Message from Fr Gary September 2017
God’s Holy Word
A great benefit of spending time at summer camp is the opportunity to disconnect from technology. Not having a phone or internet connection gets you excited to receive mail. A great joy is receiving a (good old fashioned) letter from home. The delight in holding an envelope with the familiar handwriting of a loved one is a highlight for all the staff, counselors and campers. Everyone gets electrified when they get mail (real, handwritten, stamped envelope mail).
One afternoon at St. Sophia Camp, the Director handed me a small envelope sent to me from Christie. I took it, looked at it and put it in my pocket. “You gonna read it?” He asked. I nodded, smiled and walked to the chapel to prepare for evening vespers. I placed it on the altar and put my vestments on for the service.
Vespers ended and the kids were excited to go up the hill to mail call, anticipating their own letters and packages. Prior to their leaving the chapel I shared with them the unopened envelope from my wife. I asked, “What if I just set this letter from my wife on my night stand and never opened or read it?” The responses were touching and hilarious.
One little guy said, “I think you should read it, it will make you happy!” Another jokingly said, “You might end up sleeping on the couch if you don’t.” An older teen girl said, “That’s just coldhearted, what if she wants you to do something, if you don’t read it you’ll never know.” Great answers. The entire camp agreed that I should open and read the letter.
I lifted a Bible.
“This is a letter,” I said. “A letter from God.” They understood the message; however, I went on to explain.
We let our Bibles sit on our night stands or our bookshelves, scarcely to be opened. If we treat messages from our Earthly loved ones with such care and excitement, we should treat the message from our Heavenly Father with the same enthusiasm. It will “make us happy,” contains instructions, and is “coldhearted” if we ignore it.
I once received an email that illustrated the differences in which we treat our cell phone versus our Bible (see page 4). Let’s readjust our priorities. Let’s make reading and studying Holy Scripture a significant part of our day. We should take a few moments, at least once a day, to receive inspiration from the Word of God.
St. John Chrysostom urges us to use Scripture as we would any other chest of medicines. The Bible is a treasury with remedies for every ailment. “Take from there comfort for your trouble, be it loss, or death, or bereavement of relations; or rather do not merely dive into them but take them wholly to yourself, keeping them in your mind." (Hom. IX On Colossians) Further, he reminds us that knowledge of Scripture protects us, and ignorance of it results in a multitude of evils. "This is the cause of all evils,” he says, “the not knowing the Scriptures. We go into battle without arms, how are we to come off safe?" (Hom. IX On Colossians)
There are several ways to navigate a daily habit of reading the Bible. First you can visit our Church website (www.saintdem.org) and signup to receive an email each morning that contains the daily readings prescribed by the Church. Another way is to open to the back of your Orthodox Study Bible and follow the plan provided, and then the easiest way is to start at the beginning of a specific book and just, simply, read a little bit at a time. For those who say they have read the Bible from end to end and have no need to participate, St. John Chrysostom says, "It is not possible, I say not possible, ever to exhaust the mind of the Scriptures. It is a well which has no bottom." (Hom. XIX On Acts)
Let’s dive into the well! Let’s make the institution of God’s Holy Word an important part of our daily routine. Don’t let that loving letter just sit on your nightstand, open it, read it and be inspired by the wonderful message contained within it.
Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?
What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?
What if we flipped through it several times a day?
What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?
What if we used it to receive messages from the text?
What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?
What if we gave it to friends as gifts?
What if we used it when we traveled?
What if we used it in case of emergency?
This is something to make you go….hmm…where is my Bible?
Oh, and one more thing. Unlike our cell phone, we don’t have to worry about our Bible being
disconnected, because Jesus already paid the bill. Makes you stop and think, “Where are my priorities?”.
In Christ’s Service,
Fr. Gary Kyriacou