Living around these hills and mountains, we are truly blessed to participate in the changing of seasons. I enjoy all of these but that one change into the bitter chill of winter is my least favorite. Spring transferring leadership into summer is okay but my two favorites are the winter days becoming warmer with the newness of life springing forth and then of course, the beauty we are surrounded with right now in the fall season.
We living creatures are also constantly changing. Our early years seem to resemble the spring season and once our growth spurts stop, we slide into a summer and before we know it, we are peaking and preparing for years of gliding into our winter months. It really doesn’t take that long! But, yet even though there is a little snow on my roof, I believe that I am more alive today than yesterday, maybe not so much physically!
Before I surrendered my life to the Lord, my body was well and vibrant, might-near unstoppable, but my soul was encompassed in a corral of darkness. Now it seems that even with my body slowing up a bit, I feel my soul is more alive and seeking more and more light. That process means a type of death, it means having our Savior touch my bier, as I repentantly expose my stench. More repentance brings more light! Saint Kyril aligns it this way: “It is death that has brought men to old age and corruption; death, therefore, has made old, that is to say, has corrupted [cf. 1 Cor. 15:56]; for, ‘that which is becoming obsolete and growing old is near to disappearing [Heb. 8:13],’ but Christ renews, in that He is the Life.” [Hom. 36, Commentary, Ch. 7, 154.]
In our preparation for Holy Communion we say: How can I who am unworthy dare to come to the communion of the Holy Things? For if I should dare to approach Thee with those who are worthy, my garment betrayeth me, for it is not a festal robe, and I shall cause the condemnation of my greatly-sinful soul. Cleanse, O Lord, the pollution from my soul, and save me, as Thou art the Lover of mankind. (Troparia, Eighth Tone, Communion Prayers, pg 335-Jordanville Prayer Book)
A parent also weeps for their child who is decaying in the currents of this world. And rest assured that a parent alive in Christ longs for that salvific life for their children. We recall the Gospel reading this morning: “Cease weeping.” And He approached and touched the bier, and those bearing it stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to thee, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to talk. And He gave him to his mother. [Lk. 7:13-15] St. Ambrose defines it as: “This woman seems to be more than a woman who has by her tears deserved to obtain the resurrection of her only grown son.....After Jesus’ touch, he who was borne on the wood to the grave, came to life, in order to serve as a sign that salvation must be poured out upon the people through the yoke of the Cross.” [Ib., Bk. V, § 90.] [Lk. 7:15.]
A life in Christ is always bearing the yoke of His teachings. A life in Christ is always about us seeking repentance and always seeking His touch! In the VIII Canon of Repentance we say: How shall I not weep when I think of death? For I have seen my brother in his coffin, without glory or comeliness. What, then do I expect? And what do I hope for? Only grant me, O Lord, repentance before the end. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. (Ode VIII Cannon of Repentance, pg 327- Jordanville Prayer Book) A life in Christ is always longing for a death to this world and its vices and hearing the voice of the true Sheppard calling us back to life: “Young man, I say to thee, arise.”
Here at this hospital, that is our mission, salvation. We don’t want to leave anyone behind! In this season of your life, won’t you come? Our time in the flesh is short and there is much work needing to be done to prepare us all for salvation. Invite the Lord into the darkest corners of your heart and see that hurt, that shame, that failure be released from that coffin you have been struggling to carry! “I say to thee, arise!”