now many of us think that if I don't do anything really bad I'm okay I don't murder I don't steal I don't cheat but is that the standard that's not the standard let me ask you this when Adam and Eve committed sin did they commit murder did they come up with some kind of conniving plan to overthrow God or to take from God or to do something against God it was a simple act of disobedience God told them don't eat from this tree and what did they do they ate from this tree if you're a parent and you have children you give this commandment 100 times a day and the commandment is broken 200 times a day don't touch this and what do they do they touch this it was a simple act but that simple act of disobedience was enough to do what it was enough for them to be expelled from paradise okay and that is the consequence of sin is separation from God so if sin separates me from God repentance unites me back to God and gives me the healing that I need sometimes repentance is called the forgotten medicine the problem is is that I can't diagnose myself if it was up to me to diagnose myself I wouldn't see anything wrong with myself as long as they don't kill I don't steal I don't do all these big sins it's not a big deal but even if you're not doing those things can you say that you have reached the full measure of Christ a lot of times we focus on the negative Commandments don't do this don't do but what about all the positive Commandments what about loving my neighbor what about giving to the poor what about praying without ceasing what about loving my enemies unless I'm doing those I haven't reached the full measure of Christ let me ask you a question is the goal of my marriage to not cheat on my wife is that the goal of any marriage so if I don't cheat on my wife is that a successful marriage is that is that the end is that the height is that the peak of course not okay the goal is to enter into a loving relationship so sometimes our standard is not correct st. James tells us therefore to him who knows to do good and does not do it to him it is sin and that needs repentance if you haven't been to confession recently I highly recommend you make it one of your new year's resolutions and go see your father confession as soon as possible if you don't have a father confession you need to get one the father confession is like the spiritual doctor because sometimes I can't I can't see of course I cannot see what's wrong with me many times I don't feel sick but every once in a while I have to go to the doctor for a general checkup right because the doctor can do blood tests and do things and see things that I can't see myself so maybe the blood tests or the professional that the spiritual doctor can see something that I can't see so it's important to keep repentance at the top of my list and if I don't I don't think I need to repent that I need to go see spiritual doctor now there's another dimension to repentance that we don't think about which is what I do affects the entire body of Christ I know maybe you think you're just one small person in a big church and and what you do in the corner doesn't matter but nothing could be further from the truth there is no such thing as a solo Christian let me give you an example you saw the example of the body you saw those verses talked about how we're one body if I take my arm and I separate it from the body is it gonna be able to survive no right it can't live on a zone it can't be disconnected from the source of life which is the blood and the rest of the organs let me ask you this what if there's a cut on my arm that I choose to disregard will this affect the whole body or not yes right if I lose blood doesn't that put more strain on the other organs doesn't this cause my whole body to suffer if I get an infection does this affect the whole body or not it does and it's the same thing with us so be careful don't think that you're out there on your own there's a beautiful quote from st. Justin Martyr he says he was speaking to a friend he says by your sin you have wounded the body of Christ with a wound which no one can heal except you and if you do not come back to this body the body remains wounded so I need to offer personal repentance not only for myself but for the sake of who for the entire body there's also a beautiful quote from one of the the elder monks on Mount Athos he says if you want to help the church it is better to try to correct yourself rather than be looking to correct others if you manage to correct yourself one small part of the church is immediately corrected naturally if everyone did the same the body of the church would be in good health but today people concern themselves with anything but themselves you see judging others is easy whereas working on yourself takes effort so number one I need to offer personal repentance number two is reconciliation not only do I need to get right with God but I need to get right with others you know this is the season where there's lots of family gatherings and imagine now you're gathered with your family together and one or two of your most beloved family members are missing it's hard enough when somebody passes away and they're no longer there it's hard when people are travelling but you know what's even harder is that when one of your family members chooses not to be there on their own that hurts that hurts the family and something is missing and that's what's going on in the church many of our family members are far away and are missing and the body is not without them many of us are also hurting because we have broken relationships and it is time for reconciliation now I know that some situations are much harder than others I know there's lots of hurts there are lots of major issues and I'm trying to minimize those but a lot of the divisions we have are nonsense okay and we need to cut the nonsense out if there's somebody you need to apologize to you should apologize to them if there's somebody you need to forgive then you should forgive them if you need to have a conversation with somebody and tell them say listen hey I've been upset you hurt me then do it but we can't continue to let this body be divided over and over and over again so let me kind of cut to the chase here let me share with you some kind of scary verses a little bit I know sometimes we don't think things are a big deal but to God certain things are a big deal first John 3:15 says whoever hates his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him and laid it later on he says if someone says I love God and hates his brother he is a liar for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen how can he love God whom he has not seen very serious okay a lot of times we may say forget that person that person doesn't matter but in the eyes of God it matters greatly and me as a parent when I see my two little kids fighting together it really bothers me so imagine the heart of God so we need to reconcile with each other and with God but not only reconciling myself to others if I'm a true child of God I need to be a peacemaker and help others reconcile as well blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God somebody can move the slide forward please one-one back blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God do you remember when the Jews came to Christ and they told him we are sons of Abraham do you remember what he told them he says if you're children of Abraham you should do what do the works of Abraham if we are the children of God then we should do what we should do the works of God God came Christ came to reconcile us together and we should do the same now when I say be a peacemaker I'm not asking you to solve all the problems in the world I'm not asking you to bring Wars to an end what I'm asking you to do is a couple of simple things one of the areas that I see is one of the biggest problem is okay this is the hypothetical situation I know this doesn't happen but just bear with me here let's say somebody's talking bad about the church okay I know it doesn't happen but let's just say hypothetically people are gossiping about the church or people in the church what should I do so I take that and spread it or do I be a peacemaker and say you know what we shouldn't talk about our family like