“…Who spoke through the prophets.”
– Nicene Creed
Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,
A professor at seminary once posed the question to our class, “What is the greatest source of inspiration in our Church: the Bible, or Holy Tradition?” His answer was very telling, one which seemed so simple and yet so profound. “The only source of inspiration in our Church is the Holy Spirit.”
It is the Spirit of God which Jesus promised would always be with us as a Helper (“Paraklete”) after the Day of Pentecost. It is this same Holy Spirit which inspired the Fathers of the Church to compile the Holy Scriptures into one canon, and the same Holy Spirit which guides our people, our parishes and our clergy to practice our faith in the ways we do, through our services and our worship. Indeed, when a question of “what do Orthodox Christians believe about…?” is asked, the answer, we believe, is found in our formal prayers in our services, as they have been fashioned by human beings moved and inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself.
It is the Holy Spirit that has guided our worship and the Tradition of our Church throughout millennia, going back to the Old Testament, where we affirm that He “spoke through the prophets.” This month, we celebrate the memory of perhaps the most well-known prophet of the Old Testament, the Prophet Elias (or “Elijah,” as he is most commonly known). Elias lived during the time of the great kings of Israel and guided the nation of the people of God through his inspirational words. He raised a widow’s son from the dead, he was one of three known figures in the Bible to have not died a natural death but to have been taken up to heaven in body and spirit, he proclaimed the worship and truth of God by defeating the priests of Baal, and many other tremendous feats. (3 & 4 Kingdoms). Most importantly, however, Elijah heard the voice of God, and it is this witness which we proclaim in our own lives and imitate to the best of our abilities.
Our holy Orthodox faith affirms that the work of the Holy Spirit is just as active today as it was in Biblical times, and is exhibited regularly in the sacraments. Indeed, the calling down of the Holy Spirit upon created objects- be they bread and wine, olive oil, or even a man and woman- is what triggers the transformations which become the sacraments, or more correctly, “mysteries” of our church. It is this same action of the Holy Spirit that guides each of us on the day of our baptism and chrismation.
I am overjoyed to say that in 2016, more baptisms and chrismations were celebrated at Resurrection than at any point in the last twenty-five years of the parish’s history, as well as weddings, and even funerals, halfway through 2017! We thank God for signs of a continually growing parish, all by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
We believe that we are transformed once the Holy Spirit comes upon us and into our lives at baptism, a union which we should focus on each day. Although we may have been baptized once “unto remission of sins,” our relationship with God and inviting the Spirit into our lives is ongoing. It is a daily struggle in a daily relationship, as are the daily struggles we do our best to commit to in every relationship. As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Prophet Elijah this month and the miracles which the Holy Spirit brought about in his lifetime, let us also remember the miracles the Holy Spirit can bring about in our lifetimes. All it takes is a renewed commitment to God’s call for our lives each day, through prayer, fasting, and the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May His grace, and the grace of the Father and the Holy Spirit, be with us all. Amen!
With love in the Risen Lord,
Father Niko Bekris