Several years ago I was part of a group on the square in Marietta, GA gathered to hear some political speeches by different politicians in the federal government in Washington, DC. One of those speakers was the Speaker of the House of Representatives. This politician is constitutionally in line to be President if something catastrophic were to happen to the President and the Vice-President. A pretty powerful position to be in.
At the end of the speeches, the Speaker of the House came into the crowd gathered. As he approached the crowd, one of his assistance came toward me and a few others and said “The Speaker would like to shake your hand.” With that the Speaker approached me and shook my hand and then moved on to the next person.
At first I was a bit confused as to why his assistant would approach people before the Speaker just to tell us this. But, as I thought about it, it made perfect sense. People may be a bit stand offish when approached by someone in power. They may back away as he approached and that’s not what they wanted. They wanted us to be ready to be approached by the Speaker.
Now let’s transfer this observation to how we build an intimate relationship with God. Each Divine Liturgy, the priest brings the sacred Gifts to the people with these words “With the fear of God, and with faith and love, draw near.” It is the very heart of our intimate relationship with God. It is the key to approaching ultimate Power and ultimate Love and the fire of the Uncreated. How can we approach this Majestic Presence? We approach with faith and love, filled with the awesome respect and knowledge at just Who we are coming close to as we step closer to Him Who gives Himself freely for our sake.
In our Epistle Lesson this morning, we read the words of the book of Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:1-6. Here the Apostle tells us that our High Priest is better than the priests of the old covenant because those priests had to offer sacrifice for their own sins as well as for the people. But our High Priest now in the new covenant, our Lord Jesus, has no sin so His priesthood forever heals and forever makes whole the human person. Then the Apostle says “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
Our ability to approach God with confidence has nothing to do with our worthiness and everything to do with His unconditional love for us. Our confidence lies not in our goodness but in His goodness, not in our worthiness, but in His love and deep desire that we approach Him. Because to be near Him is to become like Him. To be connected to Him is to be filled with His life. To be purposefully embracing Him, to dare to draw near to Him, is to be purified by that Uncreated “fire” of Divine Love that burns away all that is unlike Him in our lives. The truth is there is nothing you will ever do in your life more important than learning how and actually moving toward Him Who is the only Source of true life. Nothing. Absolutely NOTHING!
Today, are you “with faith and love, drawing near to God? Do you so understand the value to your own soul the life-giving joy of a purposeful relationship with God that you actually prepare to come close to Him at the Chalice for Holy Communion? Do you actually see what you are being offered at that sacred moment when the priest steps through the Royal Doors and offers you LIFE by inviting you to “draw near” to Him Who is Life Himself? You can draw near to God with confidence when you active both faith and love in your life. Before the Divine Liturgy this Sunday, prepare to “draw near” to Him Who loves you more than you, yourself, know how to love, by prayer, fasting, and being in the service from the very beginning. You are being invited to LIFE. Don’t miss one, single moment of that opportunity!