I never will forget certain momentous times in my life. There are only a handful of moments when the enormity of a moment calls for an all night focus.
One such moment in my life was when I was to be ordained as a deacon in the Orthodox Church. As I contemplated the implications of the changes that were about to take place in my life, I felt compelled to avoid sleep and focus on the moment before me that would alter my life forever. Turns out, it was a night that wasn’t long enough to really prepare!
But that’s what we do when the event is big enough. I’ve known friends to go through similar focus and intense preparation before a huge presentation, a business deal, an important social gathering, and other such moments. Isn’t it interesting how certain events in our lives reveal our true priorities? What one person would stay up all night preparing for, another wouldn’t worry about the details at all. Such is the nature of we humans and our priorities.
Our choices, our interests, our focus, reveals important information about who we are. Our priorities tell us vital information about ourselves. Information we ignore to our own peril. They tell us whether our priorities are misplaced, out of order, or even destructive to our lives, but that information is absolutely necessary if I am ever going to be “awake” to who I really am and just where I need God’s grace and my effort to reorient my priorities toward better living and purposeful Faith.
In today’s Gospel Lesson we see even our Lord Jesus, God in the flesh, the Lord of Creation, and the Son of God, preparing for a momentous moment in His ministry to save the world by praying all night!
Look at Luke 6:12-19. I won’t quote the whole passage (hey, you gotta do some work yourself, my angel), but notice two important sections:
At that time, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; (Luke 6:12-13) And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all. (Luke 6:17-19)
The Lord is choosing the men who would form the nucleus of the leadership for the Church. Just as Moses went up to the mountain to receive the Law, just as Israel had 12 patriarchs who formed the nation, so the Lord goes up to the mountain to prepare to choose 12 Apostles who will be His chosen leaders to move from an ethnic view of the people of God to the “spiritual Israel” that will continue His work in the earth after His resurrection and Ascension. Christ is instituting His “new nation” formed to reach the world. And we see this clearly as He named these 12 “Apostles” which means “sent ones.” Not “sit ones” or “think ones” or even “good ones” but men who are sent on a mission to accomplish a task! Ain’t a whole lot of sitting around going on here!
Today, what do your priorities say about you? Are you aware of your own purpose and “mission” as a follower of Jesus Christ? Where does that mission fall in your list of priorities? I pray you are able to stop, even for a moment, and do inventory of your priorities and seek out just where your faith falls in that list. Perhaps it’s time for your faith to move up a few spots!
P.S. What can I say? Your generosity and affection is a bit overwhelming. But I am grateful for your notes! Important decisions about my own priorities are looming and your prayers for this ministry are so very much needed. By the way, if you’re interested, you can go here to keep up with our speaking engagements around the country by clicking Here at Upcoming Events and you can go here to schedule a speaking engagement!
Dear Father Barnabas,
I have tried to follow your avocation since I read that wonderful interview with Kh. Frederica. Indeed, I have been using your reaction to seeing the Icon of the Theotokos of the Sign as the final reason for deciding to become Orthodox. But then who would not be? I am a cradle and yet as I looked into it more, I realized that this icon is special: not only does it reinforce our belief that life starts at conception but also forces us to see baby Jesus is an entirely new way. In a way, this icon is a bookend to the Matins of Holy Friday hymn “Today is Suspended on a Tree He who Suspended the Earth Upon the Waters.”
In any case, I pray that the Comforter and Giver of life will guide your priorities and bless your ministry.
Congregant at the Holy Apostles Orthodox Church, West Columbia, SC