Post date: Dec 11, 2012 2:55:25 AM
“I believe in one God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.” We all recognize those words: they are the beginning of the Nicene creed, the statement of faith that we all make at every Divine Liturgy. Today, I would like to dwell a little on these words.
The material creation is clearly visible around us and because of that, everyone believes that it exists. Indeed, many would have it that the things we see and touch are all there is; that there isn’t an invisible creation, or, for that matter a heaven. As Orthodox Christians, we proclaim that we believe in the invisible part of creation and in heaven. The question for each one of us is: what does this belief mean in practical terms?
We know what the visible world means in practical terms: we need to work so that we may have a place to live and food to eat and we try to make time for hobbies and avocations. It may be less clear what our belief about the resurrection and the kingdom of heaven have to do with everyday life. Still, since we confess that “His kingdom shall have no end,” this is something we should carefully consider.
In the Orthodox Church salvation is growing closer to God, not a legal concept of being pronounced saved, but it is getting closer to God, getting to grow in His likeness so that we may experience His light on the day of judgment as a warming light of love rather than a burning fire. So if our salvation is growing in His likeness and this is going to affect us for eternity, what are we to do in order to ensure that we provide for our eternal life in the same way that we provide for our temporary life here on earth?
The answer is that we need to make time for being in communion with God. From an eternal perspective this is more important than most of the things that we find or make time for in our daily lives. We need to spend time getting to know God, studying His word, studying His teachings, studying His work throughout the history of humanity. We need to spend time in prayer - personal and communal - so that we may begin to experience Him, to become familiar with His presence in our hearts before the day of the final judgment.
The Church gives us many opportunities to work out our salvation. Through the Church and in the Church we have the Scriptures, together with explanations given by the saints and fathers of the Church. We have the lives of the saints and their teachings. We have a treasury of prayers that we can pray and learn from every day. And we have the treasure that is our beautiful services.
Let us make time for the eternal matters, let us help our friends and families to do this as well, so that we may rejoice together in the eternal kingdom, in the joy of our master, at the eternal banquet.
With love in Christ,