that we all agreed this is our family right none of us would accept that somebody talks about my mother my father my brother my sister my wife wise my whatever none of us would accept that right so why then do we do we accept it that we would talk about our brothers and sisters here in the body of Christ so when you hear somebody saying something do me a favor change the conversation okay tell that person listen this is not healthy for us you know what you need to leave the conversation leave the conversation but we cannot continue to have these things going on and dividing us even further one of the other things that I see all the time is our judging of others so many times we don't know people's circumstances we look at people in a certain way we treat them in a certain way sometimes we put them on a certain list sometimes we put them in a certain category of course I'm just as guilty as anybody in this so we all need to repent from that and I'm not saying that people don't make mistakes people do make mistakes but there's a certain way to correct the mistakes if I care about someone truly I'm not gonna put it on Facebook right st. Paul tells us brethren if if a man is overtaken in any trespass you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness considering yourself lest you also be tempted so if we are so spiritual what's the correct way to help somebody or to correct them in a spirit of gentleness considering myself lest I should also fall into the same thing so I talked about two things so far number one is repentance personal repentance and number two is reconciliation the third thing is to be an active participant in the church make no mistake our unity together is in Christ and not separate from him there is no unity together outside of Christ you want to be United outside of price good luck go to the world see how that's working out and everything starts with the Eucharist his holy body in his precious blood and that's how Christ unites us together look at what Saint John Chrysostom says about the Eucharist he says let us learn the wonder of this sacrament the purpose of its institution the effects it produces we become a single body according to Scripture members of his flesh and bone of his bones that's what remember that's what Adam said about Eve they were one flesh this is what's brought about by the food that he gives us meaning his body in his blood he blends himself with us so that we may all become one single entity in the way the body is joined to the head in the liturgy right after the invocation prayer where the Holy Spirit descends on the bread and wine to make it into the body and blood listen to what the priest prays he prays make us all worthy or master to partake of your Holies unto the purification of our souls our bodies and our spirits that we may become one body and one spirit and may have a share and inheritance with all the saints who have pleased you since the beginning and our Lord Jesus Christ is very clear then jesus said to them most assuredly I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you you are disconnected from the body and you are disconnected from Christ the source of life himself so let's take it serious let's approach this sacrament which we will do shortly in the right way now sometimes in the church I feel like we complicate things our goal as we said is one thing to reach the full measure of Christ to be united with Christ so if this is the goal of the church I not only need to get there myself but I need to help others get there as well we all as members of this household as member members of this body we all need to lend the hand to help the body because sometimes some members of the body they need a hint they need help to get there I can't just look at myself but I need to look at the entire body the entire family of God some people in the church are teachers and that's great and some people are helpers and that's great too some people are organizers some people clean some people cook some people do whatever but every single one of us has to contribute something to this family let me give you an example in my home if I'm walking in my house and I see a piece of trash on the floor how do you think this would go over I said I went to my wife and I said honey there's a piece of trash right there can you please pick it up how do you think that would go over not very well right better yet what if my child came to me said dad there's a piece of trash over there go pick it up how would that go over it doesn't work does it it doesn't work and sometimes that's how we treat the church this is our home if you see a piece of trash on the floor pick it up don't tell somebody else to pick it up this is your family this is your home we are all members of the body God willing in a month or so we're gonna have a ministry Fair here in the church so we can get people involved but again don't wait for that don't wait for someone to to ask you to serve to ask you to do something if you see something in the church that needs fixing I know the church is not perfect we all that every church has its issues every Church has its weaknesses every church has it's like like holes in the wall it has its pieces of trash but do me a favor instead of criticizing instead of complaining instead of asking everyone else to pick up the piece of trash ask how can I help what can I do to help this body and understand something else okay this is not a topic for tonight but there is something way bigger beyond us many times we're just focused on us let me tell you something God's family is the entire world and God cares for every single soul the harvest is great and there are many people who don't know Christ and I pray that we would be open to bringing people from outside this family into this family because that's the heart of God and we all should have the same the same goal and the same heart as God again unity doesn't mean that everybody looks the same as me and speaks the same language as me and has the same culture as me unity means that we are all working towards the same goal which is for us to reach the full measure of Christ I read from Ephesians 4 a couple times again let's read it in its completeness I read to you the verses before and now we're gonna read the verses after till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to a perfect man to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ that we should no longer be children meaning we should no longer be spiritually immature tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine you know people who don't know God they're tossed to and fro somebody says something ok they follow that person someone says something else they follow that person by the trigger of men in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting but speaking of the truth in love may grow up in all things into him who is the head Christ again that's our goal to go from children to the full measure into the head Christ from whom this is the key from whom the whole body joined and knit together by what every joint supplies every single one of us has a role in the body according to the effective working by which every part does it share does what causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love so what does that say is that we cannot grow we cannot reach our goal the full measure of Christ without each other and every member of the body has to do his part because when I do my part and you do your part and everybody does their part then the whole body can be lifted the whole body can be edified and the whole body can grow into the fullness of Christ let's be honest this church over the last few years has seen some rough times okay but what hasn't divided us until now has only made us stronger so I pray that 2019 is a year of new beginnings for this church a year of revival a year of repentance a year of reconciliation and a year of active participation that we can truly grow into the head into the fullness which is Christ and don't let anyone divide us don't let anyone tear us down but every member of the body does his part so I wish you all a blessed and happy new year and I pray that we all come together so that we all can grow into the fullness of Christ and glory be to God forever