“To everything, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn. And a time to every purpose under heaven.” The Byrds lyrics were taken, of course, from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the First Testament. It is the gift of time, granted to us by God, where our lives play out.
It is also a gift of God that even our mistakes and sins have a finality, so that we do not live forever making mistakes, sin, and living purposeless lives.
Look at our Lesson in Genesis 1:14-23:
And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
The rhythm of the day (by the way, if you’ve ever wondered why we Orthodox measure the day from sundown to sundown; this is why) reveals the wisdom of God for those who have ears to hear. Our lives are always moving from darkness to light. Or our lives are gripped by darkness and never reaching the light. But God’s desire for our lives is for us to move into the Light! (why do I hear the name “Carol Ann” in my head?)
But the only way we are ever going to escape the night for the day is through God’s Word. Now there was a day when I thought that meant the Bible, and, to be sure, knowing the Holy Scriptures is absolutely vital to knowing the Word of God, but the Word of God is a Person; our Lord Jesus Christ. And how do you get to know a Person? You have to be introduced. You have to be attracted by something in that Person, and then you have to do the hard work of communion to grow in your relationship with that Person.
And the Church gives us the rhythm of prayer and fasting and feasting that makes communion possible and authentic. Look at the wisdom of the rhythm of the Orthodox Faith. Daily cycles of prayer. Daily commemorations of heroes that had intimate communion with God to be our examples on how to build that relationship with God. Liturgical services where the center of the service is the Eucharist. Teaching us how to be prepared for the Eucharist through fasting, confession, and prayer. Giving us the spiritual disciplines and rhythm of fasting and feasting to foster communion. Wisdom from a growing relationship with a spiritual father in confession to help apply the spiritual medicine of the Faith to the places of your life that hinder communion. And a Church Year that captures and baptizes even your calendar into focusing on the life of Jesus Christ. All of this wisdom dropped in your lap and the key to activating this wisdom is you, exercising your will to actually DO this rhythm.
Today, as we live this purposeful Orthodox Life, the Lord once again sets before you the rhythm of wisdom in this Orthodox Christian faith. And, once again, your guardian angel, the saints gone before us, our children watching us, all scoot to the edge of their seats to see how you will choose.
P.S. The first week of Great Lent means services every day at your parish. Are you attending Compline, Pre-Sanctified, and Akathist? Check your parish calendar and go to these services! For a Great Lent…