Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
PSALM 107 (108)
O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sin and give praise, even with my glory. Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples, and I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your mercy is great above the heavens, and Your truth reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the earth; that Your beloved may be delivered, save with Your right hand, and hear me. God has spoken in His Holiness: I will rejoice; I will divide Shechem and measure out the Valley of Succoth. Gilead is Mine; Manasseh is Mine: Ephraim also is the helmet for My head; Judah is My law giver. Moab is My washpot; Over Edom I will cast My shoe; Over Philistia I will triumph. Who will bring me into the strong city? Who will lead me to Edom? Is it not You, O God, Who cast us off? And you, O God, who did not go out with our armies? Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless. Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He Who shall tread down our enemies. (This is a psalm of triumph. Verse 5 is used on Ascension Day and is also said by the priest after Holy Communion has been given to the faithful.)
THE WAY INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
by Saint Innocent of Alaska
We were created to live on earth unlike animals who die and disappear with time, but with the high purpose to live with God not for a hundred years or so but for eternity!
Every individual instinctively strives for happiness. This desire has been implanted in our nature by the Creator Himself, and therefore it is not sinful. But it is important to understand that in this temporary life it is impossible to find full happiness, because that come from God and cannot be attained without Him. Only He, Who is the Material things can never wholly satisfy us. Indeed, we know from experience that every item we have desired has pleased us only for a short while. Then it became boring, and we started to desire something else. This process of satisfaction and boredom then repeated itself many times. The most striking example of unquestionable thirst for happiness was Solomon, the famous king of Israel, who lived around 1000 B.C. He was so rich that all the household utensils in his palaces were made of pure gold. He was so wise that kings and famous people from faraway lands came to hear him. He was so famous that his foes trembled at the mere mention of his name. He could easily satisfy any of his wishes, and it seemed that there was no pleasure that he did not possess or could not obtain. But with all of this, Solomon could not find total happiness to the end of his life. He described his many years of searching for happiness and his continual disappointments in the book of Ecclesiastes, which he began with the following phrase: "vanity of vanities, all is vanity" (Ecc. 1:2).
Innumerable otherwise people who were also successful in life came to the same conclusion. It seems that in the depth of our subconscious something reminds us that we are just wanderers on this earth and that our true happiness is not here but there, in that other and better world known as paradise or the heavenly kingdom. Let man own the whole world and everything that is in it, yet all this will interest him for no more than a short period, while the immortal soul, thirsting for personal communication with God, will remain unsatisfied.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to this earth in order to return us our lost capacity to spend eternity in the blissful presence of God. He revealed to people that all their evil lies in sin and that no one through their own efforts can overcome the evil within themselves and attain communion with God. Sin, ingrained in our nature since the fall, stands between us and God like a high wall. If the Son of God had not descended to us through His mercy for us, had not taken on our human nature, and had not by His death conquered sin, all mankind would have perished forever! Now, thanks to Him, those who wish to cleanse themselves from evil can do so and return to God and obtain eternal bliss in the Kingdom of Heaven.
No man, even the most talented and powerful, nor all of mankind in unison, could ever restore what Adam lost when he sinned in Eden. What would have happened to us and to all of mankind if Jesus Christ in His mercy had not come to redeem us?
But we should all thank our Heavenly Father for taking pity on us. He loves us far more than we are capable of loving ourselves. And because of His infinite love, He has sent His Only-Begotten Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to rid us from our sins and from the snare of the devil and to lead us into the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven.
Through His teachings Jesus Christ scattered the darkness of ignorance and all possible error and enlightened the world with the light of the true faith. Now anyone who desires it can come to know the will of God and attain Eternal Life.
By His way of life Christ showed us how to live to attain salvation. And He also assists us constantly in everything good. By His Most Precious Blood Jesus washed away our sins and made of us children of God, who were slaves of passions and the devil. Those torments we, as transgressors of the will of God, would have had to suffer, He bore for us. By His death He crushed the power of the devil, destroyed the power of hell, and delivered us from death. By His Resurrection He gave us life and opened the gates of Paradise to all. Therefore, death is no longer an irreversible tragedy but a passage from this temporary world of vanity and sorrows to the world of bright and joyous life. By His Acension into Heaven Christ glorified our nature, enabling us to share eternal bliss with the Angels and all the Heavenly creatures.
It is impossible fully to comprehend and to describe all the benefits that the Lord has prepared for us. Let us just say that all who choose to believe in Him and to live a Christian life will become sons of God, will attain paradise, where the Angels and the just reside, and will see God face to face. they will rejoice with a pure and eternal joy, knowing no weariness, sadness or troubles.
It so wonderful that Jesus Christ gives these benefits not to a chosen few but to each and every person who desires to receive them! The path to salvation has been shown and arranged; it has been made as smooth and level as possible. Besides this, Jesus Himself constantly helps us along the way, so to speak, leading us by the hand. It only remains for us not to oppose Him, not to be obstinate, but to surrender ourselves to His will. So you can see how much Jesus Christ loves us and what a great blessing He is bestowing upon us!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God