The following is an excerpt from the sermon preached today at Holy Incarnation Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church. Using the propers for Gregorian Use parishes in the Western Rite Vicariate, the sermon is based on the Gospel reading for the First Sunday of Advent.
Let us consider, then, what Our Lord is truly saying. He is not telling us to do nothing as the world implodes. In fact, Our Lord in many places urges us to help others see what we see, and believe what we believe, and live as we live. And how should we live? Not as men and women tied to the pursuits of this world; not as men and women who find the greatest happiness in the busy-ness of parties and shopping and decorating; and not as men and women whose lives are governed by gratifying our desires and satisfying whatever whims or fads we are told we must have. Rather, we are to live with the knowledge, and with the earnest belief, that this world and this world’s goods offer us nothing, do nothing for us, and bring us no true joy or happiness. We are to live as men and women who can easily walk away from everything, because in Christ we already have all things. And we are to live as men and women who understand that this world—and all its charms and all its false promises and all its excitements—this world is destined to pass away. And so we are not to live as men who try to have it all before it’s all gone, but as men who know that all we pursue is nothing, and what is to come is everything.
So Truth Himself is reminding us of the truth—the truth that the world is not your friend, and so it should not be your heart’s desire. Your heart’s desire is in what lies beyond this world, in the world to come. That is the feast you should yearn for. That is the present you should eagerly await. That is the life you should sacrifice all to attain. And for that life you should eagerly decorate your person, your children, your home and all that you have with every good work, every kindness, every icon and every symbol so that you may never forget, but always strive for, that kingdom.