Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Know this and let your heart dance for joy.

September 1st marks the beginning of the church calendar, and St. Nikolai in his Prologue of Ohrid explains:
The First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 325] decreed that the Church year should begin on September 1. The month of September was, for the Hebrews, the beginning of the civil year (Exodus 23:16), the month of gathering the harvest and of the offering of thanks to God. It was on this feast that the Lord Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21), opened the book of the Prophet Isaiah and read the words:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn (Isaiah 61:1-2).
In the Prologue the first entries for September contain themes of beginnings, including this homily that I find very heartening as I myself start over, as we are exhorted to do, as many million times as necessary. I want to put behind me my past failures, even those of the last few minutes, as distracting weights, and enjoy the liberty our Lord proclaims. It is just one of the rich gifts that Christ brought with his visiting of the earth.
HOMILY
on the Word of God revealed in the flesh

And the Word was made flesh (John 1:14).
Here, brethren, is a new, blessed and salvific beginning for us -- the beginning of our salvation. Adam was in the flesh when he fell under the authority of sin and death. Now the Creator of Adam has appeared in the flesh, to deliver Adam and Adam's posterity from the power of sin and death.  
The Son of God -- the Word, Wisdom, Light and Life -- descended among men in human flesh and with a human soul. He was incarnate but not divided from His Divinity. He descended without being separated from His Father. He retained all that He had been and would be for all eternity, and yet He received something new: human nature. 
His eternal attributes were not diminished by the Incarnation, neither was His relationship to the Father and the Spirit changed. Lo, the Father testified to this, both on the Jordan and on Mount Tabor: This is my beloved Son! He did not say: “This was my Son,'' but “This is my Son.'' The Holy Spirit was with Him at His bodily conception and throughout His mission on earth. The divine and human nature were united in Him, but not intermingled. 
How? Do not ask, you who do not even know how to explain yourself to yourself, and cannot say how your soul and body are united in you. Only know this: God came to visit the earth, bringing unspeakably rich treasures for mankind -- royal gifts, incorruptible, eternal, priceless and irreplaceable gifts. 
Know this and let your heart dance for joy. Strive to cleanse your hands, purify your senses, wash your soul, whiten your heart, and set your mind straight, that you may receive the royal gifts. For they are not given to the unclean. 
O Lord Jesus Christ, help us to cleanse and wash ourselves by Thy blood and Thy Spirit, that we may be made worthy of Thy royal gifts. 
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

7 comments:

Lorrie said...

Thank you for this.

Sara said...

A very good word. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Amanda Sexton said...

This is beautiful...Blessed New Year.

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Hey, GJ--I don't know how many books are in the Staggerford series, only that it starts with Staggerford and goes on from there. Searching around, I've found that he published twelve novels, but I don't know if they're all part of the series. Let me know if you find out!

xofrances

Cathy said...

Makes perfect sense why the church I attend starts their new year on September 1. I always sense something internal in me leaning that way too.

We have been studying Constantine and the Council of Nicea. Thank you for the extra information.

Anna said...

The more new beginnings the better! a happy and blessed new year to you and yours, shana tova!

Rebeca said...

Happy new year!